Long road, part ii

Still trying to digest everything. One day at a time.

So, to continue with the saga that I began to rehash in my last blog, I’m going to give a little more background as to why this is so rough for me right now.

Disclaimer: writing about this is helping me to process it. I learned a long time ago that getting it out helps; writing things down and talking about what’s going on inside your head is very healing. That’s why I do this, and it works. I also know many people that have gone through similar things, or much worse, than this. I am drawing upon all of you to help me with perspective.

This year, so far, has been unforgiving. There are too many things to mention, but let’s just say that it has literally been one thing after another since the holidays. The major things that have happened had to do with family members, ER visits, surgeries and near misses. Along the way, our sweet dog, Lucy, developed cancer and is in her last weeks of life as we speak. Trying to deal with all of that, well, it was enough.

In the background of all of that chaos, other things kept popping up to add to the anxiety. Yes, there were even losses of dear friends in the mix, and the losses were tragic and unexpected for some of them.

It’s been hard to keep up with everything, and my training was a way to escape, to feel like myself. I looked forward to my workouts as a way to manage my fear and anxiety, my depression and confusion on why all of these things were happening all at once. It was a way to reset, and be ready for what was coming next.

When the last insult to my knee happened, I had a gut feeling that I was going to be shut down for a while. At about the same time, my husband, Dan, came down with COVID. It was perfect timing in the midst of everything else.

I took care of him as best I could, bringing him what he needed, keeping the kids busy. Those trips up and down the steps seemed to take forever at my snail’s pace. Every flight was like Mt. Everest. I did the best I could at the time, but I wish I could have done more. And, thankfully, he recovered fairly quickly.

Just after getting the MRI results and getting scheduled for surgery, I returned to my car feeling like an empty shell. I just sat there trying to figure out what was happening. I couldn’t remember everything that the doctor said, but I knew that my knee was trashed. At my age, although I had partially healed the injuries inside of the knee, I would most likely not be able to heal it entirely. I had to come to the realization that I may never run again.

That fact is still sinking in. At this point, I feel like I’m jumping into the deep end and I don’t know where the bottom is. For those of you that know me, I’m a Type A. I like to know what to expect so that I am ready. I’m a planner. This is all foreign to me, since I really don’t know what is going to happen. This much I know: after surgery, I will be unable to weight bear for at least 4 weeks. I most likely will be unable to swim for an indefinite period of time. If I ever return to running, it may not be until 2023 and I will never be able to run more than a 5k or so, if the outcome is good.

So, what’s the big deal, right? That should be no big deal. Except, it is.

When I was told that I was going to need surgery and that I would not be able to walk for 4-6 weeks, a little piece of me died inside. How would that work, exactly? How would I be stuck at home with my knee completely straight in a brace for that long? No driving? In the summer, with four kids that do sports and love to go to the pool?

I. Just. Couldn’t. I couldn’t even process that. SO many questions. And so began the sleepless nights. Tossing and turning and wondering if surgery was the right thing to do.

I talked with my husband, my kids, my parents – anyone who would listen, really. I just couldn’t see myself going through with this type of surgery. After everything else that had been going on this spring, I couldn’t handle one more thing. Knowing that I’d be stuck in my room most of the time and not know what was going on in the world outside of my little space just wasn’t going to work for me. Plus, our sweet Lucy, the family dogo, needs to be cared for as she only has weeks/days left. I want to make sure she has her best doggie life before she crosses the rainbow bridge.

Swimming was helping me deal with things, thank goodness. I couldn’t swim like I normally do, but I could be in the water, and that was good enough. Everything else was too hard. So, I swam when I could, and I did PT every day. I was diligent about my exercises, icing, compression, etc. And, I began to see hope.

That’s right – HOPE. Small improvements. So small, that sometimes I almost missed it. But, those moments, those small victories, were there. And I hung onto them tightly. Inch by inch, I clawed my way out of a hole. Still, I doubted what the future would hold. The thought of surgery, and all of the consequences after it, did not appeal to me. I have spent over 20 years helping people rehab from injury. I have put all of my effort into helping people get better, get healthy, again. Why not myself?

Things changed. Momentum shifted. Suddenly, there was a new purpose.

Suddenly, there was HOPE. And waking up each morning with hope is life changing. I have reached out to people I know while I’ve been going through this, and each of them has gone through tough times. Many of them tougher than I can imagine. But, they all had HOPE, and it carried them through. I am drawing on their strength now. And it is carrying me through the darkest of times.

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