This is the first time I’ve sat at my desk in more than ten days. It hurts already. I can’t straighten my left leg yet, or bend it either, for that matter.
I’ve been trying to be positive post-surgery, trying to see the light in the dark, searching out all manner of motivational sayings on the internet using my phone. As I sit, sit, sit. Between sitting and resting, I’ve been walking. The surgeon ok’d up to two hours a day; of course, that quickly became a “must do – goal time” kind of thing, which I’ve yet to achieve. I made it 85 minutes today, in two separate hobbles about town.
My pace? A turtle-ish 15 – 16 minute kilometre. Yup. And that’s when I’m trying to go fast. The doctor also ok’d running after 7 days – I waited until 8 days but could only manage 5 jogging steps (think Cliffy) and then had to walk. I repeated this until I couldn’t do it anymore. Until it hurt more than I could take.
I failed at my goal distance of walking to the beach three times (it is a 3k round trip walk). On three separate walks I quit; I wouldn’t have made it home. Extraordinary.
Today I did make it (it took 25 minutes to get there on what is usually an 8 minute run). I stood and stared at the bay. My leg throbbed. I remembered all the wonderful runs I’ve had along this coastline, the adventures and the wind and the rain, the hot sun, the cap-fulls of water I’ve dumped over my head – all of it, I remembered all of it, and it brought tears to my eyes because I can only just shuffle now and I don’t know how long that’s going to last, or when I’ll be able to run free again.
I know surgery was the right thing to do. I was worried about blood clots from my damaged vein – my Mom had suffered several mini-strokes in her later years, and I know how this disabled her. It was right to have this operation when I am young and strong and able to recover well.
But it is so hard. It hurts every moment of every day, and more at night. I haven’t slept a good night in 9 nights. My leg is black from mid-thigh to below my knee. I can’t even climb up stairs.
It is hard to stay positive, to take friend’s kind words that this is a short thing and will be over before I know it. Time has slowed to a terrible crawl; I have slowed to a terrible crawl. If I told you I felt positive, I’d be lying, and I told you I’d tell you the truth, even when it was hard.
The truth is this is a horrible place to be. I’m bereft and feel purposeless because I can’t even stand up long enough to make school lunch for my kids. I want to howl and cry and throw things. I want to run free in the woods but I can only do this in my memory right now.
Here’s what I know for certain though, beyond the emotions.
I will fight my way back. I’ve already begun. I’ve walked every day since surgery last Monday, starting on Tuesday with 60 minutes (3×20 minutes), then 75, then 90, then 100. I scaled back for the weekend as I was shattered, but got back up to 90 today.
This will not break me. But it has changed me. It has given me great compassion for older people, for the injured. I will not look the same way at crossings roads ever again. When I entered the hospital last Monday, I knew I was setting my healthy, strong self aside for a while. I entered knowing this.
I can’t stay with you longer tonight as it hurts too much to sit and type. I’d love to leave you with words of wisdom but I am still discovering what this has to teach me. For now, I’ll leave you with the title of my favorite Bon Jovi song of the moment: The Fighter. I sing it quietly as I hobble right now.
Hope to see you on the trails soon…