Recovery

Back in January, I sprained my foot. I actually mentioned it on this blog, though at the time I didn’t realize it was anything major, just an annoying tweak. Six months, a pair of crutches, and lots of physical therapy later, I’m just now starting to maybe even think about running again.

The worst part of it hasn’t actually been the lack of running, it’s been the mental shift around walking. For a long time now, any time I walk somewhere, it has to be carefully strategized. How far is it? Do I have to do any other walking today that would preclude this other walk that I want to take? Do I know how far I’m going? It is very weird for me to think of physical movement as a finite activity, a certain amount I can do every day but no more.

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(although I actually did a fair amount of good (short) hiking on crutches, with a very patient James who was able to dial his tall-person stride back to crutching speed for me:) Picture by James)

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I have missed the freedom of not thinking twice about walking somewhere, be it a restaurant down the street or just around the neighborhood to stretch my legs and let some thoughts roll around in my brain. I know I take my physical health largely for granted even though I try so very hard not to, but nowhere has that been more apparent then when I actually have to consciously think about walking.

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(crutch break on the beach… Picture by James)

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Slowly things are better. Yesterday, for work, I hiked all the way up Dog Mountain and back, doing some back-and-forth, off-trail tromping and flagging at the top. My foot hurt for sure, definitely a lot by the end of the day, but today I don’t feel fully crippled the way I would have a month or two ago. But the mental shift thing: Dog Mountain flagging has been on my work calendar for months now, and I have looked ahead to it with trepidation, uncertain that I’d be able to pull it off. It is so weird, so annoying, not just to be able to do something I want to do.

Again. I know I am humongously lucky that my general state of being in the world has been one where my body mostly does what I ask of it, without complaint. And I try to be patient with myself in this recovery. But man, am I ready to walk wherever and for whatever distance without a second thought. And maybe even run.

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(I was excited I didn’t miss ALL the wildflowers in the Gorge this year!:)

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(including this phantom orchid!!)

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Two final things I’ve been grateful for. One: biking. Even at the very worst of this, I’ve been able to bike — gingerly, at first, with the pressure on my heel rather than the front of my foot where I’d normally put it, but biking nonetheless. Nothing super hard/fast/hilly, but at least I’ve been able to get out (plus, it made kayaking by bike possible;). That has been a mental health savior. And YES, I have been able to keep up with my 100 miles of biking per week, for all but one week, sprained foot and all:)

Two: physical therapy. I have never had physical therapy before, and it has been so very helpful to have someone guiding me through this, and helping me know where to push and where to back off. I’m not sure what this would have looked like without an excellent medical professional helping me along — which is so very different from most of my experience with sports medicine. I feel very grateful to have accidentally landed with a physical therapist who is thoughtful, helpful, and has my best interests and personal recovery goals in mind.

But oh. my. gosh. am I sore after yesterday’s Dog Mountain jaunt! Despite all my best intentions to move and be as active as I can be during these last six months, my poor little atrophied muscles!

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