Update: Three Months Post Surgery (and lessons learned)
There is no greater teacher than life itself. For years, I thought I knew a thing or two about mindfulness, determination, willpower, the drive to push harder, etc. In fact, I knew so much about determination, that I walked 7 miles on a fractured hip. There is a thin line between how much is just enough and how much is too much. For some things in life, I believe I err on the side of too much. I’m not sure I ever really understood that about myself until this injury.
Throughout this entire recovery process, I always thought I could push harder and cross train more. I thought my successes were good, but not great, and whenever anyone questioned my ability to return to running, I’d use those words to fuel my fire. I never took the time to celebrate the small victories along the way, but more than anything, I wasn’t really kind to myself. My body is so weak. My yoga poses suck. I’ve gained 5 pounds. I should be doing more.
I’m hard on myself and I’m hard on my body. Even as I write this now I’m thinking that I should go for a short run, regardless of the fact that I already had an interval session this morning, which was followed by burpees, man makers (my new favorite exercise), and leg weights with my PT. Not to mention I’m juicing for the day, which has led to a pretty constant state of hunger. I try too hard. Last Friday, as I stood by the Whole Foods breakfast bar, staring at my spinach and eggs, I decided enough was enough. I picked up the biggest piece of creme brûlée french toast I could find and ate every single bite of it. Sometimes the battle isn’t worth it and you have to give in, embrace life, and stop fighting yourself so much.
Wednesday marks three months since my surgery. Today I had another follow up appointment, and besides being told I should never have that screw taken out (which I really want to happen), it was a very successful visit. My X-rays looked good, my bone is healed, and my range of motion has greatly improved. (Side note: I was going to ask my doc for a pic to go along with this blog post, but I couldn’t do it. He’s kind of like the cutest doctor around, in a McDreamy sort of way, and I didn’t want him to think I was a stalker. Maybe I’ll get over my embarrassment by the time of my next visit. If I don’t, click here.) In the three months that have passed, life has given me the opportunity to demonstrate lessons learned. And because I like lists, I’d like to share my takeaways from these last few months:
1) Celebrate small accomplishments. I’ve been focusing too much on the end goal: running again. It has distracted me from celebrating my small victories along the way. My first 20 minute run, my almost normal range of motion, my warrior 3 pose that didn’t involve me falling flat on my face, the ability to tie my shoes again, my swimming, even if I’m not that great at it. These are all stepping stones along the path and even if they don’t seem like much, they are. It’s important to celebrate the small things.
2) I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations except my own. Having that runner part of my identity taken away has really caused me to struggle. I feel like everyone looks at me and thinks she use to be able to run this far and this fast. Now she’ll never do that again. This is a perception I have created in my own head and it is none of my business what other people think about me or my ability as a runner. Nobody else has to travel my path and therefore, whatever anyone else thinks has no impact on me. Only my expectations matter.
3) Negative self talk is toxic. I haven’t always said the nicest things to myself with regards to this injury. I’ve been hard on myself and I’ve sent my body a lot of wrong messages. These three months have taught me to practice a little self-love and to forgive myself when things don’t go as I expected. I should be my biggest fan. Period.
4) It’s okay to let go sometimes. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to eat that french toast from Whole Foods last Friday morning. It sounds odd but every time I go there, I always get a salad and eggs for breakfast. So many times I stare at the waffles or french toast and think how badly I want some. Friday I did, and it was the best feeling to savor every bite of that sugary deliciousness. And then, when I slept in until 7:00 am Saturday morning, I wondered what in the world had I been missing out on! I never knew it was so great to sleep in until after the sun came up.
5) Everything has a purpose. People always say everything has a purpose and I know this. But I’ve never really experienced something bad like this and had to search for the good in it. Every day I search for the answer and every day I come closer to seeing the good. Perhaps the most important and obvious thing this has taught me is that my body is completely out of whack and very imbalanced. My physical therapy sessions are a blessing. But I’m also finding a new level of mental toughness I didn’t even know I had. The first time I ever ran a marathon, I was certain I would cry when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t then and I never have. I believe that the next marathon I run is going to require a mental and physical effort like I have never known before. And perhaps that is the purpose of all this. To find out what I’m really capable of and how deep I can really dig.
Three months have gone by slowly, and quickly at the same time. I’m excited to see what the next three months will bring.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,