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Monday, February 13, 2012

Learning to Live in Limbo

Tunnel Vision

It's been just about a week since I hurt my knee. I'm finally starting to walk without a limp (sort of) but I can't really do much. Just walking around the neighborhood a few blocks leaves my knee throbbing when I get home. Single-plane movement seems to be OK i.e. I can bend my knee back and forth without pain, but side to side movement and stabilization, not so much. Sometimes it feels like my bones are rubbing against each other if I move too fast.

I went to see my Orthopaedist last week. It helps when he's a friend of your sister and she can call and leave him a message saying, "Please call my sister back so she will stop calling me and freaking out." He examined my knee and checked my recent MRI. His verdict was no verdict. In his words, "Christine, I don't know what to do about you." My ACL is in tact - not perfect but in tact.. My knee isn't swollen and hasn't swelled since I injured it (swelling is usually the first big sign that there's some sort of trauma going on inside). Could he operate on my ACL? Sure but he isn't confident that it would make things better and would I really want to spend the next year trying to recover and figure that out? Not really. Is it my meniscus? Probably.

We decided that I would rest, wait and see. If I was still limping in 2-3 weeks, then we would revisit the idea of surgery. So, here I am, in limbo-land, waiting and hoping that my knee will return to its normal self just as mysteriously as I seem to have injured myself.

Deep down, I was really hoping for a concrete answer from my doctor. I don't like ambiguity very much. If I had a concrete answer, then I could come up with a plan. I like plans. I was bummed that I didn't have a plan. As I made my way home, I decided to stop for some ramen - serious comfort food for me - and figure things out.

It seems like there are a lot of people out there who are sick or injured. Friends and fellow bloggers who are frustrated because they can't run or because they are stuck in bed with the flu.  It's so easy for me to say to them - listen to your body, respect your body, just rest - rest is important to keep your body healthy and strong. But when it comes to me? Can't take my own advice.

When it comes down to it, when you yourself are injured, it just plain sucks. You might be hating your running schedule or normal fitness regime but as soon as you can't do something, all you want it to go out on that run or hit that spin class or lift some weights or get in the water and surf. Grass is always greener…

So I'm trying to figure out how to keep myself sane over the next couple of weeks until I have some more answers. I admit, that I've been moping around the house a bit, complaining about the pain, the inconvenience, the poor timing. I'm pretty sure my husband would like me to stop. I read a great post on The Daily Love that gave me a kick in the pants. Specifically, this part:

Sometimes we have crisis in our lives – but the MEANING we GIVE the crisis is everything. Is this a breakdown or a breakthrough? Shit happens, but it’s what you do about it that matters...This means that we have the power to choose to respond in an empowered way to our circumstances, rather than just look for reasons why we are wrong, why we are not good enough or why we should quit. 

So here's my plan for surviving limbo-land:

1. Rest: As much as I want to run, spin, go to my regular TRX class, I'm not going to. I'm going to give my body the time to heal. This is probably my body's way of telling me to knock it off and stop running it into the ground. Fine. I'm listening.a

2. Strength Training - Upper Body and Core: OK, I just said I will rest and really I will but I also know that for my own sanity and well-being, I would like to do some activity. Since I can't really walk, bike or use the elliptical, I'm going to focus on strengthening my upper body and core. I might try to slip in some lower body work if I can tolerate it...maybe.

3. Swim: I said that I wanted to work on my swimming, right? Now I have the chance without being distracted by all that silly running. I promise to take it slow, especially pushing off the wall on my turns. I'll focus on pulling and not strain my leg again kicking.

4. Stretch/Foam Roll: I think that I have this fear that if I stop being active for any period of time, my muscles and ligaments will freeze into place. To prevent this from happening, I will continue to stretch and use my foam roller. 

5. Stop Eating Like I'm Still Training for a Half Marathon: Plain and simple, I can't keep eating the way that I have been given the reduction in my activity level. Simple equation right? Calories in > calories expended = new pants. So, bye bye pie and ice cream and scones and "recovery" meals.

6. Don't Stress: Really, I will not stress about this. At least, I promise to try.

So, that's the plan. Wait and see and hope for the best for running the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon in April

Here are some great recent posts related to injury and recovery from Whitney at Live, Run, Love, Yoga on the cumulative injury cycle and marathon training when sick and Brigid from Live, Breathe, Huzzah. They offer some great perspective.

Your Turn!
Have you ever been sidelined by injury? How do you manage illness and injury during training or in life in general? Do you need to have a plan or are you OK with limbo-land? How do you typically respond to crises or an unexpected turn of events in your life?

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At February 13, 2012 at 3:16 PM , Blogger Surfing Grandma of OC said...

When I hurt my shoulder from surfing and I could not go out in the water or do much other exercises. I was restless and complained and knew if I attempted before full recovery. It would just make it worse and possibly give me even a longer recovery time. So I read surf blogs, watched videos and read books. I also could not run, bike ride or do yoga or lift anything.. so my exercise consist of just walking. SO I took walks and read. I also tried to learn more about surfing through the videos and reading.. So I felt i was not losing knowledge, even though I knew I was losing paddling strength and falling behind on other surfing skills. Because if you don't use it you lose it. I also had to tell myself this was only temporary.. THANK GOD it was not a permanent injury, where I would never be able to do things again. That thought process kept me in check and look at it with a whole new perspective.

At February 13, 2012 at 6:37 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Michelle. I'm trying to keep my perspective on this. I have to keep reminding myself that in the long run, it's best for me not to rush things and to let my body take the time it needs to get better. I think it's an excellent idea to read books and blogs and watch videos and to take the time to do the things I never get to do.

At February 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM , Anonymous T. J. said...

I can really identify with this post and with the one before it where you said how you got hurt. I have been battling an ilio-tibial band problem for about 6 months and I think I have finally turned the corner. I kept "running through the pain" but eventually could barely walk and had to take 3 weeks off running - cold turkey. Like you, I didn't realize how much of my identity was tied up in exercise. During my down time I felt like a big log. But now that I have eased back up I am feeling better, although it was scary how much stamina I lost in just those few weeks. I also found that swimming and the stairmaster at the gym did not hurt my knee at all, so I am trying to incorporate those more in my workout. I have to say I am not surprised at how your injury occurred. As I got older, I realized that my body could adapt to things I was doing every day, but if I did some different kind of exercise suddenly, my body would rebel. I trained for and ran a marathon last year with no real aches and pains at all. Then, a month later, we were doing relay races with the kids, and in a 50 yard dash, I hurt my right thigh. I think that changed my running gait and eventually caused my left knee pain. This sounds very similar to you introducing speed workouts suddenly and then hurting your knee. Hindsight is 20/20, but I think its better to ease in to things a little more. The first time I went to Nosara, I hadn't swum at all the 6 months before, and by the last day I could literally not even raise my arms. The second time I learned my lesson and started swimming laps, a few more each day. I really had no problem with my arms during the week (my back was another issue, I should have been doing more pop-ups too!)

At March 1, 2012 at 12:09 PM , Anonymous Arah said...

Christine- I just stumbled onto your terrific blog, via the Athleta Chi site, I think. Love it! Plus, I was looking for a recommendation for a surf school, and you have provided one.

When injured, I quickly look for the silver lining, which is often just an opportunity to simplify my life, or at least my weekly schedule. There are normally so many active things I like to do, and I'm lucky to have the health to do most of them. It can be exhausting, even when fun! Running, skiing, climbing, fitness classes: what a jungle. The closest thing I had to injury time recently was my rest days earlier this week, after a long ski race I did on Saturday. It made it so easy to decide to just go home and just cook a healthy dinner and watch a DVD or read a book, for once.

Injury has taken me out for longer than a few days, of course. In those cases, I've found it to be an opportunity to exercise the other side of my brain or life, and create something. And it forces me to contemplate my priorities. In my late 20's, an ACL replacement took me out of my then-favorite sport (rugby) for nearly a year. I came back, excited to play rugby, but very excited to ski again - the surgery made me think about the real reason I needed that ACL. I love skiing so much!

On that note, good luck in your healing. I hope you can get out to play on liquid or frozen water again, soon.

At March 1, 2012 at 5:30 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thank you so much for you comment Arah! I appreciate your thoughts on managing through injury. It has given me some much needed downtime although it is hard being in Lake Tahoe with 3-4 feet of fresh powder and not be able to ski. An exercise in patience, I guess :-)

If you are looking for a surf school, I wholeheartedly recommend Surf Simply in Costa Rica. Top notch surf coaching and really amazing people that run the place. It was probably one of the best trips that I have ever taken. I'm happy to answer questions if you have time. You should also take a look at their reviews on Trip Advisor:


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