My story, like so many others, began with an unexpected pop, a turn of the head to see who had kicked me and a step that felt like there was no earth below me. I had just joined a woman’s soccer league and was at my first practice. I had never played soccer before but I was in great shape after running my first half marathon and biking in a 150 ride the 2 days before. My 12 year old son assured me he could teach me everything I needed to know about soccer in 5 weeks and we were enjoying the bonding time together during his "training sessions" with me. It would be easy to blame this on soccer; after all, what’s a 44 year old mom thinking, taking up a new sport like soccer? But, when the Achilles popped I was just taking a step-no slide tackling, no hole in the field, no winning goal. It was a step I could have taken in my kitchen or at work.
I had very little physical pain (lucky, I know!) which has given me the luxury of focusing on the emotional impact. In the first few days I had all the classic grieving emotions: denial (probably just a calf tear), anger (why me? Why not the other woman at practice who hadn’t worked out in 5 years?), fear (will I go crazy without the ability to workout for months? Will the pain be awful? ), blame (what did I do wrong?), and sadness (I have lost the ability to do everything I love!) to eventual reluctant acceptance (sort of). I admit that I am still a bit stuck on "Why did this happen?" question. It would be nice to have the answer so I could take steps to prevent this from happening again on the other side in the future. However, as the weeks go by, I am realizing that "letting go of control" is Life Lesson #1 that I am to learn with this injury. As a health care provider in oncology I know that bad stuff often "just happens", usually out of the blue, even if you take care of your body like you are supposed to. Still, its different when its your own body and your own psyche (and, yes, I am very aware of how minimal this injury is compared to cancer and many other serious health problems). Going into surgery under general anesthesia is certainly the ultimate in letting go of control! There are so many "opportunities" to learn this lesson when you are stuck on the coach with your foot in the air. I have had to relinquish so many of my Mom-tasks as well as the control and sense of accomplishment and value to my family that comes with it. As grateful as I am for all my husband and children are doing around the house, it is also hard for me because, well… they don’t do it my way (dare I say, right?). Most things I have learned to let go, but every so often I step in and ask for the task to be done differently and then feel like an ogre for caring about such silly things like how the laundry is folded. Other times it matters a great deal (at least to me) like asking for the stairs to be vacuumed daily so I can inch down on my rear end without getting all full of dog hair.
I am gaining more an more independence (thanks to my Medline knee scooter on loan from my brother-in-law), but early on even the smallest tasks required help; going to the bathroom, getting dressed, getting a drink of water. Of course it is wonderful to have so many friends and family come to help, but after a few days I realized that I much prefer to be on the one helping others rather than being waited on. I feel guilty asking for help and inconveniencing others. Life lesson #2…"learning to be cared for"
I am a doer and a goer so not being able to drive or make plans on the spur of the moment is especially hard. Exercise has been my primary stress management technique so I am adjusting to new strategies such as mediation. My husband finally had to tell me that sometimes it was better if I would just sit on the coach and read a novel, because every time I try to "get something done" it requires extra work by everyone else! I am getting better and better at afternoon naps and hanging with friends on my back porch doing "nothing" but it still goes against my nature. Life Lesson #3…"learning to slow down and just ‘be’".
My doctor’s protocol was a splint for 10 days followed by a cast for 2 weeks and then another cast (with some stretch to bring foot more to neutral) for another 2 weeks. I just got my 2nd cast. I am a naturally patient person and keep thinking that once I can start PT I’ll feel better since I can finally "do" something and see progress. The NY City Marathon tracker is also nice for people like me! Enter Life lesson #4….Patience.
I know others (my brother included, who did this 2 years ago!) have a more aggressive protocol. I started researching all the options and thought about getting all sorts of opinions (what I usually do if faced with a problem) but this time I decided I needed to just trust that I had a doctor who was high regarded and that this was one of many ways to fix this problem. As hard as this was, it is also sort of a relief. Life Lesson #5….Trust.
Clearly Life is smarter than I am about what I need and I am trying really hard to be open to these lessons. Glad to have all the others on this blog going through this journey with me!
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