You worthless asshole. Uh. No. NOT ok. It's worth the risk. Put me on that treadmill. Clear me. Sign me away. Suck it up and take a chance on me. On my knee!
"Sure, not a problem," was all I could come up with.
It's official. It's not the miraculous comeback I bragged about pre-op. I'm not AP (and in hindsight, that may be a saving grace to keep myself out of comparison with him). It's nothing special. My quad isn't strong enough. My extension isn't full enough. The long of the short is, I'm just a little bit behind. The glamour, the novelty, and the humility of the recovery process is rearing its ugly head, and I'm feeling it. It hurts. It hurts because everything is working hard to keep up with the road to health, but it hurts nonetheless. It hurts because my muscles are tight and weak and twisted all in one. Sitting, standing, and walking for extended periods of time are uncomfortable, and every time I crouch down to sweep Larry's dog hair into the dustpan, I remember that I can either bend or sit (but not cross-legged), not crouch. Physical Therapy also hurts. Movie theaters are disastrous. Driving over 30 minutes is slightly less than torturous. Sleeping is awesome until I wake up. The whole process is just...frustrating.
At least that's what the pouting, puckered-lip child inside me wants to say. She wants to throw a tantrum. Scream. Cry. Fast forward through time. But alas, if Interstellar has taught us one thing, it's that time is relative. Is 6 weeks longer than 2? Ya. It is. I had definitely imagined myself heading into 2015 with a few runs under my belt and gliding into the peak of my progressive recovery. I am pissed. I am unhappy about being behind. And just being injured in general. I'm upset and in question of my own protocol and practices. I'm aesthetically insecure, and I'm freaking nervous as hell that I won't push through the way I want to. And yes, I'm scared.
The funny thing is, my "team" doesn't seem to be nervous.
When my surgeon told me that he wanted me to wait an extra 4 weeks to run, he didn't seem concerned. He gave me 3 new exercises to do every single day. He told me I could work out without my brace, take a spin class, and he taught me what to look for if I started recruiting the wrong muscles while trying to push through this dull point. When I told him about the pain, he simply nodded. Same with my PT. She knew I wasn't ready to run, but said it as if she told me it was raining outside. Ever seen a child trip on a crack in the sidewalk and topple over ever so slightly? He looks around at everyone and THEN starts crying. Why? He's validating his reaction. Is everyone freaking out? Run, coddle him, pick him up, and he is full blown frightened and snot-nose crying. Give him a smile, grab his hand, and move on, and he likely lets a couple of tears dribble, but then moves on. My surgeon and PT are simply grabbing my hand and telling me to move on. It's tough love. And I deserve it. The tough part and the love part.
One of my new exercises is a one-legged squat. My PT told me to stand up and do one last week. I looked at her for a second and then asked, "With my bad leg?"
She scowled. I mean really scowled. I'm pretty sure a hand went to her hip too.
"With the INVOLVED leg," she countered.
I smirked and did what I was told. The involved leg. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or guffaw.
Involved didn't quite seem to do justice.
But maybe I had it wrong. What if involved is the new bad? What would that look like? I'm dating a bad boy - no, no, I'm dating an involved boy. Larry! Bad Boy! Larry! Involved Boy! Is it an ambiguous get-out-of-jail-free label, or is it a more specific and realistic category? Is it really relative? If I constantly consider one leg to be worse off, am I secretly giving myself an out to NOT have the recovery that I want? Is it a coward move to label it Bad? What did I do to my now "good" leg by labeling it with a negative implication? Was it simply misunderstood? Looking back, it doesn't seem so bad now.
I get it. I really do. It's a process. Everyone's is different. I'm closing in on my 4 month mark. I've watched the seasons change (well, as much as they do in Southern California). I've progressed through the many stages of "bracing," and I've continued to find the little victories along the way. One of my friends asked me if I've learned anything about myself throughout this process. My first instinct was to defensively say that I've already been through it, so there isn't much left to learn. But that's not really true. I've learned a crapload. The good and the bad. Am I resilient? Somewhat. I do a pretty decent job of pushing through. But am I hurt and confused and sad and worried along the way? Absolutely. I've learned the same thing I learned as a teenage athlete. It's not all about me. I can share my thoughts and mindless hopes and frustrations through a blog (and it's cathartic, believe me), but ultimately, time is relative. It doesn't stop for me to get my act together and take care of my responsibilities. No knee surgeries or 3 knee surgeries, the road is bumpy. Maybe I make some poor decisions or maybe that's just the involvement of my mind throughout the process. Maybe there is no bad. Just involved.
I went to my workout class this morning without my brace for the first time. My best friend noticed, but nobody else did. Except for me of course. I watched myself in the mirror. When I was on the bike, I looked just like everyone else. You couldn't detect an "involved" leg. The brace had almost allowed me to hide behind the modifications, the slight limp, the lack of strength. It was a badge of "bad." Now, thrown in the trunk of my car "just in case," the brace isn't involved at all.
I'm not sure when I'll run. Or what it will feel like. Or if I'll have complications. But I have a new found respect for the progressive ACLs in my knees, and they deserve a little positive encouragement. No more name calling. No more labeling them "bad" just because they have a little bit of a longer journey.
Involved. It's the new bad.