Mentally Coming Back from an Injury

Hey guys! It’s my last day here in Colorado and while I finish writing about our mountain adventures, I’ve got a great post to share with you.
Today’s post was written by the awesome chick Bebe from All Of My Words. She’s a (former) Weight Watcher like myself, and has come back from injury with a healthy attitude that I admire.

In Bebe’s words:

The physical strain and pain of an injury can be treated with medications, physical therapy, and time. The same can be said about coming back from an injury. The physical ‘bounce back’ from an injury can take time, but improvement is seen, sometimes rather quickly, sometimes slower.

So what about the mental strain of an injury? What about mentally building yourself up to swim, run, walk, bike, box, etc. again after a hiatus?

In October of 2009 I walked all 64.7 miles of the Breast Cancer 3 day in Washington DC. I felt invincible. I felt like a superhero. I felt like I could DO ANYTHING. So I decided upon resting up from that accomplishment, to begin running. I wanted to run a race. I had my sights set on a marathon, but decided to (smartly) start with a 5K. I found on in my area, and only had 1 piece of criteria. I didn’t want to wake up before the sun to race. This event I found started at 3:00pm.

It was the Bull Run Festival Of Lights 5K on December 31, 2009. I began training (not really.) on the treadmill at the gym, and then decided to run a few times outside. Well I wasn’t remotely ready for a sprint let alone 3.1 miles. I finished the race, and to me at that moment that was all that mattered. I took about 5 days off from running (it was cold and I am a wimp), and then started back up again. I signed up for 5 more races and was getting more and more excited.
One morning at the gym I was on the treadmill and had run for 25 minutes straight at this point. I remember my left leg striking the treadmill and instant pain in my hip. Obviously this meant something was wrong.

I played it off for about a month, until I could barely walk. I went to the orthopedic doctor’s office and they did X-Rays, sent me for an MRI Authrogram, which concluded I had torn a tendon straight through in my left hip. Surgery was the only way to fix it. Surgery that was a
month away, and would have me out of the running game for 6 months to a year.

Devastated doesn’t cover it.

Physically I could manage the pain with Advil, or tramadol, or if it was really bad, Percocet. But mentally, I couldn’t stop beating myself up.

How could you be so stupid as to not train properly? People shouldn’t walk 60 miles and then take up running! You’re overweight you shouldn’t be doing this anyway! Stick to your exercise DVDs!

I was physically healing a month after surgery, but I was mentally broken. I was terrified to try and even exercise a little. I took a total of 2 months off from everything workout related. I gained 17 pounds, lost all will and hope of getting back to where I was, let alone, to goal.

What most people don’t realize is that the mental healing after an injury that sidelines you, can be just as important as the physical healing from that injury, if not more so sometimes.

After about 9 weeks of physical therapy (completely at home since my insurance decided that it was going to ‘think’ about covering my visits or not) I decided I would try a walk on the treadmill. I made it down stairs to my treadmill, the one my husband and I purchased just two weeks before I was completely sidelined, and stepped up. My hip didn’t hurt at first, I made it through the first mile, and then got scared.

I stopped.

It took me another 2 weeks to jump back on that treadmill. I started thinking about how I didn’t need to run, ever again. Not because my body couldn’t take it, but because my mind wasn’t allowing it. My mind was broken and ripped apart.

It’s very hard to realize that you aren’t invincible. It’s very hard to realize that you are human, when for so long you have improved physically and mentally, to accept that you still fall back.

Around October of 2010, about 5 months post surgery, I was supposed to be walking in the Breast Cancer 3 Day again. Well obviously, I wasn’t allowed to participate. I was angry that I
would miss the experience and learning as I had the year before.

I was sitting at a rest stop on the walk, waiting for my team to come through so I could cheer them on with all of their hard work. It was there that I met a couple walking the walk together. She was 28, and dying of Breast Cancer. I’ll let you wrap your head around that, if you can. He lost his left leg and left arm in Afghanistan when his convoy was attacked. She was bald, pale, with sores on her head from the sun, even though she was wearing a hat. He was walking with
a prosthetic leg and a walker, and they both were determined to finish.

I’ll never forget what they said to me as long as I live:

Her: My mind has healed, and my body will follow, neither will give up.
Him: I am stronger in the places that are broken and missing. Apart, we are pieces of people, together we are whole.

You can fail. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.
You can fall back.
You can get sidelined.

It’s what you do with that moment of failing, falling, and being sidelined that decides how you heal.

It took me a total of 8 months to get back into my workout groove, but once it happened, everything clicked. It took my body and mind a bit to get in sync with each other. My mind wanted to run and sprint and train, my hip wanted yoga and walking. It’s been a little over a
year and I am just now retraining my body to run again. My entire momentum has changed, and that’s fine. You change as you grow. You change as you heal.

Mentally I am there, and it’s amazing.

1 thought on “Mentally Coming Back from an Injury

  1. Pingback: Hello Weekend! « lifes little epiphanies…

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