Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Going It Alone

Or What a long strange trip it's been.

When I broke my ankle back in January I knew that this day would come but I didn't realize how odd it would feel. Tomorrow is my last scheduled day for physical therapy. On Sunday I get to remove the brace and start walking like a normal human being. In some ways this is the end of my treatment. Two attempts to set the bones, a surgery with screws and plates, two weeks of no weight bearing, one and a half months of limited weight bearing, and two months of physical therapy with full walking have all come down to this.

After tomorrow there will be no one to push me through my physical therapy. There will be no one there to guide me through the recovery process. After tomorrow I'm on my own. I'm both scared and thrilled at this. No matter how much I love my physical therapist, I won't miss taking off work last minute to attend appointments. As much as I appreciate the doctor who did the surgery, I'm glad he feels confident enough that he doesn't need to see me again. And no matter how much I've needed the directed recovery in the past, I'm ready to step out (pun intended) on my own.

I can walk now, mostly gimp-free. I can climb steps, although I still need the handrail. I can stand for long periods of time without pain. The only things I can't do right now is hop, run, and crouch. And I'll start working on those. I've learned the value of physical therapy. Of working daily to make myself stronger. I finally understand the old adage: if you don't use it, you lose it. That is very true for muscles. As I rebuild my calf muscles, my achilles tendon, and my knees I'm reminded that you are either getting stronger or atrophying. For the last couple years I've been letting myself go. I'm been letting the muscles grow soft while I sit on the couch. I've been ignoring my body. But this injury is just what I needed to give me an added push.

When I was sitting on the couch right after the break, I dreamed about walking. When I was slowly starting to walk with the crutches, I dreamed about getting rid of them. When I finally put down the crutches, I dreamed about walking without a limp. Now that I'm walking without a limp, I dream about running. I dream about running for distance. I want to strengthen enough to run a marathon. It's been a dream of mine for the last ten years.

So my next step will be to start walking for distance. As my muscles and my endurance build up I can start learning how to hop. And once I learn to hop I can start teaching myself to run. I know that I always have back-up from my physical therapist if I need it. I can always go back. But for right now I have a goal, I have ambition, and I have the energy to go it alone.

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