This has got to be the single most frustrating thing that has happened to me in recent memory.
For those who may not have read, I finished the Spartan Beast at Mt. Killington, VT
(their World Championship course)…but long story short I broke my knee in the process. Now, I’m left with the aftermath – recovery, healing, and attempting to live daily life pretty much without the use of my left leg (for 6 – 12 weeks).
Today marks the halfway point through my “initial recovery”…but man…I’ve about had it.
(Forewarning – some pictures in this post might be slightly…gross.)
Injury sucks. I really don’t know how else to put it. For those who have had to deal with it, I’m sure you understand. For those who haven’t…be glad.
For “Average Joe” an injury is a big fat inconvenience… but as a fitness freak and a runner this is about a million times worse. But…before I launch into a rambling tirade…
So, what actually HAPPENED?
The Beast was about 16.5 miles long. I went up ~6,500 ft and down ~6,500 ft. I must’ve done around 200 burpees (maybe more). It took me 10 hours 16 minutes. By the time I got to the very end – the Fire Jump – I was pooped. I’m talking a level of honest-to-God exhaustion I didn’t know existed. I saw the finish. I ran. I leaped. I hurdled myself over those burning logs like I was about to win the Boston Marathon. It was right there…I was FINALLY about to finish!
Unfortunately, the last bit of strength I had went into the lift-off….and I had nothing left for the landing.
Do me a favor – stand up (yes, right now) and jump. Notice how when you land you bend your legs and kind of shock-absorb yourself?
Yeah…that didn’t happen for me.
So, when I landed, my femur (thigh bone) took my full weight plus my momentum and hammered it directly down into my tibia (calf/shin bone). My “medial tibial plateau” (the top side of the tibia facing the other leg) cracked under the pressure.
I now have a titanium plate in my left leg. It has some lovely screws and elegant swelling to go with it. From date of surgery I’m looking at 6 weeks until I can bear weight on the leg and an estimated 12 weeks until I’m running races unrestricted.
So here I am.
In the grand scheme of things, it could be a lot worse. I could have soft tissue damage (ACL, MCL, etc). My knee could be really, really damaged and require much longer to heal. I could be looking at never running again. But it’s not, it doesn’t, and I’m not. I got lucky.
And instead of being grateful, I’m whining.
Because I’m useless. Because I FEEL useless. I have to use crutches to get around, so I can’t really carry things. Sure, I can throw on a backpack, sling my laptop bag and my lunch bag on…but then my balance is so whacked I fall over if someone breaths on me the right way. I can’t do so many of the things I took for granted 4 weeks ago.
I feel like an incredible burden on those around me – my friends and family who are helping me out immensely during this challenge. My poor wife…the “in sickness and in health” clause got invoked WAY before either of us expected.
And to top it all off, I can’t run or work out!
I am a runner, a fitness freak, and a gym manager. I go to work 5 or 6 days a week and stare at treadmills I can’t run on. I see weights I can’t lift. I see all my members doing what I want to leap up and do. It’s maddening.
It makes the little victories and the progress difficult to appreciate.
My swelling has gone down. I can get through the day-to-day without painkillers (not even Tylenol!). I can rest my foot on the ground enough to balance myself (but no more weight than that).
Yesterday I even had a major milestone: I hit 90 degrees range of motion.
But as soon as I’m done celebrating, its not long before I’m reminded of the frustrations. Y’know, when I can’t carry the coffee pot to the sink to fill it with water.
I know this will pass. Before I know it I’ll be weight-bearing and then it’ll be leaps and bounds and I’ll be cycling, on the elliptical, and then back on the road. Until then, I need to focus on the progress, the little victories, and my rehab plan. I have to figure out how to workout once I’m cleared to weight-bear.
Focus on the positives. My leg and my body may have found their breaking point, but I can’t let my spirit and my mind find theirs. I will come back from this stronger and smarter than before.
After everything I’ve been through, nothing is going to keep me down.