Monday, April 28, 2014

The Road to Healing

Suffering a stupid injury (stupid because it was my own fault) is a lesson in just how robust and yet fragile our bodies are.

When you watch athletes compete (as I did in the first days of my injury when I could only sit or lie down and so inhaled every single event at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games that was possible through television emissions and internet streaming!) or when you see dancers or acrobats, it is easy to think that there is no limit to the feats of strength, flexibility or finesse of movement of which a human body is capable.  Children in the playground seem to be always falling down.  Adolescents spill down ski slopes in a torrent of snow dust and suffer no more than a strain.  Even well-toned adults slip, bump, tip, crash in sometimes elaborate displays of physical ineptitude, and are up and at it again within days. 

Listening to some of the Olympians interviewed, I couldn't imagine how on earth they could have shattered their knees, or broken their back, and spent months in casts before rigorous training to get back in their sport to compete.  The fact they can walk at all is amazing let alone careen down ice on what looks like a tea tray at the Olympic games.  One woman said her family motto growing up was "Safety third!"  Despite loving that motto, I wondered at the highjinks that family must have got up to with that as their watchword.  Imagine the family crest!!!

My husband's running coach is a case in point.  She was young, she was fit, she was training for her first Ironman competition, and then she was hit by a truck.  She broke her back, her pelvis and a limb or two and suffered nerve damage as well.  After a long year of recovery though, she didn't just get back to running or cycling, she took part in triathlons and ironmen as well as competitions with ridiculous comic book names: super spartan, and tough mudder.  Not only did she take part in them - she was winning them!  She ran when she was pregnant and she has the Guinness world record for the fastest marathon while pushing her first born in a stroller (<3.5 hours BTW)!

If you want to know more about Allison Tai, be my guest:

But my point is that the human frame can take a lot of abuse and yet come back to fitness and strength. 

On the other hand,

Why is it that one childish body can withstand fall and after fall and then one day, the fall is different for some reason and an arm gets broken?  Strong swimmers accidentally swallow a bit too much seawater and within a minute can be lost.  Hockey players hit the boards just a tiny bit harder than usual and what normally is a bruise is now a concussion. 

I wonder about those Olympic bodies in 30 years time.  After suffering terrible injuries, will they be able to even move when they are 60 or 90? 

If I had fallen the same way in 20 years time, I have no doubt there would have been a break or a fracture.  And the older a body gets, the closer to a death sentence that can be.  Once a hip or knee is broken and gets replaced, the other is at risk, muscle mass is lost.  And as we age it gets harder and harder to get any of that back.  It's brutally unfair that it can take months of hard word to be able to plank for a few minutes or lift your own body weight, and poof!  Just like that, it is gone!

So I have followed the advice of some of those crazy fit people and set myself challenges.  The first one was being able to walk to the bathroom.  Then to shower myself.  Then to dress.  Climb stairs again.  Get in the car.  Drive the car.  Walk 10 minutes, then 15.  Garden. 

Nothing fancy or dramatic. Not even noteworthy to anyone else but myself really.  There are no medals at the end.  No interviews.  But a newfound appreciation for this crooked, inflamed, bruised body of mine.  And patience interspersed with work to help it return to its former self.  If not better!

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