Have you ever been sidelined?
As runners, and athletes in general, I'd wager most of us have claimed "sidelined status" at least once.
Myself? I'm no exception. In fact, I was sidelined for three months, a few summers ago. THREE MONTHS! During the SUMMER, my favorite season for all things running and fitness. Not only did I live to tell about it, I am grateful for all that I learned about myself (and others) while on my running sabbatical.
Let me set the scene...
Without going into all the nitty gritty (and graphic) details, I (somehow) had developed a case of bursitis near my right knee, which (somehow) had morphed into a staph infection, in mid-June of 2017. One of my local doctors brushed off the redness and the swelling and gave me a few days of steroids (probably to ease my mind more than his). A few days later, I got in to see a specialist in Des Moines (on my own accord), and a few hours later I was on the operating table, undergoing emergency surgery to "clean and flush" the infected area near my knee. I woke up with a delicate 6-inch suture seam, alongside my knee ... and my summer was immediately thrown upside-down.
|with my IV pole, affectionately named Guido, who accompanied me everywhere while I was hospitalized
|with the stitches still intact, steri-strips, and the healing scar
Oh, did I mention the IV infusions? I have had ZERO medical training, so this was probably the scariest of all the post-op instructions. I had to give myself infusions three times each day (at 6:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m.) for the next three weeks.
|The PICC line? I named him Linus...
He also had told me had I waited even a day longer before that appointment with the specialist (which morphed into a quick consult with him...and then the subsequent surgery a couple of hours later)...I may have needed a skin graft (some of the flesh on my knee was starting to turn purple from the infection). A skin graft would have most likely ended my running career there and then. End of story.
Knowing we'd caught the infection when we did (and the severity of everything) was pretty eye-opening. My pity party lasted all of (maybe) 20 minutes that first night following the surgery. Fortunately, I had the sense to realize I was lucky to be in such good health (and under such great care in the hospital). As such, the odds of a full recovery were very promising.
So, how did I deal with this setback? How does one function when their favorite sport of sports is taken away from them, with no warning?
Thankfully, I had a few crutches (no pun intended) in my arsenal.
First of all, I was able to see the big picture, instead of focusing on the small detour that was forced upon me. It was disappointing to have to DNS a couple of summer races, but there were several races happening a few months later. These future races were all mine if I followed the surgeon's instructions and took one day at a time.
|bidding a fond farewell to Linus...
I kept busy doing other fitness things. Even though I couldn't bend my leg for those first 10 days or so, I was able to do leg lifts, push-ups, and all the planking my heart desired. Upper-body strength work was also well-utilized.
Finally, I had a huge revelation. I was very envious of all of my running friends, logging miles in the summer heat. I would have gladly traded places with any or all of them. That said, although I was sidelined, I knew I was going to run again, and I was still able to walk and do other things for the time being. A lot of injured runners (and athletes in general) aren't as lucky. There were probably countless others, sidelined indefinitely, who would have gladly traded places with me. How's that for some perspective?
September 29th arrived. The hubby, Barb and myself did the Kickoff to Kinnick 5K...and I did it! I was able to run the entire race, finishing just under 30 minutes!
A year later, on October 13, 2018, I ran the Cannonball Marathon (Greensboro, NC). It was a tough, hilly route...but crossing that finish line really made me feel like my rally-back had come full circle.
The big lesson I learned from this experience is to be ever grateful. Every day, for every run, and for every race...no matter how easy, tough, challenging, or gut-wrenching the experience may be. I get to choose to run (and work out), and I'm grateful to have that choice.
Talk to me...Have you ever been sidelined? Was it forced, or by choice? Any lessons learned from the experience? Did you come back stronger for the fight?
I'm also linking with Debbie, Rachel, Deborah, Lisa, Smitha and Jenn for the Runners' Roundup