Dealing with Injuries

It’s been a month since the ankle disaster of 2012.

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What I thought was a severe rolled ankle turned out to be a grade II high ankle sprain and I’m frustrated beyond belief.  Perhaps it’s time for a recap.

Over the past month, I’ve rested, I’ve RICE-ed, I saw my chiro, I saw a sports doc who specializes in ankles, I’ve been going to PT twice a week, I’ve been on crutches, I’ve been off crutches, I wore slacks and tennis shoes to work, I’ve worn my brace and flats to work, I’ve been doing seated upper body, I’ve even been spinning my legs for 30 minutes at a time with no resistance, I’ve been doing my PT exercise like a champ.

I felt like I’ve been as restful as I can without literally sitting in my bed all day. I was making small, but positive progress – I just can’t seem to get all the swelling down. But it was positive enough for my PT to say that she thought I’d be able to “try” running again in two or three weeks.

HURRAH!

But after a weekend of cheering and being on my feet, I went to the PT on Wednesday and my ankle was swollen and sore. Frick. My PT said that I wouldn’t be running anytime soon.

Enter: horrible mood/loss of all motivation and patience.

You see, I thought I would be half way healed by this point. I’ve done my fair share of googling and while symptoms and healing could take up to six months, most are back in the game anywhere between six and eight weeks. WHY AREN’T I MAKING MORE PROGRESS?!

I know I need to rest even more than I have been, but with this injury and the loss of any form of endorphins, I sunk into this self-pity hole. I know, I know, it’s ridiculous. But I feel like going through emotional stages of injury, and with a little research, I found a Runner’s World article talking about just this.

According to the article, “The sense of loss an athlete feels when injured can be very similar to the other types of mourning or grief that occur in our lives,” says Diane Wiese-Bjornstal, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Minnesota and a leading researcher of injury psychology. “It’s a huge sense of loss that you feel.”

Here’s how it’s breaking down for me:

DENIAL

This is usually when people are feeling pain, but don’t consider themselves injured. For me, it was after I got hurt and it was the very first thing that came out of my mouth, “No! Big race! Big race!” followed by emails to my doctors with the subject line: Are You Sure?!  This couldn’t really be happening just days before the race.

ANGER

My anger was directed at myself. I remember crying in my car just thinking, “What did I do?!” I was blaming myself and so, so angry that I did this.

LAUGHTER

This one may be a bit unique as I added it in myself, but once I got over the anger, I started joking about it and making fun of myself in crowds. Or maybe it’s just my cover-up for the other feelings…

BARGAINING/DEPRESSION

When injured athletes finally confront their injury, they sometimes become too gung-ho. “You think, I’ll do more rehab, more often, more reps, more weights, and then I’ll get back to running sooner,” Wiese-Bjornstal says. “But more isn’t always better.”

Wiese-Bjornstal’s research shows that athletes with severe injuries that require long amounts of downtime are likely to linger in this stage. The enthusiasm you initially had for your rehab routine fades. You miss the endorphin fix running provided, and you feel cut off from the running and racing community.

This is where you start thinking, “I’ll just do X to get to Y sooner.” Add in my above feelings and lack in healing progress, and boom: depressed. I’m still dealing with this one while embracing patience and knowing that I, in fact, still have so much to be grateful for.

ACCEPTANCE

One can imply what this one means. I’m not there yet, but in the mean time, I’ll try and stay off my feet and doing exactly as the PT prescribes.

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Happy Running!

 

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15 Responses to Dealing with Injuries

  1. RoseRunner says:

    I’m so sad to hear that your recovery has slowed because you are TOO WONDERFUL of a friend and supporter to other runners. You definitely had an exhausting weekend between the 50 miler and CIM. Poor ankle :(

    I am a terrible injured person, probably would get stuck in the denial phase for so long that I would keep pushing it until my leg fell off. You are handling it well. Anyone would get depressed. Keep on your routine, and maybe maybe just maybe you will be one of those “8 week” ankle recoverers.

  2. Here’s hoping to a quick recovery! Hang in there. I had three surgeries in less than three years between my junior year of high school and freshman year of college (which is when collegiate athletes are recruited). I had to give up swimming at a D1 school because of an injury that I tried to push through. It was not worth it in the slightest. Do whatever you can to get through this time and try to remember that it will be worth resting more now when you are crossing the finish line of an Ironman next year!

  3. XLMIC says:

    I know it feels like forEVER now…but it really will be healed before you know it. Slather it with TLC :) Thinking of you!

  4. Jean says:

    I totally understand “denial.” I got a stress fracture in my foot roughly six months ago and had to walk with it completely turned out to the side and even then I could only manage a hobble, yet I somehow convinced myself I would be fine in a few days (I was supposed to run a marathon in two weeks). It wasn’t until a couple of days later that a group of coworkers saw me trying to walk and they literally forced me to call the doctor that very second and make an appointment… These things can be hard to admit to ourselves. Hang in there!

  5. JenJ says:

    Argh, I’m so sorry this is taken forever and a lifetime. I have nothing wise to say other than ‘hang in there, this, too, shall pass!!!’. Have a great weekend.

  6. Jen says:

    I know it doesn’t seem like it right now, but this is a really short injury/recovery period. I’ve undergone 2 surgeries (ACL, ankle), with the ACL taking 5 months to completely heal. After that experience, I was SO thankful for being able to just walk normally. So be good, rest up, and take care of yourself. You’ll be back at 100% in no time. :)

  7. Injuries are the worst…trust me, I’ve been there. I pulled out of a big races. The good news is that one day there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, and taking rest now will help you get back sooner.

    Tons of speedy recovery thoughts coming your way!

  8. I’m with you on the denial, laughing, anger, and acceptance of injuries. But then I saw Lola’s sweater and died a little. Too adorable!

  9. Nelly says:

    I understand all of those stages above, and have been through all of them last year. I hope your ankle heals up over time. The best thing you can do is to follow your PTs advice. And every time you meet with them, grill them with any questions that you have. Having a PT person is like having your own personal trainer, so take advantage of it.

    And for my own running, I’ve started to experience some inside left knee pain, similar to my injury last summer. I think I didn’t strength train enough over this summer. So I am another reminder that strength training is necessary no matter what time of the year it is. I’ll likely take 2-4 weeks off running and hopefully my knee feels better.

  10. Layla says:

    You poor thing. For what it’s worth, I was off for four months with a stress fracture, then PRed a half marathon. It seems like, for every injury I get, I come back stronger. You WILL be back to 100 percent, and you WILL be able to run pain-free. In the meantime, keep getting Lola to help you with the PT exercises!

  11. Jeanne says:

    I so know what you’re going through right now. Six weeks before a marathon I’d been training for, I came down with Achilles tendonitis and a small partial tear in my Achilles tendon . I haven’t run in two months. I cried every day for days. I’m now in the “acceptance ” phase and have finally shifted my attitude from “when can I run again?” to “what should I be doing to help my Achilles heal?” You will make peace with your bum ankle and you WILL overcome it!

  12. Kim says:

    Ugh, I know this all too well :( I am really sorry, Page! Keep the faith and know that someday–hopefully very soon–those endorphins will be back and flowing and it will be the best, most euphoric moment in your entire life (OK, perhaps that is a bit extreme, but it will be close!)

    I really struggled with injury depression/hopelessness when I hurt my shoulders in swimming in 8th grade. I would go through bouts where I would make HUGE progress and then suffer some minor set back that would snowball and put me right back where I started in rehab. This was a pattern for the next FOUR YEARS before I eventually went under the knife and had two separate surgeries (Part of the reason we waited so long is that my doctor and family had been waiting for the technology to improve before going in) which sidelined me for 6 & 1/2 months and completely changed the direction of my college search/recruiting. The silver lining is that once I got to college I was able to swim pain free and find joy in practicing and competing and make up for all of lost time. Sure I was really sad that I missed some of my golden years in high school swimming (though I was able to get by with limited yardage, icing and PT for four straight years), I really savored and held onto every college practice, swim meet and PR :) It’s never too late, Page!

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