Saturday, May 06, 2006

Defiant and stubborn... or... determined and focussed?

It is almost six months to the day since I wrote in my training log that my knee hurt when I ran. I can’t believe it. Six months.

I have asked myself many times how this could happen. I have no answers. No one does.

I go from being hopeful to frustrated to downright angry… But usually I settle into obedient patience, diligently doing my physio exercises and following instructions on how to get it better. In general, I’ve stayed off it, no matter how much it tears me up inside.

Tonight I went out with Z. and Samuel for dinner. It was Z’s first outing to a restaurant since having her boy. They both looked great and the chance to visit was delightful. Our dinner took an extraordinarily long time to arrive. The manager came over and apologized, saying that the house would be pleased to buy us dessert. Sounded great to us!

During dinner Z. probed me about running… and other activities… What was it about running? I mean, it didn’t start out that way, right? I just wanted to get in shape… not run… So what’s the big deal about finding another activity? (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist.)

I couldn’t explain it… She was right… This started off as a quest to live differently and as part of that process, get in shape and be healthy. Falling in love with running (again) was unexpected. But it happened.

Then, I got injured. And, corny as it may sound, I felt like I was ripped away from a new love I had barely gotten a chance to know. Geez, that does sound corny.

I have asked myself if I am just being stubborn. I’ve been known to be that way, you know. I have wondered if I would still be this passionate about it, if it wasn’t “forbidden”. The deep down truth is, I don’t know. How could I know, except to get on the other side of this injury and see how I feel about it?

Yesterday I had another physio appointment… my 17th physio appointment, to be precise. Tim said, “I don’t think you’re gonna run again, Sarah. It’s time to think about other activities… biking, swimming… but not running. I mean… we can try one more time, but… I don’t think so…”

“Hmph!” I snorted, trying to be respectful... Involuntary tears welling up from inside me as I blinked them back.

I hate crying – especially in public. I probably wouldn’t have, if the rest of the week had been normal. But it wasn’t.

Yesterday would have been a great day to hear, “Your diligence shows. You’re stronger. Not having to use the knee brace is progress. We are going in the right direction.” The truth was, I really wanted some good news yesterday. I wanted a reason to hope. Instead, I was basically told to give up hope.

Tim was firm with me: “We’ll try one more time… Do your stability exercises for two more weeks. Then we go back to squats. If you can’t squat, you can’t run. You need to be able to load your knee with weight.”

I nodded in acknowledgement, choking back sobs.

Have I mentioned that I hate crying?

Today I decided that I’ve had enough. Although it would have been nice to have my efforts recognized, ultimately, I don’t need to hear it from anyone else. I know it. I'm dedicated... and disciplined... and patient... I’m lighter and stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m in way better shape than I was in November and I’ve done everything I’ve been told. And I have training logs to prove it.

I’ve had it. I’ve had enough of the injury. I’ve had enough of being obedient and following directions. I’ve had enough of being excruciatingly patient. I’ve had enough of feeling held back!

Walking and running are the most natural things in the world, aren’t they? I had no problems before November, and there’s no good reason for this injury to hang on like this.

After dinner with Z. and Samuel tonight, I felt gross. My salad was loaded with dressing and high fat “extras” that I just don't enjoy any more. To make matters worse, I had no intention of eating dessert, but ordered it anyway, since it was on the house and all…

“What am I doing?” I asked myself. “I don’t eat like this any more!” So I put my fork down and pushed my plate away.

By the time I left, I felt horrible… Thoughts of purging entered my head, but I shooed them away thinking, “No, Sarah, you don’t live like that any more…”

I wanted to move. So I did. Screw it, I thought. Legs were made for walking.

So I came home, ditched my bag and enjoyed the bit of daylight that was left, walking a loop in my community that I discovered when I first moved here two years ago. It was about 35 minutes of walking – just a normal pace. I mean, I’d already worked out today, spending longer on the bike than I have in months.

I was just fed up… and wanted to get outside and be mobile. So I that's exactly what I did.

And it felt good. As I write this, I have ice on my knee. Yes, it puffed up. But it doesn’t feel horrible. I’m tired of being “good”. I’m tired of doing exercises that make me stronger… but not strong enough to run. I’m tired of shedding pounds… but not enough for my joints to take the load. It’s been six months… the days are getting longer and the weather is getting nicer… I’m tired of waiting.

Maybe my physiotherapist has given up on me. But I haven’t.

My leg. My knee. My body. My love of running.

I’m not ready to give up yet.

Words of wisdom, hope and encouragement gratefully accepted.


backofpack said...

Sarah, I totally understand your frustration - though mine doesn't come from my knee, but rather, my heart. I get it. I have ups and downs - I think I've moved on and accepted that I can't run like I want to, then I find myself frustrated and mad all over again.

Tomorrow I'm off to test myself again, and I'm so afraid that it won't work and I'll have to back off. I talk the big talk but that's all it It doesn't change my deep down feelings. All I can tell you is to keep trying, do what you can, seek another opinion, rest and push and rest and push. Up and down. When you can't run, walk. When you're feeling good, run. I hope for the best for you!

Janice said...

Hi Sarah,

I'm heavy now and running isn't a good idea too much weight on the knees. I was told by a doctor that if I ran it would ruin my knees and that would be forever. Fine with me it's not comfortable anyway, I have very big heavy breast that now matter how good the bra is--I just flop.

So my choises where walking or swiming or bike riding, as I can't stand arobics.

I did like weight lifting but my joints hurt now. I can't bike ride anymore because it hurts my elbows because of the tendinitis I got from exercising--and that stuff dosen't go away. Dang it! It even ruined my hands, and I can't do my art work anymore, and that really hurts. I had to give up my life's work. I use to sculpe clay or wood, did pen and ink drawings, and I had learned to use a scroll saw and cut wood making country crafts that I sold in a local store.

But sometimes when God closes a door he opens a window. So I have choosen to be a writer, and have been working toward that for the last six or seven years. I have four blogs and have serveral finished short stories, and a book (or novella) started.

Try bike riding--maybe that'll be your window? You go faster than a runner and can burn twice as many calories as walking. I always loved the freedom I got from riding my bike and seeing the country side as I ride along--I do miss it.


ipodmomma said...

your title says it alll.. as there is a line, very fine, between them.

and this wasn't the best of weeks to receive this kind of news.

I tried running in '04. my osteo thought I'd lost my mind. and in the end, I did it until May '05, and gave up due to too much back pain. she was right...

tried again last fall, or maybe it was earlier this year. my back was bad for over a week.

but that was me. as for you, yup, you've done all these things to strengthen and lighten. you've been so good with everything that has had to happen...

sometimes it comes down to this, to trying squats and seeing how it goes...

ultimately, it is your decision. see how your body responds... they you'll know what the choice will be...

thinking of you!!!

Turtle Guy said...

You never will give up. You know it, and really that's what counts, right? Maybe there's something you haven't tried - that no "professional" has suggested.

I seem to recall someone telling me "Keep focused on the goal, not the obstacles... if you want it bad enough..."

Good for you to do the circle route - it's a fantastic path, and not "too much".

With respect to your dinner, remember you're allowed to slip now and again.

This was a nice read... your passion shows through!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Regarding your title...maybe a little bit of both? (I happen to think that's a good thing)

I totally understand where you are coming from. I'm wondering what is the worst that would happen if you tried walking/running for a little bit? Would it cause the injury to flare up, or would it cause permanent damage? If it doesn't cause permanent damage, then I think that it doesn't hurt to at least try! See how your body responds.

I hope that you can walk or run again, and if your body really doesn't want you to, then I really hope you can find another activity that you feel just as passionately about! Maybe it can be an adventure?


Ginger Breadman said...

What an amazingly open and honest post. Expressing your emotions through tears and through writing are great ways to take care of yourself. Other than that, you really have to go from your heart. No one can tell you what choices to make, and whether or not to run. There are stories of those who change their lifestyle and find new things, and stories of those who struggle and find a way through the battle somehow. Take it day to day right now and find some time to laugh smile sometime in your day.

megz_mum said...

This is difficult, however I feel I will try. My view is that we do not listen to our bodies enough in all our hurrying and determination. Pain and swelling indicate something is not as it should be, even though there is no definite tag for what is wrong. You will need your body till you are a ripe old age, you obviously want to do the right thing and look after it as seen by healthy eating and exercise. However, forcing through warning signals may not be the best way to preserve healthy joints. Maybe you can qualify the "no running" advice and make it "no running - for now". Take it slowly, don't stop asking the questions, look for other enjoyable ways of exercising. Running, although you obviously love it, can place a huge strain on your body.
Sorry, could go on indefinitely, but will stop. Hope this helps.

robtherunner said...

It seems strange to me that your physical therapist has given up hope already. I definitely understand the frustration and I would be pulling my hair out, if I had enough of it, if I had to go six months without running. Oh, that is not encouraging let me try to get back on track.

I agree with your assessment that maybe it is time to stop being good and try things out in order to see how it feels and if it helps you emotionally then maybe the tradeoff is worth the knee pain. Obviously I cannot say because I am not the one dealing with it, but I have a friend who has had a foot injury for the past year and finally decided that the pain of not running was worse than the pain he experienced while running.

I also agree that walking is a natural activity and where there is a will there is a way. Keep hanging in there and being determined that is one of the qualities I admire most about you.

M A F said...

Sarah,I am not a runner, so I don't think I should tell you that you should give up running in favor of bicycling (cause I'm partial to bicycling). I would offer the following; You know your limitations, your weaknesses and your strengths and you will have to decided if you can "be" without running. No matter how much you might love it. Only then will you know if you are "defiant and stubborn" or one who is "determined and focused."

craig said...

There may come a time when you are ready to pack the running shoes away. But you don't sound like you are there yet.

I've also considered if there would be any other activity to substitute for running during my time of injury. So I understand how you feel.

Why not follow the advice of the physical therapist to the letter and see what happens. If that works, then it will be worth the effort. If it doesn't work you can always decide what to try next.

Rob is right. At some point if you keep doing what you are doing and keep getting the same results then you will have to change what you are doing.

Have you read Noakes' ten laws of running injuries from the Lore of Running? You might find some encouraging things there. Like law 7 (on page 754), “Complete rest is seldom the best treatment” and law 8 (page 755), “Never accept as final the advice of a nonrunner (MD or other).” His chapter on injuries is worth the read.

Robb said...

Do you hear that echo from the East Coast? Well, I echo the authors above. I think you should, as Craig suggests, stick it out with your therapist for now.

I feel for you. I'm really not qualified to comment much further as I have not been injured...yet.

Please take care.