Back on Course

I recently took a six week hiatus from Crossfit.  September and October were spent ruminating over how I would like to see myself in 2014.  After participating in the CrossFit program for seven months now I was feeling discouraged that I still wasn’t able to lift the same amount of weight as the girls who were half my age. I keep forgetting about “my age” until I get a sudden reminder that the body I’ve been carrying around for 61 years has  put up with abuse and general wear and tear well before these ladies were even born!  As one of my coaches said, my hormone situation has changed and it’s to be expected that it  will take me longer to build up  strength. Dang, I keep forgetting about that little detail.  Being realistic helps a lot to get back on course.

Part of my re-calibrated plan was meant to  incorporate weekly running into my workout program. Inspiration had entered my bloodstream in a flushed rush after I listened to an interview of 77 year old weight lifting marvel Ernestine Shepherd. She gave a step by step account of how she went from walking to running so that now she  consistently runs ten km  every week  at 4AM no less.

Ernestine Shepherd

Ernestine Shepherd

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the unexpected results of the MRI on the ankle I’d broken in 2011 made it crystal clear that I would be spending several months  recovering from surgery in 2014. This hiccup was not part of the master plan. Now, I flat out cannot run unless I want to add some serious damage to an already damaged joint.  

I cringe at the thought of being cut into with a scalpel and worse yet,  “patiently” going through the  long recovery period.  

It seems I need a pin inserted to keep the ankle more stable.  When I fell, the ligaments wrenched part of that big round exterior bone away from what it was attached to.

If I ever want to climb Mt Kilimanjaro or even the local hill up to Cultus Lake I’ll have to make sure that the working parts are reattached so they can do their job properly. For now, the ligaments are suspended like limp spaghetti and not performing the stretching job they were originally designed to do.

Always Consult with Your Mentor

Navigational aids for getting back on course are often provided to you  by a mentor.  Early in life it might be our mother,  father or a grand parent. Later, we meet more mentors and so, I had a long chat with mine today who shared her experiences about the knee surgery she’d had to endure. The combination of drugs, incisions, and the actual procedure put great demands on her body so that it went into a kind of shock. 

Any residue of drugs that is still lingering in the system will also need to be flushed out. My friend told me how her vision was affected and through some basic testing it was determined that the drugs that had been administered to her had migrated to her brain. She was put on a special diet of healthy foods to be consumed in a certain order and followed with copious amounts of water to eventually feel back to normal again.

Not only are joints intricate areas to repair, the time needed to reduce the swelling and heal the incision and other areas of the damaged joint vary from person to person. If you are in excellent health your recuperation time will be speedier but that’s still a three month period of relative inactivity for the first stage of healing.  When the specialist told me that the down time for my procedure would be 3-5 months my friend said to add a few more months to that for good measure.

The pre-op preparation is just as important as post op. This means regular workouts as well as a healthy diet. I’ve already cut back a lot on those mouthwatering cranberry-apple muffins that I’ve been buying weekly from a local café. I know that the sooner I do this, the better I’ll be able to handle the withdrawal from foods I won’t be able to exercise off for awhile.

Preparing for surgery also means learning how to be calm. Apparently one is less inclined to need strong pain killers if there is less anxiety associated at the outset of the surgery.

Harvard Divinity School graduate Peggy Huddleston created a simple handbook that is used at Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. Here are the results of their research.

Carolyn Myss, one of my favourite authors, has also endorsed this book:

“In easy and comforting language, Huddleston describes the steps a patient and his or her family can take to minimize the fears that emerge during the surgical process and the recovery period that follows.”

It is important to take responsibility for our lives and that also means that when those unexpected surgeries come along, we can prepare for them to make the downtime experience as short and painless as possible. Studies show that when we become active participants in our life’s events by focusing our minds on the best possible outcome of the surgery, stress is released. Twenty minute periods of daily meditation help to boost the immune system as well speed up the healing process.

Last week I went back to CrossFit for my first WOD in weeks. I did a lot of rowing and push presses focusing more on my form than on how many reps I could do. I was surprised that I still felt pretty strong and had no problem completing 1800 meters of rowing in 400 meter increments staggered with lifting a 35 pound bar. Now it is fine if it takes longer for me to get back to the 45 pound bar. I’m in no hurry.

It feels great to be back on course and in spite of my absence it just goes to show that if you’re kind to your body and feed it healthfully, keeping it as flexible as possible, it will still bounce back.  When we work together in tandem with our bodies instead of against them, we’re more in the flow of what our bodies and minds need to feel at their happiest. That’s putting ourselves back on course  just like the sailboat at that perfect point of sail where she is sailing effortlessly at her optimum hull speed.

Hull Speed photographed by Benjamin Mendlowitz

Hull Speed photographed by Benjamin Mendlowitz

One Response to Back on Course

  • Loved the blog. I also like to think that pre-op preparation for surgery is just as important than post-op recovery work. I think it’s important to go beyond physical therapy and do your own physical work in the recovery process, and it’s critical to add the healing foods and the extra water regimen. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring post. Sending you all the best in high vibrational energy to support you in preparation for your surgery and I’ll be checking in post-surgery to lend a bit more encouragement! You’re a real Champ!!

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