randomduck

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Month: May 2014

now it’s getting really tough (#projectfemur)

The end of May has been very, very trying for me.

The weather has turned drop-dead gorgeous. Temperatures aren’t too high, the humidity hasn’t been too thick, and everybody is working out outdoors.

Except for me, that is.

And I’m really in a funk as a result.

It’s really gotten to me this weekend, as today was the Mountains of Misery century, something I’ve done almost every Memorial Day since 2007. It’s typically my first big event ride of the season, and this year it would’ve been the first long event of the year after a handful of road bike races.

But thanks to #projectfemur, I wasn’t there – and it’s crushing me.

I should’ve been out there, but I can’t.

There was a generous offer to head down with one of my friends and either volunteer or “coach” from the sidelines. But that wasn’t what I needed to do – it would’ve been just as tough, I think – perhaps even tougher.

I’ve been working really diligently with my PT to rebuild my strength and flexibility. But improvements are now very minute, less tangible, and less rewarding in the short run.

I realize I’m on my own path this summer, that I can’t gauge my performance against my cycling friends, and that I need to find the happiness where I can. But it’s proving far tougher than I expected.

As I fully expected, working out indoors is proving to be less than ideal. Sure, it is getting me back in shape, and helping to rebuild my flexibility. But I just don’t get the endorphin fix that I get from my outdoor bike rides. There’s a good reason that I steer clear of spin classes, and riding an indoor trainer is proving that, loud and clear.

To me, riding a bike indoors – whether on a spinning bike, an exercise bike, or a bike on a proper indoor trainer – is akin to substituting masturbation for sex (I know, graphic analogy, but as I’m being blunt…). It’s not the same, it provides little of the satisfaction or reward. I’ve not yet done any work on the Wahoo indoor trainer, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s still working out indoors. It’s having a fan blow on me while I physically go nowhere, instead of seeing actual distance pass under my tires, with the wind blowing through my hair, the birds chirping, and so forth.

That said, it’s my only option right now, so I need to suck up and deal.

Granted, the outdoor pools in DC have reopened (though only on weekends until mid-June – not overly useful for regular workouts just yet), and swimming laps will be something I can, and will, do. And I’ve had rowing recommended to me as a good way to keep in shape and address areas that cycling tends to miss (e.g. back and core muscles). So those things are in my future, for sure.

And there will be some hiking, once my leg is a little more stable and sure-footed. That’ll get me out with some of my cycling friends who also like to hike – a definite plus.

But that’s still a bit far off in the future. And I really, truly want to be on my bike, riding in the fresh air, getting the sun and the breeze, and being with my cycling friends in our “native territory,” so to speak.

And it’s not happening. It can’t right now, and there is no proper substitute.

I’m a bit angry with my hematologist for keeping me on the anticoagulant meds for a full, six-month course. If it wasn’t for that, I could commute by bike already. Even that would make life a lot better than it is now. I know it’s petty and a bit myopic, and that I’m being kept on the meds for a valid reason, but the voice that drives my motivation isn’t placated by that at all.

August can’t come soon enough.

And even then, will my riding be up to snuff? I know plenty of friends who I don’t ride with that often under normal circumstances (because my pace tends to be fast), and I’ll be able to ride with them. But when I ride with my normal crowd, I worry they will simply leave me in the dust, heaving for breath to catch up – or that they’ll spend half of the ride waiting for me to arrive.

That isn’t an appealing thought at all.

I know from past experience that I tend to bounce back well from injury, and tend to be stronger than I was before said injuries. But my femur break and surgery are far and away the worst injury I’ve ever experienced, so this is a great unknown. There is no precedent in my life experience for this kind of recovery, and I’m simply not sure what to expect.

Will I be stronger than I was pre-injury? Will I still be as capable of climbing the hills on my bike? Will I still ski with the same confidence and strength? I simply just don’t know.

And given I feel like I’m being left behind, like my improvement is going incredibly slowly, and my patience is razor-thin, having big unknowns in my life leaves me grasping at thin air to find some direction.

sprite has helped me as much as she can to try to keep my spirits up – she rocks. So have many of my friends, for which I’m grateful. But this is still a battle that is very much my own, and one that only I can tackle.

I need to find a way to right this ship and find something positive to go on. I need ideas, because I just don’t have any right now. The lows are outweighing the highs right now, and that needs to stop.

As I said: August can’t come soon enough.

Days since surgery: 134

disconnected (with a side of progress) #projectfemur

Right now I feel like a spectator.

I feel disconnected.

Disconnected from the world I know and love.

Disconnected from many friends.

Disconnected from “normal.”

Things have been going well with my healing. My leg grows stronger every day. I’m to the point where, as long as the surfaces I walk on are fairly smooth, I can walk without a crutch and without any major limp (this crutch-free walk is still very much a work-in-progress). The flexibility I depend on for my agility and power is coming back, bit by bit. I’m putting in the hours on a recumbent stationary trainer at the gym, and am very close to being able to sling a leg over a regular bike, which will open me up to the world of more proper bike trainer simulations. And my outpatient physical therapy is working wonders in getting all the various and sundry pieces of “normal leg function” into place.

Really, I’m happy about this – elated, even.

But it’s still not quite right.

I miss my friends.

They ground me. They entertain, provide a sounding board, provoke conversation, and so much more.

And right now, I feel disconnected from most of them.

I miss my cycling friends a lot. I can follow their exploits via Strava, emails, and whatnot, but it’s not the same.

I’m not hanging out with them like I usually do. And when they go out on an epic ride, or compete in a well-known local race, I hear about it after the fact – sometimes well after the fact.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know, as it simply makes me jealous and angry that I can’t be out there – rubbing salt in the proverbial wound. But there’s another part that wants to know simply to relate, as cycling is the root of these friendships, even those that have grown beyond the realm of the bike.

So I sit here, stuck. Sometimes, I simply want to throw my crutch across the room in frustration.

My cycling friends are neck deep in training for the big events of their seasons right now, and I don’t want to derail their efforts. All the same, I want to see them, hang out, socialize, even if it’s not on the bike. It could be anything: watching the Giro d’Italia stages in the evening, or going out to dinner or for post-work drinks, even a gym workout – anything would be an improvement.

And my non-cycling friends are similarly busy right now. Weekends are often the best times to hang out, but my close DC friends have a lot on their plates right now, some of them fun, others decidedly not. They were there for me (as were my cycling friends) when I was in hospital and needed the company. Since I’ve been out of hospital, I’m grateful for the times I do get to hang out with them, fleeting as they may be. Perhaps the month of May will settle things down a bit.

But, as I said in the opening of this post, I feel like a spectator to a life I miss. It gnaws at me and makes me feel like things are passing me by, even if they aren’t doing that at all. The feeling of an invisible wall between where I am and where I’d like to be is evident, even on the best of days.

Injury, you are cruel and cunning in your efficient wresting of normality.

Yes, I am more grateful than ever for every step I’m able to take on my right leg, for the fact that I will be back on the bike and back on skis, and that I am still, essentially, healthy. But injury still has me slightly by the scruff in terms of disconnecting me from the things that keep me sane.

I want to re-connect.

I need to reconnect.

I need the balance to return.

And I’m fairly sure I’m the one who needs to make the first move.

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