“You need to make sure you tell them that you came in with an open patella fracture. We normally send these to the operating room but yours we used a [fancy suction machine] on to clean and stitch in the ER.”
That’s the info that the ER tech told me I needed to relay to the orthopedic doctor whilst getting my stitches out. I’ll spare you the gory photos and details, but basically my knee was wide open and the cut was so deep that my broken knee cap was exposed in addition to some internals of my knee leaking out. Gross.
Two weeks and 13 stitches later, I’m sitting here writing this blog post that I never intended to write, about how a stupid accident has sidelined me for, what the first doctor said would be 8 weeks. Obviously I don’t believe that doctor and am still convinced it will be 4, which my new doctor yesterday agreed with (victory!).
Injuries suck. Whether it is two weeks or two years of recovery, they are never a pleasant experience. They keep you from doing what you love, ruin your race plans at the most inopportune times, and currently have resulted in me wearing a bulky brace that chafes my leg in 100F heat in the middle of the summer. Yet, as my mom would say, “everything happens for a reason.”
What are my reasons?
First, a slap in the face, or knee I suppose, and a hard way to for me to realize that I am not invincible. Fun summer activities you have literally done thousands of times can still be dangerous. Don’t be stupid and take unnecessary risks six days before two big races. Just don’t. #BubbleWrapLife
Second, I’ve been given an opportunity to really improve my pull buoy-band swimming. I am THE WORST in our training group at pulling. I have no explanation as to why since I can keep up when I’m allowed to kick and swim like normal. But alas, kicking is out of the question for at least the next four weeks so I will become great friends with my pull buoy and band (hello arm and shoulder muscles).
As I briefly mentioned before, I don’t always believe the doctors. I listen to what they say and do what I am told because I want to heal as quickly as humanly possible, but I always take their recovery time estimates and spin them in my mind to be more optimistic. When the first doctor told me 8 weeks in a knee-immobilizer brace, I sent my X-ray photos to every doctor I knew asking for second, third, seventh opinions, just looking for any response that was less than that. In my head I told myself it would be 4 weeks (which was generally the average response I got from the other opinions). I mean my bones will heal faster than everyone else’s, right?! That’s what I believe at least!
Who knows if it is the power of positive thinking, an overestimate by the original doctor, or all of the Spirulina/hemp seeds/hydrolyzed collagen I shelled out money for at Whole Foods, but when I went to the doctor yesterday he told me I only had 2 more weeks in the brace (that will be 4 in total)! Every day I wake up focused on what I CAN do that day. Obviously I am concerned about getting back to racing ASAP but I am also looking at this time as an opportunity to pursue activities in other parts of my life, most notably studying for my license to sell insurance -- let me know if you need health or life insurance in CO in a few weeks ;).
As much as injuries suck, don’t let yourself fall down that dark hole, focusing your energy on the things you can’t do. Of course, I’m human and have cried every time I have gone to the doctor (“what do you mean I can’t run NOW?!”). But push that out of your mind and figure out what you are able to do now. What can you do now that will make you a better athlete in the future, even if it doesn’t involve physical training? There will be more races regardless of your attitude, but I promise you will come back stronger and faster with a positive one!
If you need some cheering up or general inspiration, just go check out my “Things for my Wall” board on Pinterest - it has most recently been filled with motivational quotes about comebacks :). Also, I will be posting on Instagram stories about my recovery process if you want to follow along!
Professional cyclist turned professional triathlete living in Boulder, CO.