I always try with my posts whether on Twitter, FB, Instagram or my blog to remain positive and upbeat, but to be quite honest at the moment I’m feeling far from positive, in fact I feel as though a huge chunk of who and what I am has been ripped away leaving me uncertain of how to deal with the future.
The first few weeks after my return from America I had no desire to do any form of exercise. Firstly I was in too much pain with my knee and secondly my body was exhausted so needed time to recover and gain much needed weight. I’m a great believer in listening to my body, giving it time to heal and trying the best way I can to recovery properly, it’s something I have always done (even if I don’t like it!). My body weight is now good, actually I have no idea how much I weigh but I know the old body is looking more normal than it was, the pain in my knee is way better but still uncomfortable. On a positive note my walking is slightly faster than it was!
I have been allowed to go swimming, although this is something I don’t particularly enjoy and certainly don’t feel as though I’m getting any form of exercise as the only stroke I’m allowed to do is either back-stroke or crawl. I have never been able to get the hang of the breathing part with the crawl! I bought goggles in an attempt to practice but panicked when I put my head under water – totally useless – so backstroke or nothing! The slightly more exciting news is I’m now allowed to use a static cycle at the gym but set on zero resistance and also I can use upper body weights in a very gentile way with very low weights so I don’t put pressure on my back, hips etc (not difficult!). The swimming pool or the gym don’t come close to the open trail.
All this is marvellous and it’s fantastic to be able to do some form of exercise as I’m no longer feeling tired but going from 50-60 miles for 40 days to nothing is tough. The only thing that has kept me going has been the anticipation of the appointment with Mr. P the knee specialist, who I hoped would come up with a plan to get me back to running.
I drove to Bristol to see Mr P keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that there would be some light at the end of the tunnel. My lovely sister came along for much needed support not just to hold my hand but to also listen to what the surgeon said in case I missed anything!
He was great, spending a lot of time with me and not once did I feel I was just another person with a knee problem. As he talked, examined my knee and explained what was going on I was trying to remain positive, asking questions and attempting to keep a smile on my face, but dreading the worst.
Unfortunately the smile slowly disappeared as I was told that cycling, cross training and swimming (i.e. low impact) were the only things I could do until the bone oedema and knee pain had disappeared, together with the swelling that was still visible on the medial side of my knee. The main issue was that one area of my knee had zero cartilage, it was bone on bone (hence the excruciating pain during my run in America) Once the oedema and pain had gone I could try to run with a special knee brace and if that caused pain then I would be left with two options – first; have my leg broken and straightened and second; a partial knee replacement on the lateral side. Basically Ultras and possibly running full stop would be out of the question.
I held my emotions together until I got outside the surgery and into a full waiting room where I just couldn’t hold it back any longer and burst into tears, my world as I knew it had come to an end.
I realise that there is way more to my life than running. My family and friends also play a huge part in my it, but my running is something that has given me an identity, I’m not simply a wife, mother and “Didi” (that’s what my grandchildren call me), running was me, Mimi! Don’t get me wrong, I love being a wife, mother and “Didi” but not being able to run makes me feel as though my identity is lost/gone.
HWMBO has been as always a great support. When I arrived home I told him what Mr P had said (promptly cried again!) and wondered how could I be part of the running community that I love if I could no longer run? He told me that I could be part of it but in different ways, volunteering, mentoring etc but to remember that I’m a strong, positive person who would find something that could replace running.
I don’t want or need sympathy but I need a moment to feel a touch sorry for myself (if you don’t mind!) and then I will zip up my woman-suit and work out what I’m going to do with myself, but at the moment I can’t get my head around the fact that running ultras or running at all may more than likely be something I can longer do. During my running life I have raced all over the world and have been to places that years ago I could only have dreamt about, I wouldn’t change one single second, I haven’t given up all hope yet; nevertheless the pain of not being able to run is without doubt a tough pill to swallow.
For the moment I will enjoy living vicariously through everyone else’s running adventures!