Wednesday, September 5, 2018

When the body (and gravity) says no

My most recent "learning experience" happened last week. I was having, in my opinion, a killer productive week. Correspondences were all caught up on; the house was cleaner than it had been in months; the yard was looking fantastic despite my lack of a green thumb and my constant anxiety of the power cord getting chopped up by the lawn mower. In addition to my research, writing and patient/clinic work, I was filling my day with tasks and getting a run or workout in almost everyday.

I knew that I should probably pace myself. I was really looking forward to a day (or 2) off this past long weekend. I wanted a day to do nothing! Maybe colour, read for pleasure, watch a movie, lounge around in PJs; a relaxing day with no tasks, jobs or obligations.

The universe, via gravity and my incredible clumsiness, made it quite clear that I was burning myself out, even if I was delighted and proud of my productivity. I took a hard fall while running. I was out with the dog, who is an excellent running companion. I took my eyes off of my path, tripped over my own feet, and fell. The right side of my body fell forward and laterally, while my left ankle decided to stay tucked where it was, and rolled.

I knew my legs couldn't get me up or hold my weight and that that was bad. I've gently rolled my ankles before but my recovery tends to be relatively instant: Give the ankle a little shake and keep going. But this time, that wasn't even a close option. So I sat. I sat in that catwalk pathway of our neighbourhood with the dog as she provided emotional support while we waited.

I had just listed to Tim Ferriss' podcast with Aisha Tyler. She described riding her bike to school and one day breaking her arm. Her dad wasn't able to come and get her so she rode her bike home - with a broken arm. Her mentality that no one was coming for her and having to get her self home with no complaints was something I channeled. I waited patiently for the initial trauma to subside, until I felt like I could actually stand and hold my weight up on my own. From there, it was a slow hobble home, with the dog still by my side, being completely patient with me.

It was only then, after sitting at home and reflecting, that I started to cry, and it wasn't from the pain. I was just disappointed. I was mad that I tripped, mad that I fell. Mad that I put myself out of running for a while. I couldn't do anything. There was no one to blame. Just my own clumsiness... and the catalyst of my own body weight subjected to the force of gravity.

First off, I'm incredibly grateful for the Canadian and Ontario medical system. Within 4 hours I had imaging (no brake or fracture, which put my mind at ease!), and was sent home with a highly fashionable (sarcasm) tensor bandage. By the time we left the hospital I felt like I could actually put weight on it again. I thought, this doc can't be serious about a 2 week recovery period. I can stand and put weight on it and unless something touches my ankle, I feel okay.
My sad ankle, all wrapped up

Then the universe chimed in again to hush my ego. I had the worst night of pain. I couldn't walk. I was cursing myself for not getting the crutches. I was so desperate that I took an ibuprofen (shocking for someone who avoids NSAIDs).

It's been a week now and I'm still frustrated that I can't be as active as I would like. What I took from this is that I need to pace myself. It's okay not to work at 100% everyday. I don't need to be busy all the time. I needed to slow down and this was the universe's way of making me do that. The same principles apply to healing.

Healing in all forms takes time. If you try to rush it, you'll get push-back. Do too much and deplete your resources, and you'll have nothing to run on later (pun intended).