The past several weeks have been an adventure in getting back to my usual self.
I still have a way to go.
The past three weeks have woven together in my mind because the recovery process is extremely gradual, and the routine of getting there extremely consistent.
At the end of week 2, I went back to the orthopedist. I was still in so much pain. I felt that I needed to begin taking control over my recovery. I made a list of questions that I had about my injury and the recovery process and sat my doctor down for a 15 minute Q&A session. He seemed to really appreciate having questions fired at him and was happy to provide answers. I think a big part of why I got the response I did was because of the approach I took.
These days, patients email doctors a bunch of questions and doctors are compelled to respond, on their own time and without pay. But since I went in to the office, my insurance paid for the visit and the doctor was able to address my concerns during regular office hours and be compensated.
I will definitely use this approach in the future.
I have also been going to physical therapy twice per week.
My exercises have focused mostly on building core strength and improving flexion in my lumbar spine.
I have gradually stopped taking anti-inflammatory meds. I had been on them for so many weeks, I can’t imagine they were even doing anything anymore.
I was wearing a back brace through all of week 2 and have gradually cut down on how often I wear it. I tend to keep it on for subway commutes because of all of the stop-and-go; but otherwise, I am trying to rebuild strength so I don’t want to rely on a crutch.
Overall, my pain level has decreased and my flexibility has improved, but I still have a lot more work to do.
I attempted a return to work during week 2. I made it through two half days and then started feeling worse, so I stayed home for five straight days (courtesy of a long weekend) and then returned to work full-time in week 3. I worked full-time during week 4, as well.
Then my assignment ended.
I have handled the discomfort surprisingly well. My physical therapist says I have a very high threshold for pain. Not surprised.
I thought I would be more stressed out about how this injury has affected my life and the things that I enjoy doing.
But the truth is that many of those fears faded away after week 1. I know that I need to trust my body, and in time I will be able to do all of the things that I want to do.
Plus, I have the amazing support of El Profesor. He never lets me get too far down on my situation, and has been a tremendous help at home. Everything that’s needed to get done has been taken care of by him when I’ve been too weak or too uncomfortable to do it myself and I haven’t had the stress of feeling that things are being neglected. He has been kind, and patient, and sweet, and super helpful. I love him so much.
At the start of week 2, I made my way to the pool — which is conveniently located in my apartment building.
Sort of perfect for the polar vortex conditions we’ve been rocking here in NYC.
At first, I would just walk back-and-forth in a lap lane. But in the weeks since, I’ve worked up to being able to swim for 20 minutes.
I will also usually aqua jog for 15 minutes or so, and use a kickboard for a while, too.
The transition from runner to swimmer only cost me $25 for a swim cap, ear plugs and goggles. I already had a suit.
As for running, clearly I haven’t been cleared to return.
For the moment, I am okay with that.
The nasty, snowy weather and icy road conditions aside —
I think that I may actually be a little afraid to return to running.