Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Injured, Sidelined, and Hating It.

I live a rather high-strung, active life.  I don't have kids, I have a job I adore, and have good friends that participate in a vibrant sports community.  Most people don't know the whole story.  I don't talk about it much.

Today I'm complaining, so if you are reading this looking for some snarky criticism of pseudoscience hit your back button and go away.  I'm at home early tonight, going completely nuts.  Here's why.

May 31, 2014 I found myself face down on the pavement, scraping forward from 25 mph to a dead stop attached to a bicycle.  I was riding in the thick of a fast-moving pace line on a usual Saturday morning club ride.  We did a fast 50 miles from Gainesville to Melrose, FL and back.  When coming back into town, the rider in front of me got a flat, hit the brakes, I hit him and went down.

I fell correctly, got up, dusted off, took a deep breath, and rode my bike back to my car about another 5 miles away. My left knee swelled up like a balloon, but a bag of frozen peas, a few beers and a handful of aspirin would keep me vertical for a few weeks.

And I'm done with bicycle club rides with dangerous unpredictable people that have too much legs for their brain to handle.



Sure, on May 31 it seemed like I'd bounce back fast... little did I know...


Three weeks later the swelling was gone, but there still was something not right.  It was a soreness, especially when I slept, in the joint and in the medial tissues.  An MRI showed a torn MCL and probably meniscus damage.  I opted for a conservative approach by declining surgery, but now I'm in a full-leg brace for 4-6 weeks. The meniscus damage might be from a previous surgery, so my doctor decided not to go digging further.

***

I work my job as a scientist and Department Chairman literally 80 hours a week, on a normal week.  My day starts at 5-5:30 AM, I answer emails, then go to the gym 6-7 AM and then get to work between 8-9:30, depending on if I want to handle more emails or write from home.  I don't eat lunch, don't take breaks.  Don't need to.  I'm having too much fun.

However, I do look forward to my nights. I do something exercisey every weeknight (except Friday), and then go home to eat something and work more until 11pm, when I catch the first two segments of The Daily Show before crashing for the night.

This is my rut, my mid-life crisis.  Most guys get a girlfriend or a sports car.  I take on more professional responsibility.

The daily workouts are my salvation.  Monday at 6:30 we run the stadium for one hour.  It is a hard red-line workout that leaves us all with shaky legs and bruised souls.  Tuesday is a 3.0 mile run from World of Beer, and when everyone else goes off to grab a cold one I run out to Canterbury Equestrian Park for karate practice at 7:30. We work hard and kick the snot out of each other for an hour or so. Wednesday is a fast 30 mile bike ride at race-pace with a great group that leaves me in the dust after 20 miles.  Thursday is the Tipple's Run (4.0 miles from a local beer store) and then more karate practice. Saturday and Sunday are long rides or runs early, then great days to have undisturbed work time.

It is the friends and colleagues that make it do-able.  It is hard workouts with sweet people, and wonderful scientists at work that make it worth it. At 47 years old I'm feeling really strong.  I am (was) running well and riding fast and my scientific career is going well.

But here's where the depression sets in.  I was supposed to be in Reno next week for USAKF Nationals.  I was preparing well, I was feeling really good, and as of May 30 hoped to place high in the Masters Division.  I took bronze in 2012, and 2014 was shaping up well. I was scheduled to practice with a group at another location, lots of sparring with fast 20-year olds that would give me a good taste of high-end competition and make me really solid for the July competition. I would have likely been competitive.  Now, I'll be home.

I also hoped to belt test for my next degree in October, but that's probably out too.

It is day one of "4-6 weeks" off of the bike, running and karate, doctor's orders, and I hate it.  It is extremely unlike me.  I don't want to write, I have no interest in much at the moment.  I'm mindlessly surfing the net and reading news.  He says that if I don't stay off it we'll be looking at a surgical reconstruction, and that'll have me sidelined for months.

Now that I wrote this I just want to erase it.  I don't want a pity party, I don't really want anything.

It is just amazing to note how when you have a good connection to physical activity it really affects your life.  I'm still getting to the gym in the AM and maybe can do double time there, but it is not the same as a good run or hard bike ride.

C'est la vie.

So thanks to Gainesville friends that make it so much fun.  I'll be back and this episode will get smaller in the rear-view mirror.  However, sitting on the front end of it looking at a calendar full of empty boxes and an uncomfortable, restrictive robotic brace from ankle to crotch is not the way I'd like to live. I have to keep reminding myself that this is only temporary, and I can take it off on Elvis' Death Day.  Wow, that's a long way away.
 








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