Today marks one year since I broke my leg in New Orleans. I’ve been held upright by a titanium rod in my right tibia for the past 365 days. I am forever grateful for the skilled surgeons at Tulane Medical Center that put me back together. I’m thankful for the friends & family that helped me out during one of the most difficult times of my life. The road to recovery has been tough. Thankfully there have been more ups than downs. I have a new respect for pain. I remember crying myself to sleep when even the strongest medications couldn’t relieve the tremendous burning & throbbing that I felt in my leg those initial post-operative weeks. Keep in mind that I’m no wimp when it comes to pain. I was induced with my pregnancies and I delivered both babies without medication. The pain from this surgery was on a totally different level. There were days that I truly don’t know how I made it out of the bed. But being the person that I am, whining was not an option. I had to be strong for my kids and I needed to be functional to keep my business afloat. After awhile something clicked and I stopped asking “why me” and I started making a plan for my comeback. Months of physical therapy followed. Progress seemed to move at a snail’s pace but at least it was moving …. forward. Cycling and swimming played a big role in the recovery process but I was overjoyed when I was cleared to walk/run.
My leg broke one week before my first triathlon was scheduled to take place. I was devastated. I thought my athletic days were over. But there was something inside of me that just wouldn’t allow me to go out like that. I kept reminding myself that I had come too far to throw it all away. A fire within was ignited and I committed to only looking and moving forward. Making a comeback from this accident has been challenging and humbling. I’ve had to work extra hard and the results haven’t come easily. This process has been lonely at times. I tend to run, cycle & swim alone because I don’t want to hold anybody back. I am constantly reminded of just how far behind I am. When I see those around me breaking personal records, running back-to-back/ultra marathons, qualifying for Boston, and making it to the podium, I can’t help but feel some kinda way. The harsh reality is that I’m not able to do what I used to do. I’m thirty minutes behind my average half-marathon time. It takes me one hour longer to run a marathon. I’ve put on a few pounds and I can’t go into turbo mode like I did before. But despite the obstacles, I’m glad to be back in the mix. This is what keeps me motivated. The back of the pack looks a little brighter now. Not breaking a personal record every run is not such a big deal. It’s unlikely that I’ll qualify for Boston until I’m 80 years old. But, I’m OK with all of this. One word sums is up ….. PERSPECTIVE.
Now don’t get me wrong, my comeback has been EPIC in my opinion! I’ve completed three full marathons, three half marathons, one ten miler and four 5K’s since my surgery. Throw in there completing Ragnar Relay DC for a third time and finishing a metric century cycling event. But the best things about my comeback go beyond the physical. I’ve become a better physician because I can relate to pain. I now see suffering through a different lens. I’m a better athlete because I’ve had to work harder than ever before. I’ve had to push myself when no one was watching. I’m a better parent because I witnessed the full potential of my children as they stepped up around the house while I was recovering. My injury put them to the challenge & I am so proud of the caring & responsible young adults that they are becoming.
Thank you to all who have offered kind words of support and encouragement during this process. Thank you to my run family for always checking in on me and reminding me that I wasn’t out of the game. I’m even thankful for those who told me that I was moving too fast and needed to sit down somewhere. I believe that your words were filled with love & good intention. I’m excited to see what the next 365 days bring my way. For now weight training is making me stronger and my running is progressing. I’m slowly saying goodbye to the extra pounds. Another surgery is in the near future. I’m not excited about this but it’s part of the process. I’m good with whatever it takes to reach my fullest potential as long as I’m moving forward.