I can hardly believe the incredible progress I’ve made in such a short time. Our bodies are amazing. In just 5 weeks, I have come from one of, if not the, most physical and emotional lows of my life after fracturing my femur, with the finish in view, while defending my Canadian Half Marathon title.
I think the lowest physical point was when I was bedridden after surgery, weak and weary as the anesthetic wore off, trying to lift myself off the bedpan. I did not succeed because of the pain, fatigue, and lack of strength to hold myself up, consequently spilling the liquid contents underneath me. Waiting for help with tears running down my face from pain and disappointment, while lying in my own urine, was a definite low.
And the lowest emotional point was when I knew I required surgical placement of a plate and 3 screws but had to go for a CT scan first, to determine if I had tumours. With my family history and several physical signs, bone cancer was a risk. Another definite low.
But I had peace. Incredible peace the entire time. Yes, for the first few days I think I cried more than anytime in my life. I was exhausted and overwhelmed after finishing the 21.1 km, having major surgery, finally having my husband with me, processing everything that happened, and not sleeping for two nights. I was sad with peace; not teary from anxiety or anger. There is a difference, a world of difference.
During that time, there was never a point that I said, “Why me?” or thought that it couldn’t get worse. Sadly, when you are dealing with disappointment or loss, you can usually think of someone or something that makes your situation look and feel better. After my mom took her last breath in 1997, the nurse told my sister and I to take all the time we needed. When she lost both her parents at once as a teenager, she was not allowed to say goodbye. We do not know why terrible things happen but can allow ourselves to grieve, knowing we will get through it. It was very therapeutic to acknowledge my feelings, something I recently spoke to a group of local swimmers about, in my “Dealing with disappointment – the good, the bad, and the ugly” presentation.
I’ve never been shy about my faith; God has been first and foremost in my successes and disappointments. And I don’t believe this fractured femur thing is going to be that different. Psalm 66:17 says, “For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke”. Like my disappointing World Champs Marathon where I collapsed in the extreme heat, my faith was strong. And after becoming the second fastest Canadian marathoner just two months later, I thanked God. I think it’s going to be quite exciting to see how this story enfolds! In fact, just yesterday, I was contacted by the producers at 100 Huntley St. TV who are following Christian athletes heading toward competition at the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto. I explained my situation to which they replied that if it was ok with me, they would like to follow my recovery process and journey back to running. Stay tuned.
I do know that I may not return to high-level training and racing and “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have”, Philippians 4:11. But, like I said in my last post, I am following my heart and believe that with each and every day, my first marathon back is that much closer.
Now, let’s get to the exciting developments.
This morning I had an x-ray and appointment with my running friend and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Dill. After getting some paperwork out of the way, he showed Coach Rick and I the development in bone growth by comparing the 2 week x-ray to today’s 5 week x-ray. Looked good to me! We then discussed how I could continue to progress in my rehab and gradually return to full-time training. I was very pleased and pleasantly surprised to:
1. hear that I could progress to full weight bearing, right away, and
2. read on the, “Athletics Canada – Notification of Injury, Illness or Pregnancy” form that I could return to full high performance training and competition, November 1!
As for walking, he watched me take a few steps, which I’ve been able to do this week but with a heavy limp. He asked me how I felt, then explained his assessment and wrote a physio note with instructions to work on gait training, full motion, and abductor strengthening. He concluded that I would likely be walking limp-free in about 2 weeks!
As for training, he confirmed that I could continue in the pool and on the bike, and even start using the elliptical if I felt safe and ready. He did a few tests to determine my leg strength and confirmed that I should continue to gradually increase the resistance. I have been carefully adding to the volume and intensity of my various activities to about 1.5-2 hours per day. I’ve also been re-establishing an evening routine of stretching, new physio exercises, and pushups and such, which includes a 2 minute plank.
Lastly, he was pleased with my incision upon examination since it did get externally infected last week. Infections are something to not mess around with, after surgery. Because I finished the antibiotic more than 48 hours ago, we put that issue behind us.
I got the date and instructions for my June bone scan, and next appointment in July, which I believe will be my last. If all goes well, this is when I will get the green light to jog again. I’m sure it will take several weeks to progress from jogging to running.
Tomorrow is my last injection of Fragmin, the blood thinner, and I have been successfully using a cane all afternoon. I biked for 1/2 hr at 5:30 am, and did some easy pool running for 1/2 hr and walking for 1/2 hr at 5:30 pm. Progress. Incredible progress. And more to come.
OTTAWA RACE WEEKEND
The Ottawa Race Weekend has always been my family favourite racing event. From the recreational joggers in the 2 km to the world’s best in the marathon in our nation’s capital, you can’t get much better. We went as a family in 2010 and 2012, and again this year. I decided to take the entire weekend off because of the infected incision and long periods of time I would spend sitting, on my feet at the expo, and crutching around. I had to be realistic about what I could physically handle and fit into our family’s schedule. On Thursday morning, we headed out on our first road trip in our new (used) van, having lunch at the half-way point with Jonathan’s cousin in Belleville. After quickly dropping our bags into our hotel room upon arriving in Ottawa, we headed to the expo to watch the Transcend movie in support of the Kenyan Kids Foundation, and spend an hour at the Saucony booth.
We got back to the hotel in time to eat dinner with the Korir family and let the kids have a 15 minute swim in the pool before it closed. On Friday morning after breakfast, we walked down to board the Amphibus, a family tradition while in Ottawa for race weekend. In the past, I’d stay back to nap with the youngest but with me not running this year, and Leah out-growing naps, we made it our first ride together. You get a tour of the city on the roads as a bus, and on the water as a boat. It was quite fun.
After lunch, I headed to the expo to spend some time at the iRun and Saucony booths. It was so great to say hi to people, update them on my progress, and hear about others’ somewhat similar experiences. The same went for Saturday when I was there in the morning. Like many have been inspired by me, I too was encouraged when hearing the tremendous comebacks and difficulties of other athletes.
By the end of my time, my leg was sore from standing and cheeks tired from smiling in so many pictures, must like our wedding day. I was honoured to have a steady stream of people, both days. Later that afternoon, the boys laced up their Saucony shoes and pinned their bibs to their new race t-shirts. Despite the several waves of hundreds of runners, and me on crutches, Leah and I were still able to see Jonathan, Micah and Seth start and finish their 5 km race.
Shortly after that I headed to the Rogers booth to meet with Tim Hutchings and Mark Sutcliffe for the 10k race commentating. We reviewed our plan and were informed of the necessary technical details before going live shortly before the start. It was a fun and relaxing evening as Mark facilitated the discussions and spoke about the course as a local, Tim added the technical details of the various international runners, and I shared some about my training and racing, and spoke to talent of the Canadian runners. I also provided insight to returning to competitive training and racing after having a baby as Mary Keitany crushed the women’s field, won the gender competition (women get about a 4 min start ahead of the others), and set a new course record in her first competitive race since having her second child last year. Her last major races were a victory in the 2012 London Marathon and 4th place finish in the 2012 London Olympic Games Marathon. Quite impressive and a neat theme to my weekend as earlier that day I met with Dylan Wyke’s wife, Francine, to answer some questions for a study she is doing on elite athletes and pregnancy.
After the race, we headed to Jonathan’s cousin’s for dinner then got settled back into our hotel room. I was already pretty tired at this point yet having an amazing time, even without racing. Almost as fun. Almost. Sunday morning, Manny gave Tim and I a ride to the Rogers booth. Again, the three of us chatted within our areas of expertise and enjoyed sharing stories while providing viewers with coverage of the 42.2 km event. I was able to get two 10 minute breaks when Geoffrey Mutai and John Halvorsen were scheduled to share a few words. It was just enough time crutch my way to the porta potty and stretch my leg. Shortly after we aired the interviews with Canadian Champions, Eric Gillis and Rhiannon Johns, and provided a summary of the race before ending the show, I chatted with a few people in the media/VIP area then found Jonathan and the kids to make our way back to the hotel to check out. On the way home, we enjoyed another meal with another cousin, and safely made our way back to Brantford, just in time for bed.