I just cancelled my entry into Ironman Melbourne, after the final diagnosis from a sports doctor who told me yesterday that I will not be racing for the next four months.
The MRI that I mentioned in Either fix my hip or put me down came back on Tuesday, and I skimmed the material, not really understanding a lot of the medical jargon, but seeing that there was no labral tear, but that there certainly was trauma around the hip. Toby, my new physio, sent me an email pulling out the key phrase I had missed:
Femoral Neck Stress Reaction
(This x-ray is not mine, just stock photo.)
And the most direct translation of that is “Your leg is about to break in a very serious place.” I did some homework and my friend Cathy sent me another source, and everything else I read said the same thing. You won’t be training, or racing, for a long, long, long time. Toby confirmed Friday morning that this was the case. Friday arvo I saw a sports doc that Toby had recommended, and he outlined the following plan:
- Weeks 1-4
- on crutches
- after 2 weeks i can walk in the pool, and if that feels okay, start swimming lightly
- Week 5
- light spin cycling starting week 5
- 3 months before it’s healed and i could start running (May 1)
- 4 months before i can race again (June 1)
- Lots of dairy, but no calcium supplements (doesn’t help)
- No anti-inflammatories (slows healing)
Where’s your head at?
Of course I’m devastated.
Vic and I talked about the two sides of me that are in violent disagreement about this:
The rational side of me knows that it’s about the journey, that the last year of my life has not been wasted, that I’m within $500 of my goal of $25,000 raised for Room to Read Cambodia, and that I’ve made some great friends in my triathlon club.
The emotional side of me wants to slip up quietly behind the rational side of me, and in one smooth motion, snap his neck and drag his body into the shadows. And then scream out everything that is base, that is fear, that is disappointment. That the last year was a waste of time. That this is a disaster. That it’s not fair. It wants to blame, to hurt, to lash out.
My first Ironman was about proving to myself that I was healthy again after my kidney transplant. I think this one was about proving to myself that I could be happy again. While rationally, I know that I am actually happy now, the symbol of the finish line has crumbled in my hands and I’m staring at the dust.
I’ve been through enough in life that I know this is a mere speed bump, albeit an incredibly annoying one. And my trip to Cambodia armed me with additional, life-changing perspective. I’m incredibly lucky to even have the chance to train like I do, to live on the beach, to have a job where a physical setback doesn’t threaten my ability to provide for myself. My fundraising campaign is something lasting – I set out to help create 5 libraries, and we’ve raised enough money to create 8. So the journey has reached its most important destination.
June 1st gives me 6 months of training before Ironman Busselton (Dec 7, in Western Australia). I’m already registered, because in a 10 minute fit of depression a month ago, concerned about whether my leg would heal in time for me to run the entire marathon, I decided to sign up for another race. Nothing like a temporary sugar low that results in a six month training commitment.
I’ve got to unwind all the planning today – the hotels, flights, race wheel rental. I have friends who were coming out to Melbourne to watch me race. I’ve need to email all my donors to let them know I won’t be meeting the commitment I made.
I’m learning to use crutches, though today I will switch from the traditional underarm crutches to “Canadian Crutches.” Since my hair is bleached blonde at the moment, I will have gone from looking like Eminem to looking like Timmy (TIMMY!) from South Park.
Perhaps the most telling moment was yesterday afternoon, on the drive to the sports doc, where I thought about my race: I could tie both legs together during the swim, and my wetsuit could float them enough that I can just use upper body strength to finish. In Ironman Arizona, one competitor only had 1 leg – truly awe-inspiring. I could tie my left leg to the bike, and just use the right. And, I could do the marathon on crutches. That fantasy ended in the first five minutes with the doctor.
So, February: Bring on the pull-ups. Bring on the seated dumbbell curls. Bring on loads of push ups. Bring on core work. And I’ll see the starting line in December.