Well, the 3-week marker from my leg break has passed (as of Sunday). I have several discarded, half-written blog posts from the past few weeks in the queue and have only just found the resolve to finish one.
Since I returned home to Southern Ontario my recovery has progressed in a rather stop-and-go manner. It took almost two weeks for my foot to return to (mostly) normal after looking like a bulbous, discoloured balloon. The catalyst for bringing the swelling down was spinning on the trainer. I was able to start biking once I no longer was discomforted by slight ankle movement. The addition of biking to my daily ski-erg training was very welcomed. Biking has proved to be very good as the increased blood flow to my legs limbers up my ankle, which in combination with a short physio-sesh with Hardwood parent Karen, got me up for some gentle
I had a good meeting with my former coach, Jack Sasseville during my first week back, and it was encouraging to talk with him about what I need to do to make a smart, strong comeback. One of my biggest concerns about breaking my leg was that I wouldn’t be able to train enough to maintain my fitness, but he assured me that would probably be the least of my issues – which he was right about. I’ve been able to maintain regular training hours (around 14hrs/week) double poling on the ski-erg, spinning on the bike, and doing strength. Obviously I have no idea where my fitness is at, and I won’t know until I can get back on snow in full form. My upper body strength has definitely improved though; I can rattle off pull-ups like it’s nobody’s business.
Being at home while my leg is healing has been pretty ideal. I plan to stay at home until I’m capable and confident that I’ll be able to winter-bike to school and run errands, before I return to Thunder Bay. Even though I need to get back to Thunder Bay to get going with school, being there (especially when it’s -40) is also far from ideal from a training standpoint because there isn’t a ski-erg I can use and I don’t have a bike trainer either. If anyone in TBay has, or know’s someone who has, a ski-erg or bike trainer (and bike actually, my single-speed isn’t ideal for training on) that they’d be willing to lend me for a couple weeks please let me know!
Since my leg-break has fallen in time with the Christmas holidays, we were able to visit my extended family and reassure everybody that I’m doing very okay. On my second day back my parents and I went to get our Christmas tree.
At this point (and for the next week) I was still wearing my brace to help support my leg. I stopped wearing it shortly after I had my stitches removed, which was decidedly unpleasant, but I won’t go into details. Andy stayed with us for the holidays, and came to my stitch-removing ceremony. He was super helpful during my bedrest phase and didn’t make as many “funny” jabs about my situation as my mum did.
Okay now for a list of FUN FACTS about my recovery and training! (because everyone likes lists better than paragraph form)
- 3 – the length, in inches, of the incision where the plate was put in, the number of non-weight bearing weeks post-op, and the longest continuous training session I’ve done since my injury (see how exciting a 3hr indoor bike ride is here)
- 200 – the number of kilometres I’ve double poled on the erg (as of Sunday)
- 28 – the number of painkillers I still have leftover from my prescription of 30 pills
- 10000000 – the number of times I’ve been bored silly and wanted nothing more than to go outside and ski.
Looking back on what I’ve done and gone through as a result of my accident, I’ve gained a lot of perspective and have had time for some deep self-reflection. It really hasn’t been that long of a time, and I don’t believe I’ve become a new person over the past three weeks, but I think this is the beginning of an opportunity to write an memorable passage into my life-manuscript. It feels like I’ve gotten through the hard-hard stuff, but I think I’m just starting to take on new challenges – ones that require more persistence to get through.
For the first few days whenever someone said “Glad to see you’re doing okay, sorry about your accident, get well soon!” I’d say “Thank you, it means a lot to hear that, and I feel sorry for myself too.” and mean every word of it. I got over feeling sorry for myself quicker than I though I would, it took a lot of biting my tongue and staring at walls, but I did it. Talking with Jack helped a lot, as did being at home with my family, and seeing the Team Hardwood crew out training everyday.
Essentially, once I could accept that:
a) I wasn’t going to qualify for the World Junior Championships (my biggest goal this year),
b) I would be unavoidably needy and reliant for weeks,
c) I am now bionic,
d) and I’m now the underdog,
I started to enjoy what I was doing. I don’t think I’ve ever been a true underdog before, I think I’ve done some time as a dark-horse, but being the underdog is new. No matter how much a chalk it up, I’m going to be disadvantaged when I get back on my skis. Sure, I’ve done quality training over the break, but it’s not ideal. Even if I’m only at odds for a short while, it’s still going to take some time for me to bounce back. I went to a brunch with Team Hardwood the other day and did a short presentation. I find when I talk to other people that I can understand my own thoughts a bit better. Anyway, after my presentation, one of the parents came up to me to chat and said “You always come back stronger.”, and I believe that. (there was more context than that to the quote, but this post is getting long…)
On the general topic of adversity, I want to give a big shout-out to my bro, Ryan, right now. He’s probably had more medical misfortunes than me this year. I won’t go into detail, but he’s been struggling with what they thought was a hernia since Nationals, has had several surgeries to try to deal with it, he’s had tendon and ligament problems in his feet which might be related to the hernia (somehow, I have no idea), and just got slammed by a 24hr flu and spent all of yesterday puking up his guts. Ryan is probably the most mentally tough person I know and is a big inspiration to me. Having a rad sibling who never-quits and is as gung-ho about skiing as me is amazing.
So between his medical misfortunes and mine (a strained IT band and a heat stroke episode in the summer, and now a broken leg), you could say it’s been a tough year for Team Jackson. We’ll be back though, and we’ll be better.