This post goes out to my many friends who have had physical challenges this year. As a political scientist, I spend way too much time talking/writing/reading about the train wreck that is our current political situation, so I’m definitely NOT going to spend the waning hours of 2017 giving my take on the politics of the past year. Instead, I will focus on a more personal challenge that dominated my year. For those who don’t want to read to the end, the punchline is that even if you are doing everything right, sometimes you just have to be patient. There will be setbacks and new, unexpected injuries that become part of the healing process.
I started 2017 with my foot in a boot after having surgery on it in early December. I had learned in September of 2016 that I was born with an extra bone in my foot, and that I had accessory navicular syndrome. The extra bone had to be removed, and I also had a few other things going on, specifically, posterior tibial tendinitis and a tear of the left plantar calcaneonavicular ligament – here’s a nice animation of the second part of the surgery that repaired the spring ligament and left me with a new arch. After being a competitive athlete most of my life, this was the first time (except for right after giving birth to my two boys) that I was completely unable to work out for a significant period of time. Even when I was having major issues with my back in my late 20s, I found alternatives to running for a while, until I was able to get back into it seriously after my second son was born in 2003. My last serious running event was in January of 2016, a 10k, and I won a medal for my age group, something I was used to doing on a regular basis.
Although I recovered well from the surgery, and graduated from physical therapy in a
timely manner, I have learned over the past year that a foot injury isn’t something that goes away quickly, even if you do everything right. I did all my foot strengthening exercises, and my podiatrist was impressed with my recovery. I was able to walk all over London, Normandy and Paris with my boys this summer. I even ran/walked a 5k for my son Brandon’s school in September. I was very cautious about returning to running, mostly walking, but the general foot pain I was having began to get more specific, and eventually I could tell I was getting swelling in one of the joints close to where the bone had been removed. My left hip had begun to bother me as well, as my limp became more pronounced. A trip to the podiatrist determined that the bones in my foot were healing well, but I was having some soft tissue issues – so back to physical therapy, almost exactly a year after foot surgery.
So I have been spending the last month doing my PT exercises, walking, cycling and I just got a new rowing machine for Christmas. I have gained weight, but hope to get back into a serious nutrition routine to match my fitness routine with the start of the new year. This has been a very unusual year for me, and I’m still processing what it has meant to go from being a serious athlete to being in recovery. I know others deal with much more difficult struggles, and I count my blessings. I wonder what I should expect from myself now that I am over 50, and I can’t do many of the things that I did even in my 40s (i.e., 4 marathons, too many half marathons to keep track of, 10ks, 5ks). To what extent did the competition help define who I am? All I know is that I will continue to pursue excellence in every aspect of my life. I will be patient with myself as I recover both physically and emotionally from a challenging year. After all, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” (In the end I couldn’t completely keep politics out of it ????)