I think I learnt a lot from this injury and surgery though, and I hope I can give advice to anyone else who is going to go through this. One of my track friends reached out to me shortly after, because she is going to have the surgery in the fall.
Things I wish I'd known:
- Ice is your best friend (okay, I already knew this).
- Expect to not leave your house for at least 5 days.
- You will take cabs to places that you used to walk to.
- Accept that you will need a parent or loved-one to make all your meals, and go to the store to buy ice for you. I thought I’d be fine and was telling my mum not to fly out here for my surgery – luckily my mum didn’t listen to me. I could not have gotten through that first week without her.
- Your days will feel longer than any other day. Waking up to go sit on the couch is not in my list of top things to do, on any given day – and still isn’t.
- Recovery is slow, and emotional, but your friends will cheer you up right when you need it.
- When you are ready and able to leave the house, expect to walk a lot slower. I’m basically a speed-walker, so this was really hard for me.
- No one knows you just had surgery. Taking public transit will be the biggest headache of your day – streetcar stairs are too big, and not enough subway stations here have escalators at all staircases. This has been a big eye-opener for me in terms of mobility in Toronto.
- One of your happiest moments will be when you realise you can walk up or down a staircase without pain – I am so serious.
- You will get weaker, before you get stronger.
Then, came the step back. A month after surgery, I went into my follow-up appointment with my surgeon, and due to swelling, I was told to stop all strengthening exercises for two weeks. I was so bummed - I had just been given this cool circuit that I was really looking forward to doing. But, since my surgeon is an expert, I listened to him, begrudgingly. During the two weeks, I was allowed to keep doing stationary bike workouts, and have gradually been increasing the length of them and the intensity. It’s still pretty minor compared to what I used to do for a bike workout, but I’m just glad to get a bit of a sweat going.
Fast-forward 3 weeks and that is today! During the 2-week downtime, the pain has basically gone away in my knee during my “normal” life, and I’m now able to start my rehab exercises again. I tried to run on an alter-g treadmill today (aka alter-gravity treadmill), but it was a no-go. I had pain in my knee every time my right foot contacted the ground, so the treadmill was stopped in less than 4 minutes. While it was a bummer – I was so excited that I might run today – I understand that there is no use putting up with the pain when it’s my body’s way of telling me that something is wrong. So, with a new collection of rehab exercises to do, I’ll take another stab at the alter-g in a week and a half.
While the first 3 weeks were emotionally, physically and mentally challenging, I feel like I’m in a much better place, and am truly enjoying the summer I’ve had so far. This summer has been so different than past summer’s, and I’m finally spending time in Toronto for more than a few weeks in a row! It feels like I’ve spent a lot of time on the road these past 3 years. I have a lot more time for myself, and my friends and family here, and have been enjoying a summer of things that I normally wouldn’t get to experience. It’s been great!
I've also had some pretty incredible and caring friends that have really picked me up when I've been down. I already knew I had great friends, but some were so sweet.
Until next time,
PS – If you’re wondering what an alter-g treadmill is, it helps with rehab by reducing your body weight. Today I was running with less than 50% of my body weight, in hopes that I wouldn’t feel pain, but I unfortunately did. These are very fancy treadmills!