Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Stages of Injury (AKA Panties Behind the Furnace)

Today was symbolic. I returned my crutches.

P1080156

I didn’t mean to keep them for so long, but there was a part of me that kept fearing I would re-injure myself and need them again. I am now confident I will not need them again, at least not for this injury. If I fall out of the ceiling of my Southwest flight to Boston next week, I might need them for that.

I noticed on the form I filled out at the grocery store when I “rented” the crutches (yes, you can “rent” crutches then go buy milk all in one fell swoop) that I indicated I would have them for ten days. Upon their return, I had had them for 177 days. So I was a little off. Truth be told, I only really used them for 45 days or so. But I kept them as insurance. As a fall back if the unthinkable happened.

I’m about to get a little deep, so hang on for the ride:

givingfinger

When we get injured it happens to our physical bodies, but it’s really our mind that takes the beating. The stages of injury tend to follow the stages of grief, which makes sense considering that being injured represents the loss of being able to function how you want/need/have to.*

1. Denial – Are you f*cking kidding me? My marathon is in {insert number} weeks and I’ve trained my ass off. There is no way I’m not running this thing, even if I have to crawl. It’s just a pain in my hip. I’m sure I just pulled a muscle dancing on the pole. Or maybe this pain is a figment of my imagination, part of tapering madness. I’m sure I’m fine.

2. Anger – Are you f*cking kidding me? This still hurts, might be worse. Why me? I didn't do anything wrong. Everyone else can run and not get injured. Hell, Dean freaking Karnazes is running across the United States and he never gets injured. This sucks. I don’t deserve this. I pay my taxes, I follow a training plan. I bought the stinking $100 shoes that they told me to buy at that damn store.

3. Bargaining – You are not f*cking kidding me. I’m hurt. I get it. But, I swear if I am healed enough by marathon day to at least complete the race I will never {insert vice: cuss, drink, over train,  do meth, run with scissors, yell at my kids, hide my dirty panties behind the furnace, lick a knife} again. Once I complete this race, I will rest for a really long time and go to the doctor. I swear. Just let me run this race.

4. Depression – (warning: here’s where it gets really ugly). I’m f*cked. I’m out of the race. Hell, I might never run again. I hate swimming and biking and most of all running in the water. I want to run. I only like running and I am nothing without running. I will get fat. I will get lazy. I will lose all of my fitness. Why bother getting out of bed?

5. Acceptance – I can’t race. I can’t even run right now. But, it’s going to be okay. I am still an athlete, I am still a runner, I am just recovering. I will be back. Stronger than ever. Even though I can’t run, there are other things I can do to maintain my fitness. Even though I can’t run, I am still worthy. There is more to me than being a runner.

We all move through these stages at different rates. I wasn’t allowed to be in the denial stage very long because my pain was too intense and an MRI showed the fracture immediately. I also moved through anger and bargaining pretty quickly because the injury was so black and white. I was pissed as all get out, but that just made me more tired. And there was no bargaining to be done. There would be no race, no running.  For quite a few months.

I got stuck in depression for awhile. I’d have good days and bad days. I don’t think I really reached the point of acceptance for about eight weeks. And even then, I ping- ponged between depression and acceptance quite a bit. My acceptance wasn’t just based on knowing I would get better. It was based on knowing I would be okay even if I didn’t.

A theme of this blog is acceptance – not resisting what is. A theme of this blog is also pooping in bushes. I like variety.

One of my most very favorite things about life is that it is constantly changing. If you don’t like it, it will be different soon. If you are flying high, you might crash next week. The only thing you can count on is that things are temporary.

Now go back up and look at that muscle in my arm. There ARE upsides to crutches. And I’m wearing a mask because we are paintballing. Duh!

And, yes, I did hide my panties behind the furnace when I was five (and don’t pretend you didn’t),

SUAR

*For those who want to blast me for even comparing injury to loss – spare me. I know an injury is not the end of the world, and certainly cannot be compared to the loss of a loved one or a serious, life threatening illness. I get that.

56 comments:

  1. I hope there wasn't a late fee on those crutches.

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  2. I didn't have to go back and look at the picture. I noticed the first time. And I mean the first time you posted that pic.

    I like it when you get a little deep =)

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  3. I'm curious if it's actually worth it to rent crutches that long, or if you would have been better off buying them.

    Of course if you bought them, you couldn't have brought them back, so that counts for something.

    Nice post.

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  4. Hooray!! Congrats on the big return. I especially appreciate your injury advice lately. Although, I hate to compare my plantar wart to your NOT-broken hip. It does hurt like the dickens though... :)

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  5. Anytime any blogger, track friend or runner gets injured I just cringe...it's SO tough and it can hurt deeper than some losses that we go through in life. I'm not shallow, I'm just saying it like it is. It's just plain hard. You have really weathered this season and stayed strong, I'm sure it has helped many, many people as well. HANG in there, you-are-on-your-way!!!

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  6. Am I the only person that is confused about why you're wearing a gas mask?
    You've handled your injury with dignity and honesty and reality and I for one am proud of you!

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  7. Great post. #4 is always the hardest to shake. Atleast when I am angry, I can pretend I have tourettes

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  8. I think you forgot to put the word f*ck or a tense of it in #5. lol (At least all the other stages utilized it)

    Nice arm muscles.

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  9. oh my god, so hilarious because those are EXACTLY the stages I went through when I had to stop training for my marathon last year because of injury...i totally did the bargaining thing! I promised I would be a good person and stop swearing and clean up my potty mouth...needless to say, i didn't end up doing the race!!

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  10. Here's to hoping this injury is over so fast I don't have time to go through the stages, and don't tell me I'm in denial...

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  11. That arm muscle was the first thing I noticed, then I saw the face mask. What's up with that? Me, I'm stuck at #4, depression. And my injuries didn't come from running, which makes it even more maddening.

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  12. Anything that means the world to you, means the world to you. End statement. That can be a person, a pet, your health, your collection of milk rings, and your athleticism. Grief over any of these items can be an epic weight on your shoulders and the first step when healing the MIND is never being ashamed of your grief. I'm glad that for the most part you tell us how to stop whining and get the eff out there. But I'm also happy when you take the time to show us you can be vulnerable and angry and depressed and THEN get the eff out there!

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  13. Oh man are those SPOT on! And uh yeah I wish my arms looked like that!

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  14. This is such a perfect post for me right now. I've been through all of those stages and have finally come to the acceptance stage. Injuries just suck, plain and simple!

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  15. Deb - no fee for crutches. Just a deposit you get back. Thank god.

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  16. Welcome to the gun show! Sure there wasn't a course of steroids somewhere in that rehab plan? Did you even use a gun for the paintball, or did you just lay the bullets on your triceps and fire them by flexing? Impressive!

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  17. Welcome to the other side of an injury. Its a great place to be. Enjoy every f*cking minute!

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  18. I get that. #4 is the hardest.
    It is great that you are now on the other side.
    I went back and I am impressed with the arm muscles...I just posted pics of mine this week and I mentionned I need some of those muscles..maybe I should try your crutches

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  19. You wore purple to paintball. AND crutches? Easy target!

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  20. i had no idea you could rent crutches. or that you can get through the depression stage. le sigh.

    and it's funny that you wrote about life constantly changing. because i'm drafting a post right now asking life to NOT change for a little bit. but i hear you. and it's actually one of the things about life i love too

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  21. Happy Crutchless Day!!!

    I wrote about going through these motions last fall when I was dealing with the unexplained Leg Gremlins because Runner's World had an article about them and I find them to be so very fitting for the situation. (I even named that post "Acceptance" LOL!) We go through all of these things when we're dealing with an injury and although it's not a loss of someone in a physical sense it is a loss of our livelihood and sometimes the emotional side of it can be more painful than the physical side. We all deal with injury at some point and we all go through the motions in our own ways, the important part is identifying that we're working through them and getting to acceptance as quickly as possible so you can get on with your life. Great post my dear... I think I will have to link it in to the post I have almost finished for Friday about being injured. Your journey with all of this has really put my own injury in perspective and I find myself going back through your archive to see how you dealt with things along the way. Keep on keeping on girl, you inspire us all with your determination and motivation to succeed!

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  22. Wow! This post totally spoke to me - and no, it wasn't the panty comment. I just had to opt out of my 1st 1/2 last weekend b/c of a knee issue. I think I went through every stage of grief at least 30 times a day over the last 2-3 weeks. But, what you resist, persists, so it's time to move on!

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  23. I never thought about it that way, but that pretty much is the exact thought process I had when I had a stress fracture.

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  24. I just got off my crutches yesterday and my arms are looking pretty good! : ) I think I would still take my not-so-fabulous looking arms if I could run. I have been out 4 months and hopefully only have 27ish days to go!!

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  25. Awesome post. As a new runner, getting hurt is my worst fear. At least now I know what to expect. I shall bookmark this post and refer back to it when it happens. I could identify with the depression part in the respect in the past I have always gotten shin splints (which is a very lame "injury" i know) when starting a training plan and then gave up. That was my past mentality. I would go from depressed to anger and back and forth... never allowing myself to progress.

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  26. Ha Southwest Airlines! And anyways, great post. I think this is sooooo true. Maybe moreso for smaller injuries because they're harder to accept as a real hindrance. But either way, so true. I know I went through all of those stages, even with a mere ITB problem. GREAT POST!

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  27. Love it, love the post. I needed that good laugh. I'm injured myself...very frustrating...not sure what stage i'm in right now..but I'm definitely throwing a few of the F bombs around myself so i know i'm in them! Look foward to reading more.

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  28. You better call the vet to check out that puppy! It's sick! Maybe you should call the plumber too...cuz that pipe's about to BURST!! (totally talking about your awesome bicep in that pic, in case i was too cryptic...)
    p.s. glad you're all healed! you rock!

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  29. Yep, so true. I really, really, really hope I don't have to experience that roller coaster of emotions any time soon.

    I like to say there is a big difference to giving up and giving in.

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  30. Congrats on getting rid of the crutches for good! I totally agree with your stages of grief over running, you lost an important part of your life for a while. Those emotions are totally valid!

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  31. Congrats on losing the crutches. As for the phases - outstanding report. I am currently stuck on #4. Yes, I have said that same phrase for the last month!!

    pooping in bushes - I was wondering where that topic might hide.

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  32. As someone who is returning from plantar fasciitis and at times very frustrated, this post made me laugh out loud ... and realize that acceptance that I'll be OK with or without running is pretty important. Thanks for starting my day with great thoughts and great writing.

    Amy
    www.amymoritz.com

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  33. Look at those guns! Very nice.

    I have been so fortunate not to have any serious injuries that have forced me to stop running, but I have been through it with enough friends (virtual and otherwise) to recognize those signs. Well said!

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  34. Great post. Everything is relative to who each person is as an individual. Another person may not understand your anger/fear/frustration/sadness due to injury (or insert any other form of loss here) but that doesn't make those feelings any less real for you. Feelings are never wrong, they just are. It's the positive you pull out of the negative that's important, and I think you do a nice job expressing that in your writing.

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  35. I thought about those stages quite a bit when I was injured b/c I could see myself in each of them. Depression and anger remained my constant companions, even when I was in acceptance.

    Hooray for returning the crutches!

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  36. great post. it's totally legit to equate grief & injury.... injury for runners or any athletes is about loss--loss of something you love to do, something that makes you who you are. yes, you might come back...but for a time, it's uncertain. thanks!

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  37. Um, I was in mourning for days after I left my running shoes in the hotel after Boston last year. Great, now I’m tearing up again (I hope you’re happy).

    Safe travels and have a blast!!

    Ron

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  38. When I suffered from my stress fracture I went through all those stages. I had been so friggin hopeful to say that I had run not one, but 2 half marathons before Christmas. The only thing I got to say is I came in 3rd for my age group during a 10k and got a stress fracture as a parting gift. I had denial big time, because I kept trying to run on it. Sometimes I got 4 miles out of it, sometimes I got zero. I even ran another 10k with my stress fracture, which the doc was impressed by. I just didn't want to believe it.
    I healed pretty quickly, according to el sport doctoro. But I wasn't mentally ready to run and still had some pain. Now it is still a battle. Every time something hurts, I worry. I'm working hard and yesterday I had a break through. 8 weeks till my half, I'm really praying now.
    Thank you for you awesome blog, I gotta say, you and I both suffered from our injuries at the same time. This blog has been really inspiring to me since then.

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  39. I think I am going to start using crutches as part of my training plan so I can get those biceps. My mom always said not to play on wheelchairs or crutches because 'it' would happen to you. Are playing and training the same thing? Why did you hide your panties behind the furnance? I obviously never did.

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  40. Thank you so much for this post! I am obviously struggling and I must admit that I'm stuck in the depression phase of my injury and am only having moments of acceptance (and plenty of moments of anger). I really needed to hear this today - thank you.

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  41. I'm actually tearing up at my desk reading the depression part. Story of far too much of my life! I like to tell myself that I'm well into the acceptance/recovery phase...but really I'm not that mature...

    I'm so glad you're getting better!

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  42. I'm totally with you on the stages of grief thing - I had actually thought about writing up something similar, but now you beat me to the punch. Damn you!

    I'm recently recovered from a nasty bout of ITBS earlier this year. This was my first "major" running injury, and I went through the denial phase BIG time. There was also plenty of anger, and even a bit of depression throw in there too!

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  43. Thank you for the post. I am in the midst of huge anger and depression issues about my injury. I was injured for a year, then was finally able to get running again and got a new injury 2 weeks before my marathon. Now 8 weeks after that I am hurt again and just got my first pair of crutches. I'm almost 40 years old and have never had to use crutches until now. So frustrating, when all I want to do is run!

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  44. Did you write this post for me?
    I wonder what phase you get when you hit your year anniversary of injury?

    Thanks, Beth! I'm happy you are on your way back to the road!

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  45. My favorite point in this post: "My acceptance wasn’t just based on knowing I would get better. It was based on knowing I would be okay even if I didn’t."
    So true. It seems many of us define ourselves almost solely with our running and injury deals such a terrible blow to all that we are. Getting out, trying new things and finding what else you ARE is a good thing.

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  46. You paint-balled on crutches? I'm totally impressed. On the more serious side though, this is an awesome post and so true. I think even the most minor of setbacks trigger this progression and I'm always inspired by people once they get to the acceptance stage!

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  47. I didn't read the deep stuff. Looked like a lot of work. Instead, what did I take from this post? Are you flicking me off in that picture?! Seriously???

    HOW RUDE!

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  48. I think the stages of grief are a great way to explain what we go through with an injury, yes it’s not the same as losing a loved one it’s less intense and traumatic but I do agree the stages are the same.

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  49. New to your blog-this is my first comment : )

    I have been there on the stages of grief. I have a terrible, terrible back and pretty much terrible joints/ligaments. I'm held together with silly string, basically. When my back first went to hell it was awful. Painful and just mentally exhausting. Oddly, once I kind of gave up the dream that I would ever be "normal" or pain free, it helped a lot mentally. For years of my life I would think "oh, well when someone figures out my back and we get my hips and knees right I will ___" Once I realized that time wasn't coming and I had to just deal with the right now, I gained a lot more acceptance of the pain and just being gimpy.

    Once you go through a major injury, it does change you. The worry, the fear of it coming back or worsening, the need to constantly monitor yourself, etc. It just takes away some of the enjoyment. Even after a long rehab and even long term health, the worry can hang on. It it tough. Congrats on all the hard work you have done to get back on your (running!) feet : )

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  50. Just wanted to say that my Runners World showed up today and I jumped right to 126 - totally ignoring Kara - and showed the kids and the husband.
    They all think you rock too!
    Next time I'm in CO I'll bring it by for an autograph!

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  51. The fact that there is a disclaimer on this drives me nuts. I mean really who the F would make the comparison and get pissed at you. We all know that loss is much tougher than injury but let me tell you this:

    YOU COPE WITH BOTH. YOU HAVE TO MOVE ON FROM BOTH!!!! LIFE MOVES FORWARD WITH OR WITHOUT YOU SO YOU BETTER GET ON THE F'N TRAIN!


    Now onto the humor:
    1st there was the VEIN and now there is the TRICEP

    I am going to the gym now (f recovery) and doing 1,000,000,000,000,000 dips with a turniquit on my arm.

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  52. I'm new to your blog - but wanted to thank you for this awesome post! I've been struggling with a hip injury from running for a couple of months now. I find that I go back and forth between acceptance and angerq/ depression. It helps to know I'm not the only one struggling with those feelings.

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  53. Beth, I NEVER had panties. I promise. Did someone tell you otherwise? They were lying. 100% lying.


    Please don't tell anyone else.

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  54. I found your blog a few months ago, ironically after I got injured. :-) I was training for my first half-marathon, felt a tightness in my ankle and foot that I chalked up to "eh, nothing," only to find it was severe Achilles bursitis AND tendonitis. Like a stubborn ass, I ran the half-marathon ANYWAY, which made it way worse and now here I am - almost 6 months since the race - and still unable to run. I'm 99% better, but the most I have run in the last two weeks is 8 minutes (4 minute walk, 1 minute jog. Repeat.)
    I feel like I live in the pool, almost want to hit up AquaJogger to see if they need a poster girl because good lord, that's me.
    This post really, really helped me and I come back to it every so often as a reminder. I too have good days and bad days, and am thankful the good outnumber the bad as time progresses.
    But the point you made that really spoke to me is, "My acceptance wasn’t just based on knowing I would get better. It was based on knowing I would be okay even if I didn’t."
    Thanks. I'm a regular reader and love your posts! I'm looking forward to beating this thing, putting on the $150 Asics I just bought, and shutting up, and running.

    -Erin

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