A Room with a View

Today is my last day in the big black cast. As I anticipate my next phase of recovery, I want to make note of all of the things that I am grateful for during this past phase.

A top-notch surgeon
If you’re going to have somebody take your foot apart and put it back together again, hire a pro. I was incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Dane Wukich as my surgeon. He is highly trained, incredibly skilled and to top it off, he’s a war hero. My kind of guy. Read about Dr. Wukich here.

A top-notch mother-in-law
When I married Jim, I got a bonus. I got Barbara, my mother-in-law. Under normal circumstances, Barbara is a kind, generous and loving soul. Throughout my recovery, she was a dedicated nurse, cook, housekeeper, laundress, counselor and confidant. She is a gem for whom I am truly grateful.

Better than top-notch friends
You know how sometimes people say, “Call me if you need anything” and then either you don’t call or they don’t answer? Well, that did not happen in my case. My friends were on board in a major way and I would have lost my sanity without them. They brought me meals, they ran errands, and most importantly, they came to see me regularly. We laughed, we gossiped, we talked about CrossFit. And they encouraged me daily. My friends have been my lifeline.

Top-notch electronics
Thank God for Apple. My iPad has been my constant companion during my convalescence. I write this blog on my WordPress app. I communicate via my email, Facebook and Twitter apps. I conduct my business using my Evernote, Dropbox and Things apps. I keep myself informed and entertained with Flipboard. Not to mention my iPhone and smart TV. It is certainly easier to be confined and immobile when you have little boxes willing to transport you to the outside world.

And finally,
a top-notch environment
I’ve come to find out that after surgery like mine, many folks end up in a nursing home or rehab facility. I was fortunate enough to come home to my beautiful little house where I was able to feel comfortable and secure. Everything I needed was set up on one floor, and it was a cushy set-up indeed. But the best part was something I never anticipated – the wonderful windows. All day, every day, I had a view that kept me company. In the early weeks, I watched the snow come down and the squirrels frolic. Lately, I’ve seen the trees come to life and the springtime birds return. But mostly, I spent hours gazing out of my windows alone with my thoughts. The process was enlightening and wholly therapeutic. I shed a few tears, reflected on some fond memories and produced a few moments of revelation. The room where I spent the last 46 days has windows that have shown me both wildlife and my life. Truly a room with a view.

20130425-111314.jpg

Underdog?

un·der·dog
Noun
1. A loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest

Last Saturday my cast and I made it out of the house and we landed at our new Crossfit box – Crossfit Alloy. After attending a nutrition seminar, I had the opportunity to watch the Saturday WOD where I ran into some old CF friends and met some new folks as well.

The cast, of course, is a conversation piece. As I discussed the salient details of my foot reconstruction, everyone had encouraging words. But I could also detect faint hints of doubt when I mentioned my hopes for recovery and my impending return to Crossfit. After all, who can really picture me running and doing box jumps again after I’ve explained that I had my heel sawed off, moved over and screwed back on? Not to mention the tendon replacement and the cadaver bone grafting. And to top it off, it’s no secret that I’m 54-years old.

When I get back to the box, I will still be on one leg. People will expect me to be slow and weak. I will officially achieve underdog status. Underdog. The word insults me. Underdog I might be, but only as a label assigned to me from the outside. As I’ve documented, my body has faded during my inactivity, but now I’m feeling mentally stronger and more determined every day. My visit to the box has only reinforced my desire to work hard on my recovery – to sweat and swear and not look back. So in the coming months when I scale a WOD and still finish last, you might be inclined to feel sorry for me because everyone roots for the underdog. Well, save it. Because somewhere down the road, in some future WOD, my new foot and I will kick your ass. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

My CrossFit Brain

In just two weeks, my cast comes off. And while I look forward to the freedom of a removable boot, I dread having to live with a lower limb that is atrophied. And though I’ve dealt with many unpleasant situations in my life, a withered and lifeless leg has never been one of them. So this, my friends, is what they call uncharted territory.

Theoretically, there are two paths I can take. I can cover my eyes and hope for the best, or I can face my rehab head-on and get to work. Those who know me assume that I will take the second path because that’s the kind gal I am. But I have a secret. And the way in which I deal with my secret will determine my path.

My secret is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of pain. Fear of failing. Taken together, those three fears are a formidable obstacle. But fortunately, I have a part of my brain that is trained as a CrossFitter and it is telling me to handle my fears the same way I’d handle a nasty WOD – Break it down, take one part at a time, and don’t give up.

So with my CrossFit mentality as my shield, I will charge headlong into my fears. I will battle the unknown with research and with questions put to my doctors. I will brush aside my fear of pain with positive thoughts of healing. And I will laugh at my fear of failure because I know that if I refuse to give up, there will be no failure.

And as I move along my path, I know that there will be bumps. But as I look down the road to my future, I see a day when I’ll be in the box facing down a brutal triplet and I’ll remember this time and these fears. And I’ll know that I made it through because when my CrossFit brain leads the way, my body is sure to follow.

Note: Within minutes of composing this post, I stumbled upon an article about soldier and CrossFitter, Rob Burke. Rob discusses his physical rehab as well as overcoming his fears! Read about Rob here!

I Blog?

20130410-154857.jpg

At 4:55 am the alarm goes off. I get up, get dressed, eat, drink and drive to the box. At 6:00 am I warm up and at 6:10 I face down the WOD. I recover, I smile and I drive home to begin the regular part of my day.

That was my five-day-a-week schedule for many years until a nasty foot injury overwhelmed me. I am writing this blog during the recovery phase of my foot reconstruction and I plan to chronicle my journey back to the CrossFit routine that I love. At present, I cannot stand, walk or drive, let alone work out, so this blog could be active for quite a while! I have a few posts prior to this one and I have one churning around in my head for tomorrow, but other than that, I will post when I have something valuable to say.

Stick with me and see if I make it back to that 4:55 alarm!

My True Self

Each morning when I awake, I reach for my iPad to get a glimpse of the world outside of my bed. Today on facebook, the CrossFit Games linked to a blog post by the ever-amazing Julie Foucher (for those non-CrossFitters reading this post, Julie Foucher is a beautiful CrossFitting machine and a soon-to-be doctor). Julie eloquently describes her experience of watching the play “Wit”, a story of a renowned English Professor who is battling stage four ovarian cancer. During the character’s struggle, she is stripped of her “busy self” (her identity of doing, accomplishing, earning and creating) and her “physical self” (her body which, ideally, functions on its own) and is left with what the author refers to as her “true self”.

Julie discusses the possibility of seeing one’s “true self” within the confines of a Crossfit box. As she says, once you enter your local box, things related to your “busy self” – your career, your salary, maybe even your family – become irrelevant because everything is about the WOD. And even though we are using our “physical selves” to perform the WOD, there are brief moments when our bodies say, “OK, that’s it – I’m done”, but we push on, in defiance of our body’s words, and go to a place where it is possible to see our true selves.

As I read Julie’s account, my eyes blurred with tears. I, too, know that it is possible to see your true self through CrossFit. As I thought back on the hundreds of WODs that I’ve performed, the one which exposed my true self was easy to recall. During my first Murph, there was an extended period during the second mile when my body told me I couldn’t go on. But after thinking about the heroism of the real-life Michael Murphy, the heaviness in my legs and the burning in my lungs became unimportant. My job didn’t matter. The weather didn’t matter. My extreme discomfort didn’t matter. Finishing was the only thing that mattered. And not only did I finish, but I finished strong.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my true self had come forth during Murph. And now, while I lie in bed, leg elevated, with my “busy self” put aside and my “physical self” immobilized, perhaps it won’t be so bad to spend some time with my true self. Because now I realize that my true self is a part of me worth knowing.

Is There Envy in CrossFit?

CrossFitters worldwide are known for their supportive community, their charitable nature and their commitment to a positive attitude. So why, then, am I wondering about CrossFit and envy?

Is it because when our new CrossFit box opens tomorrow and everyone is there celebrating and doing WODs, I’ll be lying in bed with my foot up? Is it because when Open Workout 13.5 is announced on Wednesday and everyone is planning how to hit it hard, I’ll be hobbling to the bathroom on a walker wishing I could do a single air squat? Or is it because while my fellow CrossFitters are learning and growing and setting PR’s, I’m watching my muscles wither and my endurance vanish?

Envy. It’s such an insidious and destructive emotion. I’m beating it back with both hands but a tiny bit creeps into my life every day. And while I root for all of my CrossFitting friends to do well, my frustration at being unable to participate is so great that sometimes I feel an actual ache in my chest. My husband, my friends, my CrossFit idols – they’re all making progress and I’m screaming in my head, “Wait! Don’t leave me! Please take me with you”!

Fortunately, these bouts with envy are brief and infrequent. And now that I’m exposing my envy to the light of day, it’s power will be diminished. As a CrossFitter, I’m setting a new goal – to wipe envy from my daily experience and focus instead on gratitude. Gratitude for what I can do and what I will do and for a future that will be bursting with PR’s.

A New Place to Start

Today was the first day of the rest of my CrossFitting life.

After major reconstructive surgery, it’s necessary to start somewhere. And today was the day I took my first two steps (so to speak).

Step One – Today was my first non-medical outing since my surgery. I’ve spent 23 1/2 hours a day for the last 18 days sitting or lying with my foot elevated above my head, so this was a huge deal for me. Some fresh air, a ride in the car and a destination with no doctors. Heaven.

Step Two – At the end of the car ride was an Open House at the city’s newest CrossFit box and the site that will soon be my new CrossFit home. A new box for a new start – it’s fitting and it’s exciting.

So even though I can’t walk or drive or WOD, today I moved forward. And forward is my favorite direction.