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My Achilles Wrist, My Achilles Mind March 19, 2012

Filed under: emotions,health,injury,Team in Training,triathlon — Susan @ 5:29 pm

Ah, I’ve been gone a long time, haven’t I? People have been noticing. I’ve been getting emails and also in-person inquiries of “How ARE you? You’re not blogging!” It’s true. I have been gone a long time. And I now understand how people can sometimes just evaporate from the blogosophere.

It pretty much started during my Yosemite snowshoe weekend. (actually it started much earlier, but the most current issue started then) I woke up the next morning with a pain at the base of my thumb, near my wrist. I didn’t really give it much thought. But it pretty much persisted for weeks and it kept getting worse. Finally it was keeping me up at night and I was yelping in pain every time I tried to do ANYthing with my left hand. So I went to my good friend who also happens to be a hand physical therapist (handy, huh? no pun intended). She confirmed my suspicions that I had a raging case of DeQuervain’s Tendinitis (see, I *was* paying attention in class 30 years ago!!). I had a “double positive” Finkelstein’s sign and my left wrist was measured to be swollen. She made me a nice splint to keep it in a good neutral position, and prescribed 2 weeks of NO SWIMMING or BIKING. (or anything else that aggravated my condition)

Two weeks of no swimming or biking! But… but… but… I’m training for a triathlon! That was the start of it. At the end of two weeks, my wrist was only about 20% better. AND I came down with a horrible nasty cold thing which had me in bed for a week, and then after that, I was well enough to work but then not well enough to do any kind of workout AFTER work. Two weeks + two weeks = a month.

A month of barely any training other than some jogging put me into a serious funk. I felt awful, and wimpy, and sorry for myself, and pathetic and all sorts of other things. I ate things that seemed to help for about half a second and then made things two hundred percent worse. I spiraled into yuckitude.

I thought about quitting. But I’m a MENTOR. Which makes things so much harder. I think as a regular participant I would have felt fine saying “This is just not my season to do this” and I would have bowed out. I’ve done that with other races in the past and it hasn’t been the end of the world. But I really really struggled with being a horrible role model and bad mentor and blah blah blah.

It took me a long, long, long time to come around to the decision to scrap the Maui Tri plan altogether (complicated by the fact that my buddy Lily had also decided that Maui was not a realistic option for her). Then what was left? Wildflower! The steepest, hilliest, biggest and baddest triathlon around (except for maybe Escape from Alcatraz, which I would not consider under hallucinogenics). I never wanted to do Wildflower. EVER. I was never even the teeniest bit tempted. But guess what? Maui does not have a Sprint distance option. So it looked like it was down to the Wildflower Sprint (otherwise known as “Mountain Bike Course”) or nothing.

When recommitment week came, I sat and stared at those papers for hours. I cried over them and paced around and just did not know what to do. Finally I signed up for the Wildflower Sprint and that’s where we are. I am one of 2 people from our team (2 out of 50) who is doing the sprint option. When it’s that much of a minority, I can’t help feeling kind of out of it, kind of not really part of the “real” team. And so on and so forth.

It’s been a freaking struggle. And it’s been hard to blog about because I’ve just been in this bad place in my head.

But recently things changed sufficiently for me to turn things around a little. One, I realized that Life is Short. This was accentuated by attending two memorial services this weekend, for two men/husbands/life partners of women friends of mine. One passed away after a decade of illness and suffering. The other died suddenly and unexpectedly. Both events were MAJOR wakeup calls. You never know when you will become extremely ill OR when you will be healthy, exercising and eating organic and then die suddenly anyway. So why suffer needlessly?

Last week I realized how much I was dreading certain things in my life. One of which was various aspects of tri training. I decided to stop beating myself up for a million reasons in a million ways. I realized that nobody was holding a gun to my head and MAKING me train for a triathlon. And that the person most responsible for my suffering was ME. (um, duh)

So I decided to cut myself a break. For one, I didn’t force myself to get on the bicycle when my wrist is still hurting. It still hurts me to pick up a cup of coffee, to wash my hair, to pull up my pants. The conservative treatment I’ve been following so far has helped, but not enough. So I’m going to a hand doctor and see if a cortisone shot might not help. It has its risks, but I am ready to move on and try it now.

Last week I went back to my beloved trainer for two workouts. I almost cried it felt so good. I was able to fully use 3/4 of my limbs and I got a crazy workout in. I was a very happy sweatball. I remembered that working out can feel good.

I also realized that there is such a thing as fit. I really like the people on my team, but I also think that the fit is not the best one for me. I am constantly feeling (through my own doing, not theirs) so slow, incapable and wimpy. I am always the last. And while I am not competitive so that I need to WIN (hahahaha), but I also really dislike people having to wait for me to finish while they are standing around. I like being middle-of-the-pack.

This coming weekend is Wildflower Training Weekend. Which is a big wild camping trip in which we get to test out the course, but instead of doing it as a tri we will do the swim/bike on Saturday and the run on Sunday. It is really going to be a test for me, in which I decide, OK, the mountain bike tri is going to be just fine. Or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, I’m just going to let it go. I’m going to be a good mentor and cheerleader and not cry about it anymore.

So this long absence has been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve had a really rough time but I’ve also had some major epiphanies and there’s a lot of change coming, not just with the triathlon training but in other areas of my life. Transition is hard but it gets you to the next place, and that’s a good thing.

I hope that some of you are still around to read this! I’ve missed being here.

 

 

 

 

9 Responses to “My Achilles Wrist, My Achilles Mind”

  1. Mandy Says:

    I’ve missed you Susan! Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling though. :(

  2. Angie Says:

    Thank you for honestly posting about your struggles. While I wish you weren’t going through it, It gives me encouragement that my own path to health struggles are not unusual. So thanks for being so honest and real.

  3. Good to see you back Susan. There is something to be said about listening to your body – I love that idea of an achilles mind. So creatively clever and yet really hits the point. Hang in there.

  4. Sarah Says:

    That pain is nutty isn’t it? SO sharp, so stabby. After my baby was born in October I came down with that tendonitis bad. I waited too long. Should have had the cortisone sooner and even though I was totally creeped out by what it did to the integrity of my skin where it was injected. I don’t hurt anymore and can get on with my life.

    It’s really hard not to get derailed by an injury. Those happy working out endorphins are so quickly forgotten, replaced by a constant ouch that takes up space in our head.

    Sounds like you’ve kicked it out though and made room for improvement. One foot in front of the other!

    • Susan Says:

      You’re so right! Sharp and stabby and gaspingly OW. I was all scared of the cortisone but I am so ready to move on now. Thanks for your perspective.

  5. Thanks for sharing Susan…sorry you’ve had injuries and illnesses (I had that same cold from hell and it really did suck)! I’ve kinda sorta been going through something similar, but different HA!

  6. Jenny Says:

    So glad you’re back. You are a major part of my personal visionboard for health. :)

  7. Sorry for the loss of your friends, and your tendinitis. Good luck on wildflower! Yes, ive noticed, it IS really easy to not post blog posts…time gets away from you..

  8. Hi Susan,

    I’m glad to discover your blog. I’m a mid-life figure skater, not tri athlete like you, but the journey to see what’s the most we can do in mid-life is the same. This post caught my eye because of your injury. Computer-related repetitive strain injuries can be so scary and difficult (and I know other things like sports can also cause these kinds of injuries). You sound really well-informed health-wise (maybe a former doctor yourself?) so this advice may be irrelevant. But a physiatrist, followed by an occupational therapist, would be the care team I’d want for an injury like yours.


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