When I found out I needed surgery the first question I had was... "What is the recovery time?" Of course soon follows the standard "4-6 weeks" response. (Oh, I am tottaly going to be that 4 week part of the standard deviaton.) The surgeon, the therapists and doctors all saying the same thing: "You will be up and moving around right after the surgery, and back doing what you do in no time!" As an athlete, 4-6 weeks was already too long. This theory of "no" time was going to be interesting.
I hit the 6 week anniversary of the operation and had a follow up appointment with the surgeon. He told me at this point the incisions and tissues in my knee were healed. I still had a bit of swelling and I would now be in a battle with scar tissue for range of motion. With 5 1/2 weeks of therapy, I could walk normally, I could do all minor strengthening excersices, and from what I could see (photo) I had lost a LOT of muscle in my leg. (How hard it is to build up the muscle and how fast it departs!)
So began the battle. Playing water polo requires a rather awkward rotating motion we do with our legs. "Eggbeater" had never seemed stange to me. I could do it for hours, maybe days. Supporting myself in the water was as easy as breathing. Yet the scar tissue on either side of my patella tendon and through my capsule was creating a loud"pop" doing even the simplest of things. Like bending me knee from a straightened postion. Wait, that happens when you walk. Yup, not too comfortable with normal linear motions. So doing anything even close to water polo was not going to happen. Yet.
It became quite clear that what I was going to struggle with most at that point was maintaining a positive outlook with my (what I feel is WAY TOO SLOW) progress back to an athletic level I think is satisfactory for playing on the National Team again.
I know everyone is different. Our bodies heal at their own rate. And I am quite frequesntly reminded I am no spring chicken anymore. (I'm not? Age is a number....I guess until you try and heal something and realize, yes, you really are 31. Boo.) But, I think my lifestyle- staying fit and active and absorbed in this pursuit of something I am passionate about, has made me feel a bit invincible. I attack things thinking I can achieve anything if I just try hard enough. And I still believe that to be true....it just might take a little longer than I previously envisioned. I was not leaping around after 4 weeks, or 6.....not even 10. Uggh.
Now in the 11th week I have seen the most progress. I think I have clawed my way up the mountain I had in front of me. Breaking holes in the sheets of ice, slipping back down a few times, but finally nearing the summit. And what kept me going, besides the images and sensations of future practices and games floating through my head, were appreciating the small moments of joy.
Like dressing up for Halloween at the therapy clinic. I broke out my tutu from my ballerina costume two years ago. And our trainer Lance, sported an amazing Spiderman costume. :)
Or making a trek up to LA to see Joshua Radin in concert for the first time. I got Joshua's CD Simple Times from a friend last year. It was about the same time I was trying to decide what path I should set out on post Olympics. And for some reason the sound of his voice was really calming to me. I would listen to his music as I walked around Greece, or when I was reading or hanging out at home and it would help me think. When I found out about his show I had to see him live. And again, those songs helped to calm my anxiety about the healing process and focus me back on the good.
And of course taking more pictures...... Black Friday getting brighter as Christmas lights start to come on!