Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Heal, Already! Living with a Nagging Injury (ii)

Part Two (Part One can be found here.)
So I actually did manage to be patient and follow the physical therapist’s strengthening and stretching regimen pretty religiously for a few months. And slowly -- very, very slowly -- I got better. It was very much two steps forward, one step back, but at least it wasn’t the other way around.

By March, I was riding a little harder and longer, and by April, I had almost forgotten I’d been injured. I’d been promising myself for months that, once I got to May and the insanity of my final semester of a multi-year grad school program was done, I would reward myself by riding as much and as hard as I wanted. I was salivating for this. Seriously.

By early May, I had gotten confident, strong and very happy. I was riding a little more intensely each week. I was building up carefully. I got to the point where I was doing climbing repeats on the steepest hill in town, and loving them to death (when I wasn’t heaving pieces of my lungs onto the blacktop.) It was going to be a great spring, after all. I was going to be at the front of the pack. I was going to shine.

And then one day I did one extra repeat on that hill, and felt a little twinge in my knee.

What? Did you expect a happy ending? Come on.

Now, the number one very most annoying thing about a nagging injury is that it’s impossible to tell the difference between healthily pushing the limits, and dangerously aggravating it. Often, I’ve pushed a little beyond my safety zone, felt a little ache here and there, and found out the next day that I had done a good thing. Instead of more discomfort, I would actually feel stronger. Then the next week, I might push it exactly as hard (or so it seems), and that night feel the hot irritation that signals the beginnings of re-injury. Then I have to pull back, and maybe even lose weeks of progress.

It was just that way on the very day of my last class in graduate school. I felt great after repeat number two, and so went for number three for the first time. That’s when I re-injured myself, and pretty good, too. It’s now seven weeks later and I’m still in the throes of recovery, progressing, backsliding, angsting over Web research, calling my PT. Yay!
Next: Repeat After Me: "My Knees Are My Teacher"


Anonymous said...

Man... that sucks! Sometimes hard to differentiate between making progress and pushing your limits.

Good luck on your return to form.

Harry said...

Thanks, WB, I appreciate the empathy and encouragement.

And good luck with the Hill of Death! I do find that those hills become smaller the more I come back to them!