*Editor’s note: My posts may be less frequent during the next four to six weeks because of the circumstances described below. At least for now, I’m planing to post once a week, on Monday. My comments on others’ blogs will likely be sparse, too. But stick with me: I’m doing my best hunting and pecking with limited use of my right arm for now, and will be back to posts every weekday as soon as I can.*
On the two-hour drive from Whitetail to the emergency room at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda on Friday afternoon, I relied on a few key distractions to keep my mind off the knowledge that my lower right arm was purple, throbbing, and shaped like an “S” after a gnarly fall while learning to snowboard.
I took deep yoga breaths while repeating the mantra, “Choose peace” as I felt bone grind on bone. I closed my eyes and hummed Bob Marley songs while I tried to ignore the bumps in the road (who knew there were so many bridges on I-70?). And I focused an NPR interview with Willie Mays on NPR in which the baseball great talked about how he chose not to hold onto anger about the way he was treated during his rookie year, when he was one of only a few black professional baseball players in the league. “I go forward all the time,” he said. “I never back up.”
I’m choosing to make Mays’ quote my mantra for the next four to six weeks, which I’m told will be my recovery time with or without surgery (I find out about the surgery at my follow-up appointment at 8 a.m. Friday). Focusing on those thoughts kept me from crying even a little bit from the moment I fell until we pulled into the hospital, where my misshapen wrist became the story of the night. It looked so nasty, the doctor who set it asked if he could take a picture (we have photos, too, but Steve says they’re too gross to post for general audiences). And they’re already helping me see this injury, a distal radius fracture, the way I want to: with positivity and grace, not self-pity and regret. Here’s how I’m choosing to approach the next four to six weeks:
- As a time to retrain my brain. Our neurons fire some circuits out of habit, and right now, my neurons have an awful lot of bad habits. If I “force the positive,” as Deena Kastor puts it, I can establish healthier thought patterns to replace them. I can come out of this mentally tougher than I already am by refusing to indulge self-pity, worst-case scenarios, whining.
- As a time to heal. I’ll be in occupational therapy as soon as they’ll take me. But in a larger sense, I’ve gotta believe my hip and ankle will benefit from some real time off—like, stationary-bike time off, not just reduced mileage. I will know more about when I can run and swim again after my doctor appointment on Friday, but for now, I’m just going to give my body all the rest it needs.
- As a time to work on my weaknesses. I may not be able to manage Turkish getups for quite a while. But single-leg squats, monster walks with resistance bands and the rest of my hip-strengthening workout are a different story.
My motivation board was decorated with photos of Stowe, where we were planning to ski in March (still might go; I clearly won’t ski); the Bay Bridge Swim in June (should be OK, but who knows?); and generic running-themed stuff. I’ve added a photo of Lindsey Vonn, the hardworking, gutsy skier whose Olympic dreams are in jeopardy after a shin injury; Deena Kastor, whose own Olympic marathon in Beijing was shattered when she had to drop out because of a stress fracture; and Willie Mays, who’s reminding me to keep looking forward.
One thing I will look back on: my amazing ski week last week. Steve and I volunteered to pick up extra shifts with the Mountain Safety Team as soon as we heard record snowfall in the forecasts, and actually got stuck at Whitetail overnight during the blizzard on Wednesday. My ski season may have ended early, but it certainly ended on a high note!