Yesterday I had to drive up to New Jersey for my not-quite-8 week follow up visit with the surgeon. I walked down to Fells Point Enterprise to rent my car around 8am, only to find out I had apparently made my reservation with the Enterprise on Eastern Ave in Dundalk. Fortunately it wasn't a big deal and I was on my way in crappy weather. Fortunately the jams were pretty sweet during the ride and I made it to Red Bank in a pretty timely fashion.
First stop was to my PT guy up there. He was pleased with how I was doing, but still hits me with that "5 months til you're running" mumbo jumbo. Dude, that's just NOT going to work.
From there I stopped at home, picked up my mom and headed off to lunch. Got the "I'm worried about you" lecture, and again was like yeah mom, I usually just don't even want to get out of bed because that first step sets the tone for my day and when that first step is riddled with pain and hobbling, I'm never psyched. My confidence and motivation is near zero and one thing affects the other.
After lunch it was doctor time. My surgeon spends an inordinate amount of time with me. It's weird. Most ortho docs say hi and roll out. Dr. Torpey spends almost too MUCH time with me. I explained to him what I've been doing at physical therapy and also on my own, and he said that usually by the 8 week mark (this Friday, for me) they hope that patients have just restored their normal routine. I surpassed that mark weeks ago, but of course my normal routine, as he said, is much more vigorous and will take time to get back to.
I have a new contraption that I have to use, it's basically a styrofoam splint that goes under my leg, with a little foot thing that I prop my heel up on. Then I strap the leg down and grimace for 15-20 minutes, 3x a day, as it attempts to straighten my leg out with a little force.
Besides that I have to continue to work actively on my knee to get it to bend and straight more fluidly. The ligament is solid, so there's very little chance I could derail the surgery. That's good news.
I got back into the car and drove back to Baltimore, heading straight over to the track. It was dark and rainy, and chilly. All I could think was holy shit, by the time I can start running the weather is going to be so miserable I don't even know if I'll be able to handle it.
This morning I went to PT at 6:30 and felt pretty good. Much better than the past few days. At the beginning of therapy here in Baltimore, so just about 4 weeks ago, I was able to leg press 313 with my left (good) leg and I forget what the right leg was, but it was at least 40-60 pounds less. Today I did the little test again and it was 373 with the left leg and 333 with the right. So I'm getting back. My right leg has lost an inch in circumference compared to the left.
As far as bending I'm well over 100 degrees now on my own, and can get to 130 degrees with help. I need at least 110 before I can even really contemplate running.
The other good news is that I asked the doc if there was anything that would prevent me from doing the swim at Ironman Arizona, and he said no - so as long as I can get a reasonable flight I'm going to head out there and do the swim.
I began to think about my various injuries over the years at the hands of running and riding, and how, much like when Frodo gets stabbed by the Nasgul in LOTR, I will always have to live with this pain. In 2003 I obliterated my Talus bone - a bone situated in my ankle, and tore the ligaments in my foot. It took me two years to really work through the residual problems there and I still don't have the same flexion in my left ankle as I do my right. Similarly this ACL/meniscus deal is going to haunt me for quite a while.
Every day I think about 2010 and when I'll be able to compete again. My physical therapist said "well even if you can't start running for a while you could always walk" - and I said "man, I've been there, done that." It's not like I'm proving anything to anyone by going to Columbia next year, having a decent swim and bike split and then walk/jogging the run. It's not worth it for me to just finish. Same goes for Eagleman. That race is hard enough and long enough to begin with, I don't want to go there and plan on walking. Mostly I'll be upset if I go to Miami but can't run the half in January.
I need to get back. I know my confidence and motivation are tied to how I feel physically, and I am tired of being down.