No one told me recovering from physical injury would be so lonely and sad

I’m going to let you in on something not-so-secret: Injury sucks. Pain isn’t fun and limitations on your activities is incredibly frustrating. You know what’s worse and what I really wasn’t prepared for? The mental aspect and how rest and recovery would totally throw off everything about my day. But wait, what happened? Let me back up for a moment…

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts (hint: this one and this one), after taking classes at Mile High Run Club (which I still highly recommend), my IT band got very tight. This wasn’t anything new for me as I’ve dealt with IT band issues more or less my whole life. What was new for me, was that the pain didn’t go away and ultimately moved from my IT band to my hip and lower back. I think it was running at an incline that got me since that’s the one thing I hadn’t done before, but I’m no MD.

Image is blurry but the words ring clear. It will be ok. I will be ok.

Image is blurry but the words ring clear. It will be ok. I will be ok.

I’m horrified that I reasoned, ‘I didn’t have an injury-causing event, I can just work through the pain.’ When spinning and barre became painful, along with walking in general, I knew something was up. Acupuncture didn’t help, and in the end, I called my mom in tears at a supermarket two blocks from my apartment, unsure if I could get home.

A fabulous orthopedist diagnosed me with hip bursitis. [Quick explanation: your joints have bursa sacks for cushioning and mine was severely inflamed.] One cortisone shot and a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant later, I am on the mend, but it’s slow going. While I was so happy to learn nothing was wrong with the joint itself and surgery was not even up for discussion, bursitis is one of those frustrating “it just takes time and rest” things and, lucky me, it can flare up later and I will need PT to help prevent this. FML but also, I realize I’m lucky because in the scheme of things I could have it A LOT worse.

As my body heals, I have had some not so happy moments. When you’re used to waking up each morning and heading to a workout, what do you do when you can’t? What’s the motivation to leave your bed, particularly on the weekends? When you are an active person who needs to move and release her energy, how do you deal with your free time being spent icing and resting on the couch? When suddenly your sleep and energy expenditures are thrown off, how do you figure out meal times, bed times, etc.? When you work from home and some days the only people you see are your workout friends, what do you do when that interaction is gone? Moreover, what do you do when all of this comes at once and, as the cherry on top, you start thinking, ‘What if this is my new reality? Will I ever be able to do X again?’

There were tears. There was anger. There was a lot of This is Us and Girls (read: I caught up to real-time on TIU and watched the ENTIRE series of G). It was also the first time I ever ate my feelings. It wasn’t that I binged or did anything particularly unhealthy, but rather the fact that I started looking to food for joy that got me so upset; it was a version of myself I didn’t know. Where normally I would have gone for a walk to cheer up, had a solo living room dance party, seen a friend, popped out to a movie, taken a class, I couldn’t.

Dear "Good Luck Spot," Please work. Love, Leah

Dear "Good Luck Spot," Please work. Love, Leah

I’d love to tell you that I now know how to deal with all of this and can give you tips should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, but I can’t. I’m back to spinning a few times a week in a pretty modified form and as far as barre goes, I can only take the Arms & Abs class (and thank goodness it exists). Other days I will go to the gym in my building and try to do what I can but it’s frustrating, lonely, and super boring. What I have learned and what I remind myself of daily are the following:

  • Your body will heal, it just needs time and its cousin: This is not forever.
  • For times when I’m at Flywheel and my legs, which are SO fresh and eager to show their stuff, get excited: There will be days for all out pushes but today is not one of
  • Take each day as it comes
  • Listen to your body
  • Spend this newfound time catching up on other things- reading, writing, home/random projects (to the extent you can physically do them)

If all goes well, I should be back to myself in three weeks. In some ways, that seems like forever, but I know it’s actually a pretty short amount of time and in the meantime, I will continue to be gentle with myself and try to stay positive.

Have you dealt with injury? What did you do to cope?