Friday, January 16, 2015

TRUTH RECOVERY AND POSITIVES


It has been 2.5 weeks since the crash. 2.5 weeks of dealing with pain, not being able to workout like normal, not eating a satisfying  meal, sleeping upright and not turning my head, 2.5 weeks....It's only been 2.5 weeks?!??!?

I have to say that in my 6 years of cycling, I have never ever had any kind of fear.  Not once. Cycling the Cat 1's in the French Alps with blazing LONG, smoking fast descents. Cycling the rough and winding crazy roads in Greece,  cycling the never ending Blue Ridge, cycling all the steep ones of Appalachia, cycling the wrong side of the road in England. More 100 milers than I can even count not to mention the Ironmans. Mountain biking as fast I as I can through anything that I can. Lots and lots of cycling in the last six years with no fear. NO FEAR! However, one swift blow to the face can change all of that in an instant. More on that in a min....

I just saw the doctor again yesterday- one week after wiring. Things are looking good and still in high hopes this continues to heal properly. I am still closed and will be for a while. I have some nerve damage and I still cannot feel my chin, part of my cheek, bottom teeth and lower jaw. Doc says it should come back but can take up to 6 months for the nerve to heal itself. I finally got my X-ray's that were taken here when we got back. They look pretty cool and you can see all three facial fractures, so here ya go...
Broken jaw and two chin fractures 
Clean break of the jaw! 
The truth:  I was feeling some pretty major lows last week. I had been experiencing replays of the crash in my sleep. Not only while asleep but sometimes while awake as well.  Seems after speaking with a couple of people about it, that with accidents, there can be some post traumatic stress. Don't get me wrong. I'm not horrified or freaked out really, I just couldn't shake the replay of my face smashing into the ground at almost 20 mph. I can't tell you how many times in the last two weeks that I have felt the crash and felt the feeling of my face breaking apart each time. I have never really said how badly the crash hurt, but like Izzy said, part of my recovering is writing it all down, so I'm saying it now. That crash was the worst pain, by far, that I have ever felt in my life and hopefully, will ever feel again. When my face hit the ground, I felt my jaw snap into, I felt my teeth break, I felt my chin break. I felt my face crunch underneath me and there was not a thing I could do to change it. Rich asked me the other night why I didn't put my arms out in front of me to stop my fall. There was not a split second to think or I would have. It just happened so fast.

Dinner is served
I have lost 11 pounds in two weeks. Unreal. I am learning, adapting. When I am hungry, I can't just pop in a quick snack. I have to prepare. I have to pull out the blender, figure out how to liquefy whatever it is that I want to eat and then make sure it will fit through the tiny end of the syringe. Most things have worked. Some things...not so much. Staying on top of my nutrients has been tough too. Last week was no joke, but this week it's getting better. I think it takes a certain amount of mental strength just to get through eating like this without losing your mind. You never realize how important food is, how pleasurable it is to eat something delicious and to be able to pop in a snack when you feel a hunger pain. You don't that is until you can't do it.  At first, before being clamped down, I was able to eat through a straw. Not too bad. Once they closed me up and pulled out that awful syringe with the red tube...I thought I would faint. YOU WANT ME TO EAT OUT OF THAT???? FOR HOW MANY WEEKS???? AM I ON SOME HIDDEN CAMERA PRACTICAL JOKE TV SHOW OR SOMETHING?? SERIOUSLY?! You are serious??How will I survive???? --I am figuring the eating thing out and it is getting easier. I will be ok. This will only make me stronger. I am already seeing that--

RECOVERY:

Recovery is slow, but I'm getting there. I think another part of feeling low is that this had robbed me of my normal life. One with swimming, biking, running and being social. So, with some begging and pleading, I was cleared to exercise again. Now, when you tell an endurance athlete to exercise, I don't quite think that doctors fully realize by 'exercise' how we actually do it. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and with strong will, I knew I would get back to it immediately. So, guess what?? I HAVE! I cannot run for several more weeks however, I have taken to the Arc trainer in place of my runs. I was told that I couldn't swim with my jaw clenched shut. Really?? And then there's cycling.

Last week I knew I had to get back on the bike. I had to do it for me. I had to do it for my sanity, so I did it. Let me tell you all a little something about having your jaws wired shut. YOU CAN'T BREATHE! Not very good anyway. Try sucking air through a coffee straw and see where that gets you. Well, that's kind of how it feels when my heart gets pumping. Forget my asthma, this is far worse.

Rich had me do a CP20 in early December and I was excited to see a new FTP of 241. I was so eager to start training come Jan 1 to build off of that and then bam. With each pound of weight I was losing, I felt as though I was losing strength/muscle as well. So, teeth clenched tight, I sucked it up and put myself on the trainer. Last week felt really rough. I didn't do much, just an easy build. I got on the trainer three times last week and by the third time, I was able to reach my ftp and hold it. Good news. I haven't lost much strength. YAY!

First ride since the crash
So, here's the scary part. On Sunday, I decided to go out on the bike...on the road. This would be my first ride since the crash. I knew I needed to do it (technically I am not supposed to be out not the road, only stationary but sssshhhh!!) When I clicked my helmet strap together, I felt woozy. Like I said in the beginning of this post, I have never been scared. Ever! But, here I was for the first time scared. I took off on the road, barely moving and I couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that I had. For all of you cyclists who are lucky enough to have never had a bad crash, you can never know this feeling and I hope that you never do. I was not enjoying being on the bike. I felt sick, but I kept going. As an endurance athlete, part of what we do is very much mental. Even though I felt like I was going to throw up, full of anxiety, I pressed on. It was the only way that I could conquer this feeling. Right? I cycled slowly, each bump of the road, I felt. I have to be very careful not to clench my jaw, so this was a double struggle since it's hard to breathe. It took me approximately 28 minutes before I felt at ease again. When I started the ride, I only planned on a few miles. After that 28 minutes, I decided that I had to have more. I was falling back in love with being on the road. I ended up with 26 miles on Sunday. I have to stop for a few seconds at the top of hills to catch my breath, because like I said...you just can't breathe like this. When I headed back for home though, I knew I had conquered a large chunk of fear that has been haunting me since Dec. 28th. That ride was therapeutic and I am glad that I got myself up and on that bike. Happy to report that this week- So far, I have completed all of my Ironman training sessions on that bike. Last night, I even did my 2x20 min race pace effort. It hurt, I thought I would pop a lung, but I did it! The positive?  I am in tune with my body more so than ever. I completely have to zone out in order to push heavy watts with very little breath. During my session on Tuesday, a scene from a Kevin Costner film 'The Love of The Game' came to mind..."CLEAR THE MECHANISM"

                                                                                                           Clear the Mechanism

And that's what I have to do to get through my sessions and it's working! A tornado could rip through while I am on the trainer and I wouldn't even notice. That's how focused I am. If my mind wanders, so does my breathing. It's incredible. I feel like my lungs are growing. I have even been able to pull my heart rate down with slow, relaxed breathing while in the upper end of my sessions. I've never had this much control. So, as sucky as this injury is-- It's giving me strength in ways that I never knew before. This is a positive and a good thing!

Swimming-- I had NO idea how I would come even come close to swimming with my mouth closed. Every time the head breaks the water, you have such a short window of opportunity to suck in air. Hmmm...this will be tricky. However, I decided on Monday that I needed to find out if I could. I chatted with Igniter Ann prior to my swim and I even told her I wasn't sure I could do it. BUT- I got in the water like a boss and I swam. I SWAM! The breathing with swimming is much harder than the cycling. I have to breathe out quickly through my nose and breathe back in through my nose. All you swimmers can imagine how hard that is. I swam slow on Monday 1600yds. Then I went again on Wednesday and swam just over 2,000yds much quicker. Today I swam 2500 only 10 secs off my normal pace. Like I said, my lungs are getting used to no air! I am progressing. I don't feel like I have lost much strength in the water, but I was only out of the water for three weeks and was at my best swimming form just one week prior to the crash. So good news there!


All in all things are looking up. I am no longer feeling the lows and no longer having instant replays of the crash in my mind. These things just take time, but as long as I can swim bike and elliptical.... I will be ok! No time to waste- I have a race to train for! Stay safe on those bikes my friends.

Cheers~

1 comment:

Emily H. said...

You are doing great!! I too relived my fall in my dreams, it was horrible, but thankfully it eventually fades.