Steve Marra / April 9, 2015
Being a swim instructor and competing in endurance events, I’m around athletes and pretty well versed about injuries. Pick up almost any sport magazine and there will be an article about how to recover from an injury. The mantra of injury recovery is “don’t rush it” and I have said the same thing a jillion times to injured athletes along the lines of “don’t be a doofus, give it time to heal”. Good advice certainly and now that I am the injured one, advice I am struggling with daily.
In May I have 3 cycling races so I’ve been cycling frequently in preparation. Recently, when it was raining I was heading out for a training cycle. Still in my driveway, not even moving, clicking into my pedals, I slip on wet pavement and go over. In the process, I wrench my left hand back into some weird configuration. It hurts. Being familiar with some degree of pain when competing, off I go and do a quick, wet 25 miles.
Yes, it hurt while cycling but not extraordinarily so. I did notice that my hand was swelling and that my wedding ring was starting to feel sort of tight. I get home and go to the doctor. Their first concern is getting the ring off. They try all kinds of things, none of which work. Now the discussion is about cutting it off, the ring that is, not my finger. This is not a good scenario. Finally, a very serious nurse comes in and asks if I can tolerate discomfort, and if I can, she can get the ring off. It was like a western with me biting a bullet while someone removes a bullet. Yes, it hurt. Long story short, damaged ligaments, no swim instructing until I can see hand surgeon. Medical staff asks me “did you consider not doing your ride and coming directly here” to wit I reply “No” which is a true endurance athlete response!
Give it Time
Like having a cold, I expect my hand to get better daily even twice a day
but this does not happen. I try to avoid my family who when they see me say “have you iced your hand.” I’ve become an injured hand that is attached to a body. My self image greatly morphed into finger splints and ice packs. I can still at least run and cycle but hear the doctors telling me,
“you better not fall” and “if we told you not to run and cycle would you stop” and I answer “no”. I can’t believe how long this thing is taking to heal, time has slowed down and my universe shrunken to what I can and can not do with my left hand. I’ve told countless injured athletes to give it time and heal, I know this is the correct process. But, I am unable to be patient and every single morning I wake up thinking my hand will be way way better and it is not. I’ve sort of resigned myself to accepting this is going to take awhile to heal and I should feel ok since I can still do lots of things. But when will it be completely better…I still have to see a hand surgeon, I don’t want to see a surgeon. Maybe physical therapy and continued icing but I’m really ready for this to be over. I have to remind myself I am well trained in the concept of micro goals, just run to the next tree and do it over and over.
So now it is just make it to next doctor’s appointment, just get through the next icing. It is hard to be patient when something so much part of the fabric of one’s life is thrown out of whack. My family tells me at times I’m even cranky, so I’m doing my best to smile until I can be back 100%!
Being on the injured reserve list is really the dumps but I am learning to be patient and accept there is nothing much I can do other then tough it out and heal.