Eight months ago, my life changed when I fell on my stairs and broke two bones in my leg. I had a lengthy convalescence period, along with surgery and regular physical therapy, but the longterm effects of injury remain present. Am I running? Yes, and for that I am eternally grateful. However, my injury remains with me every day, and I have to remind myself that recovery is an incredibly drawn-out process, even for the lucky ones.
Today, let’s take a look at the lasting effects of my injury and what I’m doing to keep them from getting me down.
It’s hard to forget about my accident, when some of the longterm effects of injury manifest themselves in very physical ways. First, I still have two scars, one on either side of my ankles, where the surgical hardware was inserted. They’re not terribly noticeable but they’re there, and even more apparent if I swell. Secondly, I still limp, when I am tired or after major physical activity. I despise the limp, more than the scars, and work very hard to be rid of it.
The Solution? I apply coconut oil or Vitamin E oil to the scars to keep them light. Additionally, I make sure to protect that area from the sun. Rest and wearing supportive shoes help keep my limp from being more pronounced.
I Know When Rain Is Coming
It’s truly crazy how my body’s reaction to weather can be one of the longterm effects of injury. I am uncomfortably aware when rain is on the way (which is all the time, now that it is hurricane season). In my bones, I feel all kinds of jangly, electric sensations, and it can end up being anywhere from uncomfortable to painful.
The solution? So far, nerve medication is the only thing that alleviates the sensations. It’s frustrating, especially this time of year, so I do my best to breathe through it and hope for sunnier days.
Loss of Range of Motion
I am disappointed in the defecit I feel in my range of motion. My whole life, I have had incredibly flexible feet and ankles, and now, there is a significant loss. Currently, I am able to loosen up enough to run a solid three miles, but after that, I experience stiffness and swelling. Both are to be expected, and are no reason for concern, but dealing with both those side effects adds another small hurdle to my return to running.
The Solution? Stretching and strength training. I’ve slacked on some of my PT execises (they are boring and take up huge chunks of time), but I’m never going to see improvement if I don’t put in the work to keep my ankle used to moving.
Poor Balance + Stability
I’ve mentioned that I don’t run before the sunrise anymore because I’m afraid of tripping or losing my footing. Prior to my accident, my balance was spot on and I was fairly sure-footed, but now, things are a little different. I don’t feel things the same in my right leg and ankle, and I’m a lot more clumsy. It’s easier for me to lose balance, step off a curb, or catch my feet in a crack.
The Solution? More focus on balance work. I need to channel my inner flamingo while cooking and brushing my teeth. Also of great benefit is yoga and one-legged deadlifts.
Pain + Discomfort
Despite the surgeon’s and therapist’s best efforts, pain and discomfort remain a part of my life. It’s not terrible, nor is it unmanageable, but it’s there. Sometimes, it’s nerve pain, and my foot and ankle light up with needle-like shocks and burning. Other times, I’m treated to a dull ache around my hardware. And sometimes for fun, I get these cool spasms and cramps in my toes and calf. None of these are serious, but it’s another thing that uses up mental energy in a world where I need all the mental energy I can get.
The Solution? Be mindful of my body. I have to be diligent with taking days off from running, yet staying active to keep things moving in my ankle. I also need to to use my ice packs and heating pads, as well as my TENS unit. Rolling is another way to keep my spasming muscles in check.
We just keep on keeping on, because it’s all we can do. Some days are hard, but I do my best to stay on top of my solutions and work for a day where these longterm effects of injury aren’t quite as prominent in my life.
Have you ever been effected by the effects of an injury long after the initial recovery? How did you deal with them?
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