8 Weeks post-surgery: Back on my feet again

August 23, 2010.

Last Monday I went back to the doctor’s office to get x-rayed after babying my foot for 6 weeks. According to the PA, the x-ray showed a nicely healed bone with the subtalar joint surface intact. Woohoo! This was good news. She recommended walking as tolerated, using the boot, crutches, and/or poles to help ease the transition back into the ambulatory world. Finally, I was happy to leave the office with a smile on my face. Watch out world, here I come.

I plodded slowly around my apartment when I got home, using the crutches just barely, feeling what it was like to use both feet and legs. My sorry calf muscles on the left side were very angry with me, wondering what possessed me to torment them in this way. My foot muscles concurred, and the whole left side of my body was sore before long. But, hey, I was walking again! I spent the week testing the waters. I used hiking poles if I knew I was going for a longer walk or if I was going to walk on a trail. I shuffled slowly along in parking lots, stores, and sidewalks. I felt a sense of loss without the crutches or other external visual cue that something was wrong with me. People weren’t talking to me anymore, letting me cross the street, holding doors, or asking to help. It was just me, a perfectly healthy looking young woman who just happened to be walking like a jackass. I wonder what people thought now. Sometimes I think I subconsciously exaggerated my limp just so people would understand that I was injured. It was an odd feeling.

Going back to the climbing gym was possibly the most exciting of my endeavors since re-entering the walking world. Just one day after I began walking I hit the gym for the first time. I started on the easiest climb in the gym, a 5.7, and felt pretty good. I warmed up on a few more, then bumped it up to a 5.8, then a 5.9. For the grand finale I jumped on a 5.10. Although I hadn’t fallen on any of the other climbs, this one really put me to the test. I had to fall back on the rope twice. On the easier grades, it was easy enough to cheat around moves that would have overly stressed my left foot and leg. Now, I was forced into doing the moves that were designed into the climb, so it became more difficult for me to ascend without falling. No problem, it still felt pretty amazing to be getting on a 10 on my first day back! Several days later I returned to the gym to climb again, and I still felt great. It was easier than walking, that’s for sure.

This morning I saw my physical therapist for the first time and I’m sure happy I did. Now I truly feel on the road to recovery, and I’ll be back in the mountains before long. It’s going to take some work, and I am ready to go for it. My next goals are to walk without a limp and to be able to do a one-legged calf raise. Plus, I should be in shape enough to ride my bike to work next week. Yeah, I’m starting to feel like myself again.

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