Feeeeelings…nothing more than feeeeeelings…

Yep. Humperdinck…you got it right, my man.

So a very wise person and I spoke for quite some time on Monday (*cough*my therapist *cough*) and I knew she was gonna force me to talk about my dumb leg. The last time I’d spoken with her was the day before my MRI and I was positive there was gonna be some bad news.

I realized on the drive there that I just really didn’t want to talk about my leg, but there was no way around it. Why didn’t I want to talk about my leg? Because I just really don’t want to talk about it. With anyone. Because talking about it places importance on it. When I place importance on something, I start to think about it. A lot. When I start to think about something a lot, I get overly emotional when it’s not going my way and I turn into a GIANT TURD MONKEY.

Of course she asked right away and I told her I had a tibial stress reaction and blah blah blah I haven’t run in almost a month, I’m out for an indefinite amount of time, my leg still throbs by around 5PM every day, I have to wear this boot yadda yadda yadda.

And I sat there stone cold speaking about it. Emotionless. She saw me cry in my last session when the very idea of not running was terrifying me down to my inner core. Now that I know what it is, I’m emotionless. Why? Because the old me turned into a very bad person when I was injured. Nobody wanted anything to do with me. In fact, I’ve been working with her for almost the last year on coping skills in situations and how to react appropriately in stressful scenarios. The difference is…she’s taught me coping skills and how to deal with people and situations I don’t have control over. This injury is something, while I can’t fix in a hot second, is something I CAN CHANGE for the future.

The nature of my job has me in the midst of other people’s crazy lives on almost a daily basis. I see the really REALLY BAD that this universe can throw at people and it makes me feel slightly “TURD MONKEY-ISH” to make my tibial stress reaction a giant 1st world problem when people are dying of cancer, homeless, drug addicts, being abused by their family members, and dying of full-blown AIDS at 33 years old because they needed a freaking blood transfusion years ago.  Ya know? I mean for serious. So I’ve been having a hard time letting myself really mourn the idea of not running. I’ve been in constant flight mode.

And then there was the convo I had with my coach on Sunday night. I kept telling him I was sad about it, but handling it well. This concerns him. Why? Because I’m not fighting. Not in the slightest. Sure I wrote that post about being a warrior last week, but I did it because I thought that’s what I was supposed to say in this situation, not what I actually feel. *gasp* I’m sorry I sorta lied to you all, but I think I was mostly trying to get myself to a point of being downright peeved and ready to fight.

You know why there’s no fight in me? Because I have literally not allowed myself to FEEL this loss. Yes, running is a loss. I need to go through the stages of mourning. I realize it is not a person, it’s not a family member, it’s not a loss of life, but it’s significant to me and I need to allow myself to go through the stages of grief.  How can I get to the point of needing to fight if I haven’t even acknowledged the pain, anger, frustration and physical pain that I feel?

Picture this scenario: I get on the phone with my doc the day after my MRI and I’m told I have a 6 cm tibial stress reaction…you know the drill… Unfortunately I’m at work on a nursing unit and have to hold myself together even though really I’m being hit through the phone with a runner’s “kiss of death.” I turn around and see all my co-workers staring at me with bated breath because they all want to know what I found out. I say the diagnosis. I pick up my clipboard and I go to our conference room to run rounds with all the MDs I work with…just like I do every single morning. No emotion. No time for it. Dust yo’self off and get on with it.

The questions start coming at me when the boot makes its first appearance in my world. The ignorant comments of “Maybe you shouldn’t run anymore.” “Maybe you should take up another sport.” Blah blah blah. Take that for an entire day and you start to feel like total crud; especially when it comes from those you hold in high regard. I cried on the way home, but somehow I made it not about my leg, but a personal attack on my lifestyle; which it was, but I still didn’t allow myself to think about my tibia.

I told her about the triathlon and how in that moment I felt for the first time that I was really upset about my leg when people were running by me. I also admitted to her that I started to tear up, told myself this day wasn’t about me, but my friend, and I did the “Suck-it-up, Buttercup” maneuver and called it a day. No tears. No crying. Move on.

I’ve been biking my ever-lovin brains out. It’s boring. While on the bike every day watching mindless TV, I don’t ever allow myself to think about why I’m actually on there and not out running mileage in the heat worrying about heat stroke. No. I just act like this is totally normal that I bought a stationary bike and I’m watching “Rachael Ray” while spinning my legs off. Totally normal. Not out of the ordinary at all.

I haven’t let myself FEEL in weeks. I’ve been in constant flight mode instead of fight mode. She made me sit and really think about my injury for the first time on Monday. It took all of 8 seconds before I burst out into ugly cry tears in her office.

The assignment? I need to take 5-10 minutes every day and just sit and think about my injury. I need to let myself FEEL it. I will not resolve to fight it until I acknowledge it. I cannot understand it, nor can I accept it until I let myself think on it. The issue I need to work on here, once I allow myself to feel, is to not hyper-focus (as my coach likes to point out to me repeatedly) and to keep a good head on my shoulders that will put me in fight mode, but in a positive way.

Monday night this statement flashed across the screen as I was mindlessly stalking people on facebook. Holy smokes…could this be anymore perfect?

I promise you all…I have let myself feel for a solid 10 minutes today. Still not angry, but it feels good to be real.

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9 Responses to Feeeeelings…nothing more than feeeeeelings…

  1. Awww Courtenay. I hope the assignment helps. I agree that biking day after day gets really boring. Although I’m am loving biking more now than I used too, running is still my true love & hard to replace. I went through similar with constant spinning day after day for nearly 5 months after knee surgery & it became so sick of biking for a while after that. Probably why I didn’t get back into triathlon until this year. Just wanted to run again. And hopefully you will eventually get through this!

    • Courtenay says:

      It will always be my 1 true love, but fortunately through this injury I’ve learned that doesn’t have to be the only thing I do to maintain fitness. So at least I’m getting something positive out of it!

  2. Kat says:

    It took me a full month to actually, really cry. I cried a little bit after the marathon (we’re talking a handful two or three minute bursts, mostly surrounding the fact that so many people thought that the timing system had malfunctioned) but yesterday the gates opened and it was just a mess.

    Grieve. Live your horrible. Feel it , but don’t force it. No, it’s not cancer or AIDS or starvation, but it’s The Crappiest Thing hapepning in your life right now and you’re allowed to feel that without feeling guilty.

    p.s. This is the most useful conversion chart I’ve found so far for biking. http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/Convert_your_cycling_miles_to_running_miles_____and_vice-versa.htm

  3. Marcia says:

    Don’t minimize this because to you, it IS a first world problem. I’m glad you spoke to a therapist and have an assignment to work thru it. Not running blows. Can you pool run? I did that for 6 weeks when I had my tibialis BS going on. I know it’s tough but try to let all the ‘maybe you shouldn’t run’ crap roll off. They have no idea. KNow that you’ll be back stronger and better than before. KNOW IT!

  4. I have been there. You have to remember that you WILL get better. Our bodies will eventually heal. I was so down in the dumps about it, and it was okay, because when I finally could run again, I didn’t take it for granted. I remember getting an e-mail from a much older, seasoned runner after I had my injury. He told me about his “worst” injury, when in January of 1989 (after having run several marathons in years past) he was cutting wood and broke his leg in 2 places. After casting and physical therapy, he was able to complete a 10 miler that September, and he has run many marathons since then. Hearing that was very encouraging to me and reminded me that so many people come back from so much worse and do amazing things! I’m not saying it’s not good to be frustrated about it, because (for me anyways) that frustration turned into determination. I was on the bike trainer for the whole winter, too. It sucks, but I made myself give it my all just like I would have given running my all. I hope your injury heals and that you are able to deal with it in the most healthy way possible (which includes “feeling” it).

  5. jnkmiles.org says:

    Man, you know in some way we are all so much alike in this aspect.
    My 1st injury was a biggie….I tore my hamstring…NOT at the belly like most normal people, but at BOTH insertion points. The pain was awful, but my ATTITUDE as worse. I had a pity party to beat all pity parties. I was 2 months out from heading to Florida for a week long triathlon camp and then a season full of big races….all of that GONE….I felt like it had all been snatched out from under me by some evil gremlin.
    AND…how DARE my husband continue on with his racing endeavors!!! Oh, it was a miserable year…
    Fast forward 3 years and last March, 1 month out from my 1st half-ironman, I develop knee pain that brings me to my knees in the middle of a 10mi run. I have to hobble 5mi back to the car…My husband is more fearful than I as he knows Sybil may make an appearance….
    MRI Dx ended up being a stress reaction on the lateral condyle??? WHO GETS THAT???
    And….no running….So like you I became outwardly aphasic so I didn’t make everyone else miserable like before….I said all the right logical and rational things, then cried in the shower or in my car when I was alone…
    Like youI felt guilty for being so upset when obviously people have wayyyy bigger problems in life, but eventually, like you as well I realized I had to mourn my loss at what was suppose to be…to be able to pick up the pieces and fight for a new reality.
    For me, it was to cross the finish line at that half-ironman (hard enough healthy, tougher injured) and be “ok” with the fact that it wasn’t going to be as I had planned….
    BUT, I learned so much that day that I NEVER would’ve learned had I not been participating injured….so it was truly blessing in disguise.

    Now, I’m making my way back to running….slowly. And hopefully we’re all smarter from our experiences and we take those lessons with us…both mentally and physically…
    To not only prevent getting into these predicaments in the 1st place, but also learning to handle such situations with grace and dignity.
    I’m gonna say I’m getting better….let’s not ask my family though! :)
    I hope you’re mending nicely and you realize, getting OUTSIDE on a bike makes ALL the difference!!
    Good Luck!!

  6. tootallfritz says:

    Sucks. Okay, it totally sucks. I’ve been injured since June 2nd and I’m about to go crazy even though I’m bike, swimming & doing rehab exercises. Running is where my heart is and I feel for you from the bottom of my non-running heart. :(

  7. Miss Molly says:

    You got this girl – no matter what you will come out on top no matter what that looks like. We are all here for you!!!

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