And so it continues…

The battle in my head, that is. I am now 11 weeks post-op and walking on two feet… in two shoes. It was such a liberating feeling getting that boot off! Maybe one of the happiest days of my life! Well… definitely in the top 20. ​​

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So why the battle, I’m sure you’re wondering. My doctor has stressed to me that the 6-12 week window is the biggest risk for rerupture. I’ve tried to remember that. However, once that boot came off and knowing I’m so close to being out of that window, I’ve had a really hard time holding back. 

The first week without my boot I had to work a summer STEM camp. This was my first real experience with a lingering pain and swelling through all this. As the week went on, my limp seemed to get worse… as did the swelling. 


Finding the right shoes to wear is complicated! I’ve tried cushioned flip flops since I don’t have to worry about it rubbing my Achilles… that didn’t work. I tried my cushioned Asics…. that didn’t work. I even tried my crossfit shoes… um, no. It was gong to swell and hurt no matter what. I guess that’s all to be expected. 

My recovery has gone amazingly well. I credit that to having a rockstar orthopedic surgeon and staying active throughout my entire recovery. I hear other people talking about being the same weeks out as me and still not being able to walk without crutches. I ditched those things as soon as I could. 

The battle comes in because I feel like I can try so much more and do so much more than I was. But where’s the line? Then there’s the fear. I’m terrified of rerupture or worse… rupturing the other one. It’s so scary to me and I don’t know where that point is of should I do it or should I not? I know I listen to my body more. When it hurts, I rest. When it’s sore, I rest. If it swells, I try to rest. I’m having to buy giant bags of ice at the gas station because I’m using so much! 

There just that longing to get back where I want to be. Pain free, doing the things I love like crossfit, hiking, running… it’s defeating sometimes. I’ve struggled a lot lately. Lots of tears. Then I get so mad at myself for feeling that way. It’s only temporary. I’ve got to keep that mindset.

I’ve celebrated a lot of firsts in my training over the last three months. I finally got back on those high rings which are my nemesis. However, I find myself wanting to be up there daily now since I missed them! I got an RX in a wod with my fellow athletes again. That felt good. Kinda makes me feel a little normal to workout with everyone again. I’ve been on my own for so long. 

I know this is a long process. I have to remind myself all the time it’s 6-12 months for a full recovery. So my goal… compete in a scaled comp at 6 months. I may not be able to meet that goal, but it gives me time and it gives me something to work towards. 

In the meantime, I’m sure this battle will be ongoing, but I refuse to let it get the best of me. There’s something kind of gratifying in each little step I make towards recovery so I’ll try to keep my mind focusing on the good. 

Growing up… 

I think as a crossfitter you go through different stages, just like you do in life. When you first start, you’re terrified and nervous about everything. You literally know nothing and just don’t want to look stupid in front of those who do. 

Then there’s the stage where you know what you’re doing, you just can’t do it yet. So there’s a burning desire to get there so you can join the “big kids” club. You’re chasing that RX that you want to write on the board so badly. You will stop at nothing to get it no matter how long it takes. 

My first Murph I did a month into crossfitting where I had to scale pull-ups and push-ups.

Then there’s the stage where you RX every workout and because it seems easy, you start training harder. You have to maintain the greatness and you’re not going to let anyone pass you up. You start adding in accessory work, mobility work, and whatever else seems necessary to meet your goals. 
And then… you get injured. Suddenly, you’re thrown back into a stage you never wanted to be again. Suddenly, you can’t RX anything. You can’t do the movements. You can’t maintain all the hard work you’ve put in and for a split second… it seems like the end of the world. 

Yesterday was Memorial Day, a special day to take time and pay respect to all those that served and sacrificed their life for our country and our freedom. In the crossfit world, we pay respect by doing a hero WOD named after LT Michael Murphy who was killed in Afghanistan. It’s a brutal workout that he did often and called “body armor” because he did it in a weighted vest. I got to do Murph last year after crossfitting for only one short month. I scaled everything because I couldn’t do pull-ups or push-ups at the time. My goal this year… RX Murph. 


Well… that goal became impossible after rupturing my Achilles in March. That’s where I entered a new stage in my “crossfit life.” Through injury, I’ve learned that “RX”…  well, it isn’t a big deal. I can do a workout harder than the one programmed some days and still not hit an RX. Does that mean I didn’t work as hard as everyone else? Does it mean I’m not as good? Does it mean my victory over my workout wasn’t as good as the RX athlete? 

That’s where I’ve embraced the journey. Four months ago… my answers to those questions would have been totally different. I had this monkey on my back that made me feel like I had maintain a status, a level of athleticism that wasn’t really anyone else’s expectations other than my own. But now, it doesn’t matter. I have been training through my entire injury. I refused to let it defeat me, yet it’s taught me a lot in these last 11 weeks. 

I couldn’t RX Murph, but I can promise you I didn’t let that stop me from making sure I gave this workout everything I could. Obviously, I couldn’t run the mile. I chose to do the assault bike for 100 calories before and 100 calories after. I have developed a love-hate relationship with the assault bike. It’s pure torture, but it’s one of the few cardio type exercises I can do right now at 9 weeks post-op. 

I may have been thinking Praise the Lord, but I was signaling 10 more calories!

I was able to butterfly my pull-ups and did RX push-ups even though the last few rounds were pretty ugly. I just recently started playing around with air squats again. I decided to do them onto a box because until I’m cleared I don’t want to go below parallel and engage my Achilles. So box squats it was. As brutal of a workout, I felt amazing. Three months ago, I would have been devastated that I couldn’t RX it… now, I could care less. That RX means nothing to me now. I finished Murph on one good leg. Was it modified, yep. Was it scaled, yep. To put things in perspective, when I finished that last 100 calories, I laid on the floor and shed a few tears. 

The entire time I sat on the bike that last 100 calories, I forced myself to think about why I was there. It wasn’t about me. It was about the men and women who served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. I thought about how there are days where I want to complain and cuss because I can’t do things I want to do due to my injury. This is where my tears came as I laid there panting and sweating. There are veterans that live their every single day on one leg. There are some that aren’t even lucky to have one leg and they still persevere. And then there are those that gave their life, never to come home again to their family and friends. 

When injury makes you focus on other things, you get small victories like learning how to butterfly WITH a 20 lb vest.

So I guess, you could say through the last few months I’ve grown up a little bit. I don’t care what anyone else around me is doing. I don’t stress now about trying to maintain a level of athleticism. I don’t really care about those two little letters that used to drive me. I care about my body, how it feels, how it performs, and how to take care of it. I care about the people that motivate me to continue on despite my limitations. I care about getting back to 100% so I can enjoy life and all the things I love in and out of crossfit. 

Some of the awesome athletes that completed Murph at Fort Harrod Crossfit.
Love these strong women!
My “mama” that always encourages me through crossfit and life!
I ran a total of 15 steps with my friend as she finished Murph with that RX!

Baby steps…

It’s amazing how excited you can get over the tiniest things when you’ve been through injury. Achilles’ injuries are no joke. You use your Achilles’ tendon for essentially everything you do on your feet. I’ve learned I have taken so many things for granted through this injury. 

One being just the ability to walk on two feet. I went back to the doctor at 5 weeks post-op to get that cast off! Dear Lord Baby Jesus! I had better leg hair than most men! There’s something we take for granted… taking a bath and shaving! I was singing Outkast So Fresh, So Clean the entire time I was bathing. However, the bigger deal was they put me in a walking boot. I figured he’d tell me I had to use my crutches. Nope. He said I could use them as needed, but I could go full weight bearing. 


Full weight bearing. I wanted to jump and skip I was so happy, but we all know that didn’t happen. Still… I was more excited than I can explain. Until I took that first step. Geez, I never felt so much pain. For weeks I’d been hearing people on my support group on Facebook talk about their pain and swelling. I’d been nonweight-bearing and in a cast so I didn’t know how much swelling was going on and I didn’t have a ton of pain. Until that first step. Everything from my ankle to my heel, to my Achilles, to my calf radiated with pain. 

I had to use my crutches. I walked on it, but I had to go partial weight bearing because of the intensity of the pain. I felt a bit defeated. In my mind… I thought I’d be walking like a pro in that boot. We always think we can do things until reality smacks us right in the face. Baby steps, Drakeford, baby steps. 

I tell myself this everyday. I’m impatient and independent to a fault. I want to do things and I want to do them quickly so I can move on to the next thing. Injury doesn’t work that way… especially this one. I keep telling myself, you’ve got a year. It’s going to take a year. I hope deep down it doesn’t, but I have to listen to what my doctor says. He’s dealt with professional athletes before… he knows his stuff. 

I spent this past week walking on my foot. By Tuesday, I was down to one crutch, Wednesday, full weight bearing and used my crutches only when I got tired. By Thursday, I didn’t need them and I went an entire weekend in Gatlinburg with no crutches… because I trusted my kids to pack them and they forgot! 

When your kids forget to pack your crutches like you asked them to!

As of today, I’m 6 weeks postop. I’m full weight bearing and today I took out my first wedge. I have about 4 inches of wedges in my boot. These keep my foot in a dorsiflex position, keeping the tendon from being overstretched too soon. Each week, I am to remove a wedge until I am down to neutral. Talk about awkward! A walking boot is pretty tall to start… but add about 4 inches of wedges and the diffference between a tennis shoe and the boot is crazy. I was so off balance I started wearing heels! Yep… I was the chick with a walking boot and heels! 

I have to admit I was nervous for the pain. However, to my surprise, it felt better without the bottom wedge! I feel good. I’m doing light PT at home now. It’s mostly just range of motion exercises and bearing weight on my foot while standing in my boot. I’m icing like crazy. I bought some portable ice packs and take them in my bag. I ice in the car, at work, you name it! And so far… I’ve not had a ton of swelling. 


This is such a crazy journey. It’s a roller coaster ride all the time. Lots of ups and downs physically and mentally, but I keep thinking it’s only making me stronger. Ive been told the comeback is stronger than the setback. I plan on making that true.

No shame in my game

Anyone who knows me and knows me well, also knows I have no shame. I love to have fun, I’m perfectly fine with making fun of myself, and I feel life is better when you’re laughing. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever been injured before, but there’s a lot to laugh about. 

I mean, I drive a scooter around my halls. I go fast, too, boy! The first day I had it, I had to put a bicycle horn on it and put my stuffed unicorn in the basket and let everyone know I was there. 

See what I mean? No shame. But last week topped it all. I put it on my Facebook status that night, but I’m not sure that I can do this day justice in a short little paragraph. It could have been one of the most comical days, while at the time, I am pretty sure all I could manage were a lot of four letter words. 

The day started off wrong. I had taken off the day before for a lot of swelling. I hate this cast more than anything and I can’t sleep at night. Ever tried to sleep on your back with you foot elevated when you are a side sleeper. It’s pure torture. I don’t sleep. So of course, I didn’t have my alarm set. I just happened to wake up at 7:06… yeah. I have to be at work by 7:35. Somehow, I managed to get ready and the kids and we flew out the door. I walked in the building at 7:35… right on time. 

I ride my scooter everywhere at work. It’s so much easier than the crutches. So as I went down the main hall to my room, my pants that were just like the ones in the picture above got caught on the wheel and I felt myself flipping over. I can down hard on my right knee and tried to pop back up. I’m not gonna lie… I teared up cause it hurt like a SOB. I had a floor burn just like I used to get in basketball. I don’t get embarrassed. I mean, there were at least a dozen people in the hall. Everyone was so concerned but I popped right up like Mary Katherine Gallagher and went on my way. 

It wasn’t until my planning period I had to go to the restroom. Our teacher’s restrooms are kinda small. My scooter will fit, but I can barely close the door and then I can’t get around so I just leave it at the door and hop to the toilet. When I was finished doing my business, I went to hold on to the sink so I could hop over and wash my hands. As I grabbed the sides of the sink to hop over, it suddenly felt extremely heavy. It was heavy because the stupid thing came off the wall and I was holding it in my hands! 

Now, let’s stop and paint a mental image here… I’m balancing myself on my left foot, holding onto a sink. If I let go, it will break and water will be everywhere. I can’t yell for help because I’m in the bathroom and of course, I locked the door. I can’t unlock the door because I’m holding a freaking sink… on one foot with no crutches! Can you see it in your head? Yeah, told ya I have no shame. 

So, I try to put it back on the brackets on the wall. Luckily, I am successful and I think everything is fine, but I was getting the hell out of there before I did anymore damage. So I unlock the door and get back on my scooter. I had to stop and tell my colleagues about my insane bathroom eacapade on the way because let be real… who doesn’t want to hear that story? 

It wasn’t until an hour later I was told the sink leaked all over one of my colleagues feet and is now covered with a plastic bag cause they had to call a plumber. 

I was telling my coworkers at lunch about my horrible day. I was so frustrated with all the craziness going on. So as I am trying to make a point, I slam my hand down on the oven beside me while I microwaved my lunch. Apparently, crossfit has paid off and I am now the Incredible Hulk because a piece of metal then came off the oven. Well, hell. I give up. 

But wait! It’s not over. The day wouldn’t be complete without flipping my scooter one last time on the way to recess. I mean, the exact same thing with my class walking behind me! Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up. 

I do stupid stuff all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am super efficient on my one leg, but I have fallen so many times. I’ve ran into things on my scooter, you name it. You have to laugh. It’s the only way to stay sane. And come on… it makes for a great story! 

Don’t blink.

Seriously, don’t do it. You’ll miss everything. I remember when I was little and I would hear adults talk about how time flies and it would be Christmas before you know it! I also remember thinking they were crazy because it felt like forever. 

Now, I’m 36 with three kids and I get it. I understand what they meant. Time does fly and you can’t blink because before you know it, 15 years have gone by and your oldest child is going to prom. 

I never cared when my kids went to kindergarten. Frankly, I wanted to punch all the moms that cried when they dropped their kids off. Sorry, if you were one of them, but while you were crying, I was in the corner doing a happy dance cause I just made an extra $500 a month not having to pay for childcare! 

Where does time go?

Yeah, I’m that mom. When they went to middle school… no big deal. I actually enjoy watching every single stage of their personalities as they become older. It wasn’t until this year that my emotional side kicked in. Freshman. High school. Varsity. ACT. Prom. 

Those are scary words to me. Not because I worry about him. He’s a super, awesome kid. I’m sure he’ll make mistakes along the way. God knows I did. More than I’d like to count. It’s none of that though that causes me to get emotional. It’s the word, four

Why, four? That’s how many years I had left at the beginning of his freshman year. So this weekend, when I helped him get his tux on for prom, a series of thoughts and floods of emotions ran through my head. I was standing there helping him put on his tux and I realized, it wasn’t the word four that scared me now… it was three. His freshman year has almost come to an end. And here I was, helping him get ready for his first prom. 

In less than a year, I’ll be teaching him how to drive. We’ve already started that process some and you want to talk about scary! I may have crapped my pants when he asked me which pedal was the gas and which was the brake. 

Three years. Where did the last fifteen go? We had him young. I was 21 and my hisband 22. We were both still in college and he was the last thing we planned on. However, he was the best thing that ever happened to both of us. But here we were… fifteen years later… and all I could think about was the number three. 

I can’t imagine our house without him. I don’t want to! I think about every single memory and gosh, there are so many good ones. And boy, do I feel for my friends that are graduating their fist child this year. Why does time have to go by so fast? 

It was later Saturday night as he was at prom that I looked at this picture of me putting on his boutoneer. I kept thinking as I looked at this picture, someday, I would be doing this again before he marries the love of his life. I don’t EVEN want to imagine that. I always jokingly told my boys they didn’t ever need a girlfriend because they were drama and all they needed was me. I’m like the mama on Waterboy… “mama said girls are the devil.”

It’s just all too much. So why write all this? Here’s my piece of advice to you young mamas. Don’t blink. Don’t take one minute or one second for granted because you don’t get this precious time back. You don’t get do overs. You don’t have a time machine. We sacrifice so much for our kids. The amount of time and money I’ve spent on my kids is probably astounding. However, when they are gone… I’ll have all the time in the world. Time that I’ll probably wish I still had with them at home. I want to make sure that in the next three years, when he takes off for college, he knows how much I loved him and how lucky I am to be his mom. 

Photo by Christy Lee Photography

If you’re not first, you’re last

I love Will Ferrell movies. I can quote most of them frontwards and backwards. They are absolutely hilarious and not sure I’ve ever seen one I didn’t love. Today… I kinda felt like Ricky Bobby.

I had my workout all planned out today, however, when I saw the programmed workout for the box, I thought, “hey, I can do this!” Sheesh. At some point I’m going to realize that I’ve taken a month off and all this stuff that used to be super easy for me is now super hard. However, I’m apparently not at that point yet. So today’s programming looked like this:

Strength/Skill: 

  • 4×4 deadlifts at 60-80% 
  • 10 min of accumulating wall sits

WOD

40-30-20-10

  • Wall balls (20/14)
  • Push-ups

I know what you’re thinking. How can she do any of that? Well, let me tell you I have done a lot of research… A LOT. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding ways to modify a lot of crossfit movements and make it work for me. I also substitute work that I can do for work that I can’t.

I knew I couldn’t do wall sits so I traded them out for an EMOM of hanging L-sits on the rings. I can’t do deadlifts, but I can do single-legged deadlifts with my foot propped up on a bench. Wall balls, my favorite, (no… I’m not joking) I have to do either kneeling on my knees or seated on a bench. Since we don’t have gymnastics mats, I chose to use the bench today and do seated wall balls. Push-ups… easy. I just put my casted foot on top of my left foot and do push-ups. It’s possible to make the programming work.


What I wasn’t expecting was how exhausting it would be for me. Normally, this WOD would have been a piece of cake. Yesterday was my first day to get back in the box and really train. I did weighted push-ups, DB snatches, and a lot of strict work on the pull-up bar and rings. After a month off, my everything was sore! However, in my mind, I am still the same crossfitter I was a month ago. In reality… not even close.

When we think of injury, we think of the physical injury itself. No, I can’t use my right foot for anything because I’m nonweight-bearing. It doesn’t cause me any pain other than a super uncomfortable cast, but that’s what we see… the physical part. I’m telling you now, it’s not even in comparison to the emotional and psychological aspect of an injury. It does more to us I think than the physical limitations.

Feeling tired from 45 pound deadlifts is a punch in the gut when you’re max is 300. Being the last one to finish when you are usually the first is a shot to the ego. The funny part is that I thought it would bother me more than it did. Truth is, it didn’t bother me at all. Honestly, when I finished today, I felt good. It was an opportunity to feel the high of competition again… the reason I truly love crossfit. Beating a time, a goal, a number of reps… 


At the same time… I was exhausted! My leg and arms were shaking when I finished. Mentally, I thought this would be easy. Emotionally, I was frustrated, yet proud. Physically… tired. Yep, I finished last. But I finished. I worked out 5-6 days a week prior to injury. Right now, I think 3-4 days is going be my limit until I build my stamina back up. 

It isn’t just crossfit… it’s all aspects of life. You think you can do something because you take for granted how easy it was, but reality quickly knocks you on your butt (sometimes literally) and you have to take a step back to realize you aren’t that same person right now. 

Jimmy is super excited about going to Keeneland. I love Keeneland. It’s my favorite thing to do in the spring and fall. I immediately said yes… but then reality started setting in… long distance walking, standing, crowds to push through… yeah. Then I got sad because I miss getting to do all the fun things with my family. Here’s where I get to modify in life! Called the ortho and got a temporary handicapped parking pass. ✔️ Bringing my scooter for getting around easily. ✔️ Taking a chair where I will sit and watch the horses while letting everyone else fetch me bets and beer. ✔️ Problem solved. 

So that quote from Talledaega Nights, “If you’re not first you’re last…” yeah. That’s garbage. You have to admit you can’t do it all when you’re injured. You’re not the same person. You can’t do the same things the way you used to… but you CAN do them! You might do them slower. You might do less. You might struggle. But there is strength in the struggle. That’s my mantra. When things feel rough, when it’s hard, when you want to bail out… remember these are the times you grow the most. 

Not for the squeamish

Today I had my two week post-op appointment. Let me just start by saying I’m a really big nerd and the weeks of watching Grey’s Anatomy has me convinced I should have been a surgeon. So let’s talk about what I expected when I went. I expected an incision that went up and down my tendon. I was expecting to be all swollen around my  foot and ankle. I was expecting blood and lots of stitches. 

Not. At. All. My incision is awesome! It’s tiny and lateral across my tendon. I only had three stitches if that tells you how small the incision is. I was amazed. Of course I had to take a pic so if your squeamish, you might keep scrolling. 


Isn’t that awesome? The best part is because it’s so small it makes the wound healing process a lot faster. Not much swelling at all either! That made for a great visit!

He did talk to me a lot about what to expect in this whole process. First, he said he wanted to cast my foot because he had more control over my foot position and the wound would heal better. When you have a repaired achilles’, your foot has to be positioned with toes down. This is to keep the tendon from being pulled while healing. I will wear this nice, pretty red cast for three weeks. 


After that, I move into a boot. I will have wedges in my boot keeping my foot pointed downward and gradually decrease the height of those until I am neutral. He told me the 6-12 week period was the most critical time for most patients. He said after the 6 weeks, I would begin the physical therapy to start rehabilitating the tendon. 

Here’s where the heart sinks… how long until I’m fully recovered… back to 100%? A year. Yeah… you read that correctly. It’s amazing though… three weeks ago I would have cried. I would have felt bad and been so defeated. And while it still sucks, I’m okay with it. It is what it is. I just want to heal and I’m not going to rush anything that could cause a setback. 

This is a long recovery… but I’ve been blessed to find others who have had the same injury and a support group that has been a wonderful resource. My family has been amazing… my poor husband has had to drive all over kingdom come and is never home… I mean just this week he has been to Indiana three times and Cincinatti twice! Gotta love AAU season. My kids have been great about helping out with housework. My dad is taking me places all the time since my husband’s on basketball duty… I couldn’t ask for better friends and family through this whole process. Things like this really make you realize who is important in your life and who will always be there when you need them.