Sunday, November 9, 2008

After Injury, Give it Two Weeks

Despite our best attempts at remaining fit and healthy, sometimes we fail. Something as simple as stepping off the curb can take us off our feet for three months.

So, what should we do?

We should listen to the the medical authorities.

I know it's not a popular suggestion, and not one you'd think I'd advocate. However, physicians are getting wise to people like me. Rather than saying, "Yeah, that's a nasty break. You won't be putting any weight on that foot for three months, young lady," they let me heal in increments. I couldn't bear the thought of three or six months off running, but I could handle two weeks, and two weeks, and.... you get the picture.

Doctors offered incremental steps to give patients (a.k.a., me) the illusion of progress and control. That, and excruciating pain, all kept me honest in my seemingly endless recuperation from injury and surgeries.

Here's how it worked out for me: after going home from the emergency room with crutches I can't use to save my life and painkiller I most likely won't use, I found myself in front of my orthopedist, listening to yet one more doctor say, "Wow, I never see that bone broken." The new smart doctor takes another x-ray, points to the break. "Looking great — see how the break is mending? Let's keep up the good work. We'll start PT, but stay on crutches until our next appointment in two weeks."

Two weeks later, PT is moving along, but if he touches that spot again I might have to share the pain. No weight yet, we agree, but let's see what happens in two weeks.

After a few more cycles of this and "does it hurt here" stops being a practice borrowed from Torquemada, I can go ahead and rest the foot on the floor, but no full weight yet.

Next thing you know, it's been three months, PT is over, I'm wearing two shoes and the cane is resting next to the couch even when I'm not there myself.

I don't like being told what to not do. It's a thing. I drive my friends nuts chafing against restrictions, and doctors probably have heard it all before. Whether they do it in self-defense or whether two weeks could make that much of a difference, I don't care. I appreciate the illusion that allowed me to keep my sanity.

Once I'm back in fighting form, may I not have a doctor tell me "two weeks" for a very long time. However, if I must, may I be patient — or at least chafe only a little.

- Chris

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