From setback to breakthrough

Friday, July 13, 2012

A month ago, I was sitting in the emergency room of a Parisian hospital waiting to get my newly sprained ankle looked at. I sat there in shock. I hadn’t hurt my body bad enough to have to go to a hospital in over 13 years. I had already cried before I arrived at the hospital, but was still feeling sad at the thought that I might not be running for a while and wondered if I hurt it so bad that I wouldn’t be able to run ever again. The longer I sat in the waiting room, the sadder I got. I had a half-marathon planned two weeks later, which I knew I would have to cancel no matter what.

When I saw the doctor, he seemed quite nonchalant about my ankle and ordered x-rays to be done. They wheeled me down to the x-ray room and left me in the dimly lit hallway while I waited for the doctor to come out to get me. Afterwards, I was left in the hallway even longer and waited patiently. After about five minutes, I wondered if they had forgotten me. My ankle was still throbbing and I think I was still in shock.

A nurse finally came back to get me and wheeled me to wait in front of the room where the doctor visited me. Through the door, the doctor presented me with the good news that nothing was broken or fractured, I felt a huge wave or relief, but my first question was, “When can I run again?” His answer was simple, “When it has healed, which all depends on you and your body.” I didn’t go back into the room and instead the nurse wrapped my ankle tightly while I was in the hallway facing the automatic exit doors.

I hopped back to the car and was driven to a pharmacy on the Champs-Elysées because it was already past midnight. I had to buy crutches, aspirin, and a brace for my ankle. I stayed home from work the next day and took the weekend to take care of myself. I walked around a little bit over the weekend, but I knew that I didn’t want to push it. I read everything I could about sprained ankles on the Internet to figure out what I could.

It wasn’t until the end of that first week that the pain settled in and I was back to not walking again. When I was on the plane back to Florence, I asked the stewardess for a bag of ice and left it on my ankle for the entire flight.

After a week of convalescence by mostly staying put in my apartment, I finally decided to go to the palestra (gym) to see what I could do. I knew that I couldn’t run on it, but I missed exercising.

Initially, I wanted to go to a palestra that was close to my apartment, but it doesn’t open until 9am. I decided to go back to the palestra I went to when I arrived in Florence the first time in 1997. I was surprised and pleased to see that many of the same people still work there. I hadn’t been back in about 5 years for a short stint.

There was something comforting about going back to my old palestra for me. It was the place that kept me grounded when I initially moved to Florence.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been going to the palestra. At first, I biked, then went on the elliptical trainer, and lifted weights. It wasn’t until this week that I even attempted to run. I started out slow and then ended up being able to run almost at my normal speed for a short time.

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