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  • wolfmollie

Movement is Essential, Progress is Nonlinear.

This week has been incredibly humbling.

On Monday, I went to the doctor to have my cast removed. I was nervous, but eager to graduate to the next stage in my recovery – the boot. I prepared myself for it to be strange, telling myself that it was going to be skinny, hairy, and scale-y; but still, today was disorienting. When I saw my right lower leg for the first time in 6 weeks, I was struck by how it looked like someone else’s leg. Suddenly my sense of my body was called into question – I had no idea that my leg looked the way it did.

The muscles in my calf looked deflated (atrophied); the scar still looked gnarly (later I found out that it was the scab that never had a chance to flake off); and my skin was orange (still discolored from the iodine they smeared on my leg in preparation for surgery, meaning I had 6 weeks worth of dead skin layered over my foot and leg). Plus, yes, my hair was also longer than I’ve let it grow in years. 

That day my roommate and I marveled at how important movement is to the functioning of so many of the systems in our bodies: muscles atrophy quickly without movement; dead skin does not shed when you are not moving and brushing up against your clothes; the lymph system depends on movement in order to move fluids toward your heart; and the circulatory system needs movement in order to keep your blood circulating, preventing blood clots. I’ve been on blood thinners this whole time and thank god my naturopath taught me about dry brushing years ago—so at least I’m not dealing with major issues from those last two. (Side note—have you ever had your period while taking blood thinners? There are many things I’ve learned about my body during this process, one of which is to be thankful for the clots in my normal period blood—without them it’s a mess)!

I’m in a boot now, with the instructions to be scaling up to full weight baring, using my own pain as a gage for how fast to go. (Another side note—I hate that western medicine uses pain as a gage so much. Pain is a funny concept. I don’t think it’s helpful to name anything as ‘pain,’ because it can means SO many things and doesn’t distinguish between sensations). I had this idea that I would be walking on my crutches all of the sudden, but I was quickly humbled out of that expectation–the sensations of numbness, wobbliness, weakness, tenderness to pressure, and sharp cramps throughout my lower leg, ankle, and foot kept me from taking more than 10 steps that first day. 

I took a bath, excited to get my leg wet again, finally! After not very much time at all, my ankle became sore. Transitioning from being immobilized for 6 weeks to suddenly sitting in a tub surrounded by gentle sloshes in the water was overwhelming for my joint. I was craving the boot within a few minutes. 

Over the next few days I came to realize how long the road ahead of me is. Yesterday I had a meeting with one of my friends who is a physical therapist and a dancer, and she gave me strength and stability exercises I can do while in the boot to support me as I learn to walk again. Doing her suggested exercises this week has made me realize how much overall body strength I’ve lost over the past 8 weeks–yikes! Everything feels unstable and new again, so I’m SLOW. (Even slower than I was crutching and scootering on one foot). 

I had a panic attack this morning because this week I’m falling behind in my schoolwork again, which doesn’t surprise me given that I’m having to (again) relearn how to do all of my daily activities with weight on both feet.

Of course in all of this, the main thing I’m being reminded of (again and again), is to be patient. Progress is not linear. Neither is recovery.

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