The Last Ride
I had time for one more bike ride.
The surgery I’d been planning to have for months was only 2 days away. I had just returned home from spending the 4th of July holiday at a friend’s house. It was 9:00 pm and I walked out to the garage to air up the tires on Sophie, my Specialized Dolce Elite road bike. The next day was Wednesday and that meant the Spokeswomen’s weekly Wildflower Ride. I was planning to go. It would be my last chance to do something active for at least a month and I was trying to pack in everything that I could.
It was back in January that I finally got the ok from my orthopedic doc to start running again after last year’s stress fractures in my shin and foot healed. From that very first run, I felt it – the pressure in the back of my left calf. It started at mile one and wouldn’t let up until I stopped running. It didn’t matter if I ran quickly (well, as quickly as an out-of-shape me could run), leisurely, or in walk-run intervals, every time I hit the mile mark, it felt like my calf muscle was going to burst out of my skin and explode. After a month of this, I realized this wasn’t just “getting back into shape” discomfort. Something was wrong.
From February through April, my life was consumed with doctor appointments, x-rays, MRIs, pressure reading tests, doctor referrals and more doctor appointments. In this time I experienced pain, disappointment, despair and hope. But the one thing I hadn’t experienced was fear. Until now.
For months I’d been busy seeing doctors, having tests and getting poked, scanned, x-rayed and examined. I finally scheduled surgery (on my 2nd attempt). And since then I’ve been busy. I arranged for time off of 2 of my 3 jobs. I worked ahead so as not to leave my co-workers in the lurch. I arranged for a set of crutches. I picked up prescriptions and bought anti-bacterial soap. I marked the date at which I could no longer take ibuprofen. I worked so diligently to plan ahead that I managed to neglect the present – I missed a shift at my part-time job and I forgot to renew my license plate sticker. And during all this time I went swimming, biking and walking as much as I could jam it in my schedule. I even completed 2 triathlon relays because I knew my days of activity were numbered. At least for now.
So that brings me to the Tuesday night before the Friday of my surgery. I have one more bike ride left. And it’s just now sinking in that there is some fear lurking under the surface of all the details that have now been taken care of.
There is fear that something will go wrong with the surgery and I’ll be worse off than I was before. Being active is my way of life and I can’t even contemplate if that wasn’t an option. My two bikes might be my favorite possessions and swimming outside might be one of my most favorite things to do. Running has been a part of my life before I was even born. Life without any of that doesn’t seem like life worth living.
There is fear that everything goes according to plan but it doesn’t solve my problem. That after the surgery I still won’t be able to run more than a mile without intense pain. Though it sucks, I have accepted the fact that my marathon days might be over. I’ve done a few and they were fun, but I could be happy doing shorter distances. But losing running completely – that’s something I cannot accept. In fact, that’s why I’ve spent the better part of 2017 running from one medical appointment to another (and meeting my health insurance deductible by mid-year).
The fear of not fixing the problem aside, there is fear of the level of pain I will be in. This is the first surgery I will have gone through where I will truly be bed-ridden for any significant period of time. Even when I’m able to get up and move around, I’m worried how much it’s going to hurt to move on that leg. Once I leave the recovery wing of my parents’ house, the only one to take care of things for me will be me. I’m not even sure what things will be a challenge. I’m sure I’ll find out in short order.
The fear has been uncovered and at least I’ve named it. But it’s there. What I have to tell myself now is that none of that is within my control and I just have to let it go. I have to think positively and I will do that.
And I will take one more bike ride.