Last time I wrote a blog post I was seated at my kitchen table after a good long bike ride, smelling fresh baked cookies and essentially living the dream. This time i’m back at UBC and feeling kind of antsy because i’ve been sitting in class all day! I’m back for my final year and finishing up my undergrad; however, I have to keep reminding myself that it is worth it! Sometimes school pales in comparison with the huge rehab effort i’ve put in this year, but i’m trying to put everything that has happened to me in perspective. School is important, and so is having a healthy body. I have had a real lack of balance in my life for the past couple of years. It has either been 100% school, or 100% rehab. Both of which are stressful on their own! This Fall my goal is to finish school and also finish rehab.
August was, in a word, AMAZING. I was the most active I ever have been. I may have even overdone it a bit! I biked every other day, went to the gym alternating days, and did a ton of hikes and long walks. It was amazing for me to feel like my body was supporting me in my endeavours. I think I was the happiest i’ve been in about 3 years (since I have been injured) in August. The constant biking seriously improved my strength, and I still remember the day in early August when I realized that is was 9pm and I was STANDING- I was out, about, on my feet, and I could do it! Previously I was always way too sore at the end of the day to be on my feet. It was almost impossible for me to really go out and feel stable or comfortable at all.
One of the highlights of August was hiking Brandywine Meadows with my family and friends. Last Summer I couldn’t have imagined my knee being able to handle anything like that. The first time we went up to Brandywine we hiked into the meadow and I did a small hike up to a waterfall. I didn’t push things too hard, but my body felt amazing. The next week we went up again and summited. I felt amazing, and it was so so so so so rewarding to be able to bag a peak again. It has been hard for me to see friends’ Facebook and instagram posts of their intense activity, peak bagging and ultra running, and feel like i’m even doing anything. I run in a circle where everyone is intense and at peak fitness. To be injured and surrounded by a community like that is hard!! I constantly have to remind myself that the level I am at is okay, and not to compare myself to others.
While my hike up to Brandywine was amazing, and I totally kept up with everyone else by summiting and having a great time, quite soon after, my body reminded me that i’m still in rehab and not 100%. My achilles and lower calf on my right leg starting acting up after the hike. While my left leg is a lot stronger than it was, I still have a lot of compensation going on, and my right leg bore the brunt of that very long hike. I had a hard time pulling back from my daily activity at first, but eventually started going at 50-60% to accommodate my right leg pain and keep doing rehab.
It is extremely emotionally and physically taxing when pain moves to another part of your body. I was so disappointed that my right leg had pain, as I finally felt that August was the month my left leg really started feeling better. I also wasn’t quite sure what to do about the pain. Rest? Ice? Keep moving? I have a bit of PTSD when it comes to injuries, but luckily I have my amazing physio Jessica Owen who guides me through everything. There is no inflammation or pain to the touch in my right leg, but what happened is that my muscles started bracing with all the repetitive stress of that long hike, so I will have to just wait for my body to heal and for the pain to go away. Of course I handled it in the typical Kendall type A fashion at first. Rolling, IMS, worrying, obsessing, stretching- nothing worked. Sometimes my body wants no intervention, but just time to heal.
Mentally, it is very hard for me to decrease my activity again. I felt caged in for so long, that I have a bit of an OCD attitude towards exercise- it is literally all I want to do. It is hard for me to realize that normal injuries, pain and soreness, like i’m experiencing now, go away with time. All injuries are not as fucked up as my knee injury. I was also pretty upset that my achilles was hurting, and I found myself not wanting to tell anyone about it! One of my best friends, Sam, came back from Spain this September for a visit. I wanted to be 100% for when she came back so I could hike with my friends and not be the injured one. I wanted so much to keep up with everyone because i’ve really felt i’ve lost the strength of some of my relationships because I couldn’t be active with people.
September always brings about change. The leaves fall, the temperature drops, and our lives shift as well. Some of my best friends went back to school (miss you Haley and Mo), and i’m dealing with a bit of a change in my body. While everyone extolls the virtues of a positive attitude, I think it’s okay to be disappointed with how things go sometimes. Reflecting on myself, I always tried to be so bubbly and positive, and I never expressed what I was really thinking or feeling to people, or stood up for myself. This caused me a lot of internal stress, and I found myself walked over by many people in my life. Throughout my injury rehab, I found myself unable to fake cheerfulness anymore, as all my coping skills were caput. I had to work really hard to learn to establish boundaries with people in my life, and ensure that I am being treated with the kindness and respect I deserve. Rehab, my physio reminds me, is constantly up and down. For the most part, these ups and downs ultimately head in an upward trajectory- but it’s impossible to do rehab perfectly. I am trying to handle the downs better, and accept my sadness and disappointment, but keep my eye on the ultimate prize- my body being 100%.
I am a type A perfectionist! I try my best 100% of the time, but i’ve been reminded lately that sometimes this simply causes burn out. I’ve been trying to implement more self-care and healing rituals in my life. Concentrating on getting good sleeps, having good nutrition, and not pushing myself too hard physically have been goals of mine. I’m trying to constantly repeat the phrase “more is not better” to comfort myself.
I really liked this article from The Guardian titled “Get off the Treadmill: Living Well in the Age of Plenty”. There is so much emphasis on health, wellness, organic food, good/bad food, health trends, etc. It’s hard to know what is actually good for you, or not! I used to believe that moving around all day, literally exercising all the time, was the only way to live- I really believed that phrase “sitting is the new cancer”. I soon got pretty seriously injured and burnt out. I still struggle with balance in my life. How much is too much moving? How much is not enough? What foods are healthy? Should I be vegetarian? or better yet, vegan? I always strive to be perfect, to optimize my life.
This quote from this article resonates with me:
Health, exercise, food, sex have become central preoccupations of our time. We preserve the living corpse in an optimal state, not so we may do something with it, but for the feeling of optimisation. More and more of life gets turned over to life maintenance at the very moment you’d think we’d be free to pursue something else.
I find it hard not to want to live longer. I also want to live without pain. This means I want health. But when I place myself at a point within the vast constellation of health knowledge and health behaviours, I can’t help but detect some misunderstanding. The systems of health have little to do with my simple ambitions. There is something too much, or too many, in them; too arbitrary, or too controlling; too doom-laden, too managerial, too messianic.
I almost feel like because our society serves us so well, and we have so many resources, we overcomplicate the simplicity of health. For example, a simple apple is not enough- it must be organic, and be traced back to its farm of origin (see Portlandia); similarly, a walk is not enough- it must be a run, and a long one. Anyhow, what i’m trying to say is that we all strive for balance…but it is very hard to obtain!!
I’ve seen a lot of great people in August and September. I carpool to UBC with my amazingly mature, spiritual and amazing friend Keirra. My friend Sam is back from Spain, and it has been so meaningful to catch up with her. I also went on a super fun bike ride with my friend Brylee where we also met up with another friend Nicky. It was so cool to be surrounded by such rad and strong women, and I am so excited to hit the slopes with them this winter.
The rest of September will see me continue my rehab (which is going really well for my left leg) at half speed until my right leg feels better, continue school, and hopefully catch up with some more people I haven’t seen in a while. I haven’t been baking as much because I have been busy, but also secretly because i’ve been trying to eat more healing and healthy foods. Not a weight issue, more of a general wellness one. I still think baking is one of life’s greatest comforts!
Now here’s to hoping this calf/achilles pain will go away so I can start killin’ it again. However, it serves me a reminder that i’m still in rehab and not 100%. Sobering!!