Out of Balance

How’s your equilibrium? About 10 blogs ago I wrote about “Balance and Goals”. Lately, often, I find my mind going back there. Balance is so important!…in so many ways.

Attending the Oscars, on my knee scooter.

A few months ago, I had foot surgery to correct several lifelong bone deformities. The massive event included sawing bone in several places, fusing bones, adding a titanium plate, long and short screws and several incisions. The surgeon took my foot apart and put it back together, better.

Normally I don’t dwell on health issues here. But health is a tricky concept. What does ‘healthy’ mean, for you?

For me, it always meant being able to do all the activities that feed my soul, that make me whole. Running. Biking. Hiking. Climbing. Walking/striding miles and miles…. I’ve been lucky that my life had never been interrupted by my body’s demands.

Until now.

If I knew how all this was going to end, I wouldn’t mind a few months of forced inactivity. A bit of vacation! But that’s the kicker — not knowing. Will I ever be able to walk normally again? Not a given. Will the titanium plate ever stop hurting? Will I ever run again, ever be able to squeeze my foot into a climbing shoe again, and depend on my toes to hold onto a tiny chip of rock to push me higher? Can’t even imagine it, right now.

There’s very little certainty in life. I know that. But not knowing if I’ll ever have my life back…that’s hard.

Have you ever been down with a long-term injury or illness? How do you deal with the not knowing? The interminable, unending waiting, and hoping? It’s been almost 6 months now. Getting hard to maintain hope….

Can’t wait to get back…!

2 thoughts on “Out of Balance

  1. Hi Dierdre,

    I just finished your book today! It’s been wonderful to read your story. Before your book, I read Alex’s book and saw Free Solo several times. I’m so greatful you both shared yourselves. I will have to make a long overdue trip to Yosemite again! My kids are now bigger and can handle longer hikes..

    I’m sorry about you health troubles. I was once in postoperative pain for three years and had two more surgeries to correct my issues. It took 9 more months to feel close to normal again. I feel your frustration and the familiar feeling of not knowing weighing on you.

    I had many moments where I thought I’d just never know what it’s like to have a single day free of pain. What helped me was to not think about the tomorrow’s. I just stayed focused on ‘right now’. I kept visualizing my body healing itself and working the way it used to. I did a lot of meditating to shut my mind out and just ‘be’. Thoughts can be destructive and pretty powerful so I tried to keep them quiet. I had many crying meltdowns but always picked myself up and dusted myself off, and at the same time allowing myself to feel sad, frustrated and mad. Some days I’d push myself too hard only to end up in tears. Next day I walked farther then the previous. The tiny improvements gave me a glimpse into what could be if I keep working at it…

    The ‘not knowing’ was too overwhelming to think about, so I left it behind me and just kept focusing on one task at a time, at a given moment. One day I finally tossed my pain meds, next day I took a few steps and few weeks later started running and working out. I rebuilt my strenght one tiny step at a time and now I’m filled with gratitude each new day even though not each day is completely pain free.

    I wish you full recovery and many more sweet climbs with your son and your friends!

  2. Salut D. You are correct, there is little certainty in life (besides the idiom on death and taxes). We’re all hoping you get through rehab quickly and get back to the activities you had before your surgery. To throw out another idiom, patience is a virtue. You’ll get through these frustrating months soon enough, don’t ever lose hope. Keep living the life you love, it sets a precedent for everyone else.
    – Sean

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