Getting a Grip (Literally)

Posted: July 27, 2017 in In Transition, Injuries and Owies
Tags: ,

It has been almost four weeks since my big Iron Disaster and three weeks post op after having seven pins and screws inserted into my left hand at the same time I should have been crossing the finish line; becoming a 7x Titanium man instead of a 2x Ironman.  So, yeah, once again this has not exactly been a stellar year competition-wise and I’m still struggling to make sense of it all.

As it with the whole Grief Cycle, first comes the Denial and Isolation Stage.  And, believe me, there was lots of that in the Emergency Room and in the days following the accident as I remained hopeful that I would somehow still be miraculously able to pull the race off.  I remember begging – pleading – the responding EMR’s to give me some sort of reassurance that it wasn’t so bad despite the blood fountaining from my elbow and my baby finger which was sticking out at an odd right angle away from the rest of my hand.

Of course, it wasn’t meant to be.

Shortly afterwards, I entered into the Anger Stage and here is where I really excelled; especially after realizing that had I been able to to compete there was a very good chance I would have won my age group and perhaps even podium-ed over all in potentially 3rd place.

And that’s some hard shit to swallow let me tell you!

If there was some sort of lesson to be learned here, I wasn’t seeing it yet.

Likewise, during this period most peoples’ attempt to have me see either the good or the positive in the situation pretty much fell on deaf ears – I simply was not to be consoled.

Among the worst of the standard adages offered to me was “Well, it could have been worse”.

Well, yes, I could have ended up with a more severe break or perhaps ended up sliding under an an oncoming truck and being dragged for another kilometer or so before being deposited by the roadside for vultures and crows to pick at so, sure, I suppose it’s true that it could have been worse but I didn’t want to hear it at that point.

The other common sentiment was “this is your bodies way of telling you something?”

Pardon?

Tell me what  exactly?

That it hates me?

Couldn’t it have chosen a different and less painful way of telling me the same thing or, better yet, waiting another eight days to tell me which – if you remember – was the plan all along?  Or was it trying to tell it me that it felt that I needed more hassles going through the metal detectors at airports?   Whatever it was, my response to my body at that point would inevitably have been the same:  “Gee, thanks body.  Fuck you too!” 

The problem with this sentiment was that this disaster was more of an environmental and mechanical issue than it ever was my body creating some sort of resistance.  My bike slipped on a slick metal surface so if anything, my body was the victim here but, again, thanks.

And then there’s the people who tried to console me with “hey, at least you can have a relaxing summer now”.

These people in particular I wanted to judo chop in the throat.  Clearly these people have never had metal pins inserted into a major appendage so that can’t shower unless they have a plastic Subway bag wrapped around it and can’t even do up their own pants in the morning without assistance.  Similarly, they have never had to squeeze out a stool as stiff and dry as a mason block thanks to the amount of Percocets they’ve had to ingest in order to keep the pain at a manageable level so that they didn’t try to chew off their own arm in the middle of the night.

Sure, real relaxing…but cheers for that.

Thanks.

The other thing I heard quite often at the time was “everything happens for a reason”.

The fuck?

What possible reason could there be for my having to blow two years of hard work and perseverance for Fate to totally screw me (pun intended) seven days before the big event unless it was just trying to fuck with me?

I wanted to donkey punch these people.

“That’s Fate’s way of telling you that you’re a dick.”

 

Remember this was all during the Anger Stage.

But I’ve had the benefit of time now while being firmly wedged in the Depression Stage to mull it over and attempt to look at the situation a little more objectively.

What is there to be learned?

What can I take away from this whole epic shit show to make me a better person and, hopefully, a triathlete?

Then I had a very humbling experience during my first rehab appointment at the Shaver Hospital.

At first, I was firmly focused on my own pathetic circumstance as I tried to wiggle my baby piggy and feeling very low considering that I was at my peak fitness just a few days previous.  Let’s just say I was feeling very, very low at this point.  But then I looked around at some of the other patients in the room in the middle of their own rehab.  Around me there were people learning to walk with a new prosthetic and unfortunate souls with their arms stuck inside cell regeneration machines after having acquired horrific burns.

And here I was worried about being able to bend my pinky finger and riding my bike by the end of summer.

Really.

What an asshole.

It kind of put a new perspective on things in that, yeah, maybe I did get off pretty lightly and things could definitely have been worse…a lot worse.  I guess that’s what those people were trying to tell me when I wasn’t willing to listen.  Sure I might still struggle to put my pants on, but at least I still have legs to put in them.  Maybe I can’t wiggle my little finger right now but I still have it and it will  heal.

I will  ride again.

Maybe what I was supposed to learn was how fragile my body is and that perhaps I should appreciate it a little more when it is able to do the things that I was able to do just one week ago.  Maybe this was supposed to teach me to enjoy the experience leading up to the event a bit more than I have, rather than stressing about what my body was not able to accomplish in the moment.

Let me explain.

While I am confident in my over all training plan and that it did ultimately help me acquire a fitness that I have not enjoyed in the past few years (in fact, I was both cycling and swimming better than I ever have before), I spent a stupid amount of time worrying about either what I wasn’t doing enough of, or fast enough, or hard enough, or whatever.

I was more often than not focused on the negative rather than the positive.

I mean, give yourself some credit dude.

You’re doing it!

Period.

Full stop.

Maybe this whole situation was intended to be a lesson in humility and will serve to help me grow into a better appreciation for the whole training process and ultimately become the Ironman I believe I can still be and want to be.  After all, the kind of athlete I admire is the one who takes setbacks in stride and rises above them only to return better than ever (not unlike Paula Findley who is finally getting back to a winning form after a disappointing turn of events at the 2012 Olympics – click HERE).

This is far from the end for me in this sport; it’s just a minor setback that happened to come at an inopportune time.

Hopefully, this is just the start of better, brighter and more successful things to come.

Finally…

Acceptance.

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