Coming to Terms

I’m normally pretty good at admitting things out loud. For example, I know I’m not a strong climber or fast snowboarder. I know I have a tendency to ramble and get loud when I’m excited about something. I know that I’m probably a bit too obsessed with my dogs, and despite popular belief… I know they are canines and not children.

So, I find it strange of all the things I can admit about myself and to others, I can’t seem to admit that I am in fact injured. I’ve spent the past four weeks lying to myself, trying to be normal, and trying to explain it away. I’ve been flip flopping on whether I should ignore the pain or give into it. This morning, I literally thought about using a coin toss to once and for all make up my mind. I was going to let a coin decide for me if I should ignore a nagging pain and weakness in my right knee that dramatically flares up with too much use. A pain that has me constantly crashing while snowboarding and grimacing on long walks. A coin toss? Really?

In the outdoor and active world, I’ve come to realize that losing the ability to do something you’ve always found natural throws you into the stages of loss and grief. I always thought these were reserved for more legitimate reasons such as losing someone close to you or incredibly dire situations. But no, apparently joining the injured roster is enough for us outdoor addicts. I feel like I’m in some confusing alternate reality and it’s one we rarely speak about. I’m careening through the five stages of loss and grief… and they’re all very real.

I’m well acquainted with the first stage – denial. I spent a solid two weeks not even acknowledging the fact that I was likely crashing and dangerously careening out of control due to my knee pain. I was so convinced that this was just my mind playing some horrible game with me. After denial came anger, and Rob knows I’ve had my fair share of that. There’s been bouts of me yelling angrily when I fall, stomping off into ski lodges, and wanting to throw my snowboard off trails. I don’t think my husband knew exactly why; denial and anger have a tendency to mix and it isn’t pretty.

Gauging by how I’m feeling and my coin toss thoughts this morning, looks like I’m somewhere in the third and fourth stages, bargaining and depression. Leaving my well being, safety, and long term happiness to a coin toss is just plain unwise, but in my mind I was thinking that I needed a decision. Decisions are hard to come by when what you want to do and what you need to do are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. I wanted to go snowboarding this weekend. Instead I moped around my house and did errands. Blah.

After all that, I’m evidently supposed to fall into the stage of acceptance. I feel like I’m getting there and it will likely result in me finally going to get my knee checked out by a doctor. I’ll finally accept that it is in fact injured and that I need to let it heal. I’ll have to wrap my head around that no matter how much snow we might get this March, I am done until next season. It’s hard to even write all that, so I know I’m not there yet. Soon, right?

Have you ever gotten injured, but taken awhile to come to terms with it? Any advice?

2 thoughts on “Coming to Terms

  1. Being injured can happen for the stupidest reasons. Once, running down Mount Washington, I injured my knee, and walked like the Tin Man for the next six weeks. Another time (two times, actually) ankle sprains requiring crutches. And then there were the torn tendons (not, thank Heavens, Achille’s). All of these required recovery time, and even coming-to-grips-with time. It’s a deeply uncomfortable thing — and not just physically. If memory serves, one of the strongest feelings heart attack survivors feel is a sense of betrayal: here’s this muscle that’s been going, quite literally, their entire lives, and suddenly, it’s gone and — well — betrayed them. I suppose, to a lesser extent, we feel the same way about lesser injuries.

    Were I you, I’d get me to a joint doctor, and have them give you a look-see. You probably consider “light use” for a bit, and maybe some physical therapy; helped to no end when my shoulder froze up. The funny thing about tendons, joints, and so forth is that they do require time to knit back together again. Slush season is right around the corner; heal up some, and you’ll be ready to go once the mud has dried.

    Good luck!

    1. I am thankful that this injury came when it did. I’ve always been terrified I’ll get hurt in either January or June which would kill my snowboarding and climbing seasons. But you are right. Slush season is a good one to sit out!

      And I think betrayal is a phenomenal way of summing up the feelings we all experience when a trusted skill or muscle abruptly stops working. I keep wanting to believe that the real betrayer is my mind, and this is all some screwy mind game… but nope! It’s my knee. That phenomenal thing that’s been helping me get around for almost 27 years!

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About Jillian Bejtlich

Hey! I'm Jillian Bejtlich. I’m a lifelong New Englander with a serious love of the outdoors, adventure, and a pretty serious inability to sit still. I’m plagued by the travel bug, and it seems I’ll try any relatively sane and safe thing once. My big goal in life: Get people outside!