Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maybe Next Year ...

Some of you may know that I had nasty ankle injury in 2001. I'll go into that more in-depth another time, but basically, I snapped off a ligament that attached to the outside of my left ankle, which in turn nicked a few pieces off my shin bone. I was on fertility meds at the time and shortly afterward, I was pregnant with my daughter, which meant I could no longer have x-rays. Or surgery. I had to wait until I was done nursing my daughter, nearly two years later. But I've never regretted the decision.

At any rate, it's a family tradition to go to a pumpkin patch with a corn maze each year. You go through the maze, find each numbered checkpoint, and punch off the number on your card. The weather today was perfect. High of about 70, lovely breeze. The corn maze terrain is very uneven, with corn cobs and other debris all over the path. By the time I had ankle surgery, there wasn't enough of my ligament left to screw into place, so they trimmed it off, and removed the bone chips, which by then were smooth and round. As a result, I will always have swelling. When I walk on uneven surfaces, like the corn maze, I can't decide what's worse: the pain, or the frustration.

Every year I tell myself I'm going to do the entire corn maze. And every year I'm grateful to get through half of it and then I leave my husband and kids and go sit by the concession stands for 45 minutes until they join me. And that's what happened today. My ankle wasn't bad; in fact, it was about the best it's been ever since we started going there. But it still hurt. I know if I keep going I'll have a date with an ice pack and a bottle of ibuprofen by the end of the afternoon.

Limits are extremely difficult for me to accept.

I want to finish the maze. It's not like I can't walk that distance. (about 3 miles) I'm in good enough shape. But it terrifies me to think of re-injuring it. Not only was my ankle broken and continually swollen, but I was already overweight, and then added pregnancy weight on top of that. Probably an extra 90 pounds on a weight-bearing joint. I've been told that each pound equals four pounds of pressure on your joints. (OK, I'll give you a minute to do the math. Yikes, huh?) And while pregnant, I had a very active three-year-old boy at home. Ever play with or take care of a three-year-old? Lots of squatting and getting up and down off the floor. Try doing that without using one of your ankles. And being pregnant.

I sometimes wonder if I use my ankle as an excuse for not trying. More than one ER attendant has told me I have a "freakishly high" pain threshold. I've always been good about managing my pain, mentally putting myself in another place so I can get through the task at hand. After my 6-hour, drug-free labor with my son, I took one Tylenol. If I take a NyQuil, I can't function until about noon the next day. I just don't like putting things in my body that don't belong there. But I think this thing with my ankle is deeper than that. It's been eight years. I wonder how much of it is in my head. And I wonder if I'm ever going to get past it. If I'll ever finish the corn maze.

What's in your head, what keeps you from doing things you want to do?
How have you dealt with it?

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