Last week I did something I had been putting off for a while, I had bunion surgery. When I heard the recovery time was at least 2 months, and 4-6 weeks in a boot, I think I almost passed out. I couldn’t fathom not spending day after day on the treadmill, what was I going to do? And besides I want to compete soon, how is that going to come into play? At the same time, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The surgery was for a clinical trial, it would be paid for, I would be compensated, and right now my schedule allows for the flexibility.
Before I could spend much time second-guessing, I decided to go for it. With the care of my dear friend, a physical therapist and amazing soul, she drove me up to the research center bright and early Tuesday, September 9. It wasn’t long after I found myself sipping coffee and laughing in my recovery room. Much of that day I spent reading and engaging in social media, I was one day closer to recovering and getting back on stage.
As that evening rolled around the pain started to set in. I was stubborn and kept telling myself I was fine. When the nurse came in and saw me grimacing, she told me she could give me some medication to help ease the pain. It masked it a bit, but my foot was still throbbing, I kept telling myself just get to 3:00 a.m. 3:00 a.m. was when the study would begin. It was a pain medication study, and there were four groups, one of them being placebo (aka saline). As the clock rolled around to 3, I was wide-awake, not because I wanted to be but because it hurt, my foot was throbbing. Soon the nurse came in to run some tests and provide me my first dose of the mystery drug. I waited… nothing but throbbing. I figured I would give it a little longer, but still nothing. Feeling defeated and somewhat embarrassed I asked for the rescue medication (which was an over the counter medication as well as an anti-inflammatory iv medication). Rescue? It felt like more pain, but still I pushed on.
The study was supposed to go until 3:00 am Friday morning, and it was barely 7:00 am on Wednesday, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. As the time ticked by, each time the nurse came in with my mystery drug, I grew more and more anxious. As well as defeated, by 10 am I was confident I was in the placebo group. I was cognitive, alert, not sick, just in pain. As time went on, tears began flowing down my face, I tried to tell myself to stop but they just kept coming. As soon as the door opened, and the nurse entered, I tried to dry my face but she could tell I was in pain. The staff kept reminding me that at any point in time I could withdraw from the study. But me being me, stubborn as ever, kept saying I could push on. I looked at the clock and it was barely after 1:00 pm. Holy crap, how was I going to make it through the first 24 hours, let alone 2 days. Tears again.
3:00 pm rolled around, and that’s when it happen. The sweet nurse who was taking care of me came and sat on my bed. She grabbed my hand and said, “Kelley, you are a smart girl, stubborn too I can see. This is not a body building competition nor a competition with yourself. This is a clinical trial. And from your own research, you understand that part of research is people withdrawing from studies. It is unethical to sit hear and watch you in so much pain. So either you make the call or I will go to the Dr. and have him make the call.” Holy crap! Talk about handing it to me. I was determined to “stick it out”, “push through” etc. but for what? What was I trying to prove? I wasn’t getting a “who can stand the most pain award” or a medal for my stamina. It’s funny how our ego’s can get in the way and make us feel defeated or not special. Having that little chat to hold onto, I said the word and was soon given relief.
The following few days I spent figuring out crutches, how to shower without getting my lower leg wet (that consisted of minimal showers), lifting on crutches, and so on. Everything seemed to take more time, more energy, and more thought. I wouldn’t trade it. It’s forced me to step back and have an appreciation and perspective I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
So here I am, one week after surgery: another milestone, no crutches! My lovely boot, Black Betty, and I have been cruising the sidewalks of Old Town today and are now propped up at Starbucks writing away. I look forward to getting back on stage in a few months, but know that taking detours, being easy on myself, and enjoying the process are all apart of the big picture. This extends to life as well for all of us: Take detours, be easy on yourself, and enjoy the process!
In the upcoming weeks, I look forward to sharing the journey with you! If any of you have any experience training in a boot, I would love to hear it!
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