Back in the Saddle Again.

Out where a friend is a friend. 

Where the longhorn cattle feed 

On the lowly gypsum weed

Back in the saddle again.

On Monday June 5th I saw my bad ass surgeon Dr. Anderson at Beth Israel and two things happened. I laid eyes on x-rays of my titanium-improved femur for the first time, and I got the OK to begin physical therapy twice a week.

 

Oh, and a third thing happened. I stepped on the scale. The five pounds that I thought I gained since my surgery was actually a whopping ten pounds. Ten pounds on this 5’4″ 37-year-old frame is nothing to shake a stick at. My earnest healthy eating efforts were either too little or too late for my middle-aged metabolism and sauvignon blanc habit. Gretchen Rubin would be so disappointed.

Naturally, I sulked about the weight gain for the better part of Monday, completely shrugging off the good news that the rod and bolts look textbook perfect, my mobility has dramatically improved, and I can start working out again. Yeah, but… Ten pounds. Ten pounds!

There was something I could do about it, though. I could go to the gym. I could ride the stationary bike. I could lift a few weights, and I could do a few sit-ups. So that is exactly what I did before picking up my kids Monday evening. I felt a little bit better.

I may be down, but I’m not down and out: I even picked up a kale salad from the prepared foods section of Whole Foods.

In truth, I have been down lately. Real down. Getting cleared for physical activity couldn’t come soon enough. I am on record saying that running is not a cure for mental health issues, but if the last two months have taught me anything, it’s that running and exercise are integral components of my precarious balancing act.

In my reading somewhere I learned that SSRIs / antidepressants do not eliminate depression but they can prevent the bottom from dropping out when depression symptoms arise. Even as I enjoyed almost an entirely symptom-free year, I took these words of caution to heart. If you’ve lived with depression as long as I have, you learn never to underestimate its power over you. Sure enough, my symptoms came on, starting about two weeks ago. I lost all  focus at work. I became obsessive and compulsive about a personal writing project. I felt my thoughts spinning out of control all of the time. I couldn’t reel them back in. I told my husband, “My brain has a mind of its own,” and I meant it; Like I am a helpless captor on a runaway roller coaster controlled by my mind. I grew irritable. I wanted to spend time alone, but when I was alone, I fell further down the rabbit hole. Red flag, red flag, red flag… Red flag.

The bottom didn’t drop out. I’m OK. The symptoms make me feel fragile and vulnerable.

“I’m me, but I’m not me.”

“I’m here, but I’m not here.”

“I care, but I can’t care as much I would like to. Not today.”

“Come back tomorrow.”

“Can we do this tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow, any tomorrow.”

“Any day but today.”

I’m here, but I’m not here.

Now imagine me saying these things to you through a megaphone on a faraway distant peak. That’s what it feels like to exist in the world when you’re struggling to keep a full blown depressive episode at bay.

In the interest of not ending this post on a completely bleak note, you may be interested to hear that my husband competed in his first 5K road race without me, and he’s doing another one on Father’s Day! Without a trace of sarcasm he says he’s doing the races for me. He means it. If you don’t think this is the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard, than you must not have a sentimental bone in your body (much less a titanium one). 

My first session of physical therapy starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle Again.

  1. I can completely relate to what you describe in this post. I was on a roll a few years ago, training for a half-marathon, up to 10 miles in a single run before the pain in my foot forced me to go to the podiatrist. I had arthritis in my big toe joint; the doctor said she had never seen a more severe case of bone-on-bone and couldn’t believe I was running on that.

    I had an implant put in to serve as “cartilage” and the recovery period made me kind of panicky. Would I run again? How much weight was a going to gain being sedentary for so long? I absolutely needed running for my mental health — I was worried.

    Slowly I recovered, went to physical therapy, started running again tentatively, and the following year completed my first half-marathon (followed by a 2nd about 6 weeks later). I was psyched and proud, and know the strong role running plays in keeping panic and anxiety at bay (plus the reluctant loss of 10 lbs/age 47).

    In summary: you are not alone in your struggles, and I feel better knowing I am not alone either. Good luck with PT and may you hit the trails again soon with joy in your heart!

    ~ Roxanne

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve only run a total of two halfs and a 10K since the surgery. My toe is fine for the most part, now the ankle of my other foot stays in a chronic swollen state…hoping that’s not arthritis as well!
        Happy recovery!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah man, so relate to having the spinning thoughts that you can’t reel back. Congrats on being able to exercise again, I’m sure it will help–I hope that it does. Also, yeah, your hubs…the sweetest. x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh, this post is so well written! I nodded along to a lot of the “here but not here” part. Thank you for sharing.
    And that’s so exciting that you’ve gotten clearance for working out and physical therapy. Hope your first session went well!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a beautiful post. I identify 100% with the idea that my brain has a mind of its own. It is amazing the suffering and misery it can inflict over, well, nothing. Running in the mornings does help, but yes – not a cure.

    Good luck in PT!

    Liked by 1 person

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