I made a half-ass'd confession to my physical therapist today: I confessed that I have been jogging.
(Let me digress: For the record, I don't like the word jogging. I find it diminishing to the act of running. But since I was holding back so much in the effort, hardly changing my respiratory rate, I don't feel like I can call it anything but jogging... 'cuz it wasn't walking and it sure as heck wasn't running... but don't let me hear you call what you do jogging, because I won't let you degrade yourself that way!)
Anyway, back to my partial confession. In my defense, my decision to take some running-esque steps in the last week did not come without some tacit approval. I present to the court three incidents that lead me to believe it was time to take things up a notch. Officially.
1. Two weeks ago, my PT had me start doing 1-legged squats. The goal was to do them to about 60-degrees. He said, "When you can do 10 of these in a row without losing your balance, that will tell me you are ready to run." I pulled off more than 20 in a row. KA-CHING!
2. On Friday I had another follow-up with my surgeon.The physician's assistant came into the exam room first and, after talking to me and looking at my leg, said, "So, you are at 8 weeks. This is when you can start to do some easy, straight-line jogging." (Cue the choir of angels in my head!)
3. Just after that, the surgeon himself came in. He talked to me about my progress and examined my knee and then said, "The protocol for jogging and running after this surgery is 12 weeks, so you are almost there." (Cue the 'you lose' music from "The Price is Right" - "bum-bum-ba-dummmm-brrrrr"....) But, after I expressed my deep disappointment in that idea, he THEN said, "Well, if you are out walking and you DO decide to take a few jogging steps, you just need to be really careful..." (Blah, blah, blah. I stopped listening after that. The die was cast. I was taking things up a notch. Officially.)
Okay. So, I said I made a partial confession. And it really was. Because, REALLY, really, I have been doing some running-esque movement for kind of a while now. I just felt ready. I just felt strong enough. I just felt like NOT RUNNING was getting too easy... like maybe if I didn't start up again on some level, maybe I would lose my mojo completely and just not start up again.
When I made my partial confession (I never copped to running before this past Friday), my PT was not surprised. Being a runner and having experience with a long recovery during which he could not run at all, he completely understands where I am coming from. He reminded me, though, that I was playing a dangerous game. I have heard the things he said today dozens of times before, but for some reason, today they stuck with me.
Here's the thing: Coming back from ACL reconstruction takes a boatload of work from the patient. You have to be committed to strengthening and stretching (and hurting!) for months at a time. Your quad muscle, which you could swear was JUST there, basically disappears completely. It's about as useful as nipples on a man. And the capacity to bend and straighten your leg? Completely gone. You can't do it. You have to fight for every degree of flexion and extension. If you were any kind of athlete before the surgery, it's almost inconceivable that this useless limb is on your formerly powerful, capable body.
And that's the good news. Because that's what you CAN control.
But no matter how determined and focused and bad ass you are, the bad news is you don't get to control the pace at which your graft heals to your bones. Likewise - and this will come as a complete shock to many of you - you don't get to control the pace of the calendar so that the time of healing for said graft will move more swiftly. Who knew? Certainly not I.
What finally hit me today is that no matter how determined I am, no matter how hard I work, no matter how charming or pouty or witty or sassy or ANYTHING-y I am... I can't make the graft heal any faster than it's going to heal and I can't get any medical professional to sign off on my running before week 12 of my recovery.
I think I needed to hear someone say to me clearly, as my PT did today, "You, Phoebe, are doing great. You are going to be ready to go and if it were just a matter of strength, you could go NOW. But there's no way to be sure that the graft is healed and we don't want to be back here a year from now because you overused the ligament before it had a time to heal properly."
It's a sign of my overall immaturity that I was ready to give up a lifetime of healthy running so that I could get in a handful of slow miles before it was wise. I am done running and jogging for now. It's (now) so obviously not worth it. For now it's squats and hamstring curls and stretching and spinning on my bike... for 3 more weeks.
That's June 10th.
It's a Tuesday.
Anyone wanna go running?
And, just for fun... one of my co-workers introduced me to the App "ChatterKids" today. She is using it with students to help them creatively share the research they have done on different US states. Below you can see that I have used it to make myself giggle. (If you missed my schpeil about the AMR Prove It Challenge - check this post.) You gotta check it out!