One foot at a time

You know that thing that most people can do when they’re getting dressed where they lift up one leg to put on pants (or underwear) and then they lift up the other leg and gracefully thread it through the other leg hole and then pull everything up where it belongs and Ta Da! You’re dressed and ready for the day? For a number of years I couldn’t do that.

I broke my ankle 4 years ago. It was a terrible, traumatic break of both my tibia and my fibula. Oh and I dislocated it and tore some ligaments. Basically, my foot was pointing the wrong way.  After an ambulance ride, a bunch of quality time in the ER of my local hospital, major surgery, 2 plates and 13 screws, 6 months of physiotherapy, and 50 lbs in weight gain in 18 months, I’m pretty much as good as I’m ever going to be.

It’s just a little broken, it’s still good.

Since that injury, my ankle doesn’t bend very well (try to act surprised, would ya?). When my ankle doesn’t bend, my knee does this wonky wobbly weird thing to compensate, and then my knee hurts. When my knee hurts I walk with a limp, and them my hip hurts. When my whole left side hurts I tend to sleep on my right side, and them my neck and shoulder on my right side hurt.  When my…..

Sorry, I got distracted.

Now, it’s entirely possible that my balance has always been crap. I used to be quite famous for falling off of curbs or even just off my own feet, but the fucked up ankle has made it worse.

Cut to me trying to put pants on in the morning. Stand and do that one leg balance while you slide the other leg in? No way. I’d sit on the edge of the bed and put my clothes like an old person afraid of falling down and breaking a hip. I don’t want to live my life like an octogenarian, especially when I’m only 25 (for the 11th time, but WHATEVER).

My amazing husband, who is a way better runner than I am, finishing a race a few years ago.

At the beginning of this year I got back into the gym. Now, I have had an on again/off again relationship with the gym since, oh, let’s say 1998. I’ll go for 6 months, and then stop going (but continue to pay) for the next 6 or 12 months. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometimes I’m all about cardio, spinning my wheels on whatever stationary device captures my fancy. Other times, it’s all about lifting, and I fall head over heels in love with picking heavy things up off the ground and putting them down again. Occasionally it was yoga, or swimming, or working with a personal trainer. I had a pretty good go at running too, completing more than my fair share of half marathons. The only constant was my inconsistency.

Will it last this time? I hope so. Learning from previous efforts, I’ve made some changes this time around. I’m being kinder to myself, not pushing through real pain when it occasionally rears its ugly head. I’m varying my workouts. Rather throw all my eggs in one particular basket, I’m doing a little bit of everything. Pick up heavy things? Yup. Spin my wheels on a stationary device? Yup. Zumba? Why the hell not. Step class? Okie dokie. Run outside in the real world, with only my shadow to keep me company? Every sunny Friday, like clockwork.

The only thing I haven’t figured out how to do, in addition to all of the above, is skate. The truth is that I’ve never been able to skate, run, and lift at the same time (ok, not at the same time, but at the same point in my life). Skating is harder on my ankle and my knee than even running and lifting. Skating was the reason that I DNF my last half marathon attempt a few years ago. Skating was the reason that my knee blew up in the winter of 2014 and I had to spend another 4 months in physio just to get it back to normal. This is why, for now, I’ve hung up my skates and I coach from the floor. Of course it makes me sad. I love skating. But I’ve got the rest of my amazing awesome life to plan for, and skating twice a week doesn’t seem like a fair trade off against lifting, running, dancing, stepping, and swimming.

Last week I achieved one of my goals in the gym. It wasn’t a personal best, though I’ve had a few of those in the past few months (in fact, it’s something that I used to be able to do without even thinking about it). If you had been watching me workout, you wouldn’t have even noticed I, but it was a BIG DEAL. I did some dips. Off a bench. With my feet on the floor.

After being plagued with a separated shoulder and some rotator cuff problems, in addition to general lack of strength PLUS the added weight of my tits (which are big enough to ballast a cruise ship), it was something I had been working towards for the past 4 months.

Last month I also realized that I can now stand up while putting on my pants. I have the strength, balance and flexibility needed to stand on one leg while shoving the other into a pair of jeans. It may have taken me a few tries to re-learn how to do this, and oh yes, I face planted onto the bed on more than one occasion while trying, but I am now also in possession of this entirely average life skill.

So there it is. So far I’ve traded my roller skates for 5k runs, dips, dancing, and putting on my pants one foot at a time.