One year ago today, I woke up and knew that something was terribly wrong.
As I shifted in bed, I could sense that my right knee was out of alignment. I got up and was able to walk, but it was extremely painful, and my knee would collapse without warning.
I took some ibuprofen, elevated my leg, and put a bag of ice on it. I went to see a doctor, and he told me to continue this treatment.
Three days later my knee swelled to the size of a cantaloupe, and I had to borrow my mother-in-law’s cane to hobble around. The pain had intensified and made it hard to sleep.
I saw another doctor, and she referred me to an orthopedist who eventually ordered an MRI for me. It was almost a full 4 weeks until I knew what was wrong with my knee. The good news was that my ACL wasn’t torn as I feared. The bad news was that I had dislocated my kneecap.
One night I had to attend an event at an art museum, and I found it necessary to use a wheelchair.
There’s no other way to say it—being in a wheelchair sucks. People are hyper aware of you, and at the same time, you’re invisible. I eventually got tired of trying to maneuver around and sat in a corner alone until some friends rescued me. I felt sorry for myself until I realized that my situation was temporary—while for many others, a wheelchair is a permanent part of life.
For the next two months, I could only walk with crutches or a cane. One of the most depressing things about my injury is that it severely limited my ability to cook—for myself and for my husband and son. It sounds cliché, but I really didn’t realize how important cooking was to me until I could no longer do it.
It took 6 months of intensive physical therapy before I could walk normally again. Before I hurt my knee, I was very active. I went to the gym regularly and enjoyed running. I asked my orthopedist how long it would take before I could run again. He didn’t directly answer but said that I would “eventually” be able to run.
I was tired of being inactive and unhealthy. Encouraged by my physical therapist, I decided to try walking on the treadmill every day for 30 minutes even if it was at a slow pace. After a few weeks of this, I started the Couch to 5K running program. It takes a gradual approach to helping people train for a 5K. You complete 3 workouts a week for 2 months. Weeks 1-4 alternate between jogging and walking. Then during week 5, it gets serious.
Yesterday I had to run 2 miles without stopping. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I decided to run by Seattle’s Alki Beach. The sun had set, inky darkness had descended, and a cold wind blew off Puget Sound. There were a few other people walking their dogs, but otherwise, it was just me and 2 miles of asphalt.
Running 2 miles in 28 minutes was probably my worst finish time ever. But being able to run again?
That was one of my personal bests.