It has been three weeks since my surgery and things aren't much better. Every night I go to bed praying the pain in my foot, knee and hip will go away. I pray that the swelling will go down and that walking will be easier and every morning I wake up with things still the same. I know it is still early in my recovery process but it is hard laying on my side, barely able to stand up. When I do stand, I can't straighten up. This surgery has really hit me hard.
I went to San Francisco Tuesday to meet with the plastic surgeons. They removed one drain and about half my stitches. The one doctor told me I would feel a weird sensation when he pulled it out and the head doctor piped up and said no this will hurt, it will hurt! I gritted my teeth, held my breath and hoped it would be quick. It did hurt and I still have one more that will be pulled out this Wednesday. I am not looking forward to this. They looked at the incision and decided it would be ok for me to sit for 30minutes at a time. Thank goodness because I was going out of my mind!
The rest of the week has been pretty much the same. Trying to walk a little each day, trying to get up to use the bathroom, trying to clean myself. I watch a LOT of TV and movies. I am catching up on everything I missed because I was on the road or racing. But it does get old after awhile. I would love to be swimming, lifting weights, anything that would take me outside.
I have been thinking a lot. Thinking about everything that has happened to me, everything that people write or say to me. I was remembering something that one of the physical therapists said to me in the hospital. She asked me what I do besides swim, bike or run. I looked at her and said kayaking, rock climbing, repelling and scrapbooking. She looked at me and said I should focus on scrapbooking. I didn't say anything back but something inside me wanted to. I wanted to say, "Do you know who you are talking to?" What kind of person tells an adrenaline junkie, a person who thrives on competition to take up scrapboooking and forget the rest? I haven't been able to get that conversation out of my head.
Saturday rolled around and I fell apart. I have been feeling depressed all week. I am tired of being in pain. I am tired of this cancer and what it has been doing to me and my family. I just want it to be over with. But it isn't and it won't be for awhile. That is when I broke down and started sobbing in front of my Dad and Courtney. I have been bottling some things up inside because I feel guilty for having these feelings. I cried and cried and began to tell them what I was thinking. I told them I was angry I would never be able to race again. I was upset that I would never be able to race Melanie and fight over the point series. Whether we were the best of friends or not, I LOVED racing her. I enjoyed battling it out for first place. If one of us won it meant we were the best that day. And if we came in second we knew there would be another chance, there would be another race. Now that is all gone. I won't be able to race her again.
I kept crying, frustrated over everything. I cried about not being able to just run and jump in the water or run on my favorite trails. I felt like my life as I knew it was over and everything will now be different. All of these feelings left me sad. Was I loosing a little bit of my faith? Was it wrong to have these feelings. I just kept crying. I couldn't stop. I finally unleashed it all. I wanted to go out on my own terms. I wanted to get 50 Xterra Championship wins, I wanted 3 World Championships. Instead I have 1 World Championship and 37 Xterra Championships. The ironic thing is that 3 and 7 are my favorite numbers. 13 is Courtney's favorite number and that is how many races I had left. As you can see I have a lot on my mind!
Once I was done crying, I felt so much better. It was out in the open. My Dad was hugging me tightly and Courtney was looking at me with sadness. No one knew what to say to me. My Dad finally said everything would be ok. He told me it was natural to have these feelings but not to loose faith. He knew I had been depressed all week. He could tell how much pain I have been in.
I prayed that night, apologizing to God for all of those feelings. I remembered the story of Job and felt like I had let everyone down. I have been so strong trying not to think about everything I lost. But eventually I had to face it. I had to face reality. I prayed for God's strength. I know he has a plan for me that reaches far beyond my racing. I know he is using me to help others.
Sunday, I began to read some of my emails and there it was. People were emailing me telling me how my faith and strength had helped them. In my darkest hours God once again sent me the strength I needed to continue on. As bad as it hurts, I know time will ease my pain. Eventually this will all be behind me and I will be speaking to others about this entire ordeal. I know my life is forever changed. I will no longer compete as a professional athlete but there are others things I can do. As everyone so nicely points out I have the gift of gab! I can be a motivational speaker, I can be a race announcer and I can do more coaching! It isn't over for me, it is just different!
In your darkest hours, remember your faith, remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to find the tunnel. If you look hard enough it is there!
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