Thursday, May 1, 2008

The 180 Day

(Quick note: I fell asleep writing at the computer. An easier feat than you think, considering I've been typing on the floor on my stomach. Go figure. But as I really wanted to get my news out, it was important to me to publish the following. Sorry if its rough or contains errant spelling. You, my Dear Readers, know me. It must have been the swimming - all 2100 meters - that made me so sleepy. Hooray! Read on!)

It never ceases to amaze me how different one day can be from the next.

One morning you’re training for an Ironman, and the next thing you know you’re in the hospital getting prepped for emergency surgery…

One day you go to class wondering how you’re going to manage the course load, and the next thing you know, you’ve met the love of your life…

One day you anticipate your husband’s return, and the next morning he’s making too-strong-coffee for you…

Life can change at the drop of the hat.

Today was no exception.

After yesterday’s blog, I was determined to recover MY way. To NOT let some doctor tell me what I was or was not capable of. And I should hand it to the guy: he did have the gallantry to refer me to someone who could handle my case. So I AM lucky – very lucky – in that sense.

We don’t always have the answers, and sometimes it takes a lot of courage to admit that we simply don’t know.

So to the doctor who I saw yesterday: thank you for referring me to someone who (hopefully) can help. I appreciate your honesty and your candor. But it does not change my strength, my resolve to continue on my stellar path of recovery.

Which brings me to today.

Last night, I picked up my CAT scan CD. Not only did I receive an x-ray of my pelvis, but additionally, my PCM (primary care manager – wonderful guy!) ordered a cat scan of my pelvis. PCM doc figured that an x-ray wouldn’t yield much, as the internal organs tend to – er – get in the way. We do, after all, have things like stomachs, livers, kidneys, intestines, bladders, poo, and other soft internal tissues that block easy viewing access to our sacrum and coccyx.

And boy, when I finally saw my x-ray, I was soooo happy that PCM doc ordered the cat scan. It would seem that prior to my x-ray, I didn’t have my normal trip to the bathroom.


Now everyone can tell what’s going on.

The cat scan was a different story all together. And while my morning’s breakfast still remained in my system, the bones – hips, pelvis, L-5, sacrum, coccyx – showed up clear.

As Col Jessip proclaims in “A Few Good Men.”: “Chrystal clear…”

And believe me, when you’re an athlete who hasn’t “worked out” the way that she’s accustomed to for 6 weeks and 3 days (not that I’m counting), and who’s cat scan results will determine her activity level for the next few weeks – well, “chrystal clear” is the way the scans need to be (in order for her to keep her sanity).

Remind you of anyone you know?

Didn’t think so.

Last night I popped in the CD of the cat scan and promptly tried to read the results. And as I have absolutely no medical background, I quickly decided that my sacrum looked great (“as good as new” were my exact words, I believe), and that I should be “cleared” to swim asap.

Well – cleared weren’t my words.

Ready, deserving, natural – somewhere along those lines. You get my drift.

So you can imagine my nervousness this morning as I drove into my 7:30 am physical therapy appointment. I woke up a full 30 minutes before my alarm, and left the house at 7:00, even though it takes a mere 10 minutes to arrive at the PT clinic.

Just on the off-chance that Jonathan (PT extraordinaire) was in early – it would give him an opportunity to view my x-rays and scans.

Oh, who am I kidding?

I was jumping up and down (pain free, I might add!) to hear his opinion on my 6-week post-op sacrum.

Jonathan looked a few times at the x-ray, and then moved onto the “bigger and better” images of the cat scan.

What he saw made the rest of my day. Heck, it made the rest of my week.

My sacrum is healing so well, that it doesn’t even look as though it was ever broken. There are no fractures, no remnant cracks. Nothing that would suggest that I ever crashed on my bike. Except the holes that are found along the sides of the sacrum.

(These holes allow for nerves – and the sacral nerve – to pass through from the spinal chord and to other parts of the body. Fun anatomical fact for the day, eh?)

The left S-3 hole is about twice the size of any of the other holes, as this was the one that my surgeon had to widen in order for my nerves to survive.

Essentially, my body is recovering brilliantly. Nothing would suggest that my sacrum is in danger in any way. The SI joint looks stable, and the sacrum itself looks as though it were never broken or crushed in the first place. The S-1, S-2, and S-3 all look great. Because of the nature of the cat scan, it wasn’t possible to tell how the S-4 or S-5 were healing, but the main concern was the top 3 bones of the sacrum (as they attached primarily to the SI joint).

Simply stated: my body is simply amazing. Incredible – and I love it.

And this is ONLY 6 weeks and 3 days (not that I’m counting) out from the accident.

What have I learned?

Well – first thing’s first: good things will happen – I just need to have a little faith, a little confidence. Lots can change in a day, within 24 hours. I just need to keep my chin up, keep my head above water and hang in there.

Not every day during this recovery process will be a cake walk. Nor would I expect it to be so. But as long as I keep moving forward – good news and bad – things will work themselves out, will be all right in the end. If, for anything else, to realize that another day has passed: therefore I am another day closer to swimming-biking-running.

Additionally, I realize that the power of positive thinking, a positive mental outlook can make all the difference in the world. Being happy can take work, yes. But sadness dwells much deeper than on the surface. It permeates our soul, or very being. But if we focus, if we concentrate – if we change our perspective and choose to look at the good in life, I firmly believe that our body will respond accordingly.

I most sincerely believe in the connection between the body and mind: we can’t help what happens to us (within reason), but we CAN CHOOSE how we respond. How we react.

And while I’ve had my share of icky days – I’ve tried to remain upbeat and happy.

When all else has failed? I’ll throw in a copy of “Fawlty Towers”, “Are You Being Served” or even my new favorite – “Frasier.” They help me crack a smile. (Especially when shared with a House Monster and One Handsome Helicopter Pilot).

Additionally, I know that I have incredible support – a network of friends, family, and on-line supporters that I never could have imagined pre-crash. And all I can say is thank you. Thank you for sharing your ideas, advice, and your support. And thank you for listening to My Story with an open heart, with open arms.

And I have also learned more about myself: my emotions – the good, bad, and everything in between – are great gages of how I’m doing overall. If I’m not satisfied with something, I’m not willing to accept it for how it is. And I AM willing to fight for myself, to do what it takes to make things happen. Likewise, when things are going well, when I have great people on my side – I’ll walk to the moon and back for them.

My physical therapy session ended with the permission to swim for 30 minutes and to aqua run for another 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe my ears: a whopping 60 minutes of water-time without ANY walking. Swimming and water running was on the plate!

Hold me Back Batman!

And as I floated out the door, Jonathan promised that tomorrow’s session would be even more challenging that today. Hooray! The promise of lunges lurked deep in my mind.

And I smiled in spite of myself – who would have ever thought that I would be so stoked about lunges?

So yesterday I decided that I had had enough of the word “can’t”, and today I swam 34:58 and 2100 yards for the first time since March 16th. And I loved every minute of it.

Kind of makes me wonder what I’m capable of tomorrow. But whatever it is, I’ll be sure to bring you along with me. Thank you for sharing My Journey with me.


kerri said...

YEEESSSSSSSS!!!!! A big internet hug and a cheers to celebrate your good news. HEE HAW!!! YIPPPEEEE!

Katie Weaver-Jongerius said...

AWESOME NEWS! It's about time right? This is all you. Sure the docotrs "fixed" the problem but you are the one who has done the work and stayed positive. Way to go Marit!

Anonymous said...

Yeahhhaw! Of course I already jumped for joy for you, but it is nice to read about it again. Let me know how today goes! And, woo hoo!! Jen H.

Alili said...

WOOHOO!!!!!! That is FANTASTIC news...and you are a SHARK in that pool:)

Anonymous said...

It was an honor to share a lane with you yesterday for your first day of swimming! It made my day- especially the anticipation before hand, and your heart rate. ;-) Awesome.


CAMI said...

All I can say is WOW! Congratulations! And holy cow, you're fast!

Sarah said...


and wow you still kick my ass even after not swimming for 6 weeks.

I'm so happy your week ended on SUCH a positive note.

I couldn't agree with you more on the POWER of positive thinking; not just thinking, but BELIEVING. You are a true example of what positive belief and thinking (AND PATIENCE) can do.

Way to go, Marit. KEEP IT UP!!


triguyjt said...

great that you are coming back...

this has been an incredible journey for you

Cy said...

THIS IS AWESOME--I'm so happy for you. I'm such a huge believer in the mind/ body connection, and you are a perfect example of the powers of positive thoughts!! STAY STRONG-You ROCK!!

Kevin McNeese said...

Hello Marit,

I would like to add my best wishes to you.

It goes without saying that you continue to be inspiration for us mere mortals!

Give my best to Nathaniel and your cat.