#BAMRdown: A Progress Report

This meme, texted to me by my marathon coach while I was in the E.R., opened floodgates on torrent of mixed-emotion tears.
This meme, texted to me by my marathon coach while I was in the E.R., opened floodgates on torrent of mixed-emotion tears.

In the days immediately following my accident in which I fractured two bones in my right ankle, I got verklempt every time someone was kind or helpful. When Hillary, one of the mother runners I was running with, let me hold her hand as we waited for Jonna to arrive with a ride to the ER, I silently sobbed. The next day, when Jonna took me to get my hair professionally washed at the hotel salon, my breath caught in my throat and tears streaked my cheeks. When Jonna hopped in the car to drive me home to Portland (five+ hours, through the night!) rather than put me on a plane, I cried some more. When my son, John, patted my arm and asked if I was feeling sad, the floodgates opened again. When Natalie, a Wisconsin mother runner at our Retreat, shared a mantra with me pre-surgery via text, I wept and nodded.

Yeah, I was pretty much an emotional wreck.

The mantra mother-of-4 Natalie shared with me a few hours before I had surgery on May 6: "Now is the time for guts and grace."
The mantra mother-of-4 Natalie shared with me a few hours before I had surgery on May 6: "Now is the time for guts and grace."

But now that I've been carried along these past three weeks on a veritable river of kindness and generosity by countless mother runners, neighbors, family members, and friends, I can remain dry eyed most of the time and even smile and laugh. I've been buoyed by mother runner love from all directions--a novel from Rachel in Australia; a beautiful bouquet from Ragnar teammates; a badass coaster from Jen in N.C.; a care package from No Limits ladies in Wisconsin and Minnesota, overflowing with chocolates, puzzles, nuts, a lip gloss, and books; scrumptious meals; and cards.

Love, swag, and healing vibes sent from MN and WI feed my resolve on a daily basis.
Love, swag, and healing vibes sent from MN and WI feed my resolve on a daily basis.

So many heart-warming cards and letters, like this one tucked into an exchange from our store from Annie in Denver: "Dear Sarah, I am so sorry about your accident. I offer up prayers for a quick (and full) healing every time I run. Also, I hope you are able to be free of all the heartache that comes with not being able to do what you love."

Okay, so I thought I could remain weep-free as I typed that message; I was mistaken. It's sentiments like that I'm trying to embrace during this healing period. I'm focusing on the short term, not the long term. Last night, on an incredibly slow walk around the block with my BRF, Molly, I told her it's too tough to look too far into the future. As much as I want this recovery time to speed by in a blur, it's not. And since I usually lament how my kids are growing up too fast and I'll be collecting Social Security any day now, I have vowed to not be a hypocrite and wish it all away. Instead, I'm prodding my children for details from their outside lives--anecdotes of Daphne's  classic soccer practices; stories from John about crushes his classmates are sporting; tales of "masters drama" tryouts from Phoebe.

Me on liberating iWalk device and BRF Molly being a delightful goof before our "marathon" walk around the block on Wednesday evening.
Me on liberating iWalk device and BRF Molly being a delightful goof before our "marathon" walk around the block on Wednesday evening.

Because, it turns out, it's the impact of my injury on my family life that still makes me sad. Yes, I miss morning workouts with Molly something fierce; and yes, I wish I could be getting my sweat on during sunny spring days, but I'm enough of an optimist to believe those experiences are out there waiting for me. But it was spending most of Mother's Day inside instead of making our annual family pilgrimage to an iris garden that had me teary two weekends ago, and missing a Native American canoe expedition with the twins on a class field trip that sank me the deepest into despair. The runs and conversations often merge into a brilliant blur that can be resumed, but it's unique missed experiences with my family that still make me, well, verklempt.

My hardware and stitches--and a somewhat macabre #AMRinSaucony.
My hardware and stitches--and a somewhat macabre #AMRinSaucony.

I composed the previous portion of this post before first post-surgical appointment with ortho surgeon. The splint was removed, and docs were pleased with what they saw, both on the exterior and on the X-rays. They took the stitches out, but then came the part I'd been dreading: a cast. A non-weight-bearing cast. For at least three weeks, then hopefully transition to a weight-bearing boot.

Turns out my fibula was more shattered than they had first thought (surgeons discovered this during surgery so it wasn't news...but I was so hazy post-operation, it actually was a tear-inducing revelation to me), so my recovery is going to take longer than the initial prognosis. One surgeon, the more conservative of the two, said she thought maybe I'd be running five miles by six months post-surgery (so early November). But she has concerns about pain and possible arthritis. 

I'm still sorting it all out in my somewhat-addled mind: a fresh batch (or two) of tears at the doctors office, but Optimism is my middle name, so I'm sticking with that. I'll keep you posted, and please know I literally can feel the healing vibes you all are sending me. The other day I quieted my mind, thought of the AMR tribe, and I swear I could feel my bones knitting back together. I'll just try not to cry every time someone tweets a positive affirmation or writes an encouraging comment on Instagram. XO

41 responses to “#BAMRdown: A Progress Report

  1. Go ahead and have just a little pity party…it’s ok.;-) I can’t add anything else unique that hasn’t been said already but we are all sending positive fibs your way. You have helped us all to see what a daily gift running is to us. Your gift awaits you again in the Fall.

  2. 🙁 I’m so bummed for you that you won’t be able to run Chicago the way you planned! Good to see you healing though – there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Sending more healing vibes your way!

  3. Optimists unite! Hang tough, momma. You’ve got some mighty cool battle wounds. What’s more badass than that???

  4. Oh, Sarah, my heart hurts for you! Deep breath. Stay strong. I know you will find your way back to running again…. Big giant hugs!!

  5. Dear Sarah: I pray that you heal fast; I know there are no words that help so I will send a virtual hug!!

  6. I broke my foot in 2012, and though the recovery process was slow, I found a few bonuses: my arms and good leg were stronger than ever, my dance company had new choreography performed on crutches, and I now had a strangely accurate rain forecasting device built-in! Keep looking for the unexpected blessings!

  7. I can’t not reply to this. Getting exercise three days a week isn’t selfish, it’s taking care of yourself.

  8. Hang in there Sarah! I know how hard it is to face a recovery from surgery. And from what I know of you and your determination I know you will bounce back stronger than ever. And for what it’s worth I think your foot looks FANTASTIC for being so soon post surgery.

  9. Sarah, as someone fairly new to running I find this so heartening to hear how brave you are, and how you know you will be out there running again. I am a nervous nelly and am always worried about pushing myself too soon – all the podcast Q&As telling newbies not to push too much in the first while really got to me! It is encouraging to read that experienced and knowledgable runners do hurt themselves, but have no intention of letting that stop them from meeting their running goals. You are a BAMR and we are all wishing you a speedy recovery. Xo

  10. I thought of you during my 4 mi run through my neighborhood. I was feeling poorly. Then I thought what would SBS do if she wasn’t healing? Run like a mother. I did. Heal up, girl. Hugs!

  11. SBS

    You are literally in my head for a few minutes every run. I hear your great laugh like on the podcast, and I look into the sky and say “Lord, get her back on her feet quick please.” Your recovery and epic comeback is gonna make one badass great story. I can’t wait to listen to it.

  12. I can’t head out for a run without you popping in my head. I’m glad you know we are all sending you positive healing energy. You will come back from this. The doctors have to tell you all the possibilities for the future or they wouldn’t be doing their job properly. But remember we are all very different from one another and our bodies can do amazing things. Your young, fit, active, healthy and driven, which are all Things that promote good healing. Time is what you need but time ticking by is also what can drive you insane! Do whatever excercise you can to keep your core strong and stay positive. You can do this!

  13. Your a tough mother Sarah! Hang in there! PS- I want to google that slide you went down! How was everyone else not hurling down it like a 2 year old! 🙂

  14. Thinking of you often and hoping for a speedy recovery! You have great optimism and drive, and are an example to us all!

  15. SBS- you are the most BAMR I have ever had the honor to meet. You will come out on the otherwise of this stronger, faster, and more badass. Hang in there, you’ve got this 🙂

  16. I’ve been studying your x-Rays and trying to figure how it all fits. If only all of us out here in the AMR community could take a tiny bit of your pain and angst, that would leave you with none! My prayers are with you. In the big picture of life, this period is tiny, but not for you as you live with it daily. Hang in there and be strong.

  17. You got this! You are one of the two ORIGINAL bad ass mother runners — how can you not have this 🙂 You also have a whole tribe of people (literal and virtual), helping to pull you through, in those instances where you need it. Thank you for sharing your story – at one point in time, I am sure we will all be there, too.

  18. I am sending healing thoughts to you!!

    This post is just what I need today but also what I don’t need. I love the mantra “Now is the time for guts and grace.”!! I will use this. This one:” I hope you are able to be free of all the heartache that comes with not being able to do what you love.” makes me get a lump in my throat. After an epic fight with my husband I feel like I cannot be part of my running community anymore. Even though I was only able to get out three days a week, including my Saturday long run, I was making him feel like it was my priority over family. I love to run but I REALLY love the community. I have decided to run early in the morning (4 a.m.) or on my lunch to “keep in shape”. But I will REALLY miss the Running Family. And sadly, I feel like I am already grieving that part of my life being gone. I just want to put all my medals and t-shirts and “stuff” in a box and hide it so I don’t get a lump in my throat every time I see it.

    One day I will be able to run freely again, just like you, SBS!! In the meantime I will just try to focus on the great family I have and relish the time with them because one day they will be out of the house and on with their lives but the joy of the run will always be waiting and new Mother Runners will always be joining the ranks.

  19. Wow! Those post operative pics are something! Reminds me of the pics after my 14 year old’s bunion and heelectomy surgery. Yeah, how’s that for a fine way to spend freshman year?! You’ll be back up going soon enough and your days will be filled with new experiences and lots of PT. Yay!! 😉

    And in the meantime, look into getting yourself a knee cart. It will provide you fun mobility which would be better than your iWalk device sported in the pic with Molly. You’ll have wheels under you – and a cool lille basket to hold important stuff like your phone or snacks! Oh and your kids will want to borrow it too to have some fun! And I think it would help to get you out and to some of those family things you are missing right now. Check it out! And fast healing wishes for you!

    1. I have a knee cart courtesy of neighbors. It’s just such a drag to get outside on it, with some steps. But I’ve been using it in house today. Speedier than iWalk, but not as turn-on-a-dime.

      Rough about your child’s foot surgery! Hope all is well now.

  20. I have been struggling with a hamstring injury and couldn’t bring myself to read AMR or other running sites I follow because I was really emotionally having a hard time hearing about all the runs and races. I just felt so depressed. I found out Monday of this week, that I have almost a complete tear of my left hamstring, “minimal intact fibers visible,” as well as a stress fracture in my right foot. I feel as though I have been walking around numb. I meet with the surgeon next week. I have a wonderful support system (amazing kids and husband), but no one quite gets what not running means to me. It is so much a part of who I am, one friend described it as my air. It’s true. I’m just a regular person, I’m not particularly fast, pretty much in the middle of the pack, but I love it. At any rate, my point is, for whatever reason I decided to read AMR today and I sobbed. I’m so sorry about your injury. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I know this sounds silly, but I feel as though I am not alone now. I know what you are dealing with is much larger than myself, but thank you for the words of inspiration this morning. I needed to read this more than you could imagine.

    1. Christine, your words have brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for letting me know my post helped you in some small way. It’s a gloomy, overcast day here in Portland and I’m struggling today. But your words boost me a bit. Take good care, and good luck with the healing process.

  21. I’ll be praying for full healing and no residual pain or arthritis for you. All of us BAMR’s hearts break when we hear of one of our own suffering. Try to embrace the short downtime as you are with your children in creative ways; maybe doing things that you normally wouldn’t like double movie nights or having them drive you go carting. New adventures during this transition.

  22. I truly believe your positive attitude and strong will to get back to doing what you love will carry you through your recovery, and your doctors will be amazed at your progress. Hugs and prayers for you!

    1. Thank you very much for your words of encouragement and faith in my optimism, Janet. Coach Bri tells me the exact same thing.

  23. SBS – You’ve been inspiring me for quite the while now. (Confession: the first time I did speedwork, I irrationally came home and grabbed RLAM to compare my times to yours.) But the way you are handling this stroke of incredible bad luck is even more inspiring than your running. You are meeting it with grace and strength and determination – like a true BAMR. I’m so glad the community that *you and Dimity built* is able to lift you up in return – you sure deserve it.

  24. You have all of us BAMR’s sending good healing vibes. I was speechless when I heard of your injury. What an awful thing to happen to anyone, let alone a runner. (Okay, bummer, it happened, it cant be undone…grrr). But, repeat after me… “I WILL RUN AGAIN!”. Say it again! Yes, you will. There is literally a 100% chance you will be running again. Really!!
    They say we learn a lot about ourselves from overcoming an injury. I cant wait to follow your progress, and see what wonderful & insightful things you have to share with us as we cheer you on from afar.
    Now…again…”I WILL RUN”. 🙂

  25. I so appreciate your honest transparency. Continue to let the BAMR community be your supercharged, super powered healing tribe for mind, body (knit together ankle!) and spirit!

  26. Sending positive healing thoughts your way. You are a strong lady with an amazing support group. No matter what the end result, I know you will forge a path that works well for you. One way or another, you got this.

  27. This is so so hard. An injury kept me from running for 6 months of 2010. I didn’t think I’d ever run again. I got depressed. Who was I if I couldn’t run? Putting one foot in front of the other – slowly – I figured out some things. I really enjoyed strength training. (And ended up with a better bod.) I swam and biked. I enjoyed participating in different classes at gym. A lot of emotional work happened too. It’s like the internal work a 24 mile training run does on the mind — but different. So different. But none the less grueling. Sounds like your receiving lots of love. When you feel down, just sit in all that love.

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