Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Emotional Stages of Injury

Most people don’t really tell you that there are emotional stages associated with injuries.  Sure, I’ve had my fair share of mishaps in the past years of regular running and triathloning but nothing that was ever serious.  This time around things have been different.  First, the broken foot.  Sure, that was a HUGE emotional roller coaster for the first few days however, bones heal and most of the time the doctors can give you a pretty solid timeline of how long you’ll be in pain and when the bone will be healed.  (In some instances, like stress fractures that I know a couple of friends are dealing with that’s another story.)  I think I went through the emotional stages for the broken foot pretty quickly (Mr. Pi might disagree), although they were combined at some point with the development of the DVT (I just didn’t know it at the time).  The DVT is taking a bit longer to process.

I think I am finally coming out of the sad phase where I can talk about it without bursting into tears.  I don’t really consider myself that emotional of a person (though, my friends and Mr. Pi may disagree).  I wear my emotions on my sleeve, which is true, but I’m not a huge crier and while we all have our “funks” I’m not usually someone that tends toward being sad or depressed for any long stretches.  The diagnosis of the DVT (and the pain that I experienced leading to the diagnosis) was a different story.  I think I cried every day at some point for nearly 12 days.  I also ate dark chocolate for dinner at least once, maybe twice.  I think many of my tears were tears came from being scared about how this diagnosis is going to affect my life, near term and long term.  For instance, I’ve been advised not to travel while in the “acute” phase, which means that awesome Caribbean vacation I’m scheduled to go on in 9 days is probably not going to happen (insert HUGE sad face). Most of the other short term issues are inconveniences but not really BIG bummers like that trip!  (Wearing medical grade compression wear---so not sexy; taking medication every day for up to 6 months; taking all exercise super slow; elevating my leg when I can; taking short breaks every 30 minutes when at rest; icing to help with swelling; etc).  The longer term issues are scarier, hence the tears.  I’m now at a higher risk for developing another clot somewhere down the line (you better believe that when I’m out of the acute phase and have been cleared for Normatecs that I’ll be sitting in those things as much as I possibly can!). I could develop long term side effects (read: the rest of my life) from vein valve damage called, post-thrombotic syndrome which occurs in 20 – 40% of patients, symptoms include: venous ulcers (or leg sores), chronic leg swelling, chronic leg pain, varicose veins, discoloration, high blood pressure, etc.  Also, IF I ever decide to get pregnant my pregnancy would be considered high risk.  Whenever I’m traveling in the future I have to be mindful about getting up every 30 minutes to an hour to walk about.  Like I said, I think I’m over the sad phase, I was able to write all that without crying or even tearing up but it does still weigh on me daily.

Enter the phase I am in now, I oscillate between pensiveness and anger.  When I’m pensive, I’m not really sad just preoccupied, it’s more like a weight on my shoulders (mind) than anything.  When I’m angry, I just want to hop on my bike or put on my running shoes (oh wait, I already wear those since I still have that pesky broken foot) and get to sweating.  Sadly, my physical state is not quite ready for heavy sweating.  I have been trying to walk a lot but I’m slow and am mindful not to further injure my foot!  I did get on my bike (on the trainer) and spun for 30 minutes, no resistance, keeping my HR below Z1.  I am also up to swimming decent yardage and can real swim instead of just pull, I even used the kick board!  So, every day there are little victories but I still feel like I have a weight on my mind.  I probably will for…well, maybe forever.  Even if these clots go away in 3-6 months, I think I’ll always wonder if pains in my calf are a new clot. 

A friend told me that once I get to the “acceptance” stage that I’ll be back to 100%.  I think I’ve already accepted my condition but am not yet at peace with it.  I’ve actually considered trying daily meditation—however, through yoga I discovered I always had a hard time with final savasana.  I miss the meditative properties I experienced in yoga (I put my yoga membership on hold until mid-July right after I broke my foot knowing that I probably wouldn’t be able to practice until then—Dr. has cleared me for yoga once my leg pain subsides and says inversions and heated yoga are all fine, she essentially said that once I feel up to running that that’s when I know I can practice yoga and try intervals on the bike, etc).

I’m not really sure how to end this post other than to say, I am lucky to have such supportive family and friends (including all you internet friends).  I’m not sure how I would be coping emotionally if I didn’t have such a great support network.  Thank you!

7 comments:

  1. I feel your pain but not as badly. I think I am on the acceptance stage. (Day 18 of no running)

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  2. It absolutely makes sense that you would be going through different stages as you process this experience. It sounds like this is a significant change in your life. Just as we process any loss by experiencing a wide range of emotions, (anger, sadness, denial of the impact the change will have on your life, acceptance, then anger all over again), it makes sense that an injury would take you through a variety of different emotional responses.

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  3. You have had and will continue to have a major life change. You have all the right in the world to grieve, worry, stress and take time to accept it. Do you know anyone who has been through it that you can talk to?

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  4. After reading your post, I can feel your pain.. actually I will say that, reality is too hard then life and everybody we should accept this truth..

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  5. Many hugs! See you for our Saturday Swim...you forgot to mention that even with a broken foot and clots, you can still waaaaay outswim me (2500 yds v 2000 yds in the same time period last week, you animal, you!)

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  6. Great post Alisa- you have thought through and articulated your emotions very well! It is helpful for us all who have experienced similar issues. You are very aware of your body, I'm sure you'll be able to nip any future issues in the bud! :)

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  7. We had the high risk pregnancy thing too, and the best part was that we got monthly ultrasounds covered by insurance. If a blood clot gets into the umbilical cord it can block the way the baby gets nutrition and cause a miscarriage. That's actually how thrombosis was discovered, by a study on why a series of women had miscarriages.

    Keep your chin up, and you'll feel better with time.

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