Today marks two years since I ruptured/completely tore my achilles tendon. I went into the gym on May 26, 2014 – which happened to be Memorial Day- and because I did the hero WOD “MURPH” on Saturday, I did a workout named “Kelly” with a big handful of people at CFEC. Kelly is 5 Rounds for Time of 400 meter run, 30 wallballs, 30 box jumps. I was on the last 400 meter run when I felt my ankle tighten up a little bit. It was the same spot my coach warned me about (ankle/lower calf/achilles tendon area). I had been dealing with some tightness and pain there, mostly when I would run. My coach told me to make sure I was rolling it out and getting a lot of mobility in there because achilles tendons are important. I knew of 2 people who had torn their’s – both playing basketball. And I was like, “ha, that will never happen to me.” Well, I felt that pain, and my body immediately told me to stop. But why would I stop with one round left? (Jokes on me for being too competitive). So, I kept on going. I finished the run, did my last set of 30 wallballs, and then, when I had maybe 8 box jumps left, I heard a weird echo-y pop sound, and I felt this crazy pain in my right calf/ankle area. It felt like someone kicked me as hard as they could. I was convinced for like 30 seconds that my friend Tyler tripped and fell into my leg. I still give him a hard time about it to this day. People had to convince me that in fact no one had kicked me like I had convinced myself. Well, I couldn’t walk, and it scared me, so I flipped. Well, Nick was a fireman at the time, so he came over- probably wondered why I was flippin’ out, picked me up off the floor like firemen do I guess, and convinced me that I probably just tore a calf muscle or something. I tried to play off going to the ER because the ER is lllaaaaaaaaammmmmeeee, and I had plans to go to my friend’s pool and eat burgers, eat fruit pizza, and drink gin and tonics. Well, Daniel being the good, responsible man that he is, made me go to the ER. So, some my friends, Lindsey, Lia, Suzanne, and Lauren took me, and Daniel met us there. Look, here we are. (Great pic of all of us by the way).
The doc in the ER squeezed my calf, and nope, nothing flexed, so they knew that I had torn it, but I still needed an MRI (which came the next day, and confirmed that I had not just torn it, but instead, completely shredded it). Doc told me I would need surgery, but that he wouldn’t operate until the next week. He said that the best thing to do in my case was to use a graph (sew it up with someone else’s tendon- basically, give me a new one).
Initially, I was bummed – mostly because I felt like I had let people down. The job I was in at the time had me assisting a small team of people, and I hated that I couldn’t walk and be there to help them the best I could. I didn’t want to hold anyone back. I had also been doing CrossFit for about a year by this time, and I was getting more interested in competing. In fact, I was supposed to compete in a local competition the following weekend (Apex Games) and I was reeeaaallll excited about it, but obviously I couldn’t walk, much less do anything else athletic. So, the nice people running the event let Dan take my place.
Walking with crutches was pretty difficult, so my friend Hykeng let me borrow his bike scooter thing. The bike scooter thing ended up drawing a lot of attention to myself over the next several months. I loved it so much. I loved having to tell all kinds of strangers allllll about my injury everywhere I went. It was great…not.
But it got me to where I needed to go.
Here I am the day before surgery racing my bike scooter thing around at the gym. I had to fight all of the kids to stay off of it.
Surgery wasn’t so bad. The worst thing about it was I had to take my nose ring out, and because it lasted several hours, the hole closed up in my nose. So, no more nose ring 🙁 But, apparently I told my doc I was Julie Foucher and that I could do 100wallballs unbroken (which I promise I really can- just not at Regionals). After surgery, Daniel, my mom, and my friends showed out big. I felt so loved. I had flowers showing up at my door, my mom kept giving me pain meds, my friends were constantly stopping by (which made the week after surgery when I wasn’t supposed to leave my house go by a lot faster). People brought over all kinds of good food, and Dan watched so much Parks and Rec with me.
Ok, so enough about the boring stuff. Here’s what I learned through it.
First, when it comes to injury – whether it’s something small like this, or something bigger and much more serious – you can either let it break you or help shape you into a better person. Only you can make the choice to not feel sorry for yourself. Get up. Figure out what you can do, and do it.
It’s easy to:
- Give up.
- Feel sorry for yourself.
- Make excuses.
But I learned really fast that these three things don’t make you better, and they don’t make the situation better.
I learned how important it is to surround yourself with encouraging, loving people. One of the reasons I was bummed about being hurt was not getting to work out with my friends. But I had a choice – I could either sit at home. By myself. Or I could get my butt up, and go see my friends at the gym and try my hardest to keep up with them. So, I decided to not isolate myself in my house like a loser and make the effort to still spend time with my friends at the gym.
I had some pretty great friends that came through for me in a big way. One of those friends is Lia. She’s really good at CrossFit. And soccer. She played D1 – for Clemson, but she blew out both her knees in her career. That’s a setback. However, she was able to relate to me through it, and it helped me during the whole process. I remember having a meltdown in the gym one Saturday, because it was a partner workout, and I couldn’t do the workout, and everyone already had a parter. I cried like a baby, and she took me to the other side of the gym, grabbed a medball, and we sat on the ground and just threw it at each other as hard as we could. She also drove me to Charleston one day so we could just sit on the beach. We even did a workout. She took this cool pic of me doing a pistol.
Just kidding. I couldn’t do a pistol then. I couldn’t do one until a few weeks ago. I was falling down in this pic actually. But she worked out with me on the beach. I have some pretty great friends that would sometimes workout alongside me.
Here I am rowing with one leg – with my friend Lindsey, who was reeealll preggers at the time, and my friend Kelly, who was normal with no injuries or babies in her belly.
Being injured made me even more grateful for my friends. I hope I can one day help other people who are going through an injury.
The third lesson I learned is to listen to your coaches. They’re smart. My coaches warned me about this. They told me to lay off the running, listen to my body, roll out, and stretch, and I didn’t listen. Because I’m dumb. Listen to your coaches. They’re your coaches for a reason. And you’re paying them to be smart.
The last lesson I learned is that everything happens for a reason. I wish I could tell you that I handled every moment like a champ. I didn’t. I had a lot of breakdowns. I saw how stubborn I really was. I fought back when other people tried to help me. While I wish I could have avoided the entire incident, I 100% believe that there was a reason and a purpose for the injury. God used it to make me more grateful. Grateful to be able to move in the first place. If you are physically capable of moving, then do it. It’s a gift. Take full advantage of it. And when you are limited, make the most of it.
I decided to make the most of it, and I got stronger. It forced me to work on skills that I had put off – like rings dips, handstand pushups, and strict pullups.
And eventually(pretty quickly actually), skills started to come back…
(I don’t recommend doing the above video). There’s no need for 1 legged double unders. But, I do remember the day I started doing double unders in the gym again…and box jumps..It took about 6 months, but it was worth the wait.
And sooner than later, I was back out running. And then, soon after that (right before the 2015 Open, actually) I was back doing workouts as prescribed in the gym. I posted this on instagram during the Open in 2015 to show that even though I was hurt for the majority of the year, I still got better by making the most of it, sucking it up, and still showing up at the gym.
I remember the day my doctor took my boot off and cleared me to start taking steps towards walking. It had been a little over 3 months by this time. Praise. Here we are. His name is Dr. Divina, and he did a great job putting up with my stubborness.
And here’s how tiny my leg was when that big ole boot came off.
But it eventually grew back. I eventually got stronger. To this day, I still barely have a calf in my right leg. It’s weird. It bothers me sometimes – like if I’m on my feet all day (pretty much everyday) or if it rains for a couple days straight, it actually aches pretty bad. It affects my squats (I need to work on it), and I’ve been terrified of even trying to rebound my box jumps again. But all of these things help me remember what I’ve been through and how thankful I am to be where I’m at now.
I wanted to wrap this up with someone who is way cooler than me- Julie Foucher. She tore her achilles tendon last year while competing at Regionals. I love this video so much. Qalo is pretty great too.