What up? Happy October! Hopefully you did something FALL “ish” this weekend. I do miss summertime already (although the SC weather has been pretty hot and perfect) BUT I do love some October…mostly because it is my birthday month. I’m not gonna lie. And I’ll be 30 THIRTY this year. I’m scared. What do you even do with that? Legit statement: If anyone out there has any advice for leaving your 20’s behind and embracing your 30’s, hit me up. 

I know it’s not Monday, but I had some time tonight, and no time tomorrow…so let’s pretend.

Alright? Alright.

Last week, I found out that I need to have surgery on my right ankle AGAIN to repair my achilles tendon. That’s pretty tough news, not gonna lie, especially considering the fact that I went through the same surgery over three years ago. So, how did this happen? You ask. Good question. You would think having surgery on something once would fix the problem, but nothing in life is guaranteed, I guess. 

So, this coming up Thursday, I’ll be going through the same exact surgery all over again – to repair my right achilles tendon. I’m a little bummed, but I feel very confident about the surgeon, and his confidence in that this is the right decision to do NOW because if not, it will just continue to get worse.

This past July, I broke down to Daniel and told him that even after three years of having surgery, something didn’t feel right (read below for all the details on this). So, he was like, alright, let’s actually do something about it, instead of just doing all the temporary things I had been doing to try and fix the problem.

He knew of a great specialist in Greenville, so we set up an appointment, and the date FINALLY came around a couple of weeks ago. Busy man, this doc is. He confirmed right away by just looking at my ankle and doing a few tests that I was not in a good place. I had no push off power on my right leg (haha, I could have told you that), and the tissue appeared to be dead. He referred to my situation as being something like “3rd and 32” (football reference…and dang, 32 yards is a lot to make up). A week later, I had an MRI, and it was confirmed that my achilles tendon is still torn, it’s filled with fluid, and four times the size it should be at repair site. So, there’s that. I’m not sure how it is torn because I never did anything that made me be like “Hmmm, that hurt. I think I just tore something.” So, I can only assume that it was never fully repaired to begin with. 

Ok…here is the part about all the details over the past 3 years. Some of y’all don’t have time for that, but I don’t want you to miss out on the moral of the story at the end. So, if you don’t care about the details, just scroll to the end. 

Rewind to Memorial Day 2014. I won’t go into too many details about surgery, but I tore my achilles tendon doing box jumps in the gym. My body gave me all the warning signs, but at the time, I thought I was indestructible and didn’t need to listen to my body. I had surgery in Anderson a week later. The surgeon used a cadaver/graft to repair it because instead of just tearing, it shredded. I went through what felt forever of a recovery process… remember “scooter girl?” but I was still thankful to be able to workout, as my biggest fear at the time and exactly one year into CrossFit was “not being able to run and getting fat.” Child please. I worked on my upper body and core strength by practicing a lot of strict gymnastics movements. I think I was smart for the most part, and used it as a time to get better. I came out of it able to do legit handstand pushups, ring dips, and strict pullups. My body also changed a lot by building some lean muscle from not being able to run myself to death (that’s another story in itself). And with that, I’ll admit that I also did some dumb stuff back then that I don’t recommend to anyone with one functioning leg and lacking coordination – like cleaning and snatching with one leg and doing one leg double unders. 

I was in a cast for over 6 weeks, and I didn’t start putting ANY weight on my right foot until over 3 months later, which is when I began physical therapy. I went through 4 months of physical therapy. My doc at the time told me that he didn’t want me running until I could do a calf raise on my right leg. Well, here’s the thing. I still can’t do a legit calf raise on my right leg. One year after surgery, I assumed my limitations were just because of the fact that I was only one year out of getting a new achiiles tendon.

Then, two years passed by, and something still felt off on my right side. At this time, I also wondered why other people seemed to have a full recovery from tearing theirs, yet I didn’t feel like I had. I assumed it was just because everyone is different, and my tear must have been worse.

Also, right under two years after surgery, I had the opportunity to compete at Regionals because of my placement in the Open, and because of this, I was like, “Ok, this is really cool. I would like to keep competing in bigger competitions.” With that, I continued following the programing at the gym I work out and coach at, and on top of that, I’ve had a coach who has helped me get stronger over the past year +.

And with that, the more time that has passed by, the stronger I’ve gotten, and the heavier I’ve been able to lift, the more I’ve realized that something doesn’t feel all there on my right side. I can’t push off of my right leg. Box jumps are a total disaster. In fact, if you know me, you know that all jumping is a total disaster. I can’t remember the last time I ran without any pain, but for the longest time, I just thought that was normal. I’ve done drills and warmups to get my right leg working, but its been frustrating to say the least. I’ve tried to brush it off by even naming it. “Tiny Tina.” She’s a legend, I tell ya.

Last fall, I started having pretty bad hip and knee pain, on my right leg, and I even went to physical therapy for it. I did physical therapy two to three times a week until April. I really did it to get me through the Open. They ended up letting me go because they said there was nothing more that they could do for me. In April, I began getting dry needling treatments in my right leg, hip, and ankle pretty regularly. I started seeing a doctor in Anderson who focuses big time on functional medicine. I thought maybe he could give me some good, natural solutions to help with this pain I have in my right leg. I think the poor man has run out of options for me. And last, but not least, I’ve been getting cortisone shots in my hip/right glute area to help with pain.

BUTTTTTTT…the good news is that I have a solution, and I’m pretty thankful for that. 

The only reason I’m even putting this out there is because maybe someone can learn from it. AND I know there are going to be times over the next 6 months that I want to feel sorry for myself — especially several days after surgery when I’m coaching or personal training on crutches and I feel like I can’t give someone my best. And come end of February when the Open rolls back around, and there is a pretty good chance that I won’t be 100% – or even near it. 

But mindset is everything…<<as in your perspective>>. And I am thankful to be in a way better place now than I was three years ago when I had the first surgery.

Here’s what I’m learning:

  • Life doesn’t “owe” me anything. I’m not entitled to anything. I know I sound like a broken record, because I say this a lot on here… BUT each and every day is a gift. I call it Grace. You may call it something else, but it ultimately comes down to a gift. Nobody owes you or me anything. 
  • Setbacks are a great opportunity to get better. Adversity, whether something small like achilles surgery, or something wayyyyy bigger, it has the potential to make you better in the long run, but you have to work for it. Use it to your advantage to get ahead in all areas of your life, instead of a curse against you.
  • Sometimes you have to give up something good now for something great that you could potentially have in the future. And for me, that is an opportunity to have a better quality of life in the future, even if it sets me back a little right now.
  • I’m an imperfect person, and sometimes my faith gets pretty weak, BUT I 100% believe that God works everything out for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Basically because of who He is, I am who I am, and I can never lose because of that fact alone. 
  • There’s more to me than what I get to do everyday in the gym. In other words…as much as I love all things fitness, coaching, competing, and getting better in the gym, an injury doesn’t define who I am. I am still me.

I’m thankful for these next months and all that I am going to learn, how I’m going to get better as a coach, a person who works out competitively, and most importantly, as a human. I can’t even fathom the fact that there is a possibility that just months from now, my body may be in a better place. I know nothing is guaranteed, but taking action to get it there feels pretty good, and is hopefully setting an example for someone else to take the steps to get their body feeling better.

If you think about it, send some prayers/good vibes my way — not for me, but for my really smart surgeon to fix my foot so I don’t have to worry about it ever again. 

Hopefully this helps you gain a more positive perspective in whatever setback you are currently facing. Have a great week!!!!!