Finally, it’s time to heal.
Mentally and physically, I believe the intensity of my pain from the past year is behind me, but the wounds are still open, exposed. Or rather, the small tears in my Achilles heel are still-rebuilding. It’s time to cocoon, to rest, to protect the wounds- both in nature and in my healing hut. It’s time to let my wounds close.
Both physically and mentally, I’ve just been tired.
Physically, I’m tired of limping around post hike and of giving the extra mental effort to manage the discomfort. (To be clear, I am very much a proponent of listening to the body, and I did experience periods of decreasing symptoms that gave me hope. I did very little running and hiked most of the summer. When I got the MRI results in mid-August, I knew I wasn’t going to make anything worse by hiking a few more mountains, and my intuition felt good with the decision to wait to rest, as my soul needed to be above tree line). Physically, the biggest feeling I have is that, more than anything, I simply just ready to run freely and joyfully next year.
Mentally, I’m ready to be re-energized and have my open, wild heart back at full capacity. While experiencing the fullness of my emotions has been a worthwhile endeavor, doing so repeatedly over the past year because of situation I put myself in, had been nothing but exhausting. Obviously as a therapist, I’ve done a lot of inner work. I was simply unprepared for the amount of work I still had to do. I believe that a person was sent into my life, unknowingly, lovingly, and crushingly, to expose my deepest wounds. This forced me to use all my therapy tools to re-parent myself in the most nurturing and loving way possible (I am determined to be a therapist who practices what I preach). I didn’t exactly have to start from scratch- my parents truly are wonderful people- they simply didn’t know what to do with my big emotions as a kid. Which meant that, without realizing it, I had taken on many of the “tough love” practices I grew up with, and then enhanced them in not the kindest of ways.
I had to learn to feel, truly feel, all of my emotions. To show up for them. To show up for me. To learn how to self soothe. To say things to myself like “I got you. You’re okay.” “I will not abandon you.” “I love you.”
I don’t know if the hard journey I took was the only way. And I can hold no hate in my heart for the person who exposed my wounds. I believe that person’s own wounds were so deep that they didn’t even know they were running. What I do know is that once I heal from this, I’ll truly have the capacity to be the best, most stunning version of myself.
While I can feel my wounds starting to close, I also know I’m tired. As any athlete knows, the only way to re-build and recover is to rest. And the only way to heal is to give yourself the compassion and grace to do so.
Thoughts on PRP and other physical healing modalities…
I ended up choosing PRP (platelet rich plasma injection), a form of regenerative medicine, because I knew my body could use the extra boost to heal after having chronic Achilles pain for so long. I also liked the fact that it was still my own body doing the healing, and I trusted my PT who suggested it.
For most people, PRP wouldn’t be my first choice, for several reasons. One, it’s expensive. Two, it’s extremely (to say it lightly) uncomfortable. I also think there are other great modalities out there, and obviously I’ll put PT exercises at the forefront. Then there’s dry needling (one of the few alternative forms of treatment accepted by SOME insurance companies), massage, and EPAT/shockwave therapy (among others I’m not as familiar with). I actually tried shockwave in the summer, and I actually think it would have had a chance at working if it wasn’t summer and I wasn’t climbing mountains every week. Shockwave, and with some doctors PRP*, are advertised as treatments where you can return to activity as normal immediately. And aren’t those the magic words we all want to hear? Maybe its true for more minor injuries, but my opinion, from my own experience, is that its a bit of marketing scam. I mean, if your body is in pain, doesn’t it make sense to just rest for at least a little bit? With that, I think PRP and the field of regenerative medicine is pretty cool and promising.
*My PT doc said that when I got PRP, I would absolutely have to take time off, and this is largely what I had read. I was more than a little surprised when the doctor performing the PRP said I could return to activity right away…especially when I’ve barely been able to run anyway. While I really liked by that doctor and trusted her to do the PRP, I think the center I went to was a little overly liberal in their treatment approaches (my sister actually received a cortisone shot in her Achilles years earlier by one of the other doctors there, which really isn’t a best practice for an Achilles tendon as it can cause further damage). I’ll just round this paragraph out by saying that its extremely important to me to have a team around me that is caring, listens, and are trustworthy. At this point in my life I’ve learned to say no when I disagree with someone’s opinion. With that, I got the PRP, and I’m 100% going to take the month plus off that I 100% know my body needs to heal and then return to running very slowly.
My final note here is that we all have our own healing journeys. There are many paths to choose from, and whatever we choose, it will be the best (created) path for us. Whatever specialist you see, they will most likely agree that their specialty is the correct one. I would actually highly trust any doctor who tells you “no”. For example, the doctor I saw for shockwave finally said she didn’t want to do another treatment and then sent me to get an MRI, and I’m so grateful for her. She finally made me realize I truly needed to stop running and hiking to heal. On the other hand, if I went to see a surgeon, I can almost guarantee you they would have done surgery. (Not my path.) Similarly, several years ago a surgeon was ready to perform surgery on a labrum tear* and hip dysplasia, also telling me I’d eventually need surgery on my hamstrings. I didn’t have pain, I just didn’t feel like I had full control of my leg. I had the strongest feeling that surgery was not the right path for me (though it still took me some time to listen to that feeling, even when I cried during the MRI). But my sister’s good friend and great runner recently did have surgery for her labrum tear, and I 100% know she choose the right path for her (and I apologize to her for being another person to give my opinion on the matter, rather than just supporting her in trusting her inner knowing.). In short, get several opinions, but come back to trusting your gut. And don’t bypass the healing power of rest.
*The research on labrum tears, at least in the hips, is extremely mixed. Some people experience pain, and some people have no symptoms at all.