I’m Not Allowed to What?

There comes a time in every athlete’s life–hell, in everybody’s life–where they get injured. And no matter what the injury, there is usually some annoyance associated with it. The injury may be a paper cut. Small little slice, but you are always aware it’s on the top of the finger because there is a slight burning sensation whenever you wash your hands. Forget attempting to clean tools in any type of paint thinner or putting your hands in corrosive liquids–not that you might attempt such a task. (I have no idea where the cleaning of tools came from, either. I don’t clean power tools.) The injury might be a broken arm, or torn ACL. Most injuries though, happen as accidents. And, boy, can they really mess up your planned schedule.

I’m someone who plans. I enjoy spontaneity–it brings excitement to life–but I also feel more comfortable being able to look at a week and know what will (or should) happen everyday. I’m someone of a nut and have this fascination (that’s a more sane word for obsession) with calendars. I think I have four for 2011. All calendars have very similar tasks/ events marked in the boxes. Next to the events are smaller boxes, where I can tick off that I finished the task/event (you really need to read my friend’s blog–she shares some of my compulsive attributes–it’s like reading my own thoughts). My need for structure and somewhat overly detailed daily lists could be a post of their own.

I do not like when my schedule is disrupted and changes are made. Although, I am much better at dealing with changes now. I’ve learned to be adaptable to most situations and not freak out when something different happens. I guess that’s what happens when you work in a controlled chaotic work environment and things are constantly changing. And, as long as I am the one doing the modifications to my schedule, everything is a-okay.

This past week’s schedule, on the other hand, was modified by external factors, which I don’t like. On that note, the rest of the month’s schedule has had some changes made to it as well due to an accident. No, I was not biking, running, or swimming when this happened either. I was shoveling my stairs. S-h-o-v-e-l-i-n-g.  The act of moving snow from one place to another to get it out of your way. Due to the act of shoveling, I had an insult to my head causing some mild degree of loss of consciousness. In lay person terms, it means I slipped on the f-ing ice, hit my head against the stairs, and passed out.

Might I add, this happened the day after my scheduled yearly physical (which I strongly suggest everyone have–most insurances cover a free physical a year–definitely take advantage of that) where my doctor, who might be one of the rare physicians I can tolerate and admire, told me I was in fantastic shape, and wished his other patients could be more like me (come on, who does not want to be me?!?).

Less than twenty-four hours later, I had my non-scheduled visit to Northern Dutchess’ Emergency Department, all because of a little knock to the head.

This story does have a point, and I am getting to it slowly but surely.

I’m not a fan of hospitals. Scratch that. I’m not a fan of being a patient in a hospital. Furthermore, I’m not a fan of people telling me what I am and am not allowed to do. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer having people tell me what to do in work/ follow directions. But not when people tell me what to do with my life.

After hours in a painful neck brace (as the medical professionals were unsure of if I did any damage to my cervical spine when I fell, and I have no recollection of the first couple minutes after I hit my head), CT scans, an MRI, unexperienced nurses trying to start multiple IV’s (I prefer to keep my blood to myself, so make it hard for nurses/phlebolomists to access it…In the healthcare  field, I’m known as a “hard stick”), I found myself waiting anxiously behind a closed curtain in a cold emergency room, staring at the normal saline running into my AC. There was some disbelief in the fact that I was (1) it took three different nurses to start the IV after five attempts, even when I kept telling them to just go for my left arm because that’s where the veins are (they didn’t listen), (2) I was spending a day off work in a hospital and (3) that I had an injury while not training.

Finally, the ohsoverykind ED doctor decided to return and say hello and let me out of the incredibly uncomfortable C/S collar. Have I mentioned I worked in an ER and know what happens “behind the scenes,” making me somewhat impatient as a patient?

“Well, Molly. Good and bad news.Good news, scans are negative. No bleeding. Just a bump on the side of your head. With any head injury, it’s always more concerning when there is loss of some memory around the event, loss of consciousness, and vomiting–all which you had.”

I knew what news was coming before he continued to speak.

“Bad news is, you said you are training for a couple big races.”

“Yes.”

“That would explain why you have a resting heart rate of 52, which is good. Means your heart is in great shape.” Somehow I think he was veering off topic. This non-scheduled visit was because of my head, not my resting heart rate. I was annoyed.

“My medical advice is that you abstain from any physical activity for a while. We don’t know the extent of the damage, but after I what i just said, you did have some sort of brain injury, even if there was no evidence on the scans. Which means, no swimming, no biking. No running.”

“You’re telling me I’m not allowed to do those things? For how long?”

“I cannot stop you from doing what you do, but my advice is just to take it easy for a couple of weeks. You are a nurse, what would you tell your patients to do?”

Sigh, I hate when people say that, because I’m great at giving great advice that I never do myself. “You know, this really messes up my schedule.”

“I’m sorry.”

You get the point. He continued for another couple of minutes with discharge instructions and then finally stopped talking.

So, for four days, I’ve refrained from any physical activity, besides work. And, it’s driving me mad.

If you are an athlete who has been injured, you know how painful it is not to be able to do something you love. I’m antsy to get out and go for a run in this beautiful weather. Yes, I know it is freezing out. My bike misses me, I know it. I’m beginning to miss the taste of chlorinated water.

Long long story short (well, somewhat short), all will be well. But my training schedule must be modified. And  we’ll just have to see if I’ll be able to tolerate this lack of activity for much longer. Come visit my house, and you’ll notice it’s unusually clean, that all my clothes are now color coordinated (I noticed the majority of my jackets are orange, a blinding reflective color, or green–not weird at all), and I’ve baked more food than the inhabitants of Luxembourg could consume.

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