The Road to Recovery and my Inspiration

I am an obsessive planner. I deny it as much as possible, but truth be told, I like to plan everything. Just like recovering from an accident. I planned out how I was going to recover (refer earlier post!), how long it would take, and what my plan was once I could start exercising again. Simple! Plan sorted, now let’s action it. However, hold the press – apparently you can’t just plan your recovery and it happens. With a few set backs along my road to recovery, I have been amazed at how inspiring my friends are, which makes me all the more eager to get back out there with them.

Following my accident, after the shock, highs and lows, I had come to terms with what I had done. In Thailand I had been told it would take 3-6 weeks. In my optimistic (possibly drug induced) state I took this as three weeks. A long three weeks rolled by and I ingeniously decided I was ‘cured’ and went the day without my sling. I had forgotten I had taken Voltarin the night before to help me sleep and must have still been feeling the benefits of it when I made this decision. The next day after going sling-less I was in a lot of pain, and for a number of days after that. I got really down that I wasn’t back out running as per my three week plan, and if anything I was doing worse. Towards the end of the fourth week I was starting to feel better and had changed my plan to a six week recovery.

At the beginning of this week (the fifth week) I saw the physio again and she was impressed with the amount of movement my arm had. She told me to get an X-ray for whilst things appeared positive on the outside you never know what lies beneath. She set up for me to get the x-ray at the end of the week, ready to meet the doctor this Monday (beginning of week six), so everything going well I would be back riding my bike next weekend, exactly six weeks after the accident and on track with Plan B. Last week I had been feeling good, transitioning myself off the sling so I was hardly wearing it during the day at work anymore, and practicing my movement exercises, which were going well. I was excited to go through what appeared a mere tick-process and get back out on the bike next weekend.

Yesterday afternoon I had the x-rays taken. The lovely radiologist enquired about why I was having x-rays taken. We were chatting and I explained what I had done whilst she loaded the film onto the computer. And she exclaimed ‘ah yes you broke it right on the AC joint’. Ermm… how do you know??? According to the plan, getting this x-ray was to show the doctor that it was all healed… which would mean you can’t see anything. ‘See!’ she exclaimed again pointing at the computer. And there it was, my break still evident, and the collarbone has separated further from my shoulder. I was gutted. This wasn’t the plan!!! I called Pat my coach on the way home and told him what I saw. I had spoken to him only two days earlier telling him how things were going really well and my optimism of being back on the bike in two weekends. He was excited for me and already sent through ideas on different races I could get ready for. Telling Pat last night he was genuinely disappointed for me, and I needed that compassion. Albeit, this is my take on the x-ray, I don’t know a thing about the skeletal system, but I am at least now prepared for what may be bad news on Monday with the doctor.

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And so here I am again, on a Saturday at home, having not exercised now for 5 whole weeks except for a few attempts on the stationary bike. Yet again I have a lot of time to think and adjust to the situation. I have been reading Anna Meares story during this time to draw on inspiration. Anna broke her back 7 months before the 2008 Olympic games, and fought back to win a silver medal! It is a remarkable story and I had believed I was going to have a mini Anna story of my own, of course on my own scale!

But Anna Meares isn’t the only person I have been drawing inspiration from. The more I think about it, the more I realize every single person I know who loves their exercise is inspiring me. My friend and training buddy Anna fractured her pelvis in November and went on to finish fourth at the Busselton 70.3 last month, just 6 months after her break. Nadelle, Pat’s wife, fell extremely ill the weeks before her come back ironman after a number of years off having a child. She completed the race in the toughest conditions on record with a PB. And friend Jo Carman came back from injury to win her AG at the recent Cairns IM and secure a ticket to Kona. Then there is the other side of inspiring, of my friends who are just out there achieving their own goals and being so elated by the experience. Amber finished her first Ironman this year with the world’s biggest smile. Dina completed her second IM and took a whopping 40minutes off her time in just 3 months. Ryan gets involved in any race just for the fun and experience of it, and is genuinely elated afterwards that it is contagious. Michelle at work has started running and completed her first 5km fun run last month, and has now signed up for a 10km run and hopes to do a half marathon this year. She couldn’t run 2km’s at the start of the year.

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I was provoked to write about this after reading today about a friend who is a professional triathlete, whom another triathlete put down in her blog. A female triathlete putting down another female triathlete. It boggles me. This is not what the sport, or any sport is about. In my experiences everyone is so supportive and encouraging of one another, and particularly their goals. Part of her response to the post said “What is your goal? If you do it for the right reasons you will never give up, but most importantly you will have fun doing it!”

This couldn’t ring more true. Whilst in Thailand I wrote about re-setting my goals and enjoying taking time out. You have moments of optimism and positivity, but you can’t stay on Cloud 9 forever. Naturally, emotions run up and down, and whilst I wrote about my acceptance of taking my time, re-building, enjoying a lazier life for now, I am still battling to maintain this mind frame at all times. I miss training. I miss the freedom I feel on the bike. I miss the feeling of running fast. I miss the satisfaction of setting PB’s. I miss being out there with friends and the social life that comes with training. Whilst deep down I understand the important of taking my time, not rushing recovery, and enjoying this off time while I can, I can’t wait to get back out there and write a new plan. I can’t wait to do my first race back, not for a result, but for the enjoyment like my inspiring friends. And I can only hope that getting out there and racing for the fun of it, and not for the results like I was, will inspire my friends too.

You can plan all you want, but you have to be prepared to change and adapt your plan as things are thrown at you. I am managing this as best I can, and I am forever grateful for the amazing people I have surrounded myself with. You all know who you are – so thank you so much!

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About Priscilla Barrington

Hi, I am a short course Age Group triathlete in Victoria. I love short course because I have developed a bit of a competitive side and short course enables me to race LOTS! Like most triathletes, I like to talk a lot about triathlon... so have taken to writing down my thoughts opposed to boring my friends with my triathlon trash!

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