Last Monday, I walked into the waiting room at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and settled into a chair with a magazine ahead of my physical therapy appointment. It was about lunchtime, and the only other person in there was a young guy.
"You injured?" he asked.
I closed the magazine. I knew what was going to ensue, and I've started to like these conversations, which make me feel less alone.
"Yep," I said, and told him about my back. "What about you?"
"Yeah," he said. "My shoulder. I have six pins and a plate in there now."
That sounded much worse than my problem. And he certainly had a better story.
"How'd you do it?" I asked.
"It was a ski accident," he said. "First run of the day. I was headed down at, like, 65 miles an hour and I turned and bam! ran into an elk."
Whoa. Further conversation revealed that he'd been hoping to make the leap to professional and had been in PT for 10 weeks, about four weeks longer than I have. He's still hoping to go pro. But he's clearly got a lot of work to do first. He's 24 years old. What a bummer!
What did I learn from this conversation? Well, it reaffirmed that there's always someone with a harder road than yours. (It also confirmed that I'm really not interested in learning how to downhill ski. I've heard too many catastrophic injury stories associated with skiing. Yeah, I know, that's sacrilege in Colorado. But I do believe we need to choose our challenges where we can in life, and downhill skiing? Not going to be my choice.)
A happier version of "tell me about your injury and I'll tell you about mine" occurred when I was waiting in line for tacos after Dan's race last Tuesday. A willowy female master's runner (who it turns out won her age group) was in front of me, and a wiry male one (who placed in the top three in his) was behind me. We got to talking about injuries. The woman had been sidelined from running several times over the course of a long career as a recreational runner and triathlete. And the man told me he actually shattered his patella in half in a race one year.
They were philosophic about it. If you run long enough, they said, you will deal with an injury. Yet, there they were, having great races in their 50s and 60s. At one time, the woman said, she was out for six months. It seems like a blip now, she said.
Yesterday, after my 75-minute recumbent bike session at the gym, I talked to a bodybuilder/cyclist acquaintance afterwards (I'm at the gym so much now that I'm starting to get to know people there). He told me he himself had dealt with a bad lower back years ago, and that faithful core work had kept it at bay. He said he noticed that if he went even three days without doing his core exercises, the pain started creeping back in.
He's a nice guy, and he gets it about having goals. "I bet you're not dealing very well with this, are you," he said.
"No," I replied, "it's been really hard. The exercises are so small, and boring."
"Yeah, not the kind of person who likes baby steps, are you? But you have to see it as your new challenge," he said. "It's what you have to tackle right now."
And of course he's right.
Any other good injury stories out there?