22 February 2016

Injuries--or, Getting Old AAAARRRGGGGHHH!

I have been incredibly fortunate over the years to not have seriously hurt myself on a motorcycle. Any injuries I had have come in the form of bruises after a get off on a trail. That really is the extent of it--the thing that has taken the biggest hit has been my pride. Those injuries have not stopped me from riding. In fact, it has often happened that I sustained them during a multi-day event centered around riding, and I got right back on the next day, either to ride more trails or ride home.

But injuries sustained while riding, or doing anything else, can be healed by rest or made far more severe by ignoring them.

Picture a beautiful sunny afternoon in Balboa Park, San Diego. I am sitting at a table in the Tea Pavillion enjoying my lunch, when a woman a few tables over begins speaking very loudly on her cell phone. Her conversation quickly escalates until she is yelling into her phone, "I don't give a shit! I don't give a SHIT! I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!" Pretty quickly it was made clear to her the rest of us didn't give a shit about her problem, and she walked away telling the person on the other end, "Wait a minute, I have to move. I guess I'm being loud...."

She leaves, peace returns, and I begin to enjoy my lunch again...right up until two women at the table next to me begin talking about how constipated one of them was. Annoyed as it is humanly possible to be, I get up from my table, gather my things, and walk away. I am super glad that woman is comfortable enough with her friend to discuss her bowel movement problems, and the ensuing solution which caused a quick and unexpected exit of said problem, but I don't want to listen to that at lunch, so I made a quick exit.

I walk away, my mind reeling over the conversations I've just had to endure, glance over my shoulder looking for traffic, and step off the curb to cross the street--right into a sewer grate which dips about two inches lower than the rest of the gutter. My heel catches in the grate, my foot slides sideways, and I end the most intolerable lunch I've experienced in a long time by spraining my ankle.

Oh, come on!

I bought an Ace bandage that night on my way home from work, and when I looked at my ankle I was impressed by the level of bruising and swelling that had occurred. It was in bad shape and I was pissed.

No more high heels for me for a while. (No really. I tried about a week later and thought I was being unreasonably punished by the shoe gods for not cautiously keeping an eye out for surreptitious shoe-eating grates.)

A week and a half later, most of the bruising has gone away and it's only swollen in the evenings. I'm back at home and will be leaving in two days to go ride with RawHyde for the first time. That night as I'm making dinner, I grab the metal handle of a pan, forgetting I had just taken it from the oven, and I burn my palm and the inside edges of my thumb and fore finger--you know, all the spots that touch your grip when you twist the throttle. I contemplated crying.

Not being much of a crier, and having waited a long time to get this chance to show my skills to the Colorado RawHyde team, I get my gear together and head to Hartsel. A couple of discreet bandages and padded gloves protect my poor blistered hand, and a little brace works wonders for my ankle. I have a weekend filled with loads of fun, great people, and beautiful scenery to ride in. I twist my throttle with my finger tips, and constantly keep my foot moving around on the peg to lessen my ankle's discomfort.

See, it's doable. So why bother writing about it? Well, my hand has had no residual ill effects. The blisters went away and it healed right up. But, with hopping right on the bike and continuing to ride off-road all summer, I am currently sitting here--in February--with an ankle that is still tender from time to time.

Honestly, I can even put up with that. I'm not in PAIN pain, and I can still do all the activities I enjoy. But, I wonder how much other parts of my body compensate for my sub-conscious favoring of Bad Ankle. Last weekend, my climbing partner, Roo, and I headed to El Dorado Canyon to do some climbing. We got a pretty late start, and since the sun still sets early and it gets cold, we just quickly climbed two pitches. I rapped down one, followed by Roo and we gathered our gear we had left at the bottom of that pitch. As we got ready to rap down the last pitch and I climbed out on the edge, my knee started to hurt. It really hurt, and not in the usual overuse injury kind of pain I'm used to.

It was pretty painful to scramble out of the canyon and hike out the icy trail. Once we got out--in the car, in the brewery--it didn't feel so bad. Then I got home. Ugh! I spent that night and the entire next day sitting with my leg up, icing it, and taking ibuprofen. I looked online to see if I could diagnose my problem and there it was--

"Quadriceps tendinitis/tendonopathy...an injury which typically occurs in older athletes."

Wtf!?! The Interwebs just called me old. Well, technically "older." Still, not okay.

Before you start wondering how someone with so many health problems gets by in life, let me say I am actually a really healthy woman. I eat reasonably well, never get sick, work at a job where I am constantly moving, and in my downtime I ride and climb. I stay in pretty good shape, and even though I'd always like to lose those couple of pounds before swimsuit season, my doctor tells me I'm one of the healthiest people she sees.

As I get older, though, everything takes more time to heal. It's a hard, shitty fact to face, and I don't think I'm ready. I also think the best way for me to feel and stay young, is to behave that way. So, stay healthy and excuse me while I go act like a twelve year old!

I warned you...