stages of grief

Checking In

It’s been a few weeks since Yggdrasil passed away.

The next day, Michael suggested we go for an easy family hike to get me out of the house. It was a good idea. That week following his death was hard for me. I cried a lot. For the first days I kept expecting to see him in the house–sunbathing by the window, sleeping on Bella’s dog bed, burrowed underneath the covers on the bed (his favorite spot)–and when he wasn’t there, I was reminded.

Every day got a little bit easier, I guess. I got distracted with other stuff and was able to get a few hours a day of relief from grieving. But nevertheless, it would come back. I know time will heal the sadness, but it’s been hard.

Yggdrasil was such a big part of my life for so many years. I was definitely in denial that anything would ever happen to him. And when it got towards the end, I was still in denial. I kept thinking…maybe he would get a little better and we’d have more time. I know now, after the fact, that it was clearly time. But it’s been a hard realization.

I miss him a lot. Being busy has helped. It’s the downtime that makes me sad.

About a week after his death, we got the call that his ashes were ready to be picked up. I immediately burst into tears because the realization that he was truly gone hit me.

I cried a little bit when Michael brought the ashes home, but at the same time I felt a little bit better having him “home.” I really loved how great Compassionate Care Portland was. They were so amazing during the goodbye and I paid extra to get Yggdrasil’s paw prints and to get a clay paw print made. I absolutely loved how they turned out and they are so special to me. I plan on making a little photo box memorial with the paw prints and some photos.

That first week that Yggdrasil was gone was hard on Maya, too. For 14 years she’s been by his side. They loved each other so much. She cried a lot that first week. I feel like she was telling me she missed him, that she was lonely, and it broke my heart. For a few nights, my scaredy-cat Maya came out at bedtime and wanted me to give her pets.

She hasn’t done that for like 10 years. Yggdrasil was my shadow. Maya never really seemed to like me. She likes Michael and lets him pet her but she’s just not a cuddly, lap cat like Yggdrasil was. It was nice that she came to me wanting me to pet her. For three nights in a row, she let me pet her for over 30 minutes! Shocking!

I was hoping Maya would continue to want pets from me, but she’s back to being standoffish. 🙁

How have I been doing? I guess ok. It’s sunk in that Yggdrasil is gone and I’m sad and I miss him, but I’m trying to grieve and process the loss. I haven’t been taking the best care of myself. I’m working out, I’m counting my calories but I don’t have the best appetite and when I do, I’m not making the best choices. I’m just trying to do what I can right now.

What Does My Fitness Look Like Now?

There is definitely a mind-body connection when it comes to injuries. When our body isn’t feeling right, it’s so easy to become hyper-focused on every little ache and pain. I’m trying not to let my mind do that because I think it will hinder my progress and healing. Staying active and focusing on what I CAN DO is an important factor for healing. I don’t believe spending every day on the couch instead of moving my body in a moderate way is going to help–I think that would be counterproductive.

In light of that, I think it’s time to change things up. I’ve written before about how it’s not a good idea to get Married to My Workout. Having the same routine day in, day out isn’t going to show progress; instead it’s probably holding me back and may even be causing the injuries!

684737-a-runner-is-beaten-and-lays-on-the-track-tired-and-sad-with-defeat

History of Injury

I’ve been through injury before. I had ankle surgery 8 years ago to repair a torn ligament. I had bursitis in my ankle once (thankfully it only lasted about a week). I had an issue with my sacrum and worked to strengthen the area and improve my running form to fix it. I had achilles tendinitis from running on the beach (that lasted about 2 weeks and I was in a boot for 10 days).

The most “severe” injury was an overuse of IT Band injury a few years ago and my doctor told me NO running for 6 weeks. I thought it was the end of the world and I cried, I yelled, I wallowed–for about a week. And then I pulled myself together and figured out what I COULD do. This injury is when I learned about weight lifting.

Previously I’d tried incorporating strength training into my gym routine but I half-assed it at best, doing a few favorite machines once or twice a week for maybe 10 minutes tops and then wondering why I never saw results. I never saw results because weight training was a stupid waste of time! Or so I thought. The reality was that I was a cardio junkie and I didn’t do any DISCIPLINED strength training. I didn’t care. I didn’t like it. I didn’t spend time on it. I didn’t work towards building the results I wanted to see. I wanted instant results. That’s not the way it works.

Not being able to run (which I LOVED) for 2 months meant I needed to find other things to do. I started seriously lifting weights and after a few weeks, I actually liked it. It wasn’t the waste of time I thought it was and I saw results right away. I lost 5 pounds immediately–which was shocking because I had been struggling with those “last 10 pounds” for a good year. I saw some definition in my arms, I didn’t feel as flabby…I liked it! And I kept doing it, even after I was able to run again.

Stages of Grief

So as you can see, I’ve been down this road before. This current injury is by far the most lingering I’ve experienced. I don’t know why it is. I don’t know if I had taken an entire month off in October when this first happened if I wouldn’t be having this issue today. I followed what my doctors and physical therapists instructed. I thought I was doing everything right.

Since getting the MRI and seeing the specialist, I’ve been going through the stages of grief. I think the last few months have been the “denial” stage. I was making progress! I was doing better! Two steps forward, one step backward. A constant back and forth since October. I get better, then it gets worse. So frustrating.

I’ve felt despair. That’s the most intense emotion I’ve experienced beside anger. I’m furious. I’m angry. I’m angry at my body. I’m angry at all the “other people” who can do “ALL OF THE THINGS” I cannot do and not be injured. I’ve been in this place before. With the IT Band injury I deleted 95% of the running blogs I read and loved because they made me want to cry and scream with every race recap and running post they wrote. I just couldn’t deal with it, so I avoided it.

I definitely went through a “bargaining” phase. I’d say that was every encounter I had with every doctor (the sports medicine doctor, the physical therapist and finally the knee specialist) — “Please, doc, tell me what I CAN do. Give me SOMETHING.” Then of course there are the “what ifs” that plagued me this winter. What if I quit everything? Then I’ll gain back the weight. What if I quit biking and running all together? Then I have swimming–which I love, but is kind of boring because it’s too easy for me. What if I hadn’t gone for that run in October? Then I’d never be injured…

The last two stages of grief are depression and finally acceptance. I don’t think grief of any kind (illness, death, loss, etc) is linear. I think you can experience all of the stages and many more stages out of order, all at once and you can probably skip some, too. I’ve felt ALL of the stages so far, in a jumbled, tangled mess in my brain. The defining emotion? Depression. That’s been hanging over me for months. When you have a physical ailment it’s hard not to have all of your energy and attention focused on that. Especially when it’s something with your knees. I am super aware of my knees at all times because, obviously, I need them to get around in my day to day life.

16699239-the-five-stages-of-grief

What Does My Fitness Look Like Now?

Obviously things have changed a bit. Luckily I was already way into strength training and I was working on the 6 week program I bought from Suzanne. That definitely made the transition easier. I didn’t think “Oh my god I can’t do ANYTHING.” I knew I could.

Yoga has become a once a week thing now. I think it will help (eventually) but right now it’s often a struggle to do some of the poses and I haven’t noticed any increased flexibility yet. I’ve been thinking of doing an experiment and doing ONLY yoga for one week to see if there’s any positive change in my flexibility. I’ll let you know if that happens.

yoga1

Swimming is still part of my routine. I do it once a week now instead of twice but that is because I added the yoga day. Eventually I might add back the 2nd swim day and drop one of my other weight lifting/cardio days.

Two-three days a week I do the weight lifting program. Suzanne was super accommodating when I told her what the doctor said. She said it wasn’t an issue and that she could create a plan for me working around my legs. She said she’s already doing that for lots of clients who have had knee replacement surgeries and what not.

So, I hope you guys hang in there with me as I make my way back. It won’t be a fast return. I don’t plan on focusing this blog on injuries or rehab. It will still be about weight loss and maintenance. Thanks for reading. 🙂

QUESTION: What is your injury history?