Don’t Hate Me!
How I Spent My Winter Vacation
Turns out I did tear my rotator cuff last August. The cortisone injections got me through Maine, but it started to act up in December. After trying physical therapy for a while, I realized that one particular move was always going to give me problems. I had an MRI and they found a 100% tear of the supraspinatus muscle. Surgery was in early March and today I finally got to toss my sling. Physical therapy continues into June. My shoulder has been repaired; now I have to make it work again.
This is my second rotator cuff repair. My thru-hike turned into a section hike when I tore the rotator cuff of my right shoulder falling down the stairs at home after hiking 540 miles in Virginia. I don’t think I have to tell anyone that no one wants to go through this twice, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad this time.
Don’t Hate Me!
Anybody on the trail is going to fall down. When I’ve fallen, I’ve always been able to get up, but this injury has me feeling fragile. Recovery from an injury like this has two parts. There’s the physical recovery. The doctor repairs it, the physical therapist makes it work again. There’s a mental component of it too. My shoulder failed me. Can I learn to trust it again? Can I risk falling without having the faith that I will be able to get up again? At this point, Claudia (my PT) is making my shoulder work again and as it gets closer to working as it used to, my faith in it is being renewed.
When you’re in Medicare, you have to fill out a questionnaire when you go to the doctor. It’s all about falls. Have you ever had a fall that resulted in injury? Well, now it’s happened twice. While this remains my only positive response on the survey, is this the beginning of the end? While the thought of facing more AT lumpy bits this summer fills me with dread, I’m not ready to say goodbye to backpacking yet. Inertia plays a part. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to remain at rest. At 68, I don’t think I can take a year off and expect to seamlessly go back to the trail.
I wrote last September that I felt like the trail I loved had turned abusive and I felt I should find a trail that will treat me like I deserve to be treated. While I’ve walked over 2,000 mile of the Appalachian Trail, there are plenty of slippery rocks left in the 105 miles that remain. I’ve decided that, for now anyway, I’m not going to finish the Appalachian Trail. Not saying I’ll never finish it, but right now my head isn’t in the right place.
It could very well be that these feelings are a natural part of my recovery. My shoulder is fixed but it doesn’t work very well yet. The right shoulder, fixed in 2016, is fine. I’m sure the left one will be good as new in a couple of months.
Colorado, Here I Come
So toward the end of July, I’ll be heading to Denver to walk the Colorado Trail! I am curious how I will handle the altitude, but I know I got the databook in the mail today. I’m not really planning to hike the whole thing, but I like the idea of hiking from Denver to Silverton and taking the narrow gauge railroad to Durango. The bit of trail on the cover of the databook looks remarkably free of lumpy bits!
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