Monday Runday: Healing is Hidden.

limping-and-physiotherapy Do what the doctor says. Make good choices. Treat your body well. Follow the rules. Do these things, and your body will be healthy.

I've been a pastor and a human being long enough to know that's not always true. People get lung cancer having never smoked a day in their lives. Car accidents wreak havoc even when the seatbelt is securely fastened. The heart defect hides in the genetic code, only to strike a seemingly healthy young person on the soccer field.

Some people are able to skip right over "why me?" and accept that life is unpredictable, that we are not wholly in control of our fates. But as a pastor I walked with lots of people who felt like they kept up their end of the bargain and didn't understand why tragedy struck them anyway... and passed over others who seemed much more cavalier with their health, or who were mean and selfish people who deserved a nice thick calamity! We know the world doesn't work so logically, but in in the throes of a crisis, we often revert to our four year old selves: It's not fair.  

I've got 3 1/2 weeks left until my 12 week recovery is complete for my stress fracture. People ask how my leg is doing, but the only honest answer is I don't know.

I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do: resting, minimizing walking and weight-bearing activity, cross-training with swimming and biking, and taking calcium and iron (I was deficient in the latter, it turns out).

But I won't know whether it's healed until I run on it, and it's either pain-free or pain-full. There's no way for me to discern whether healing is happening or not. Well, there are two ways: I could run on it now. Or I could do the hop test. I would learn something by doing these things, but I would also aggravate the injury. I would be trading knowledge for healing. It's not a good trade.

But oh, the waiting, and the not knowing. No... this process is hidden to me.

But it's not silent. The injury speaks to me, a weird Morse code of sensations I'm still learning how to interpret.The doctor said I could resume running when I've had two weeks without pain, leaving me with the impression that healing is a linear process, from pain to less pain to no pain. But it hasn't been that way for me, nor does it seem to be that way for most folks. I've gone from pain, to no pain, to big pain but only at night, to a little ache, to no pain once more.

Sometimes the healing comes, but phantom pains linger, whether real or imagined. Once we have been broken, we may get put back together, but we are not the same.

And no, I'm not just talking about running anymore. (I never was.) Jacob wrestled with the angel until the angel cried "Uncle," but he got in a parting shot, such that every step reminded Jacob that even blessing comes with a twinge to it.

It's easy for me to interpret the instant throb when I do the "courtesy jog" across a busy intersection. That's a big STOP sign.

But then there's the deep-down itch I felt a week after the diagnosis, which I decided was the bone starting to re-knit itself. (Why not? Growth can be an itchy process.)

Now I'm at the point where scar tissue is starting to form around the fracture site, as I understand it. The surrounding areas get a little inflamed from the calcification. And the bone remodeling can take up to a year. This is a long process.

Most runners I know went through a period of denial about the pain, myself included. But sooner or later, we have to dig into it, otherwise we're missing important information. We have to inquire about the pain. Be curious about it. Name it and categorize it.

And when possible, make friends with it. I had lots of aching the other week when we were getting deluged with rain. Who knows, I may get a weather-shin out of all this.


Image came up when I searched for the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel.