My ankle spoke to me
Updated: May 20, 2020
It was in January 2015 that I shattered my left ankle. It was a sports career-ending injury. Such was the severity of the damage to the delicate joint surfaces that I accepted without dispute the medical advice that my sporting days were over. The surgeon told me to expect to be dealing with an arthritic ankle for the rest of my life. With my long background in injury rehabilitation, I knew exactly what he was talking about and it was not good.
However, from the moment the injury was suffered my focus was on harm reduction and then rehabilitation rather than resignation. You can read about this here:
Once the plaster was off I quickly found that I could ride a bicycle without the kind of pain that signals I might be doing more harm, so I concentrated on that. Walking was a problem and running was out of the question, so cycling it was. I went on to win two UCI Master's mountain-biking world championships and finished 7th in the Master's cyclocross worlds (There was too much running in that kind of event for my comfort by the way!). While I did some walking and running these were very limited activities. Running was never more than about 20 minutes of careful shuffling. Every step of the way, I took great care to do nothing that might irritate the ankle. This included ensuring I made careful dismounts off the bike, some of these unplanned ones!
The care and patience have paid off. Five years have now passed and not once - not once - did I have an "Oh dear moment!" with my leg. For five years I have been patiently working on rehabilitating my ankle to achieve the impossible: to regain full and unlimited function and it has worked.
Two months ago, just before the COVID-19 Lockdown, my ankle spoke to me, "Gary, I am now ready; you can let the brakes off".
I began ramping up the running, cautiously at first, every second or third day, always listening to my ankle, ensuring that I never overdid a session. I am now running freely for more than two hours at a time over the rocky trails above our home.
Gosh! I can't tell you how wonderful the feeling is to be standing at the highest point overlooking Wellington City.