Pills And Plans
A month since my cycling accident this weekend. Pills and plans are the rehab highlights of the week. It feels like time has moved very quickly. I hadn’t realised a month had flown by.
I have had industrial strength doses of ketamine and morphine during the month. Not something I welcomed at all, but without doubt they were necessary. It made me thought more than once what happened to injured people pre-medicines.
I was prescribed slow release morphine, three tablets, twice a day on my release. I needed it, as the first days were painful. After five days I had to go from three to two tablets and I expected I would feel the same. For the first 36 hours the discomfort shot up sharply, therefore it’s clear the medication was holding back a wave of pain. Five days later, down to one tablet, and another 36 hours of high discomfort. Finally this week, no tablets. Again some discomfort.
Indeed yesterday I overcooked activity in general and had a very painful afternoon. But the big plus is that the morphine is behind me. I’m taking over the counter paracetamol and ibuprofen and it feels good. Liberating. A major milestone. It’s still sore as hell, indeed my hip and pelvis are vying with my ribs for attention now. But I am on my way back. Pills and plans? – a lot less pills now.
Sleep. You Lie Down, Right?
My second biggest win is an improvement in sleep. For a month I have slept sitting up. That’s not that healthy, but my broken ribs would not allow lying down at all. My Oura ring told the story. Not enough sleep; no deep sleep; a lot of REM sleep. In other words, nightly fitful dozing.
But a couple of nights ago I was able to lie down flat and sleep. Only on my back – I’m a side sleeper – but nevertheless, what a luxury. I got some deep sleep.
It may sound mundane to write about this stuff. But until you have experienced the shocking low of a major injury, it’s difficult to explain how important these small increments of progress are.
My other sleep novelty is that my body demands 90 minutes of sleep in the afternoon. I’ve become a Cocker Spaniel. In the afternoon I drift wraith-like to my bed, close my eyes and have a mega-nap. So restorative. It will be a tough habit to kick when I return to work.
Pills and Plans. My mind always has to be planning. On full beam, or total blackness. Full beam keeps me going. You are never standing in one spot for long. Move forward, or you will move backwards, that’s the non-negotiable way of the world.
Plans for my recovery are top of mind. I know I have to rebuild myself physically, or the delicate balance between mental and physical health will be lost. There must be a plan for rebuilding the body.
It’s an ideal opportunity to improve where I was pre-accident. The longer term plan was about mobility and muscle-mass. One of my learnings in the last month has been how quickly muscle mass is lost. I look like a boiled egg with four cocktail sticks for limbs. That needs fixing for the next 20 years to be healthy and worthwhile.
I have regarded myself as a cyclist who does a bit of gym work. That must be flipped. On my return it will be three gym days and two cycling days, no question. I can still get my crucial social interaction from cycling, plus the cardio effect. But the core of exercise has to be in my local Gymbox – I’m fortunate in that the best gym I have trained in globally is 100 metres from the office. Pills and plans? – let’s focus on the plans.
Another week navigated, more progress made. Once more, new things learned, new people met. I won’t let rehabilitation become a dark place. It will be a place of learning, of growing, of new aspirations, new goal attained. It’s easy to be defeated. I know of people who have been defeated by an injury or illness, and it has dominated their life, led them to a spiral.
An old friend who was rendered quadriplegic in a cycling accident; against all the odds he recovered the use of his arms; then against even more extreme odds, he recovered the ability to walk. I met him in Seoul and he walked stiffly, given all his vertebrae are fused. But his spirit was the same spirit he had pre-trauma, not an ounce of the victim in him, positive and upbeat about life. That’s my role model.