Over the weekend, I was thinking about Monday, the 15th, asking myself, "Why does this date stand out to me so much?" And then I realized, "Holy SHIT. It's the 3 year anniversary of my knee surgery!" October 15th, 2015, I received an osteochondral allograft transfer- which means human bones and cartilage- were inserted into my knee. (Long story, but my bones just "broke off". Disgusting right? Doctor said it was degenerative.)
So.....I had to wait for a donor to become available. Then get the surgery (an outpatient surgery, believe it or not) with a 4 month recovery rate. This meant crutches, wheelchairs, EXTREME pain, depression, more depression, fear, embarrassment, inconveniencing my co-workers, and basically, my greatest fear: looking like an idiot. I struggled HARD CORE in public with my crutches. I fainted at the doctor's office. Got really sick from the medication. It was THE most physically and emotionally taxing thing I've ever been through.
But then....something beautiful happened. I had NO CHOICE but to sit with the pain, and be present with it. And eventually, I saw things from a new light. I was so GRATEFUL to even get the opportunity to walk again. To know that I didn't have to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. To know I actually HAD my health. This was a physical set-back, but I learned to walk again. I didn't have a lifelong illness.
Really, how lucky was I? How lucky AM I?
Slowing down and being FORCED to be present....being forced to heal (unless I wanted to sink deeper and deeper into depression) was one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given. Since then, I am just happy to be alive. Alive, and walking. Because of this, I had new goals I set for myself....a 100 mile bike ride, a crazy hike in Utah (pictures and videos below) and who knows what's next?
Below is some of my journey. From then, to now. Thank you for being with me every step of the way!
- Sandy (@SandyStec on FB, IG and Twitter)
DECEMBER 2015: 2 months after surgery, I was able to walk. From a wheelchair, to crutches, to a cane, to eventually no cane.....I was FREE! It was the best feeling in the world. I will never forget this.
OCTOBER 15, 2016: A year exactly after my surgery, I "ran" a Foam Glow 5K. Did I really "run" it? Hell no. I walked most of it. And it was POURING. And crossing that finish line felt like I had won my LIFE back. Thinking back, to a year ago that day, to not being able to walk at all!
JUNE 4, 2017: And then, less than 2 years after my surgery, I crossed the finish line of "America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride"- 100 Mile Bike Ride! Never in my LIFE did I think I'd want to do a cycling event. But being that I couldn't "run" anymore (nothing more than a 5K or 10K, as per doctor's orders) I wanted a new challenge. And after 4 months of training, this was one of the BEST days of my life. I remember the last couple miles....finally having the finish line in sight. I CRIED. It finally was real. I was really doing it. All the hard work and fears and stress had paid off.
OCTOBER 2017: And THEN, like a crazy person, I did Angel's Landing hike in Utah. This was a CRAZY hike- and crazy dangerous. Took me 6 hours and I was terrified. People have died on this hike. And my knees were sore for 3 weeks after this. But damn it all.....I'm so glad I did. Check out the video below of the final view!