The weeks since my knee surgery have passed both surprisingly quickly and painfully slow. Sparing details, the procedure corrected a misalignment of my patella and removed some degraded bone, likely the result of a cyst at some time. My surgeon seems happy, so I'm trying to catch his enthusiasm for my recovery. Realistically, I can get through every day with only mild pain. The things I still cannot do, however, are numerous and near to my heart. My knee isn't ready for the intense exercise, long miles, and simple yoga practice that keeps me feeling like myself. In taking care of my body, I feel as though I'm being forced to neglect it.
I've moved on from being sad and hopeless to being bitter and angry; an inward transition and a skilled outward front. NOBO's are touching Canada, and my SOBO counterparts are entering the Sierra. Every photo of their triumph leaves me feeling like my heart now resides in my stomach. I'm no longer celebrating with them, missing them, or longing to be a part of the community. I take each mention of the PCT as a personal attack, as if they are punishment for my defeat. I've had to resist tearing down my own resupply plan, afraid that I might be too jaded to put it back up when it's time to prepare for next year.
I feel like a big, fat, failure.
These days, I live a fairly ordinary life. I go to work in the morning, do my PT in the evening, and pray for the time to pass quickly. I challenge myself each day by reviewing the events of my short time on trail; could I have made another decision? The answer, every time, is no. Even if thru-hiking wasn't important to me, I would have needed that surgery to maintain my lifestyle.
Last week my physical therapist asked me how much, from 0-100%, I felt my knee was healed. "What kind of question is that?" I said, taken aback and slightly angry with him for asking. Until then, the word healed had never even entered my mind. Recovery, rehab, improvement- these are the words I would use to describe what's happening inside my knee. The healing will happen over time, I'm sure of it, but it will be happening in my head and in my heart.
Of course, I'm grateful for the opportunity this winter to meet my financial goals, spend time with family, and continue to learn more about myself. Just imagine how happy I'll be this time next year, when my feet are flying and my soul is free!