Could there be any more fraught statement than the latter? Although it is entertaining to speculate into the intent of those instructions, I am 99% sure that lifting weights twice a week and chattering down steep, rocky surfaces on a bike the rest of the time is not what the author had in mind. I also know that there's no way that I'll be able to do that again in two weeks. The question is, when will I be?
I haven't and probably won't bother having that conversation with my plastic surgeon. I don't expect that it would lead anywhere productive, and it would likely only increase my frustration with this situation. As with many so many things in the past couple of weeks, I just need to move on with my life. I restart physical therapy on Monday, so hopefully, that will provide more practical guidance on my path to being an athlete again.
With all that in mind, I ventured onto that path yesterday. I managed to remain sedentary for the two-week post-op period that seems to be the most critical after implant placement, but I decided that I would start testing my boundaries after that was over. I formed this deadline in my mind based on the combination of the two-week milestones from my own post-op instructions and anecdotal evidence from other cyclists who had over-the-muscle reconstruction.* Once again, don't try this at home, kids.
I was at the point where nothing hurt anymore, and although I'm still very stiff and have not yet come to terms with the numbness. Basically, I was at the point where I realized my body will never feel the way it did before, so I wanted to start making peace with how it did feel, rather than sitting around waiting for something that I wasn't even sure what it was.
|I like to think Rothrock missed my obnoxious colors.|
So yesterday I rode my mountain bike on the easiest trails I could find because I wanted to know how it would feel. We drove to Cooper's Gap and parked at the shale pit. This meant a decently steep one-mile gravel climb, followed by another gentle mile of singletrack climbing before we turned around and descended back again. I had intended to climb the entirety of the Dutch Alvin trail, but when we reached the first intersection, I decided that the two-mile climb was a sufficient test for the first time out.
How was it? Satisfying and a little scary. I'm obviously super out of shape, both in how heavily I was breathing on the climb and the way my shoulders and butt are sore this morning. I tried to be careful not to strain my chest muscles the too much the first time out, which meant that I was afraid to pull hard enough to go over a four-inch log. Afterward, my incisions were a bit irritated from my heart rate monitor, and there were a few tender spots in various areas of my chest, so I decided to wait a few more days before I try riding again.
Although yesterday's ride was proof that I'm a long way from where I want to be, at least now I feel like I'm somewhere.
|Also, Specialized had to go and release this Mix Tape edition Stumpjumper while I was at the height of post-op depression, so I was like, "Thank You, Next."|
*Side note: If I had one thing that I would do differently about all of this, I would have at least looked into finding a surgeon that was comfortable and skilled in over-the-muscle reconstruction. Unfortunately, the surgeon I used referred to it as looking "like a ball stuffed into a sock," so I did not consider it as a viable option until I spoke with someone who had chosen that option just a couple of days before my mastectomy. Considering my mental state at the time, the conversation spun me into a full-on panic as I worried that I was making a terrible, unfixable decision by going with under-the-muscle reconstruction.
Although OTM reconstruction has a faster recovery time, if I would have pursued a different surgeon in a bigger city, the delay in scheduling my surgeries would have eaten up all of the time saved until now. Right now it seems like I'm "done" just as fast as I would be with OTM, but I'm still a little nervous that the disadvantages will come to light as I tried to rebuild my chest strength in the coming months.