February 3rd, 2021. It’s been a year since I woke up from that unnatural sleep of anesthesia, with my right lower leg in a cast. Though I left the hospital with crutches, I often set them aside and just hopped around on my left foot, eager to show how well the rest of my body still worked.
I progressed to a walking boot and eventually just a brace, gingerly testing out mobility and strength. The pandemic gave me lots of company, trapped inside and with my bigger dreams on hold for a while. It did certainly make it harder to maintain a rigorous PT schedule, but I tried to make up for it at home, working through the tedious exercises to rebuild my new and improved ankle.
I would be lying if I said my recovery is 100% finished. It’s come a long way from the first few hikes last year, when my foot felt like a dumb chunk of wood, unable to flex or react like I’d always expected. But I still wake up and hobble around on a stiff leg, waiting for the joint to warm up. The past year, though, has definitely taught me not to look for end points. If I want my body to continue to provide me with the freedom and power that I’ve always loved, I need to work every day to maintain it. Yoga, massage, nutrition, rest, and preventive care are all things I ignored as a gung-ho 20-something, but they’re essential to a lifetime of health and athleticism. Priorities will have to keep evolving too, as I look to the future and think about who I want to share it with, and what sort of risks and decisions I can take to ensure I’ll be there to enjoy it. But there’s no doubt that the passion and excitement that has brought me this far, brought my up and down mountains all over the world, will be the foundation for whatever comes next.