The trial of miles; miles of trials.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Keep Hope Alive

Even since the weather tanked a few weeks ago it's been a bit frustrating for me.  Normally I would embrace Mother Nature's evil wrath and continue knocking down my miles with little complaint.  However, I've quickly realized how difficult it is to stay even remotely warm on a bike when you are traveling 3 to 4 times faster than on foot.  Even with a 500 lumen light, riding in the dark isn't that appealing.  Which is strange to me because I've covered hundreds if not thousands of miles with little more than the light of the moon, random farm lights spotted across the countryside and the dim glow of Lansing's light pollution.  I've only been out for a few rides as time and weather have allowed but most of all I've been punishing myself on the loaner cycle trainer in my basement.  It's terribly boring, but just about my only reasonable option at this point. 

I don't want to dwell on fact that I've been depressed, but I am and I'm dealing with it.  My injury shook the depths of my soul and attempting to fill that void has become increasingly difficult.  It's been just over seven months since my loss of foot function and I have seen little if any improvements since July.  There are days when it is actually worse.  Sometimes by the end of the day I'm literally dragging my foot across the floor.  Stop and consider that for a moment...its a load of shit!  I originally told myself that I was going to wait 12 months before I pursued any sort of AFO (ankle foot orthosis) but since there has been NO improvement in roughly 5 months I'm moving forward.

I'm still hopeful that the nerves are repairing themselves and that one day I will walk with a normal gait, but for now the power is turned off.  I get flashes of hope from time to time when I feel sharp pains in my lower leg/foot.  It feels like electrical impulses shooting down my leg and at times it can be really painful.  I know the if the function comes back it's not going to be overnight but when I have these strange sensations I have to believe something good is happening.

It seems very hard for people to understand that I can't lift my foot as it is something that is very much taken for granted.  I look down at my foot, fully understanding the simplistic motion required for the task, attempt to lift it and it only moves perhaps and inch and a half on a good day.  Frustrating!  The best analogy I have come up with to describe the frustration is this:
Clothespin be dammed!

1.) Place a clothespin between your your thumb and forefinger.
2.) Pinch the pin to open the jaw (do this several times noticing how simple and effortless the motion is).
3. Now place the clothespin between your ring finger and pinkie, using the insides of your fingers pinch the pin to open the jaw.

What?  You can't open the jaw?  I don't simple.

Really, don't worry about me, I'll be fine.  I'm not giving up.  I'll never give up.  I have decided that my motto for 2012 will be "keep hope alive." My neurosurgeon offered to prescribe an AFO that could help me walk but I didn't want it at the time and I was highly suspect that is was some stretchy fabric POS designed for 70-year-old men...not for me.  I've done some of my own research and have learned that they make carbon fiber AFO's designed for athletes.  That's what I'm after.  Not because I think I'm some elite athlete but only because I want the same opportunities as the best.  The problem has been finding a clinic nearby that will fit me, but my research is still in its infancy.  Maria referred me to MSU Sports Med, but they declined to see me because I'm not a candidate for full recovery.  I will travel out of state as needed but am hopeful that I won't need to.

I won't like running with some space age looking device and I'm sure a select few will think it is some sort of unfair advantage...but I really don't care and I'm not out to impress.  I just want to run.

I will give another update as soon as I have something more to share.  Before I sign off I would like to thank all of my friends and family that have supported me through this setback.  There is only a handful of you reading this, but I thank you very much for your encouragement and support.  I've been fragile over past seven months and most of my friends have been very supportive.  To be specific, Tony, thanks've been there for me and I appreciate it.  Josh, you've been super supportive whether you know it or not and for that I thank you.  And of course Maria...without you I would still be waiting for surgery and likely racked up on the side of the road, drunk and passed out in a ditch.

To all of you, have a Merry Christmas and remember to never sell yourself short.  You are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. 


  1. Thank you for the kind words and I am very glad that I may have helped you in some small way. As I hope you know, you have helped inspire me both in general and as a result of your injury. Lesser men would give up or curse their lot in life, but you seem to take it like yet another challenge, despite your frustrations.

    I have zero doubt that if you want to run, you will run. If you want to excel on the bike (I think you have to a great extent already), you will do it. I figure if I can capture just a bit of that attitude, I will be able to do the same.

    I look forward to meeting you at a race, hopefully later this year, where you get out and just kick my butt (not too terribly bad though - I plan to continue to get better).

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  2. "Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up."
    -Dean Karnazes

  3. Friends are there for you no matter what Matt, so I'm just out there doing my job. You're the one that has to deal with the hard part of all of this, so its nothing for any of us to do nothing but encourage you to keep up the hard work.

    I know you have deep feelings for running and miss it terribly, but if you want to stay in cycling, you should. It probably won't satisfy the void of running, but you're terribly good at it. It seems to me when you're on the bike, you get angry that you can't run and you ride until the wheels fall off. Because of that, I find myself riding harder than I ever have before just trying to keep up with you. So, thanks (right back at ya) for being pissed on the bike. You've actually helped me stay in cycling.

    I love the reference to The Crystal Method - another one of those post-college songs brings back awesome memories.

  4. Matt, keep pushing man. I have to echo what Tony said in slightly different terms, you've always inspired/pushed me to "go big".

    Whether I've said it or not, of anybody, you've got the heart to overcome this in one way or another.

    Go big brotha!! I definitely could use some help this spring going big in my prep for Ft. Custer in May.

  5. Hey Matt,
    I haven't checked the blogs or updated mine in over a month. That entry was sad but hopeful. Depression is serious. I never like to dwell on it because I feel it's a downward spiral. But it needs to be addressed and attacked like any obstacle. I really thought this injury was something you would bounce back from, but you're clothespin analogy puts it in perspective. I thought I sent you and Jason an email to update you on my status next year, but it must not have went through.
    I'm heading to Moscow. I'm going to take up cross-country skiing and I hope you remember the pact we made like 10 years ago. Hit 35: Cross country ski. The best exercise for cardio-vascular endurance. I'm not sure if it's an option for you, but I hope so. I also want to do GLE again this year, but I don't want to put any pressure on you. I've got my first race since the half ironman tomorrow. It's a trail half marathon in Thailand.
    Take it easy.