In Stitches: Part I

*Note from the editor: This was written from a confined, hurtling, emotional cylindar at 38,000 ft., near the end of February, mere days after a doctor carved a cyst out of my side.*
Not all weeks have to begin with Monday (the secular starting point, of course). Not all weeks have to have only seven days, either, especially not when it's a bad one. Bad weeks can have as many days as you like. Until you reach a month, i suppose, then a bad week has officially become a bad month. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Their is plenty of time to rebound from the week that is before it becomes the month that was.

My week began on a Friday in this particular instance, exactly seven days ago, as the calendar reads, though eight if you ask my body. Thanks to a bit of a change of plans and the construct that is the International Date Line, I had the joy of reliving Thursday. That is neither here nor there, however, for I am 38,000 ft. above the earth and the calendar reads Friday. By the time I land I will have spent the past three nights on airplanes and will not really even care what day it is, only that I am somewhere I need to be for more than 24 hours.

As I said, my week began on a Friday, two days after I went for a jog through Centenial Park in Sydney, and found myself in extreme discomfort for the duration of the 20k roll (excuse the metric system readers in the United States. I'm not cheating on you, only exploring my measurement options). The harbinger of my excruciating pain was well known to me by this point in the story. It had, in fact, been growing on me for the past four years, actually.

It was a cyst.  A cyst that for four years had been nothing more than an eyesore, had evolved into a wildly infected eyesore.

I know it was a cyst because at some point in the past I went into a doctors office to have them checkout my little friend growing on my side. A cyst.  A little sack filled with fluid that had taken up residency on my ribs. The doctor told me to have it removed. I asked what that would involve, as the cyst just happened to be at the exact location that the frame of my racing chair makes contact with.  When the doctor told me that the incision to remove it would take a few weeks to heal, of course, I said no dice. It could get infected and cause you more drama in the future, the doctor argued, but when he followed this up by telling me that unless it does get infected there is no real need to remove it, I held firm to my decision.

Those few weeks of a training I stubbornly clung to in the past, in a non paralympic year, did not seem nearly as important to me as I rolled out of the doctors office last Friday evening, and even less important as I rolled back into the doctors office Saturday morning with a large, gaping hole over the ribs on my right side.

After spending 4 hours on a table having a (quite wonderful) doctor slowly trim away the vessels and fibrous tissue connecting my infected cyst to the rest of my person, I was in no mood to wake up the following morning with a bandage soaked in blood. The bandage sent me back to the doctor, who, fortunatley, determined that instead of having to leave the wound open, to heal from the inside, he could go back in and stitch it all up. This would save me weeks of recovery time and worry about infection, but meant a couple more hours on the table while the doc meticulously tied three more internal stitches and about ten external to close the wound.

Stitched and fixed I was sent out the door with instructions to stay out of my racing chair until I got the stitches out two weeks later (which i scoffed at). In my infinite wisdome I managed to take a situation which would have been an easy fix had I taken care of it years before, and turned it into a drawnout procedure costing me valuable weeks of training in a Paralympic year.

 I mentioned in my first post that the Road to Rio was not going to be smooth. Coming off of three solid, fortunate, success, and relatively problem free years of racing, this is a very real setback. Injuries are the bane of athletics, and doctor mandated downtime is poison. May the path to recovery not detour me far from the Road to Rio.  

As I boarded a plane for Tokyo, however, I wasn't aware how my week was only going to get worse.