I’m in the home stretch on my latest round of physical therapy and I will be released to self-maintenance very soon. Frankenleg is improving at a glacial pace but that’s how this kind of thing goes. I’ve seen solid improvement in my strength since restarting physical therapy about six months ago. It’s most noticeable when getting the bike off the side stand, especially at an awkward camber—something that I’ve struggled with since the 2015 crash.
But the best improvement is less pain on a daily basis, which was the goal from the start. That progress is a challenge to measure. I have to pay attention to the absence of pain. That may seem obvious but it isn’t. It’s easy to notice when you’re hurting. Noticing that a chronic pain has gradually and grudgingly faded is more difficult. But I realized after some recent moderately strenuous hikes that the pain I would normally have had, both during and after, wasn’t there. Or at least was so minimal that it was just a footnote.
These hikes are a far cry from what I used to do without much trouble. Regaining prowess at that level may not go as well. But this IS progress. Progress that’s so slow it’s nearly imperceptible. Over three years into this, I’m well beyond the obvious day-to-day or week-to-week improvements. I’m even beyond month-to-month gains. This is the long haul—that portion of physical recovery that takes months of consistent hard work to see minute gains. It’s the doldrums. It’s tough to keep going when it doesn’t seem like all of the time and effort is delivering results.
I’ve spent countless hours diligently doing my PT exercises at my appointments, at home, and on the road. I have a small arsenal of PT torture devices at home. I take my smaller, portable gear with me on every trip and cram in some time to get the work done. I’ve used concrete curbs on the street as makeshift platforms for some of the exercises I do. Sometimes while wearing full motorcycle gear. That’s the logistical part, though.
The mental part is powering through even when it seems like a waste of time. It’s powering through when I have to summon every ounce of discipline I possess to overcome a lack of desire. It’s powering through when anger surges about why I’m still doing this. It’s powering through when the exhausting realization washes over me yet again that I will have to spend extra energy and focus the rest of my life to keep Frankenleg mostly functional. Because I can feel the strength in my leg deteriorate in just a couple of days, if I don’t tend to it. The difference between my injured leg and my good leg is astounding. I can never let my guard down if I want to keep doing the things I love because those things require this fucking leg to work fairly well.
But if I can avoid additional surgery, doing the work is a no-brainer. And I know that I have some measure of control about how this goes. As much as the process sucks, I have a choice in how this plays out in my life.
I’m not tooting my own horn about this hard-earned success. I’m writing this to encourage anyone who’s facing a similar situation to keep going. Pure and simple, it sucks. No way around that. Time seems to stand still some days when you’re muddling through exercises for the millionth time. But you have to envision the long play. A really, really long play with no true finish line because you’re doing it to keep living the life you want more than anything else in the world. Do the work and make sure you enjoy the ride along the way.
Adventure on, friends!