I exited the white hospital mini van and stared up at the 1,591 foot summit of Cowles Mountain, the highest peak in San Diego. Accompanying me, was a fellow rehab client, a young, wounded marine and my physical therapist. I had climbed this mountain before, months before my fall, with Aimee and our dog, Artie. I remembered sweating profusely at the summit but not out of breath.
Before I knew it we were off. At first, our physical therapist lead the way. I took up the rear, alongside the marine. A couple of minutes into the hike, the marine shot through a shortcut and ended up at the front of the brain damaged expedition. Shortly after, he was setting the pace. It was a breakneck pace. I saw him hop over large rocks and nearly start jogging up every other switchback. My physical therapist was behind him, I behind her. Ten minutes in, not even a quarter mile of the one and a half mile hike out, I was winded, my throat dry. The pace remained steady. I looked up frequently to see other hikers hundreds of feet above me. I quickly looked down to watch where I stepped. I had to be careful, my shoes, the old vans with little traction slipped on the dry, rocky surface. When I looked up again, I noticed I had fallen behind. I let out a quiet grunt each time I had to step over a rock.
By the time we reached the summit, only thirty minutes after we exited the van, my energy had depleted. We sat and talked on the summit for five or ten minutes and then started our trek back down the mountain. Again, the marine took the lead and I brought up the rear.
I was never one to take the lead. I was in good shape, but never great. One thing is for sure, I've never felt so weak in my life and it's a hard feeling to accept. Now three months since the fall, my weakened condition is becoming the norm, the new me. Call it acceptance, call it acclimation, I don't know what to call it but I do know it's hard to accept that I lost so much strength, so much stamina all from a ride on the skateboard, all from a fall. Each time I return to an activity I had done before, I make the painful comparison, from where I was to where I am now. I remember how I felt and I am nowhere close.
I don't want to accept the fact that recovery doesn't always mean a return to normalcy. I struggle with this thought every day. I struggle with the realization that it will take hard work to return to an average condition.
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6 years ago