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Faded Shapes

Be AntiFragile

As many of you know, I had a nasty little crash last week on Friday when a cross wind blew me into some loose gravel and down I went. Rest assured, the bike is okay and the real test of a rider’s ability is if you can keep the drivetrain side up when you go down. Thankfully, I did!

I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of my family, friends, teammates and sponsors. The kind messages sending something that they know would make me smile or laugh in these moments, is appreciated more than I can put into words. I’m still processing everything and I think the greatest struggle is not knowing what the plan is. As a medical provider, I am usually the one in control and making the plan. Now I find myself on the other side of the patient room, with a loss of control and left in the dark. It’s eye opening for me as a medical provider and I’ve always learned something during any of my previous injuries or medical conditions that makes me a better PA for my patients in the future.

I have my MRI today (Tuesday) which means that I will likely not get results for another day or so. I also started to have more swelling in my calf than I would like, as well as pain, so I’m also in the process of ruling out a DVT (blood clot in the leg). The wound edges look more red compared to yesterday and the concern for early infection due to the retained gravel within the laceration also have me perplexed. I sit confined to my couch and bed processing thoughts of fear, worry and concern - all because of the unknown. As a medical provider, I probably know too much and have seen complications from injuries over and over during the years so my mind naturally goes there during this time. If I’m being honest with myself, I think the chance of a torn ligament in the knee is rather high, which would likely mean surgery. But I’m not really willing to accept that yet until I see the MRI and get all the data to formulate the best plan to get me healthy again. Lots of unknowns at this point and as many of you can relate, it’s the phase when you don’t have a plan that is the hardest. Will I ride in 2 weeks, 2 months or 4 months? I still can’t answer that. In my heart, I know that everything will work out. I cannot even bend my knee just standing so my current priorities are getting to a point where I can do my activities of daily living and I’m sure biking will come soon after. But when you can’t walk down the stairs, or bend your leg to put a sock on - it really shifts the priorities for your day.

There’s a book I’ve read in the past called “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend those with thoughtful minds to give it a read; it will certainly challenge the way you view things. The premise of the book is this - Antifragile means you thrive from shock, volatility and uncertainty and can actually thrive in uncertain and chaotic conditions. We often think the opposite of fragile is: strong, unbreakable, resilient, etc. But being strong or unbreakable means you stay the same after a force is applied. Even being resilient means you recover quickly or get back to normal (recoiling) fast, but it doesn’t improve. Being antifragile on the other hand means you get STRONGER through those forces or challenges. Antifragile means you embrace the uncertainty and chaos not just to survive but to thrive and improve. We as athletes are practicing antifragile habits when we train. We put our bodies through incredible stress during hard workouts or training blocks. But if we allow our bodies and apply just the right amount of stress, there are adaptations and then we are a stronger athlete, or our FTP increases, we win more races, etc. It's the same principle, but viewed in a different way.

Here’s the way I look at it: I always show up EVERY mile and EVERY hour of a long gravel race, so I will do the same for this injury. I will choose to be antifragile during every day that I have pain and uncertainty. I will become stronger in this process - both during the injury as well as after. I will not just survive this, but I will thrive on the changes this brings in my life and give gratitude for this opportunity. When the legs feel different when I’m cleared to ride again, I will see this as a chance to build them back stronger than before. They shall be a new mold for me to build up. It will not be easy and there will be moments, days or even weeks that I will struggle but through the struggle comes strength if you stay the course.

Amor Fati.

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