TL;DR: Jogging on a treadmill, both legs worked perfectly. I ran at a pace and exertion level I couldn’t have achieved before surgery. Thrilled.

When kids think about growing up, they invariably think of all the wonderful freedoms:

  • “I get to go to bed whenever I want!” (True, although severely limited if you want to, say, hold a regular job and function as a normal human being during that time.)
  • “I don’t have any homework!” (Also true, except for all the non-employment-related responsibilities of living, like obtaining food, cooking food, cleaning up from cooking food, washing, folding, and putting away clothes, keeping your home clean and yard presentable, taking care of dependents, etc.)
  • “Nobody makes me eat vegetables!” (Again, true, although you’ll probably force yourself to do so for their health benefits, or you may just suffer the natural consequences of poor food choices.)

Kids rarely think think of — indeed, are probably hardly aware of — the gazillion tedious and often onerous activities adults engage in to just maintain the status quo. I think that’s part of what makes childhood so magical. Kids, at least most kids, don’t worry about stuff like exercising to maintain bone density and heart health.

But today I got to do a grown-up activity that normally I’d file under Tedious and Often Onerous: Jogging on a treadmill.

While I don’t mind outside jogging, jogging inside on a treadmill always looked terrible to me. Like a hamster on a wheel. Normally I’d avoid it at all costs, opting to run outside in the dark, in sleet, in rain, in pretty much everything that’s not ice or snow.

But the surgeon explicitly told me to run on a treadmill as part of my surgery recovery: One month of walking and one month of running on a treadmill.

My one month of walking has been pleasant, if extremely damp. Now I start on a month of treadmill jogging. And for all I expected it to bore me to tears, the exact opposite happened: I was thrilled. When I hit the speed and percent incline that had caused my left leg to fail during those ABI tests and was instead able to keep steadily running, it felt like I had wings. I flew. (Slowly; I make no claims as to my overall fitness after a month off for surgery and pneumonia.)

I jogged for 20 minutes, walked briskly for 20 minutes, and then jogged for another 20 minutes and I could do it! It felt just… glorious. Truly indescribable. I worked fairly hard and it felt that way, but I maintained a steadily moderate-high heart rate for as long as I wanted! I felt fatigued, but not crippled.

This is the first time since the surgery that I’ve been able to really push into territory that I wouldn’t have reached before. Jogging on that treadmill showed that the surgery worked, at least so far. I have two legs again. Words can hardly express what it feels like.

Once I’m through with coughing and confirmed to ride again, I’ll be a new woman.

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