Six Months Later

by Liz Jansen

six months later

RIP

It’s now exactly six months since I began the unplanned portion of my motorcycle quest. Although my trajectory was generally west before turning south, that day I headed east from Arrowwood, Alberta, headed for two destinations in close proximity to each other: Blackfoot Crossing, an interpretive center, and the farm where my dad spent seven years until age 11. Instead, that road led right back to me, to months of introspection and getting to know myself and understanding the journey I’d set out on.

Lest you think I’ve now got it all figured out, it’s more of a mystery to me now than ever. Last August, I knew I’d be off the road for a while recuperating for an indefinite period of time and would then be able to resume my travels, albeit in a modified format. It was simple. Take time to heal and get back on the road. Other than knowing it’s going to take longer than I imagined, I have no idea of how long that will be or what getting back on the road will look like.

It’s hard to figure these things out alone so I’ve sought the counsel of wise teachers who can help me gain perspective and navigate through this change and uncertainty. This week I was dumbfounded when I was shown that one of the patterns that I’m trying to break was the same behavior that led to my accident. I’ve often spoken of my tendency to overwork and get the job done, even when I overcommit. That was exactly what happened with my bike. I overcommitted my riding abilities and rather than recognize and listen to the fear that was trying to protect me, I decided to hunker down and get the job done. We all know how that ended up. Thankfully that hasn’t happened in other parts of my life but it’s vividly symbolic of the need for a change in approach.

Then there’s the physical part. This week I had a follow-up visit with my surgeon in Toronto and got news I hadn’t expected. These types of injuries are often treated with two-stage surgery. The first to secure the bone while it heals—which has happened beautifully. Beyond that is the soft-tissue healing and regaining movement – which pretty much maxes out at six to nine months.

Although I’m cleared to ride but my range of motion is still significantly limited. (I can’t raise my arms very far but any bike I have won’t have ape-hangers.) If I’m driving a car, I have to reach over with my right hand to grab the door and close it. I can’t reach the top of my head with my left hand, or put lotion on my right shoulder. Deodorant has to be applied under my right arm with my right hand, and reminds me of a monkey maneuver every time.

Now that the hardware has done its job, the surgeon feels that I could gain almost full movement if it’s removed. While there, he’ll clean out the adhesions and scar tissue from the injury and aftermath. Then with more aggressive physiotherapy, I should have more movement.

The plan is to continue with another three months of physio then reassess. If surgery’s warranted, I’ll book it for late fall so I can enjoy the riding season and recuperate during the winter. Again.

In the mean time, I’ll continue with intentional stillness, in fact stepping up the intensity. It’s hard work and it’s paying off. More on that another time.

Thank you for your continued support and words of encouragement. They help a lot, and mean more than you’ll ever know.

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14 comments on “Six Months Later
  1. Bill Airsman says:

    Sounds like you have a solid plan. I wouldn’t set the decision on a second surgery too soon. You may need to do some form of physio for the rest of your life before more invasive surgery, just depends on how it feels and what the surgery entails. Shoulders are complicated and sometimes take time, lots of it. Enjoy and Best of luck!

    • lizjansen says:

      Thanks Bill. It’s an important decision and I’ll make it after fully assessing my alternatives and outcomes. I broke my other shoulder landing off a dirt bike in 2008 so can use it somewhat to calibrate. That’s it though – no more shoulders to break!
      Liz

  2. Bruce Brown says:

    Liz, you are a warrior. Your spirit and determination are inspirational. We tend to forget how integral one part of the body is to another until some area is injured. Even the smallest tasks can become problematic. Your deodorant example is a perfect case in point. I am pleased to hear that you have been able to return to at least a semblance of normalcy in your every day life, and that you will be medically cleared to ride again this summer. Your ability to remain positive throughout this experience is a lesson to all of us. Cheers, on a cold and snowy winter day!

    • lizjansen says:

      We’re all connected – and that starts with our own body! There are so many body movements we take for granted until they’re challenged. I’ve had lots of positive energy around me and for that I thank you and everyone else who is encouraging me.

      Spring will be here soon! Looking forward to those test rides. Thank you Bruce.

      Liz

  3. Armando says:

    Liz,

    I am very happy to hear that things are going better – be careful and avoid the tendency to “over do it.”

    I believe that I am hearing that possibility in this post…

    Your accident happened as I was leaving on a 6000 mile trip around the US on my motorcycle.

    It made me think, and it really made my wife think – she wasn’t traveling with me, so it inadvertently increased her anxiety levels.

    Fortunately my trip, while it has some “stories,” was otherwise uneventful – although there was the gas stop in Denver where the drunk guy ran into me (luckily he was on foot) while running from the Denver Police.

    Be safe, get better, and have FUN!

    Armando

    • lizjansen says:

      Thanks for your stories Armando. Sounds like a wonderful adventure with lots of great stories and memories. It’s harder for partners and family to watch and understand, especially if they don’t ride. As riders, we accept the risks. I do everything in my power to manage them and ride safely. On or off the motorcycle, we never know what’s around the next corner. To me the danger from not answering the call of my soul is far greater.

      I much appreciate your kind words and inspiration. Safe travels to you as well!

      Liz

  4. Mary McGee says:

    Liz, I for one am very happy to know you are not getting out for a long ride at this point in your recovery. I am sorry to know you will be having more surgery, but hopefully it will improve your recovery / life.
    Take the time to get everything in your recovery / life better. I know a little bit about time & recovery.
    Take good care Liz. XOX

    • lizjansen says:

      Mary – I cherish your wisdom and friendship. I know you speak from your heart – and experience! Thank you. XOXOM!

  5. Doug Armstrong says:

    Liz, your positive attitude and determination is an inspiration to all of us.
    I wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do about your recovery.

    I do hope you find sometime for FUN in your busy schedule. Finding that balance is difficult for most people, but being self employed makes it a much greater challenge.

    Happy Trails,

    Doug

    • lizjansen says:

      Hi Doug – thank you so much for your caring and kind words.

      One of the things I’m working on is taking the “busy” out of my schedule and live a much more balanced life. The schedule is still full, but the time is better used. And there’s lots of time for FUN!

      Thank you.
      Liz

  6. Jeff Davison says:

    Have you picked out a new ride yet, Liz?

  7. Dale Au says:

    Liz: You have only good decisions ahead now that the bones have healed. Seems a few months extra to get the metal out is a good trade for the added range of motion. You’ve got a great attitude and “approach” as you say.

    • lizjansen says:

      Great to hear from you Dale. No more twin bikes! For now. I’m missing that beautiful blue S10!
      I agree re the heavy metal. 🙂 Now it’s a question of when. Hope you’re getting lots of riding in. Safe travels Dale!

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