Even my friends often remark that I’m limping.
What is the purpose of that, I wonder? Do they think they’re being empathetic?
Maybe you think I’m irritated by it because of course I know I’m limping.
No, that’s not the worst of it. I am hurt because they often say it when my knee is feeling relatively good, and I think I’m walking normally! I wouldn’t mind it if they mentioned my limping at times when I know it’s obvious; when I’ve been sitting for a long time and get up, my knee feels bad for several steps. If I’ve done a little jog or a bike ride earlier in the day, or I’ve just stepped off the Arc trainer after pushing all-out, I know I’m limping.
But it hurts to know that others always see me as a disabled person. I’ll never look like an athlete again. I guess I limp even when I’m unaware of it because favouring my bad leg has become automatic. Also, because I can’t ever fully straighten my leg, my stride is affected whether I’m walking or jogging. Walking downhill or down stairs isn’t easy for me anymore either, though part of that is just automatic caution from all those months before I got my torn ACL repaired, when my leg could buckle underneath me without warning.
So why do they tell me I’m limping? Are they implying it’s a bad habit that I can cure from force of will?
Are they telling me they’re sorry that I can’t be the runner I once was?
It hurts the most to hear it from those friends whom I once ran with…those who knew me as tough and tenacious, someone who never gave up until the finish line. Maybe they can’t accept my fate—maybe they cringe inwardly to think it could happen to them.
You can help me by understanding that though I loved running, I’m more than a runner. I have to move on. So if I move with a limp now—well, I never believed looks were the most important thing about anybody.