New year, same injury?

I know, I know, it’s the 15th day into the new year and you haven’t heard a single peep from me! Where have I been? How am I feeling? What are my new year resolutions? What’s up with my running injury?

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I rang in the new year with my family in Japan and came back home last week. We visited my grandma and it was a nice, relaxing vacation. So, that’s why there has been no blogging from yours truly.

And, of course when you are away from home for more than a week, there is always all the laundry and grocery shopping that needs to be done upon your return. Not to mention, the added jet lag when coming back from Japan!

So, here I am, trying to catch up on my life.

I went in for my MRI — this time with contrast — last Thursday morning. Getting the injection for the contrast into my knee was a little more uncomfortable than I expected it to be. My hands were sweating profusely as I waited for the doctor to prepare. But, it was over quickly and I guess it didn’t hurt that much now looking back on it.

The MRI part was the same as back when I had my first one in August. This time I was smart and decided to listen to music when the tech offered. I opted for classical music because it seemed like the type of music they would play in the movies when the lead actor is going in for a medical procedure — and yes, I understand that mine wasn’t “a procedure” but a mere MRI, but I run this show here!

I felt more relaxed this time (probably because of the calming music!) and know so because my quads were not sore the next day like they were after the first MRI!

I’m scheduled to see my doctor Tuesday to go over the results from this MRI. I really hope I have concrete answers that are along the lines of, “Kristin, it looks like your stress fracture will take one more month to heal. The pain you have been experiencing is just phantom pain. In another month, you can ease into jogging and then running again.”

That one month I threw out is just arbitrary. I’d like to be able to run sooner but my whole desire at this point is that I want a concrete timeline. If I know it will be one month or even three months until I can run again, at least I will know and can mentally plan and prepare for what’s next.

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However, if I am given news that the stress fracture is worse than we thought and that I have to have surgery, well, I’m not sure how I will handle that news. So, I’m not going to worry and stress about that until I absolutely must.

It’s a new year and I’m hoping with all my heart that my injury is a thing of the past. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed. 2017, give me something good to talk about!

2016 Running Year In Review

This year’s Running Year in Review is quite different from last year’s post.

Seeing that I spent more months this year being injured than actually running, maybe I should rename this post to “2016 (Not) Running Year In Review” …

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Anyway, let’s take a look at what happened in 2016.

This year I completed:

My first ultra marathon, a 50K!
1 marathon
1 10K
Yup, that’s it for racing …

It’s pretty hard to reflect (and be happy) on a year where I was at my highest of highs (AKA running my first ultra marathon!!) to being at my lowest of lows (getting a stress fracture and not running at all).

The ultra was in March. I went from that major accomplishment to training for the Anchorage Marathon with Joanna and Team In Training while fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was great training with a group of dedicated people who were all working towards a common goal, helping blood cancer patients and cancer research.

But, my last healthy run was the last weekend in May, while training for the marathon.

I quickly altered my training and tapered a week early. I thought I had an IT band injury. (Note: I have had an IT band injury before and it felt the same). I started going to physical therapy and ran the marathon in June (still thinking it was my IT band). It was my eighth marathon and slowest time to date, but I was proud to just finish. Little did I know that two months later, I would learn I had a stress fracture on my knee.

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So, yes, I basically ran a marathon with a stress fracture. I guess I have a high tolerance for pain.

August to present day have been not-so-great.

I’ve literally been running since I was 14 years old doing cross country in high school. I am now 29 and this is the first time I have been out from running for an extended period of time.

It sucks.

I’ve gained six pounds and am worried I will gain more weight. People say they can’t tell but I know they are lying. My mom said I looked like I’ve gained weight and moms don’t lie.

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I miss run commuting home. I miss running with friends. I miss my time alone when all I hear are my foot steps.

It’s also difficult to be around your friends and teammates who are going on fun running adventures. It’s hard to put a smile on your face when they tell you they had a great race. It’s hard to hold back and not yell at them when they complain about not wanting to run in the rain or cold. It’s hard to scroll through your newsfeed and realize everyone you know runs — except for you (right now).

I’m mad that this injury has overshadowed my big accomplishment of the year, completing the Chuckanut 50K.

Deep down in my heart, I do want to break 4 hours at the road marathon. And, seven month ago, I thought it would be easily attainable. Now, I waver back and forth if I want to even try again. Will I just keep getting injured now?

Let’s just see what next year holds.

 

The comeback I’m too scared to talk about

I went in to see my orthopedic doctor hoping for “good news.” Maybe he would say that my knee pain is just runner’s knee (I know, despite not running) and that I just need to work on strengthening specific muscles again. Maybe he would tell me to rest another month and then I would be good to go on running.

He told me that he is concerned that I am experiencing pain now when I hadn’t been prior to a month ago. He wants me to get another MRI — this time with contrast so that he will be able to tell exactly how much longer my injury will take to heal or if it is something more significant that will need “screws put in.”

And, of course this visit was Thursday morning and the MRI office didn’t get authorization from my insurance to schedule the appointment until later that afternoon. Now I have to wait until after the new year to get the MRI done because I will soon be out of town.

The wait continues.

More doubt ensues.

What if I’m not healthy enough to run my “comeback race” that I registered for a month ago?

Yes, I had signed up for The Tenacious Ten. 

The race is being put on in partnership with Oiselle, so, how could I not knowing many of my teammates and friends would be getting their race on together on April 22?

Now, this race seems like a long shot.

I have no idea when my comeback will be.

I’m too scared to talk about it.

 

Getting angry, setting goals

I was scheduled to see my primary care physician yesterday but the office called and told me they had to cancel my appointment because my doc was sick. OK, I understand that doctors are humans and can get sick just like the rest of us, but it was annoying that I didn’t receive an apology and that the next available appointment is in two-and-a-half weeks!

And, not only did I have that little blip, I found out that there was a miscommunication at my orthopedic doctor’s office — the one that gave me the news about my stress fracture. Apparently, I am/was supposed to go in for a follow-up appointment before I begin to run again. No one ever told me this back in August. The only reason I called their office was because I was annoyed with my PCP’s office. So, now I have an appointment with the ortho in January …

I was told by both doctors’ offices that I am on the “waiting list” should any cancellations arise before my appointments. I’m not holding my breath.

Needless to say, I was pretty agitated at work all day. I went home angry and decided to set myself a goal. Since I still can’t run right now — Or, I assume I can’t since of the um, pain I have been experiencing as of late — the least I can do is walk.

It’s not a lofty goal but I have told myself that I will hit at least 10,000 steps every day. For someone who has an “office job,” hitting 10,000 steps isn’t always a piece of cake.

I don’t have my phone on my person with me at all times at work but I am still going by what my iPhone’s health app reads at the end of each day. This means making better efforts to go out for a lunch break walk. I do sit at my desk and eat lunch while working 99.9 percent of the time, anyway. This means going outside in the dark and cold after work if I have not hit my steps. This means waking up even 10-20 minutes earlier so I can get a quick walk in before work. Every step counts, right??

I have always  been a goal-oriented person. Maybe having this goal will make me feel a little better.

OK, angry post done. Going for a walk.

Injured runner: V1 to the orthopedic doc

I ran 4 out of the 5 miles home on Monday. It was my first run home since May.

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Too hot. 

I went to physical therapy on Tuesday.

I swam on Wednesday.

And, on Thursday I went in for my first visit with the orthopedic doctor.

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At least the patient rooms have a view.

I guess I was hoping for some magical answer even though the level-headed part of my brain knew that I wouldn’t be magically healed after one visit. I knew that I would probably need some imaging done, like an MRI.

And, that’s what the doc says. He did an exam and told me my injury could be one of three things.

  1. IT band
  2. Lateral meniscus
  3. Articular cartilage
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A visual for you. 

Getting an MRI done would tell us what exactly is going on. At this point, I guess I hope it is #1 (IT band injury still). We didn’t get into details and into “what ifs” because there’s no sense crying over unspilled milk, right?

Of course the endless fears and thoughts are spiraling in my brain.

What if it is a serious tear? What if this off-and-on running I have been doing has been causing more harm to the injury? What if I need surgery? (Followed by: My mom is going to kill me if I have to get surgery. For sure she will “ban me” from ever running again!) What if I can never run a marathon again? Will I be able to run the Ragnar trail race in September that I have organized with my friends?

OK, I’ll stop with the overreacting.

This may be a longer recovery and healing process than I first thought.

Or, it may not.

For now though, the doc strongly encouraged me to not run until we have sorted out exactly what is going on (i.e. after we go over MRI results).

So, I guess I may as well get some house cleaning done this weekend and finish reading The Cursed Child. 

And, think endless positive thoughts.

Injured runner: I’m tired

I’m tired.

I’m tired of not running.

I’m tired of swimming.

Im tired of going to PT.

I’m tired of not knowing when I’ll be completely healthy again.

As far as health and injuries go, I know I am at the lower end of the spectrum. I can walk without pain. I can hike without pain. Climbing up and down stairs don’t really hurt anymore.

But, that one thing in life that I hold so dear, I cannot fully do.

I run about once or twice a week, but as the weeks have passed since my mid-June marathon, so dwindles my fitness and strength.

Now when I go for a short run, I feel slow, heavy, achy … and it’s not just in my left knee.

Maybe I am down because I can visibly tell that I have gained weight. Some of my shirts are tugging tighter around my stomach than they did before. Maybe I am down because I have been consistently doing my PT exercises for the last two months and while the IT band has subsided/gone away, now I am having pain directly behind the knee.

And, because of this behind-the-knee pain along with slight swelling, my PT has suggested I see a physician. I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor tomorrow. I’m hoping this doc will have the solution to my injury. I’m hoping to get some answers.

Because, right now, I’m so tired.

Injured runner: One step (and stroke) at a time

It is evident that when I’m not running, I do not blog. (After all, this is a mostly running blog!)

But, since you’re probably dying to know what I have been up to, this is the run down. (Sigh, run down …)

Is physical therapy still happening?

Yes, I am going to PT once a week. I continue to work on glute and hip strengthening exercises. Last week my PT did some resistance tests and noticed that I also may have a left hamstring strain … when I asked her if my injury is a knee/IT band injury or a hamstring injury, she replied that it is probably both. She added on a few exercises to my repertoire to deal with the hamstring as well now.

Is running still happening?

Yes, but this is also occurring only once a week. Last Friday I went out on a 37-minute run with Joanna and had discomfort right behind the knee. (I think this is the bottom of my hamstring talking to me). Luckily, towards the end of the run, the discomfort sort of went away. It never got super painful and I had no pain/discomfort on the outer side of my knee (i.e. IT band).

Is anything else happening?

Yes! I started to swim! I am by no means a swimmer, but I am sucking it up and hitting the pool because not running is making me feel gross and out-of-shape. I want to keep my fitness up but I refuse to pay for a gym membership (plus, gyms just depress me in general) and I’m scared of riding my bike with traffic. I swam Sunday and Monday so I am on a roll! I have no goal in regards to swimming, just try to get out in the water as often as I can.

What’s your outlook on your injury?

I am undecided. If I think too much about it, I get down in the dumps about it. It’s kind of nice that I have had a busy summer because half the time I have been preoccupied with other activities.