Injured runner: The start of PT

I had my first physical therapy appointment on Monday and I’m excited and super motivated (right now!)

To note, I did self refer myself to PT last summer when I thought my knee injury was “just an IT band injury” but it actually was a stress fracture so the PT wasn’t doing anything.

Once I was diagnosed with a stress fracture, the orthopedic doctor I had first been seeing told me to stop going to PT because I just needed to let the stress fracture heal. I needed to rest and give it time.

So, I did.

But, during that time I also apparently developed “runner’s knee” so when I got a second opinion last week with a sports medicine doctor, he referred me straight to PT.

My focus this week is on single leg bridges (with one ankle crossed across the other knee), side plank clamshells and supine active straight leg raises. I’m doing three sets of 15-30 reps daily. (Well, the suggested number of times is five days a week so I am aiming for daily).

My PT can really tell I “have serious work to do” — my words, not his — because I can’t even do a single legged squat without wavering and wobbling around. I clearly need to work on stability and strengthening my muscles again.

For now, they have me scheduled out for one PT appointment weekly for six weeks. I’m hopeful that during those six weeks I’ll be able to incorporate some walk-jogging into the mix. But, we’ll see.

My PT also told me to stop kicking my legs when I am swimming laps and to lower the resistance when I am on the stationary bike or elliptical. (This is because I told him that sometimes I experience pain while doing these workouts). He told me that my cardio exercise isn’t meant to get me sweating or raising my heart rate. It’s to get my knee functioning properly again. So, if spinning on the bike for 30 minutes at zero resistance is what I need to do, I need to do it.

It’ll be hard.

So, maybe I will just focus on my PT exercises for now.

Good luck to me.

Injured runner: On really being hopeful

My second opinion went just about as good as I could have hoped it to have gone.

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The “TLDR” version is that this doctor has no concerns that my stress fracture hasn’t healed. That issue is basically no longer an issue we need to be worried about.

So, what’s with my off-and-on knee pain then?

He suspects I have “runner’s knee” — the clinical term being patellar femoral pain — which may be due to mechanics of leg strength and improper muscle activity. AKA, my body has not been running for nearly a year and now my muscles are all out of wack leading me to have this knee cap area pain.

“You’ll be running again. I’m not here to tell you, you will never run,” The doctor said, adding that my cartilage and meniscus look great.

 

Hearing this was such a relief. It sounds cliche, but it felt like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. The unknowing-ness of what was going on with my knee for the past several months was making me annoyed and anxious and angry.

Now I do not need to get a third MRI (that the first doctor recommended).

I kind of wish I had gone for a second opinion sooner but c’est la vie. It is what it is.

I was lucky to snag a cancellation PT appointment tomorrow so at least my comeback journey can begin soon. And, this doctor I saw is a sports med doc so I got a referral to one of the “good physical therapists” who works with a lot of runners.

There’s no concrete timeline on when I can actually lace up the running shoes again. It all sort of depend on how PT goes.

But, that’s OK.

I’m so, so ready and really, really hopeful.

Injured runner: On being hopeful

For the past month, I have been holding onto a glimmer of hope.

I scheduled a second opinion and last month, the appointment was one month away.

My second opinion is now tomorrow.

I’ve been oddly looking forward to it because I’m hoping I will get concrete answers or a concrete plan for when I can return to running.

Maybe this doctor will tell me that I can start to ease back into running. Maybe this doctor will tell me to give walk-jogging a try. Maybe this doctor will say my two MRIs were mis-read and I do not have a stress fracture. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m on the mend. Maybe it’s nothing at all. 

One can hope, right?

I haven’t run in 11 months.

I’ve been injured for a little over a year.

And, I’m still hopeful that things will turn around.

I’m running on hope — even when not running.

30th Birthday

For the past 11 birthdays, I have had mixed emotions.

I’ve always felt a little sad, a little guilty.

Some people don’t like their birthday because they don’t like the attention, or the fact that they are aging.

For the past 11 years, I haven’t liked it because it means I am getting “further away” from Natalie.

I spent my 30th birthday earlier this month busy at work and then flying on an airplane with my BFF to Disneyland. I didn’t let myself stop and think about my sad association with birthdays for fear that I would get sad at the happiest place on earth.

But, today, I do.

Today is Natalie’s birthday. She would have turned 30 years old. But, I instead only have memories of a near-19-year-old. (Yes, she was only 18 when she passed away).

Sometimes I wish I even had videos of those memories. Because, as time passes, memories can change and even fade. I don’t want them too though.

I want to hold on to them for as long as possible.

Happy birthday, Natalia.

Injured runner: Are you running yet?

I’ve gone silent again.

Maybe it’s the “extreme Seattle heat” — we hit the 80s over in the Pacific Northwest, folks! — or maybe it’s because I haven’t felt like writing that I am still injured. Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy doing other things.

I have been swimming a lot (but more on that later). And, have spent a lot of time both in and out of the pool reflecting on this whole, um, experience.

While the past year has had its low moments (due to this darn knee injury), I have to remind myself that running has provided me with so many wonderful experiences, proud moments and life-long friendships.

Last night I went to the Seattle Reign soccer match with one of my friends, Ragan, and her group of season ticket holder friends. I feel like I have been friends with Ragan longer than the four or so years I have known her.

We met because we both worked together about two-and-a-half years ago. But, it wasn’t the “fast friends” type situation. I actually walked over to Ragan’s desk one afternoon and straightforwardly asked her, “Do you want to be on my Ragnar team?” In that moment, I really didn’t know much about her. I knew she was nice and smart and was in grad school for something science-y while also working. I didn’t know she played soccer and had several half marathons under her belt. Once I explained what exactly Ragnar was to her, she was quickly on board to join my team and filled the last spot on my 12-person team.

Since then, we’ve done two team relays together and have another one on the books — the upcoming Ragnar Rainier which I will most likely not be running, but will still captain and hang out. We obviously also hang out outside of running and I’m so thankful for her friendship.

This morning I went on a walk at Discovery Park with Mo and Leah. They are both high school friends and we all ran cross-country together in our teenage years. Since then we have trained and raced many marathons together. Mo currently lives in Seattle and Leah lives on the East Cost. A few years ago their living arrangements were reversed with Leah living here and Mo on the East Coast. Throughout geographic differences, we have remained close friends. Walking around Discovery this morning — on the same trail we have run together countless times — I was reminded that I have been friends with these extraordinary women for more than a decade.

All thanks to running.

So, to answer your question …. No, I am not running.

And, yes, it is still sad and makes me mad and anxious all at the same time. But when I really think deep about running, I cannot be so mad. It has brought so many new people into my life and has strengthened so many of my relationships.

So, kudos to you, running.

From injured to beyond angry

I skipped my swim today.

I was so mad, so angry about not being able to run that swimming — my “substitute” to running — just felt like a slap in the face.

When a family member suggests that you “not run any more marathons” in the future, how are you supposed to receive that? I’m injured. I have a stress fracture that is healing at a snail’s pace. Sure, I think about running all the time but I am in no manner thinking about when my next marathon will be. And, of course I have had flickering thoughts about whether or not I will even decide to run a marathon again.

I know I’m not the only injured runner in the world. I know there are people who have experienced far worse set-backs in their life.

But, in my little world, it’s all a big deal.

I have a second opinion scheduled for next month — the soonest I could be seen, of course — and this appointment is now my one glimmer of hope.

I still do have hope somewhere deep inside.

(Even if I feel broken, frustrated and beyond angry).

One year of being injured – and counting

I had my last injury-free run the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend of last year. Granted, I didn’t find out I had a stress fracture until three months later, I still have been injured for now a year.

I had scheduled an appointment with my ortho back in January/February for June 1 as a precaution. After all, he told me that he expected me to be pain-free and starting to run again come May/June. He added that if I was still experiencing knee pain, to come see him again in June.

Well, it’s June. And, I am still experiencing off and on knee pain.

What’s the verdict?

Still, it is to wait and see — a bit more. He was surprised I haven’t healed. He checked both of my MRIs again— the first from August and the second from the beginning of the year — and told me again that the fracture is just taking longer to heal than we expected. He said mid-July would be the furthest out it would take for the injury to heal so he wants to wait until then to do another MRI.

What if I continue to have pain after July though? What if the third MRI still shows that I still have a bit more healing left to go?

I feel like I am going through the longest marathon ever where every time I reach a mile mark, the finish line gets pushed further and further away from me. I keep thinking I will see that finish line banner off in the distance with each passing month of not running, but now I just don’t know.

I don’t know what to do. I mean, the doctor says to keep exercising so we can tell if my knee is healing. (Right now I still have off and on pain during and after exercise so the hope would be in the next month-and-a-half, that will go away completely).

Do I get a second opinion? I feel like a new doctor to me would just tell me to get another MRI as well.

I feel defeated because unlike running, where I am in control of everything, I currently have no control.

I can’t control time. I can’t control how much longer my fracture will take to heal. I can’t control my weight gain or that so many of my dresses are so tight or do not even fit me. I can’t control how sad it makes me feel that I haven’t had a healthy run in one year and that I haven’t been running at all in TEN WHOLE MONTHS.

Think about that one thing that brings you joy, that keeps you sane. Think about how you would feel if you could not do that.

It’s a frustrating, lonely, confusing place to be.