That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The verdict is in

And the doc says.....stress reaction.

He showed me on the MRI what he was looking for. Bones are supposed to show up all gray on an MRI. Partway down my tibia are big areas of bright white. That, he says, is inflammatory fluid. Oh yeah, that was also present on the side of my calf, which means shin splints. Of course.

At first I actually felt relieved and validated - I KNEW this experience has been too ridiculous to be chalked up to shin splints. And a stress reaction in that bone totally explains the pain, instability, and weirdness I've been feeling for weeks.

Then I realized, oh crap. Stress reaction was the doc's worst case scenario. And that means.......

It means, he says, that if I were like MOST of his patients, he'd tell me to pretty much rest as much as possible besides essential daily activities. I'm not sure what kind of look I gave him, but it obviously told him that is not an option. I told him my husband would leave me if I couldn't exercise. I was pretty close to serious. For real, though, every bone in my body would have to be broken before I'd agree to avoid any type of exercise.

So what I can do: swim. Upper body weights. Anything that does not involve any sort of leg weight pushing on any sort of surface. Yoga is ok.

He says another month off running. I can probably bike before then. I'm not happy to lose the biking right about now. He suggested prednisone, which I vetoed, because God knows I need 'roid rage like I need to have both legs amputated. He did agree that I could try regular doses of Aleve (which I've also been avoiding, as I avoid meds unless I'm an 11 on a 1-10 pain scale) and see if that helps.

After I cried in front of everyone at the doctor's office, because I'm awesome, I went to the gym and took my stress out on the rowing machine. (I'm not even sure that I can do that, since technically my feet are on a surface....but the motion is all pulling with the upper body, not pushing with the lower, and it didn't hurt my leg at all - which is huge, since everything else short of sitting still does hurt - so I did it.) I was going to do a half hour. Then I realized that I did 5k in just under a half hour and I wanted to try to do 10k in under an hour. The rowing machine has so many numbers to keep an OCD person intrigued. Time, pace, 500 m splits, projected distance at an was like the Garmin and made me want to push myself. Plus, the cardio and all the movement were doing wonders for my anger and frustration. So I did an hour on the rowing machine for a total of 10,007 m. (My rowing speed is remarkably close to my running speed!)

When I stopped, I realized that I had 5 blisters on my hands. I gave myself more blisters in one hour than I did while training for a marathon. Gaaah. Maybe I DO tend to overdo things. My high pain tolerance and stubbornness are gonna kill me one day.

The aftermath of 10k on a rowing machine:

But I felt better!!

I'm trying to find local runners for beer and sympathy. There have to be some, as big as Pig training is around here, and as many first-timers as it attracts. No bites on multiple facebook posts yet, though. Non-runners are sympathetic, but they can only be so much so, when they don't really understand why people enjoy running to begin with. Healthy runners can offer a bit more sympathy as they can imagine how traumatized they'd be by an injury, but when it comes down to it, they can still run off the stress of the vicarious trauma. I need a support group!

Really, I do feel better at least having a name for things, knowing the course of action I need to take, and having a recovery time frame. It's better than being told it's just shin splints or I'll be ok soon. The treatment plan includes physical therapy, which I'm actually excited about. I'll be happy to have someone who can be monitoring how I'm doing and who will be able to tell me exactly what I'm capable of doing and when. One of the physical therapists there is a high school running coach, so I'm super stoked to have someone who will hopefully understand that I want to get back to running as soon as - safely - possible.

I'm not even thinking about the Pig right now. I'm not thinking about what I could've done to prevent this (hard when I see injury prevention articles posted everywhere) - sometimes injury happens no matter what you do. I could've done things differently, but nobody's perfect, and I've always made the best choices that I can make at the time. Two weeks before the USAF half, I twisted my knee because of an uneven sidewalk, for crying out loud. Injuries just happen sometimes. Right now, I can't do anything about my situation - it is what it is, like I always tell clients - and what I need to do is get better. When I'm well enough to run, I'll figure out where I am and see which - if any - of the Pig races I'll be up for, and when I can plan for that marathon.

I am ignoring forums that talk about injuries and recovery because I am not the people that post there, and I need to focus on MY recovery and what my doctor is telling me. I don't need to know that someone ran a marathon 4 weeks after getting a stress fracture or that someone else ran with a stress reaction or that other people were allowed to bike. I am trying to just ignore everything I hear about running at the moment and work on doing what I'm allowed to do.

It won't be an easy journey - heck, this is 10 times harder than training for a marathon was - but I'll get there.

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