It’s Working!

Well, it may look funny, but it seems like it is working – the brace on my ankle, that is. I’ve been wearing it for about 3 weeks, and I can honestly say that my ankle feels markedly better. Very little discomfort remaining even when I walk around a lot. There is a little – so no running – but lots better.

It also almost never makes makes the crunchy noise, the technical term for which is apparently “crepitation.” I literally am decrepit I guess.

I haven’t been blogging due to several factors. I am working on a project which I will eventually unveil on this blog – but not yet. It will be a surprise but Im really excited about it. I also haven’t been able to work out due to the ankle and pool closures at my gym. And finally, because of a family vacation over the last week, from which we returned yesterday.

I am hoping to get back to swimming now that the pool is more available. I am also planning to continue wearing the brace through end of July. If things are feeling good at that time, with no pain or crepitation, I will start easing back to dry land exercise and PT, and maybe begin running again by September.

Fingers crossed that it keeps working because I really miss being able to run on these sunny days!

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Sexy New Footwear

After a couple weeks of waiting and spending a lot of time in the pool, I finally had my orthopedist appointment today.

The good news is that the MRI shows no evidence of a tear to the tendon. There could be a small one that would only show up if they opened it up surgically, but he doesn’t see any need to do that as I am still able to lift up onto the toes which indicates that the tendon is mostly still sound.

The bad news is, the tendon is still pretty inflamed. There is a lot of fluid around the tendon which is pushing on everything around it and making it sore, and according to the doc will probably take a while to subside. How long, he can’t say. It just takes as long as it takes.

He likes my plan of staying in the pool and doing the occasional spin class, and basically says that if it hurts, I should not do it. And no running until I can get through all my daily activities without any pain. When I am pain free, then I can start doing therapy band work and then work my way back into running.

I am still hoping to ease back into dry land running towards the end of the summer, but basically there is no way to plan for it because the ankle is in charge of the timing. So I will hold off on putting down those entry fees for the fall triathlons.

He doesn’t seem to think that I need an orthotic over the long term, but says I should go ahead and get some inserts like SuperFeet green to assist with the over pronation that is at the root of the problems I am having.

He also wants to immobilize the foot a bit more for the day to day activities while it is healing. So he gave me one of these lovelies…

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Ain’t she purty? That’s gonna look awesome with all my summertime shorts and skirts! I just need an extra large sandal to pull it off – maybe something gladiator-style would work?

I know you’re jealous that I have all the fun, but oh well. We can’t all be fashionable.

Your turn! What is your favorite summer footwear? Have you ever had a supposedly minor injury that would not go away? How did you cope? Tell me about it in the comments!

National Running Day

Today was National Running Day. I went swimming for an hour to celebrate. I would rather have gone for a nice outdoor run but with the ankle issue, I can’t. So, into the pool I go.

I am sort of excited about one running related thing that happened today. My Runners Rehab kit arrived from AquaJogger. This kit includes an AquaJogger belt, some funky little floaty shoes, a tether, and some triangular dumb bells.

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Nope, not gonna look dorky at all in that getup…

The belt is the only critical piece of the kit – you pretty much can’t do pool running in deep water without it. The other items – shoes, dumb bells, tether, are mainly intended to increase resistance. I intend to use the shoes and belt every time I do this because I have a hard time feeling my legs without the shoes. I think I need a little more resistance. Not sure about the dumb bells, and I probably won’t use the tether until I start transitioning my running back onto dry land.

In other running related news, I also had an MRI this morning for my ankle. That meant 35 minutes with my ankle locked into a flexed position and inserted inside a very loud and clanging machine. You cannot move at all while they are taking images, which is tough because each of the images takes 4 or so minutes to be done, and they take 10 of them. And the machine sometimes causes your muscles to twitch from the magnets (or something). I got yelled at a couple of times for involuntary movements, but overall they said they got a good image quality.

It was a very long and uncomfortable 35 minutes. But in a day or so I will finally have definitive information about my ankle, and once I have that, I’ll be able to start formulating some kind of plan for how to get this thing healed up. So, I’m glad it’s finally done.

Another Frustrating Turn

Well, just when I thought I would be back to running again, I’ve hit another snag. Can you say FRUSTRATING??

Last week I ran a couple of times, which didn’t feel great but wasn’t overly painful. But then, I went and did something really dumb. I took my kid to the batting cage. And since I can’t pass up the chance to hit a few balls off the machine (it really is fun and therapeutic), I decided to take few swings myself.

Well, let me tell you, that was a dumb idea. Who knew that rapidly twisting the ankle would be a bad idea? I didn’t. Because yes, I am exactly that bright. Whatever I did, really did not feel good. And my ankle has been jacked up ever since (going on 5 days now).

I kind of thought it would pass and be okay, so I was planning on being back to running this week, but it’s not happening. There has been more swelling and a lot more discomfort than there had been, even though I skipped my run over the weekend and have been taking it pretty easy since Thursday.

Part of the problem is that my Post-tib tendon is still doing quite a bit of subluxation – which means that it pops out of the groove in the ankle bone where it is supposed to sit. It’s a sensation that varies from merely alarming to actually excruciating for those split seconds when it is doing it. It happens because it is swollen/inflamed – so doesn’t fit where it is supposed to go.

The ankle is also just super wobbly – there isn’t much stability in the joint. So it may be that I need to be in an orthotic. Or a boot. Or maybe I need surgery. That will be up to a doctor to let me know, since conservative management doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. Possibly because I’m dumb and make bad decisions, like going to the batting cage.

So anyway, when I went to PT today, I wasn’t exactly kicked out, but my therapist recommended I go back to the doctor for more imaging and to determine next steps.

This is my second setback in the 6 weeks I’ve been going so this is probably a wise step but I’m still pretty bummed. However, I do know that problems with the Post-tib tendon can be degenerative, with a risk of turning into what is called a fixed flat foot, which would pretty much put a permanent stop to my running. So it really is best to fix the problem before it gets worse, rather than literally run the ankle into the ground.

But still, I’m frustrated. Partly at the situation, partly at myself. How ironic that the big thing I was worried about (not being able to run after my hysterectomy) was what motivated me to continue training for the Rain Run even though my ankle was already hurting, probably aggravating the condition, which is now the thing keeping me from running. The hysterectomy, meanwhile, was a total non-event.

I guess that proves the old adage true – that a man often meets his fate on the road he takes to avoid it.

Calming Down

Happy to report that staying off my ankle (or at least, not running on it) seems to be working and the pain is starting to subside. And that is good because I was super frustrated about my situation when I went I to PT yesterday. I whined that I was tired of having every workout make my ankle hurt, wondering when I will ever get back to running the way I want to, and just generally feeling sorry for myself.

Fortunately (and unsurprisingly) this is probably something PT’s hear a lot, so she said the right things calmed me down. We worked out a good plan and today I am feeling a lot better. Mentally, I feel better. And so does my ankle.

One piece of advice she gave me is that we need to make sure the arch and ankle are supported while I’m still healing. I was having a lot of problems with some of the balancing exercises, because when I try to stabilize the foot, it really pulls on that tendon to the point where it hurts.

Apparently this stuff is not supposed to hurt.

Of course, I’m old school and that’s not what I heard…

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That picture scares me. He looks like a hernia waiting to happen.

Pain – actual pain, not to be mistaken for “effort” – is bad, in spite of what you may find printed on muscle shirts. Everything I was doing was bothering my ankle because it was getting over stretched and inflamed. That’s not good, so we need to get the stress off it while we reteach the muscles to to the work my tendon is currently attempting to do.

The upshot is that she wants me to wear arch supports while I’m healing up. I went and bought some to put in my ballet flats and let me tell you – it made a world of difference in just a few minutes. Just a little support under the arch and the heel bone and the shoes, which were almost unbearably painful (but also so unbearably cute, I couldn’t bear to part with them), are now comfortable to wear again. Yay!

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Oh, and she also got after me a little about not rolling out the calf enough, so I guess I need to start doing that again. I stopped for a while because I decided that carrying my rolling pin to the gym around looks a little goofy. I mean, one does tire of fielding inquiries as to why they are carting around a rolling pin everywhere they go. So I finally broke down and bought a Stick.

7 Week Recovery Report

Whew. Today was rough. We all have those days where things just don’t go our way. For us it started with a late wake up, and an early baseball game in the rain and wind. The kids were at each other all day, in and out of trouble, not listening. I decided they were tired so sent them to bed early. Oleg fell asleep in minutes, Max is right behind.

Ahhhhh. Sweet silence.

Small children’s efforts to derail my inner zen notwithstanding, I got in a good workout today. Did about a half hour on the elliptical – going as hard as I could. I dripped all over the machine, so that means I was working hard right? I guess when you go 180 rpm on there with reasonable resistance, “sweat happens.”

Normally, I am not a big fan of the elliptical. So boring. You can get your heart rate up on it though and that is all I needed. I had to skip running – my ankle has been bothering me more this week so I decided to get off it. It seems that the 9 or so miles of run/walking I did this week, combined with the Physical Therapy I’ve been doing for my ankle, was a lot.

Since the ankle is kind of sore, I’m going to try to stay off it until Wednesday and see if it calms down. If it does I will try to do the Inspiring Hope run next weekend. It may end up being an Inspiring Hope walk. I will run on Wednesday just to see how it is doing, then if it seems okay, I’ll sign up.

After elliptical I did my PT exercises. While I was doing the Arm and Leg swings in the Sagittal Plane (the hardest one I have to do) some wiseacre next to me goes, “I guess that exercise must be harder than it looks.”

I thought to myself, “What was your first clue, genius? The fact that I keep practically falling over, or that my face is beet red and I look like someone is poking me in the leg with a red hot poker?”

I was nice, though. I just said “yup,” and kept at it.

I sure will be glad to have running not cause me pain anymore, because I miss being able to do long runs on the weekend. As a friend of mine said to me this week, running is my sanity. It (and this blog) are my “me” things that I do. I like getting in a good workout at the gym, but it is not the same as running outside for an hour for my general outlook. I like getting sweaty out in nature I guess.

I said this was a 7 week recovery report. Guess I better report.

As far as the surgery aspect, things are good. No abdominal pain at all, everything feels pretty normal now. In fact, I’m not sure how much longer I will keep doing these reports because I am not sure how much longer the surgery itself will be a factor with regards to the things I am interested in talking about on this blog. I feel pretty good, can do pretty much everything I want to, and I still feel like long term there shouldn’t be much in the way of negative impact.

The only thing I am still struggling with is the ankle. I had really hoped the bed rest in March and time I’ve spent not running over the last 3 months (pretty much since the Rain Run) would have fixed me up. I certainly didn’t expect to still be having pain 3 months later. I think the PT is helping, and will help more and more as I get stronger, I just feel frustrated that this is the thing holding me back.

On the other hand, maybe it’s good this ankle thing is happening. Since the surgery recovery seems so easy, I’d probably have hurt myself already if there wasn’t something slowing me down, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

Hurts So Good

I got my full Physical Therapy routine started at yesterday’s PT appointment. I’m going to Experience Momentum, which was recommended to me by a running friend who had used them.

They designed an exercise program to help with flexibility and hip strength, and to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the calf so that my posterior tibial tendon isn’t forced to work so hard. Most of the exercises aren’t too difficult except for two that directly target the area of my right hip that is the weakest. So although I can barely do them, I know I have to keep at it since whatever they do must be what I need to work on.

I also think it’s interesting how easy these exercises are on my other leg – major muscle imbalance between left and right side going on. Which I guess is not totally surprising given that I never have been able to walk or run in a straight line – on the treadmill I am always slowly meandering between the guard rails.

So far I’ve been impressed because the exercises they’ve given me and techniques they’ve used have already made a big difference. Last week, my ankle flexibility was so severely limited that I literally could not get my knee forward past my toe without a lot of pain – now I can get within a couple of centimeters of what the other ankle to do. That’s a lot of difference in a week. Now we just need to strengthen that hip so it can do its job a bit better.

Also might be nice to be able to walk straight – call that an added bonus.

In addition to exercises and stretches, yesterday’s appointment also included something called ASTYM. You can click to visit the website if you want to read the scientific mumbo jumbo, but what I was told is it’s basically a deep tissue massage of sorts that utilizes a hard plastic thingie that the therapist scrapes along the muscles and tendons that are causing your pain. The hard plastic thing supposedly helps move inflammation and scar tissue and also stimulates blood flow to promote healing.

It is rather uncomfortable but not excruciating – I yelped a little but mostly I laughed. I just tend to laugh at a certain level of pain. I know that makes me sound like a badass. But I am just talking about the level of pain where it also comes across as somewhat pleasurable because your body isn’t quite sure what the heck is going on. Like being sore after an extremely tough workout.

Of course, much past that level of pain comes yelping, then shouting, then tears. And kicking or punching if it doesn’t stop. We were at the laughing and yelping level, though, so the pain was of the hurts so good variety. The therapist told me she had only ever made a person cry a couple of times – laughter and the “hurts so good” sentiment being more common.

I was sad when she stopped.

Anyway, I woke up with my ankle feeling pretty good this morning, so either the technique actually works, or the placebo effect makes me think it does. Whatever the case, I’ll take it!