Whatever It Takes

A few months ago, I hoped to be running again by mid-June.  As good luck (and a lot of patience) allowed, my physiotherapist cleared me to start running slowly.  “Run for mechanics,” he said, “not for fitness.”  He was telling me not to push myself and to just get use to the motion of running again.

Back At It!

My first run was 2 miles at a 9:30 pace.  Within two weeks, I was averaging 3 miles just below an 8:30 pace and, just recently, I have been running up to 4 miles with my average pace around 7:50 per mile and a few miles hovering around 7:40.  On paper, everything looks great.  I’m running more and I am running faster – and I am being careful not to push myself; I’m running at a “feel good” pace.  My gait feels good, my hips feel straight, and I feel strong.  But the back of my leg just doesn’t feel right.

As the saying goes “Nobody knows your body better than you” and I can tell that I am still not “fixed.”  In April, Dr. Bentley (the hip specialist) wanted me to have my pelvis realigned through  physiotherapy  and it has definitely helped me.  But I still have a tightness at the top of my hamstring, close to the tear where the hamstring meets the ischial tuberosity.  Nothing feels wrong, so to speak, but it still doesn’t feel right.  I feel like Tammy the Hamstring is lurking at the door, waiting to break in and turn my house upside down.   After all of the rest, muscle work, rebuilding, realigning and time I have invested in my recovery, I am ready to do whatever it takes to keep her locked out.

Ready for some time off to heal some more.

I went over my concerns with Dr. Bentley and we decided that a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection is the next step for me.  I have spent months reading about PRP treatments  and there is not a lot of  evidence to support its effectiveness.  I have spoken with two people who had it done: one said it made things worse, and the other said it didn’t really help.  But there is a lot of research that supports PRP therapy.  My GP, sports med doctor, chiropractor and 2 different physiotherapists all feel that this is a good route for me to follow; when I have a team of professionals who are rallying a PRP injection, I am going to listen.  I really have nothing to lose.

Last night, a lady I know told me of a friend who had a PRP injection done.  “Her text right after was full of delightful words,” she said, “but she’s finding that it’s helping.”  That was the message that I needed – something positive, something to affirm that I am on the right path.  I am ready for the pain and I can deal with a bit of time off – whatever it takes to keep me running and let me keep chasing my dreams.

Cautiously Optimistic

This week, I have taken advantage of March Break and booked a few midday appointments at Dr. Elliott’s clinic.  It is amazing how good eliminating the stress of getting to appointment before work or rushing to one at the end of the day feels.  So I have been there every day this week: for physio, for a massage and to see Dr. Elliott himself.  I think that I now deserve my own parking spot.

Better than my own parking spot, though, is the feedback that I have had this week.  On Monday, I realized that my hamstring is a lot stronger, so much stronger that we have eliminated the hamstring curl with my toe inwards, the exercise that makes me feel dorky.  Now my focus is on the glutes and building more endurance in them.

On Tuesday, on the advice of my physiotherapist and doctor, I had a massage.  It probably goes without saying that this was the last thing that I wanted to do.  But after thinking about it for weeks and realizing that a gentle rehab type massage could reduce some of the tightness and pain that I have been feeling in my lower back and legs, I decided to give it a go.
I booked one with Cliff, who also works at the clinic, as he has access to all medical files related to my injury.  I walked in nervous but left feeling a lot better, physically and mentally.  He didn’t touch the area near my Ischial Tuberosity but worked around it, as well as my legs, back, shoulders and neck.  It’s now two days later and nothing is bothering me, which is a relief. I will go back in a few weeks to try to help relax the muscles associated with my hips.

Yesterday, I met with Dr. Elliott to get some answers to my questions and squash some of the “what if’s.”  Dr. Elliott said that individuals are turned away from a PRP injection if it won’t help them, because they have already healed.   “So it doesn’t mean that my tendon won’t heal?” I asked.  It just means that it won’t make a difference in their healing.  By the time I have my injection, I should be almost healed and the injection will only strengthen the tendon.    I felt so much better after speaking with him.  All I can do now is wait.

Some days, I have found that it easy to get overwhelmed and start to panic. Staying focussed, being positive: that takes work.  But it is work that I am willing to do as I have to believe that I am almost there.   Psychologically, it is a lot easier to think about running again than about what will happen if I can’t.

 

 

Do I Laugh or Cry?

“There is value in learning to accept gracefully those things that cannot be changed.”

This were the first words that I read in my son’s psychology text on the weekend.  He had rushed off to work and left his book on the kitchen table, open to a section on anger and frustration.  Being a psych major, I couldn’t help but look at what he was studying and, somewhat appropriately, these words jumped out at me.

The past few months have been a test of my mental strength.  How much frustration and disappointment of being injured (July), re-injured (October) and learning that it was way worse than anyone originally thought (January) can I handle?  I like to think of myself as a positive person, one who looks for an upside, thinks happy thoughts and believes that “things happen for a reason.” The upside of my hamstring tear is it has given me more time at home with my 13 year old and let me watch him grow as a student, an athlete, and a person.  But I am now in my sixth month of healing, almost 3 seasons later, and while I have accepted my injury, my frustration is still there.

Good news! Or so I thought.

I had a glimmer of hope that my weeks of being side-lined are coming to an end when I finally got an appointment date for a PRP injection: April 16th @ 12:00PM DURING HIS LUNCH.  I had no idea what was meant by “during his lunch.”  Am I suppose to feel extra grateful that he is seeing me at 12:00 rather than make me wait another week or two?  Is this a underlying message that I better not be late?  Or he is so busy that he is likely to be behind and I better not dare complain because he is seeing me “during his lunch.”  Or maybe, just maybe, it is a subtle hint to bring him a coffee, a snack or even a lunch.  Well, I am grateful that he is seeing me at this time rather than have me wait for another appointment at a later date so I happily confirmed it, I won’t complain if he is behind and maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop at Tim’s to bring him a snack.  I could only laugh.

However, when I called to confirm, I learned that this is not my appointment for the injection; it is a consultation.  Since 1 in 10 people are turned away, I have to meet with the doctor first and go in later for the actual injection.  I wanted to cry.   If my injection is at the end of April, I can assume that I will be off for another 6 to 8 weeks, which means that I still won’t be running until the end of June.  And that is only if I need one PRP shot.  If I need another, it will obviously be even longer.

This whole process has been frustrating beyond belief and it is now being overshadowed but the occasional fear.  What if I am that one in ten?  What if I can’t run again.  What if?  What if?   I hate the “what if?” game.  “Stay positive.  Look for the upside,” I tell myself.

Last night after yoga, I spoke my about thoughts with Kelly-Lynne and I found the positive again.  I realized how much fitter I have become in the past 6 months.   My leg strength is coming back; I can feel it when I cycle, and I can sit for longer periods of time without being in pain.  My core is firm, I can do a lowboat again and my upper body is stronger than it has been in years.  I threw myself back into the deep end when I came out of my comfort zone and started swimming.   When all things are said and done, I feel like I am in better shape than I have been in years.  So even though I still am not running and am quite unhappy about it, I can accept the delay.  If it means that my hamstrings are going to be that much stronger and I am going to be that much healthier, then I can absolutely wait a few more weeks.

Many years ago, when making a group decision at work, we voted for acceptance.  “Can you live with it?” was the question asked.  At school, I teach my students that you don’t have to always like something, but you have to be able to accept it; my Grade 7’s understand that.  Well, I do not like this time to heal and this waiting game one little bit, but I can live with it.  I have accepted it and, one day, I hope, that will make me a better athlete.