Category Archives: Running

hills, speed, lsd

Chronicles of a MRI arthrogram

I have run two marathons.

But this, I was scared.

I kicked serious butt in the birthing room.

But this, I was scared.

I quit a successful career and went back to school at 36.

But this, I was scared.

I have lived with type-1 diabetes nearly my whole life.

But this, I was scared.

Yesterday I had a MRI arthrogram to try and sleuth what the hell is wrong with my groin. I had been told ahead of time this would be a most unpleasant experience, that the dye injection would be inserted into my hip, and that various movements would be employed to purposely initiate pain in the area. I was told I would not be released without someone there with me, but not told why. I was told I would be transported via wheelchair from radiology to the MRI clinic, but again, not fully explained why.

I googled MRI arthrogram.

Big mistake.

Lots of horror stories.

I was scared.

Honestly, I had nothing to be scared of.

170501MRI1

Except maybe the poo-coloured pants they made me wear!

The freezing agent that was injected into my leg wasn’t the greatest feeling, but it didn’t hurt, nor did it burn as the radiologist indicated it would. It just felt like a lot of pressure. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was more wigged out than anything. Same with the contrast dye injection. I could feel that there was something there, and I knew they were doing stuff, and my eyes were squinted shut, and my nails were digging into my hands, and my left foot (the opposite side they were working on) kept vigorously flexing back and forth – but there was no pain.

Big Ring described it perfectly: it was the same feeling I get and actions I do when in the dentist’s chair. I know they’re doing stuff, and I know there should be pain, and I’m waiting for that pain, but that pain never comes. Just a whole lot of wigging out for nothing.

Mental pain.

The MRI, however, was a test of strength. I do have slight claustrophobia, although I kept telling them I didn’t when they asked, almost as though I was trying to will it away. They gave me earplugs and headphones with music to try and take my mind off the ridiculous loudness of the machine. As they were pushing me into the machine (full body), the guy suggested I close my eyes. Well, of course I now wanted to open my eyes. (Yes, I was that kid.) I took a peak…

I WAS IN A BLOODY COFFIN!!! And the walls were closing in on me! Holy freaking hell, I squeezed those eyes back shut as tight as they could go.

I had to keep perfectly still.

And suddenly all my nerves started twitching, and bones cracking, and muscles involuntarily spasming. Stop it!

After the first picture, they told me to remember to breathe lightly.

So naturally I start hyperventilating. Stop it! And I can’t swallow. Stop it! My body wants big gulps of air. Stop it! And I’m trying to sing Sunday Bloody Sunday to take my mind off of it all.

Finally 40 minutes passes. It feels like 400 hours.

I get the results in two weeks.

Running reboot: injury be damned

This blog is lonnnnnng overdue. I started writing it back in January, but was sidelined (and subsequently pummeled) by integral calculus, which took pretty much all my focus. The post was pushed to the side, only to be revisited today – four months after I started my official running reboot, and three days out from getting an arthrogram MRI to see what the heck has plagued my groin for the past nine months.

Let’s go back in time, shall we.

Bloop-bloop-bloop…

Jan. 15, 2017: It wasn’t a blip in the pan. It wasn’t fly by the night. It was real.

I went for a run. I did not know what to expect on this run. I was still injured. I still am injured. My leg feels sharp stabs of pain daily. The groin ache is still there. At this point, I don’t know if it will ever go away. What I do know: when I run it’s not there.

I am a runner. Injury be damned.

The significance of this is huge.

I have not run since October 5, 2015. First taken out by a foot injury; later by the attack of the femur.

Let me do the math for you:

That is more than 15 months – a total of 441 days of no wearing out running shoes; no soaking up technical shirts; no squeezing into sports bras; no searching for Garmin-controlled satellites; no dodging puddles; no squinting through the blinding sun; no speed-induced power thoughts; no hill climbing stress relief. Nothing.

And it was killing me.

Not even pregnancy could keep me out of the sneakers that long.

I have gone to multiple physiotherapists; I have done the muscle-firing IMS; I have done the less invasive acupuncture. Nothing has helped. My current physio suggested it is either femoracetabular impingment or a labrel tear in the groin. Scary words.

The x-rays came back negative. I was put in the cue for a MRI arthrogram.

I tried resting it. The groin injury presented itself last July; that is solid resting. I iced. I heated. I did ibuprofen. I did heavy duty Nsaids. None of it worked.

So last week I straight up asked the sports med physician what the harm would be if I started running. I told him this semester was full of math. I told him I could not survive this semester without running relief. I told him I was ready to chop the bloody leg off and get a prosthetic if that meant I could run.

I also told him that while squatting and sitting and stretching all caused pain, my brief sprints to catch the morning bus did not.

He gave me a thumbs up, but with the clear warning of take it easy, go slow, do not overdo it.

I followed doctors orders. I started out real slow, real tentative. I listened to every moan or groan my body made. The first run was 10 and 1s, running 1 minute, walking 1 minute, plus a 10-minute dynamic warmup and cool-down. It was a happy, happy day.

Bloop-bloop-bloop…

April 28, 2017: I am still not at the level of running I would like to be. The furthest distance I’ve reached is just shy of 7 km, my pace is sometimes slow as mud, and my stamina is lacking. I feel the need for walk breaks. I don’t know if it’s in my head or real. It’s discouraging at times.

But, I’m running.

It’s been a learning curve: again figuring out my diabetes with the level of running I’m at; figuring out what to eat; what to set my temporary basal rates at during the run and post run; how much to reduce my breakfast bolus by if I’m running in the morning. I don’t always succeed. It’s frustrating at times.

But, I’m running.

The pain, well, it seems running has loosened it – significantly. I no longer have the feeling of debilitating shards of glass cutting through my thigh multiple times a day. I no longer uncomfortably ache during exams. I sleep at night, pain free. That all began with running. The pain is still there, but it is no longer an ugly force, just a weak reminder there’s still something wrong. I don’t have the flexibility I used to. Squats and sitting cross legged are still challenging.

But, running was the near cure.

170430runningreboot

Running reflection.

Smurfette Part 2: The Bone Scan

Ohhhh, the déjà vu.

2011: I was training for my second marathon, and struggling with a sore ankle every time I ran. I spent months in physiotherapy with no relief. Dear Physio was getting frustrated; I was beyond frustrated.

2016: I haven’t run in 9 months. I’ve suffered horrid pain that’s become more a dull ache in my left foot for 12 months. I’ve spent thousands (note the plural) on physio, chiro, acupuncture, essential oils, and more with no relief. Frustrated. Desperate. Moody. Sad and envious as bloody hell.

Both outcomes resulted in bone scans. In 2011, it turned out I had stress fractures in both ankles. In 2016, well, as I’m currently writing this post in the waiting area of nuclear medicine, I don’t yet know the results.

What I do know:

At 9 a.m. I was injected with a blue radioactive tracer containing phosphate and technetium. The phosphate is treated by the body as a building block; anything broken, stressed, out of alignment, not as it should be is a hot spot trigger for the phosphate and will glow brightly under the scanning camera. They took a few pictures right off the hop to see how the body reacted to the dye, if there were any blood irregularities, etc. These pics, which I could see forming on the screen, made my feet look like sparkly glass slippers.

Cinderella! Cinderella!

scan1-blog
From 2011: Injecting the blue dye

Then I waited… and waited… and waited. Waiting, pretty much an apt description of getting bone scans done. Because you’re injected with such a small amount of the radioactive tracer, and because it’s got to travel all the way down to the feet, you’ve got to give it sufficient time. The injection was at 9 a.m. and the scans didn’t start until 2:40 p.m.. In between, there was a whole lot of water drinking (to flush out the kidneys) and tea drinking (because, well, I love tea) and studying (same thing for 2011, except this time it’s for college chemistry and last time it was high school chemistry).

The scan itself was only about 20 minutes!

scan2016
From 2016: The masking tape chronicles

The fellow doing my scan was great. As soon as he saw my insulin pump, he started telling me about how all four of his sisters have type-2, and his brother-in-law in Finland has type-1 and takes daily pen injections. We talked about Canada’s medical system (which by no means is as free as many in our country and others believe it to be) vs. Finland’s. This came as a shocker to me given how great the country is with its educational system, but apparently in Finland, the cost of diabetes is based on a weigh scale; those overweight pay way more than those not. This man’s brother-in-law pays in the thousands (Canadian equivalent) every week!!!

“He likes his sweets,” the tech said.

Don’t we all!

He took three photos of both feet (to compare the two): one of the top of the foot, one of the bottom, and one of the side. The photos took five minutes each and you had to stay still for the full five minutes. I was good for the first two photos; I think because we were talking so much it took my mind off it (plus, for one of the photos, my feet were taped with masking tape). But the last photo, I don’t know. You know when you’re told to stay still, but try as you might, all your body wants to do is move. That’s how I was! The last two minutes of that last photo, I could feel my feet and knees starting to twitch, and I kept thinking no, no, no, be good, be perfect, follow the instructions, don’t you dare move, dammit, stop, stop, stop. I tried taking my mind off what was going on by looking at the skeleton feet forming on the screens and trying to figure out which ones belonged to which foot, and wondering if that glowing line was normal foot bones or Princess problems. When the musical ding finally rang, I nearly shouted Hallelujah!

Apparently my doc will have the results in a week’s time.

Hopefully there will be some answers, something that will get the recovery process on the right track. Because seriously, I just want to bloody fricken well run!

Medtronic Global Heroes Part 1: Heroism defined

Have you ever been a part of something so incredibly fantastic that you’ve been nearly muted by the awesomeness of it? Something that you struggle to put words to because no word seems adequate enough? Something that you find yourself unconsciously holding back on because you know the person across from you didn’t experience it and will surely have jolts of envy shooting through them to hear it? I have. For the past month, my mind has been bursting and my fingers itching to attack the keyboard, but my voice unnervingly silent. And then, this morning I went to Dear Physio, an hour long appointment filled with IMS needles, and it all came flooding out of me.

Medtronic Global Heroes, holy freaking hell, I did that – I am that!!!

Global Heroes awesomeness!

We are Global Heroes.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

The moment we walked off the plane, I felt like a rock star. There was a sign – a sign! – greeting us. Our bags were carried; our pockets filled with snacks; and a chauffeured car waiting. Oh yeah, and a wallet full of spending money too!!! (To, ahem, cover the costs of our luggage and any meals that weren’t provided (of which I think there were maybe two)).

That smile was pretty much the theme of the weekend!

That smile was pretty much the theme of the weekend!

Where do I even begin?

I knew that this weekend was going to be huge. I had read several online accounts from Global Hero bloggers of previous years, and had studied the Global Heroes website and the faces on the website like no one’s business. But as much as I love the written word, it doesn’t compare to experiencing it in the flesh. The moment I walked into the banquet room of our first mixer, my skin prickled with goosebumps. Everything about ME felt right.

Instantly I was enveloped by 24 fellow Global Heroes, men and women of all ages and all sorts of medical “ailments” and technology – none who have let their diagnoses get in the way of them rocking life to the core. There was my pal Dion, the stoic man from Christchurch, New Zealand, who had a spinal cord stimulator implanted to manage pain after being wounded in an Afghanistan deployment; he ran the 10-mile on crutches. My neighbour chickie Miss Carmen, from Mississippi/Florida, who not only has one of the easiest smiles I’ve seen, she also has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to treat cardiomyopathy. She did the 10 mile six months pregnant, wearing a closet full of sweaters to stay warm… those Floridians! And Sarah, the girl with the chicest glasses (yes, I was all over those glasses!) who, before getting a pacemaker, spent her adolescence fighting daily blackouts, and struggling to get through a conversation without first running out breath. She ran the marathon, dreaming of the day she gets implanted with a bright pink pacemaker (hint-hint Medtronic).

Drooling over glasses at Minnehaha Falls.

Drooling over glasses at Minnehaha Falls.

Crystal Gail, who just one year ago was lying in a hospital bed with sutures following the implantation of a neuromodulator to manage chronic pain. She’s run 547 miles since and was the driving force behind the Black Lives Matter protest re-channeling into a rally next to the race, not in front of it. And Mike, oh man, Mike. This guy, an eye specialist, who diagnosed his own heart condition. This guy, an avid cyclist too, was run off the road while out for a ride just last year, he suffered a major shoulder injury, but opted to postpone surgery in favour of being a Global Hero. He killed his 10 mile time and few days later was under the knife getting his shoulder repaired.

A friendship knows no borders: Wales, Canada, Canada expat turned Nashvillian, and Zambia.

A friendship knows no borders: Wales, Canada, Canada expat turned Nashvillian, and Zambia represent.

So many fantastic stories. All worthy of the heroism title. And the crazy thing, I was one of them!

I think maybe that’s the hard part for me to truly comprehend. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m awesome – you guys know I know I’m awesome – but I never really thought of my diabetes and my running with diabetes as anything extraordinarily special, it’s just something I do. It’s me.

But that’s the thing, right. Diabetes didn’t end my run. Diagnosis didn’t end any of our runs. Not Akende’s; not Luciana’s; not Delphine’s; not Liga’s; not Sergei’s; not Camilo’s; not Jack’s; not Carmen’s; not Laura’s; not Wen’s; not Sally’s; not Yoshitaa’s; not Kenji’s; not Tomas’; not Nicola’s; not John’s; not Melanie’s; not Mike’s; not Dion’s; not Silvia’s; not Crystal Gail’s; not Sarah’s; not Yulong’s. Not mine.

And that is pretty freaking awesome!

And that’s pretty freaking awesome; heroic, if you will.

Heroism defined!

… oh, and that spending money… wellllllll, let’s just say someone got a new hoodie and standout pink sunglasses!!!

151009sunglasses1b

Stay tuned…

Mama’s Shoes Don’t Fit

Last week I was put in the shoes of my moms for probably the first time ever. Okay, yes, I have a child just like she did (although, I’m only doing it once, not four times over) and some of you may relate that to walking in her shoes. But for me and my moms, it wasn’t until last week that I truly felt what it was like to walk in her shoes.

I didn’t like it.

So here’s the back story: Lightening Bolt’s parents were in the hospital awaiting the arrival of Baby Number 4 (who by the way has the BEST video game name ever) and I was charged with insulin injecting duties for little LB. Something to do with me having the disease, going 28 years of injections, you know, being veteran T-1 and all. And at first I thought no problem. But then the cogs in my brain started spinning.

I have only ever given myself injections. I have never given anyone else a needle, and I have never liked anyone else giving me a needle. I know my pain threshold. I don’t know LB’s. What the frick did I agree to? Oh freaking crud. This kid is going to hate me!

Insert Dr. Google: My fingers frantically danced over the keyboard in search of injecting tutorials. And low and behold, there is a huge spectrum of them: Wikihow; YouTube; BD.com; etc., etc., etc.. Pictures, videos, words, pretty much anyone can become a needle-loving drug addict online! And FYI, none of it is how I do it!

Insert Second Guessing: What if I can’t do it? I haven’t injected a tiny pen syringe in over five years. What if I’ve forgotten the steps? What if I nick a vein? What if I choke? Nope, that wasn’t an option. Texting back and forth with my lovely sister-in-law helped grow my confidence.

But, his eyes: Those what the frick do you think you’re doing eyes as I held the pen in my right hand. His bottom lip, quivering as he realized oh freak, she ain’t kidding. The tears. The clutching, the pulling down his sleeve, the desperate protecting of his arm. The heartbreaking “No! No! No!”. I don’t remember my own tears at the hands of my moms, but I remember the screams at the hands of the nurses who more often than not left my arms purple and blue. Oh dear. How could I do this?

Granny, you're not seriously letting her near me with that thing are you? Granny????

Granny, you’re not seriously letting her near me with that thing are you? Granny????

I counted. My moms consoled. I rubbed his back. I tried to calm him.  His big brother jumped, bounced and danced. My boy looked at me with those same eyes, what the frick you doing to my cousin bestie mama? I showed him my pump, I showed him my meter, I told him we were the same. But a 4.5 year old facing a needle at the hands of someone he’d never had a needle from prior was not going to understand.

I didn’t know his pain threshold.

The needle was in, the needle was out. The un-trusting glare on his face remained. I will never forget that look, and likely will be getting it for the next 30 years.

Last week I walked in the shoes of my moms; I didn’t like it.

YESTERDAY’S RUN:
3:30 p.m. BG before: 4.7
Temp. basal: -100% (1 hour)
Carbs: gummy bears
Time: 41:45
Distance: 7.13 km
Average pace: 5:51 min/km
4:30 p.m. BG after: 9.1
Temp. basal: +100% (1 hour)

This run was bittersweet – sweet that I made it a whole 2 more kms then I did on my runs last week, but bitter in that my heel was achy and my toes got a bloody cramp in them half way into the run. Argh!

(Top) Taken moments before the beads of sweat on my forehead became beads of sweat in my eyes – youch! (Left) From my run on Saturday when my foot was freshly taped and I felt not even a tick of an ache for the whole run. (Right) Toe cramp! Toe cramp! Toe cramp!

(Top) Taken moments before the beads of sweat on my forehead became beads of sweat in my eyes – youch! (Left) From my run on Saturday when my foot was freshly taped and I felt not even a tick of an ache for the whole run. (Right) Toe cramp! Toe cramp! Toe cramp!

T-1 25 days until Global Heroes Medtronic Twin Cities in Motion 10 Mile. I will conquer this!

Ironman, Princess Style

This morning I aqua jogged. This evening I ran. Tomorrow I’m riding the bike. That’s practically an Ironman!

I am IronChickie!

I am IronChickie!

Hehehe. I can just picture the faces of all my crazy insane triathlon friends (seriously, anyone who willingly gets in pools are all crazy insane!) as they read the above. And it makes me giggle.

Hey, I was wearing a running tank with my swim bottoms in the pool; that makes it even more legit.

Hehehe.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Injury report: I am still battling the woes of my foot, hence the pool. I have endured several IMS treatments, the last ones in my back, which freaked the crap out of me – I don’t like anything messing with my back and I sure as hell don’t like needles back there, no matter how tiny! So I’m supposed to relax before the needle is inserted, but the whole time I’m fearing paralyzation by acupuncture! No joke. Dear Physio took one look at my back and told me it’s like the Energizer bunny – always activated. I smiled, until I realized that wasn’t a compliment.

Crud.

The muscles in my calf are nowhere near as tight as they were weeks ago – Progress! – but I do have major tightness in those old familiar problem spots of my butt and thighs. Ugh. And my foot alternates between nearly no pain to a fiery tightness that screams don’t you dare even think about running.

Frustrating as bloody hell.

BUT…

I am running.

Tonight's run with my run study chickies!

Tonight’s run with my run study chickies!

Not like I was, still relatively short distances, easy pace, no hills, no speed work. Last week I was granted two 4 km runs and this week two 5 km runs. I’m to get my mileage/fitness through aqua jogging, cycling and elliptical (haven’t done that one yet). I hope tomorrow’s physio will graduate me to three runs a week with more mileage. Fingers crossed!

Chain Stain: Running doesn't do this to my legs!

Chain Stain: Running doesn’t do this to my legs!

The problem isn’t with running. When I’m running, for the first 4 to 4.5 minutes my foot feels like it’s stretching out majorly, but then that feeling goes away and for the most part, I’d say 90%, I’m running pain free. It’s the post runs that are the struggle. Sometimes it will be hours after the run and sometimes immediately after, but that bloody foot tightens the hell up again. Argh.

TONIGHT’S RUN:
6 p.m. BG before: 10.1
Temp. basal: -50%
Time: 29:39
Distance: 4.83 km
Average pace: 6:08 min/km
7:30 p.m. BG after: 7.2
Temp. basal: +50% (1 hour)

T-minus 31 days until Global Hero Medtronic Twin Cities in Motion 10 Mile. I will conquer you!

The Pickle Ruins

Suck in, squeeze, breathe.

Suck in, squeeze, breathe.

The warm wind washing my face, freedom. The light tapping of my shoes as they hit the pavement, freedom. My thoughts, not on my surroundings, but on every movement I make, every twitch of my left foot, every second without a fiery scream, freedom.

After weeks of no running, none, and hardly any walking, today my feet were finally given permission to once again feel the security of their sneakers totally enclosing their flesh.

Freedom!

Freedom!

And the freedom, ohhhh the freedom. It wasn’t Chariots of Fire or Gonna Fly Now or even Survivor filling the music in my heart. Nope, I had full on George Michael:

For several weeks, almost as long as I’ve been absent from the blog, I have been encumbered by a foot injury. It is still unclear as to what exactly that injury is. I initially thought it was plantar fasciitis, but Miss Physio quickly poo poohed that. (Thank gawd!) My foot muscles are so tightly knotted, my ankle, calf, thigh and pelvis too, causing my foot to shift outwards and my heel inwards,  almost like a clenched claw that refuses to relax. And that’s not all. I have no core strength (no surprise there), and as such I am putting undo pressure on my hips, causing undo pressure on everything else. And it’s finally caught up with me.

The heel of my foot has been on fire for weeks. I have endured rounds of intramuscular stimulation (IMS) therapy in varying regions of my calf as well as my pelvis. IMS is acupuncture-like needles being injected into the sensitive areas to release the tightness. It feels like 5,000 bouncing Charlie horses pummelling you at once!

I’ve had deep tissue massage to pretty much all the areas listed above. And I’ve been given strict instructions on how to walk.

What?

Yep, that’s right folks, I don’t know how to walk. Not sure how long I haven’t been walking right, but my guess is about 25 years… when a boy at diabetic camp told me I walked like I had a pickle stuck up my butt!!! I blame him, because apparently that’s how you’re supposed to walk. Suck in that belly, tuck in that butt, straighten that torso, no arch, no hip sway. Jerkface!

You've got to learn to walk before you can run.

You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run.

And what do you know, as soon as I started doing it, the tension around the heel started to ease. Who knew? Oh right, everyone!

I went for my first run today. It was just a quick 4 km, 25 minute jaunt. It was hard to go a slow pace, I was so excited to be out there. It wasn’t perfect. It took a few minutes for my feet to warmup, to feel somewhat comfortable again with the motion. It wasn’t perfect. My left foot wasn’t completely at ease even when warmed up. It wasn’t perfect. I kept having to remind myself to suck in the belly, squeeze the butt, breathe. It wasn’t perfect.

But it was running.

My happy.

My happy.