Tag Archives: running injury

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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.

On the mend

I did it!!!

I started a run this morning and I finished a run this morning; the first time in 2 weeks I’ve been able to do so. And my gawd, by the excitement that filled my legs, that fluttered through my belly, that heartened my smile, you would have thought I’d have just completed a marathon in under 4 hours, (which, by the way, is a goal) rather than just a measly 4 km at a slower than desired pace.

130812smiles
Post-run smiles that would have been even bigger had I not caught a glimpse of those early morning bags under my eyes 😉

But here’s the thing: Two weeks ago, following Jog for the Bog, I was immobile and seriously questioning whether I needed a wheelchair, or at the very least crutches. One week ago, the second I started running, I felt as though I had a multitude of hammers pounding down on both sides of my pelvis, and didn’t even get 200 metres into the run. But today, there were no hammers, there was no pain. I did start to feel a slight pressure on one side of my groin about 300 metres into the run, but it wasn’t unmanageable and it didn’t get worse as the run progressed. And hours later, there was no price to pay or body rebelling repercussions. For the most part, everything seemed just fine.

Which means… I AM OFFICIALLY ON THE MEND!!!

TODAY’S RUN:

  • 5 a.m. BG before: 6.9
  • Temp. basal: none
  • Carbs: 1/2 Bonk Breaker bar (20g) with bolus and BG correction
  • Time: 24:50
  • Distance: 4 km
  • Average pace: 6:12 min/km
  • Average cadence: 84 spm
  • 6:15 a.m. BG after: 3.1

This being my first run back, I didn’t want to overdo it and risk flaring up the injury, so I opted not to follow my training program, which had me scheduled for a crazy set of 6x 1km speed intervals, (Eek!) but instead go for a quick shake-out run at a super easy pace. Aside from the slight pressure, the run felt fine, and I think for Wednesday, I’ll be able to increase my pace and distance and then see about getting back on my proper training program again.

However, there was one glitch with this run: my blood sugars. I majorly failed my BG this morning and I’m pretty sure it had to do with the super easy pace. Normally when I do early morning runs, I’m either running speed intervals or tempo runs, which for some crazy messed up body chemistry reason shoots my blood sugars up rather than down despite the runs taxing my body of all energy. And so, because of that, when I eat my pre-run snack, I always give myself a full insulin bolus, and a BG correction if needed, to combat any potential highs that may occur. Which is what I did this morning neglecting the fact I wasn’t running speed intervals or tempo or even my long run pace, but rather a much slower pace.

Cue the post-run low 😦

Training the mind

As I sit here typing away (with ice on my buttocks) I contemplate the week that was. There was no moping, there were no tears, nor were there questions of failure. It’s been a week since I last tried running, two weeks since I successfully completed a run. But unlike injuries of past, this one did not send me spinning down the rabbit’s hole of depression.

Sure, following last Monday’s failed run, there were a few moments of disappointment and anxiety, but honestly, those moments lasted all of a half an hour. In fact, my last blog post, the one all about suckage, was written in my head in that half hour while sitting on a bench outside. By the time I reached the door to the loft, though, those feelings had almost all but dissipated.

And yet, I’m pretty sure this has been the most painful, or at the very least the second most painful, injury I have endured. (The ankle stress fractures really sucked!) But this time, there was something in me, something that refused to give up, something that believed in my ability to overcome this injury. Not once did I believe this was the end of my training for the season. Not once did I think I would not be running my half marathon goal race in September. Not once did I contemplate throwing in the training towel.

Which brings me to what I’ve been doing for the last several months: Training my mind in tandem with my legs and core. I’ve been reading books – A Life Without Limits (amazing!); Eat & Run (inspiring!); and now My Life On the Run (still too early to comment.) – magazine articles, online studies, and I’ve also been talking to several runners in my life who inspire me every single day.

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This training has mostly been centred around race day; training my mind not to give up when the race becomes more difficult, to keep going despite fatigue, belly issues, etc., to push hard straight through to the finish line. To refuse failure.

But the thing is, everything I’ve read is just as useful for injury as it is for race day. Triathlete Chrissie Wellington pushed through extreme pain in 2011 to claim her fourth Ironman World Championship title – just 14 days after a major cycling crash that left her with a pulled pectoral muscle and several other injuries! Ultra marathoner Scott Jurek ran an insane 100 miles, for 26 hours and 8 minutes, with torn ligaments in his ankle! They did not give up.

Nor shall I.

Tomorrow morning, I try my hand at running again…

Dazed and confused

One year later…

I went for a run, but this time there was no Big Ring running a few steps behind me (he was at home caring for Little Ring); there was no Garmin, but rather a beat up old Timex; there was no fancy free footing either, more like a deep gutted fear of the gremlins in the pavement looking to take me down; nor was there the beginnings of a thumb-sucking alien baby in my belly.

One year later…

I was so lost in my thoughts that I actually got lost (turned around if you will) coming back from my second run of the year on the boardwalk – a route I have walked and run for nearly four years, a route I frequent nearly every day, a route I bloody well LIVE on. It’s no secret I am majorly directionally challenged, but seriously, this was an all-time low for me. I was literally 2 minutes from home when I got so dazed and confused, I thought I had missed my turn off, and actually turned around to go back! But this run was no ordinary run.

One year later…

This run was the anniversary of the run when I went down into a 10.0 face first dive into the pavement (damn those evil gremlins!) just minutes away from home; when I was so green from the pain, both Big Ring and I were sure I had a broken collar bone; when Big Ring had to force me to eat an omelette (which by the way we also unintentionally had this evening :)) before heading to the hospital; when I spent three and a half hours separated from Big Ring waiting to get an x-ray – three of which I had the biggest, most exciting news of my life to share, but could do no such thing. (It wasn’t exactly something that could be texted!)

This run was the anniversary of the run I found out about my Little Ring 😀

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Beautiful night for a beautiful run with a beautiful memory.

TONIGHT’S RUN:

  • 5:15 p.m. BG before: 4.9 (3 Stoned Wheat Thins, no bolus)
  • Temp. basal: none
  • Distance: 4 minute intervals to a total of 12 minutes with 1 minute walking between each interval.
  • 6 p.m. BG after: 5.3

And yes, my friends, that ankle update is still on it’s way.