So, where was I?

Oh – that’s right – able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Life over the past couple of weeks has been a blur of swimming with a pull buoy (wouldn’t want to have my legs kicking or anything!), doing upper body strength training and physical therapy.  Lots of physical therapy.  Three times a week at almost 2 hours a session, in fact.

When I went into the PT place on the first day for my evaluation, it was funny – because my other, non-hurting ankle was swollen (softball injury from earlier in the season… we’ll call this “Good Ankle”), they thought that was the one they were working on.  Uh, no.  Yea – see that other ankle that looks perfectly fine?  Yea, that’s the one I can’t put weight on first thing in the morning (“Baaaad Ankle!”).  After a half dozen quizzical looks and a game of 20 questions (Good Ankle measured out worse than Baaaad Ankle! in terms of strength and range of motion… huh…), they finally believed me. Mostly because they had to, because I kept insisting I knew what I was talking about.

PT turned out to be this funhouse of poking and prodding and electrical do-dads being hooked up to me, along with more exercises than one person could keep track of without the aid of a large computer, practically.  It was like a time warp – every time I walked in there, masked behind their good humor and funny stories, they managed to keep piling on more things to do until I almost felt like they should assign me a permanent table since I was there so long.

But – it was all for my own good, right?  All in the name of getting me back on the road.  So, I was on board.  I put in my time, did my home exercises and worked my way back to perfect health.  Easy as pie (though, really, unless you’re “baking” at Baker’s Square, pie really isn’t so easy, now, is it?).  I routinely informed my physical therapists of my rather modest expectations:  “just a miracle, please.  That’s all.”  One told me that all it took was wishing hard and little bit of pixie dust… so, I figured I was good to go (they told me they just got a new supply of “the dust” in)!

In the meantime, I was a really good girl.  Honest, I was!  Even though my PT didn’t believe me, I didn’t run at all, didn’t hop on my bike, didn’t do ANYTHING (well, except become a world-class snacker… I do have me some mad bad-food snacking skillz).  Really, with the exception of a 5-hour weed wrestling session (don’t even ask…), I gave my ankle the rest the doctor said it needed.

And the ankle?  It felt better for the resting.  Really it did.  Of course the rest of me suffered… this is – by far – the longest I’ve gone without running in about 6 years.  And, really, who knew how critical it was at keeping me from becoming a raving lunatic?  Go figure.

Fast forward:  it’s time for me to see the doctor again.

I knew my fate was in my own hands.  In truth, they weren’t going to x-ray me, or get another MRI and the whole enchilada was going to based on how I said I was doing.  I started out with “It’s a miracle!  I’m healed!” … unbelievably, that was received rather skeptically (I need an acting class, apparently).  So, I figured I might as well go with the truth (quite a concept, I know):  it’s feeling much better, but since I haven’t been allowed to run, I can’t really tell you how it’s feeling.

And with that (and a few more probing questions where she tried to figure out if I was lying to her), I was released back into the wild and told to return to my normal life.

Now perhaps I can cancel the APB put out to search for my sanity…

I didn’t get caught buying a candy bar from the lunchroom vending machine and get punished.

And I didn’t even try taking a flight somewhere and end up sitting on the runway for hours on end, waiting for bad weather to pass.

No, I was grounded – by of all people – my doctor.  For three weeks.  THREE WEEKS, people! Seems rather unreasonable, doesn’t it?

Okay, let me back up a bit…

It all started innocently enough.  I’d finished my strength training for the day, and I was just getting in a quick little 5-miler on the treadmill before heading out for softball.  Then, right at around 3.5 miles into the run, WHAM! – pain in my ankle.  Like a light switch, it went from feeling just fine to, well, not so fine.  Not good.  So, what did I do?  I kept running of course.  I mean, what runner doesn’t experience weird pain from time to time?  After another few minutes, the pain didn’t abate and so I did the lazy smart thing and stopped running.

After that, it never really hurt as sharply as it did the first time, but it didn’t feel right.  Hurt a few miles into every run.  Would kill me to walk first thing in the morning until it loosened up.  Even just sitting around I could feel it aching.  But the problem was that it didn’t hurt badly enough.

Why’s that a problem, I hear people out in blogland asking?  Because it made it easy to ignore.  Right after it started bothering me, I made a half-hearted attempt to rest it.  I was in Vegas for 5 days, so that made it easier – I only ran once while I was there!  That’s resting it, right?

And so, having given it 6 whole days where all I did was just a teeny tiny bit of walking around Vegas, bowl in a bowling tournament and just one small 6 mile run, I felt like I had given it a total reprieve and more than adequate chance to heal.  It’s not like I was asking for miracles or anything.

Of course, that wasn’t the way things went – even after this loooong rest period, it was still bothering me.  So, what does a good runner/triathlete/fool do?  Ignore it.  Keep going.  Don’t skip any softball games and god forbid you back down on the marathon training.

After doing this for a few weeks, I was convinced by my trainer (yes, you read that right – I had to be convinced by someone else – this wasn’t my decision) to go see a doctor.  It could be a stress fracture, it could be nothing… but with the marathon training looming I agreed that it would be best to find out exactly what I was dealing with.  You know, be proactive and all that.  VERY un-Laura-like but probably the best choice.

And so, that’s what I did.

I went back to the doctor who had initially treated my arm.  The good news is that I wouldn’t have to explain to him how much the marathon meant to me, or get across my point that it was important to me to stay active.  The bad news is that he already had some idea of how hard-headed I am and that my high tolerance for pain sometimes causes me to make, well, ill-advised decisions.

I told him what was going on, how it hurt but not too badly, how it bothered me but not so much that I couldn’t run through the discomfort.  His initial diagnosis after x-rays?  Tendonitis (doesn’t that sound so… benign and un-injury-like?).  Probably not a stress fracture, though he suggested I get an MRI done just to be sure (you know, since I’m “not like a normal person” who would be limping if it were actually a stress fracture).

While waiting on the MRI and its results, I was advised to cut down on the activity and take an anti-inflammatory.  “That should help matters” the doctor confidently told me.

Fast forward 2 weeks:  um, yea… not so much.  In fact, while I was running less than 50% of the volume I had been (with no speedwork or other taxing workouts), my ankle was still hurting.  And if you really want to know, it was hurting WORSE than before.  Yup.  Lucky me – once again, I defied medical odds.

So my question to the doctor – what’s next?

I’m thinking, “well, let’s just ignore it and continue on and see what happens.”  or (my favorite!) – “the MRI shows that it’s all completely made up in your head and you’re perfectly fine and healthy!!”

Instead he comes back with:  “I think you should completely rest your ankle for 3 weeks.”  And the remainder of that conversation?

Me: *dumb silence*
Doc: As in, absolutely no activity at all.
Me: So… no running?
Doc: No running.
Me: Probably no softball either?
Doc: No softball.
Me: But I can bike, right?
Doc: What part of “absolutely no activity” did you not understand?
Me: *sigh*
Doc: I could put you in a walking boot if you need it to keep you honest?
Me: *SIGH*  No… I’ll be good.
Doc: Just think of it this way — if you’re not sure if you should do something or not, pretend like you have a walking boot on and if you could do it with a walking boot on, then you’re good to go.
Me: I could totally ride my bike with a walking boot on.
Doc: This is not — I repeat — NOT a challenge for you to see how much you can do with a walking boot on.
Me: *SIGH SIGH SIGH*
Doc:  *eye roll*  Just do what I tell you.

So, I’ve got a three week prison sentence plus some physical therapy to go through.  Does it work?  Am I healed?  Cured?  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound??

… stayed tuned for Grounded, part II…