Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's a Start

(My little Christmas set up)
             I have started jogging again, albeit slow but it is a start. Six weeks post injury I was walking on my treadmill and I felt the urge to start increasing the speed to see how things felt. Things felt funny. It wasn’t quite time for that impact. The next week I went to the Sports Reaction Center and ran 3 miles on the Alter G. It felt awesome, freeing and like home for me. My PT came in to check on me a couple times and was surprised to see me staring at the blank T.V. screen, no music or anything to occupy the time. For most (and usually me) doing an easy run on a treadmill can be boring and I usually have some form of entertainment to make the time go by faster. But not this time. I was very in tune with how my body was responding. I did not need a distraction from something I have missed doing over the weeks. As I ran I tested my speed limits as wells as my body weight percentages. I was able to run a lot faster than what I could do with all my body weight but boy did it feel good to get those legs turning over again! I am not supposed to run every day and when possible it is best for me to run on the Alter G. But I can only get over to my PT in Bellevue, WA once a week so the other days I will carefully jog on my treadmill.
            Monday was one such day. I started with ¼ mile warm up walk. Then I went into a jog. I told myself I would run 2-3 miles. Well during that first mile I felt bad. Not due to the injury but I was sucking air and things did not feel smooth. I did not think I would last a mile. I decided to watch some T.V. to help distract myself. It worked. After the first mile I started to feel better. My breathing got a little less labored (though my heart rate was slowly rising it did not burn as bad). As I ran I slowly increased the speed. And pretty soon I had ran 5 miles. This was not my intention so I decided I better stop before I ruin a good thing. I walked ¼ mile to cool down. My calves felt a little tight but my knee felt fine.
            Today I spent 30 minutes spinning. Tomorrow I plan to run again. I still haven’t graduated to running outside yet but soon enough I will be out there battling the rain with the rest of you. Right now I do not plan on setting any goals for my indoor season or even put any races on my calendar. If I do I may start to increase my mileage too soon and start to push too hard and end up doing damage. I am so glad I have my husband to continue to keep my grounded and not try too much too soon. He makes sure to pull in the reigns when I start “forgetting” I am still healing. All in all I am very optimistic that everything will heal and I will be back to 100% I just have to be patient and trust God’s plan.
(Thanksgiving 2012 with Levi. I am very thankful for him!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Running Broken. Being Whole.


(A road in the woods)

            The knee is really coming along well. It has now been just over a month. According to the Doctor I am allowed to start jogging after 6 weeks. That’s only 11 more days! But who’s counting? Right now is the hardest time for recovery because the pain is nearly completely gone, I am moving around normally (without a brace), and it is feeling stronger. But I know right now it is very important that I let my leg heal completely or else I will just set myself back and be out even longer. I can wait another 11 days.
            In my last blog I told you I might share a poem with you and yes, I am going to honor my word…yikes! Levi and I went hunting this weekend. I was able to do a decent amount of hiking Saturday and a little Sunday but it started raining around 11 a.m. Sunday and the slippery jungle terrain would be a bit risky for my knee, plus it was feeling a little sore so I decided to wait in the truck while Levi struck out through the woods in search of food.
            While sitting in the truck I must have been bored because I had the urge to write. I had a pen but no paper…Luckily we had picked up some food at Safeway so I had the receipt. I used the back of it and wrote a couple funny little poems for Levi (no you do not get to hear those) and then one regarding my injury. Enjoy and be kind.
(The original form of my poem, written on the back of a Safeway receipt.)

(11/11/12)        Running Broken Being Whole
                       
                        Winter, cold and dreary in the Pacific Northwest,
                        Has caused me to miss something I like the best.
                        Riding my bike in the pouring rain,
                        I slipped and instantly felt a great deal of pain.
                        Crashing to the pavement,
                        My knee just went.
                        A sudden, “POP!”
                        It gave me quite a shock.
                        I knew right away something was wrong,
                        Already bruised and swollen, that didn’t take long.
                        I couldn’t control the tears as they started to flow.
                        Not for the pain, but as to what I did know.
                        My season was done.
                        I could not run.
                        Frustrated, I had just started my next training block,
                        And was excited to see the fast numbers on the clock.
                        But those times will come at a later date,       
                        When my knee is healed and ready to bear weight.
                        The MRI came without much surprise as the Doctor reads, “MCL torn.”
                        I listen and sigh.
                        Six weeks of rehab and rest.
                        This will definitely be a test.
                        For the girl who is always so eager to put in the miles.
                        But that’s what life is, full of tribulations and trials.
                        I am quite lucky all is needed is rest.
                        No surgery required and for that I am blessed.
                        I was pretty sad and worried at first,
                        But my life continues on, no better no worse.
                        Running does not define me
                        And this you will see,
                        It is a hobby, not my whole life.
                        I am not just a runner but Believer, Sister, Coach, Friend and Wife.
                        My life is so full, I cannot begin to list
                        All the blessings I have, but you get the jist.
                        My happiness is not due to the world with its riches and wealth,
                        But The One who game me all of my gifts including my health.
                        God is The One,
                        He gave us His Son,
                        To die on the cross
                        And for this I am not lost.
                        Jesus Christ is my Savior, he makes life worth living,
                        Good knee, bad knee, sins and all He is so forgiving.
                        And this is the answer why I am so optimistic,
                        As I hear, “Lois, you can’t run, why aren’t you going ballistic?”
                        I put my hope, trust and faith in Him who is risen,
                        And His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Houston We Have a Problem

(The weekend before my injury. Out enjoying a beautiful fall day at the coast.)

            Last week I started to incorporate some “workouts” into my weekly routine and I was finally feeling good. My fitness from my long break was finally returning and I was excited to get training under way for my next season, indoors.
            I say “was” because I am now back to rest and rehab. I was in a bike wreck Saturday morning October 13th on my way to an all day Les Mills Body Pump Instructor training that we are incorporating into our class schedule at my work. Several factors had to line up just right for my accident to happen. First, there had to be no cross country meets for my high school team that weekend. Pretty much every weekend we have a meet, if we did I would not have agreed to teach the new class, so would not have been on my way to the training.
            Second, I needed to not have access to our vehicle. It was opening day for hunting so Levi needed the truck and I was fine commuting to work. Third, Seattle hadn’t seen rain in something like 60 days! Due to this, some of the hunting roads Levi needed to use were closed to vehicles, so he needed to use my mountain bike to ride on the dirt roads to his hunting area. I would use his commuter bike (with those tiny, thin wheels) to get to work instead of my bike.
            Lastly, and most importantly it had to start raining, a lot. Living in a city like Seattle you combine months of dry weather with a lot of cars driving around (think oil on roads) then add rain into the mix and it makes for some very slick conditions.
            The morning of my class it was raining. I put on all my best rain gear (helmet too of course) and headed down hill towards my work. I made it fine down the mile of hills before my last hill to work, having to cross busy intersections and all, but on the last 20-30 meter hill everything changed.
            There was a stop sign at the bottom so I started to hit my breaks to prepare to stop. The wheels came out from under me. It all happened so fast. I hit on my right side and went sliding 10-15 feet down the road to the stop sign at the bottom. Luckily the two roads I was sliding down and into were side roads and not heavily trafficked.
            My slide was actually pretty graceful. No injuries, no bruises, not even a scrape to the rest of my body, I was lucky for the most part but when I hit all of my weight must have went onto the outside of my right knee causing a lot of extra force to be displaced on the tendons and ligaments on the inside of my knee. I immediately felt pain and something go “loose.”
            A car came up behind me and stopped to see if I was o.k. I said yes, but deep down knew I was not. Something was wrong with my knee. I pulled my pant leg up and immediately saw a bright red bruise spot on the inside of my right knee. I knew this was a bad sign especially since I hit on the outside and the bike did not strike my knee to cause this bruise. I was wearing my favorite Brooks rain jacket so that was the second thing I checked and to my relief it was not ripped, though definitely a new shade of asphalt black instead of bright neon green.  My pants had a very small tear near the knee but I wasn’t as attached to these ones.
            I limped the last few hundred meters to my work, in tears. I didn’t know what to do. My boss had paid for me to get certified as an instructor but I was definitely injured. I decided to go to the training. I put ice on it and took ibuprofen and completed the 9 hour day. I could move my knee forward to back but it wasn’t comfortable. Lateral movement was terribly painful. My knee felt very unstable even standing and would occasionally buckle and give out. Now this training is not just sitting in a class room setting taking notes, it was training to teach an exercise class, so it all revolved around physical activity.
            I got a ride home that night and while at home broke down into tears and it was not due to the pain. I didn’t want to tell Levi since he was hunting and really there was not anything he could do to help. I didn’t want him to worry. Turns out having such a close family, word travels fast and Levi found out but I reassured him he was fine to keep hunting.
            I went back to finish out my instructor training Sunday. I couldn’t do all of the exercises but I did my best despite the pain. Now I am left with trying to figure out how to finish my instructor training by submitting a video of me teaching the hour long class when I can only do 1/3-1/2 of the exercises…but I really shouldn’t even be stressing myself with that right now.
            Since it happened on a weekend, I had until Monday to figure things out. My next concern was whether I go see a Doctor and pay a lot of money for a test or do I rest it? I know this is pretty clichĂ© but these thoughts are true for many track athletes. Saturday I was thinking I would for sure see a Doctor but by Monday morning the swelling was going down and I thought maybe it wasn’t so bad. I decided to go see my PT for his opinion. HE did some ligament tests and said he believed I tore my MCL and possible ACL. His recommendation? Go see a Doctor and get an MRI! I am very comfortable with my PT so I opened up to him about the idea of waiting (due to cost) and he told me he could not recommend it. He made the good point that money is just money and the health of my knee going forward is far more important, especially as an elite athlete. He told me to not mess around and by knowing exactly what is going on changes everything from a rehab standpoint.
            He called a Doctor he has worked with before who also works with the Sea Hawks and got me in within the hour. I drove from my PT to the Doctor. To my dismay they had to do x-rays first. I asked if it was possible to just do an MRI (and save the expense of x-rays) but they were necessary for insurance reasons if I were to do an MRI. Again, I know I should not be worrying about these aspects but it is hard for me not to. Then I was scheduled to have and MRI Wednesday morning, once my insurance okayed it.
            You are all going to think I am crazy but I was seriously considering not getting an MRI and just wearing my brace. My dad knocked some sense into me and told me he would be upset with me if I did not do it. So this morning (Wednesday) I got my MRI. By the afternoon, the Doctor called me with the news. The good news he told me is that I did not tear my ACL or Meniscus and so would not need surgery. The bad news, which everyone suspected, is a full MCL tear. Luckily the ligament is still fairly aligned so should heal fine on its own. In rare cases surgery is needed as the ligaments go back under the hamstring and in even rarer cases surgery is needed farther down the road is the MCL fails to heal. The Doctor was very confident this would not be the case for me.
            As an elite athlete he did give me one other option to promote healing. He could do what is commonly known as Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy. This is basically an injection of my own platelets that have been removed from my blood and injected into the injured area via ultrasound. This helps speed up recovery by 20-30%. It is widely used in Europe but has not been FDA approved in the USA yet so insurance companies will not cover it. But in the future they may not just pay for it but have it as the first option before surgery. It would cost $600-$800. As great as it would be to speed up the healing process I can wait. If it were covered by my insurance I would do it in a heartbeat. I am o.k. with having to possibly miss an indoor track season. I am not looking forward to the bill on this but I would bet 100% of people when asked would not be particularly excited about their hospital bills.  Looking back I can honestly say it was worth it. So for those of you who may be injured and debating about going to see a Doctor I encourage you to go. Your health is not something to be messed with, nor do you want an old injury to come back to haunt you years down the road!
            Now I have a minimum of 6 weeks of rest from running and all impact activities. But I am lucky. I do not have crutches, I do not need surgery, I can walk, albeit slowly and I can pedal a bike without resistance. As each week passes I will be able to incorporate more and more exercises into my routine.
            I am not as heartbroken about the injury as I thought I would be or as sad as I was when it initially happened. This is my first “acute” injury since I fell off a slide when I was under the age of 5 and fractured my arm and I will be o.k. I will take this time to go after some other goals. Maybe I will work on some of my writing or poetry, yes, yes I just admitted I like to write poems, or who knows what else. But with all my free time I will be sure to keep you informed.
(Friends: Make it easier to get through injuries.)



Monday, October 1, 2012

Life is a Gift



(Photo taken by Joshua Ricardi on the Sahale Peak trip)

           A lot has happened since my last blog. A lot and also nothing at the same time. I don't really know how to give an update on what happened without sounding insensitive but I will give it a go.
            The week before the Montana Mile my brother John and his (now) fiancĂ© Jane were in a climbing accident while hiking Sahale Peak in the North Cascades. I know I wrote a blog after this incident but I wanted some time to pass to make sure they were o.k. and not be overwhelmed with too many questions about what happened. Both were extremely lucky to be alive and though they suffered injuries they will make a 100% recovery. John is already back training and even racing and Jane is doing quite well considering her injuries were more severe. She suffered a broken scapula, clavicle, four broken ribs and a broken ankle. She was in a wheel chair for eight weeks but has now moved to crutches and can put 30% weight on her foot. You can read a write up on what happened in the August issue of The Northwest Runner or at the July team report for Club Northwest. John and Jane's incident had a happy ending but not all accidents do.
(Jane getting flown off the mountain. Photo courtesy Joshua Ricardi)
         On August 30th my college coach passed away in a tragic accident. Jackie Poulson was a young woman full of life and passionate about her friends, athletes, and those around her. I remember her energy on track trips. She knew how to make people laugh. Sometimes I didn't quite know how to take her, especially when I was a young wide-eyed naive freshman, but you could tell she loved to make people smile and she was very confident in being herself.
          When I heard the news it seemed unreal. She was killed while out looking for her missing dog. She was electrocuted in a canal of water as one of the farming pumps shorted out. She had no warning that the moment she touched the water would be her last. Her soon-to-be father-in-law and his friend were unaware that the moment they tried to rescue her would be their last.
            Jackie was robbed of many firsts, like getting the chance to walk down the aisle and marry her love. It seems so unfair but she also had a wonderful life. If you didn't know Jackie you could tell this by the many wonderful posts, people at her funeral with such love to share about her, and all the photos and stories about her life. Jackie touched many people's lives over the years and she will be missed.
            As you go through life there will be tragedies, hardships, and sometimes things won't make any sense and as you get older my Dad tells me you can expect to experience more of this. If you are one of the lucky ones to live to a ripe old age you will probably experience a great deal of loss as those you love pass on. And that is the trade off. You will mourn the loss of many people but each tear you shed can help serve as a reminder of the wonderful gift that is your life.
            Shortly after Jackie's passing we (the Idaho State Alumni) lost another one of our young members. Keegan Burnett died the Monday after Jackie was buried. The dirt was still soft the day another mother had to wake up to the terrible reality that she had out lived her child. Earlier in Keegan's pole vaulting career at ISU he had survived a near death accident while warming up for a vaulting competition only to suffer a life altering skiing accident a few years later. The skiing accident left him paralyzed. Keegan had undergone major surgeries and had recently been released to go home where he would continue his healing. He was trying to adapt to his new life but it proved too much for him to bear and I was left shocked at the news of his suicide.
            Life will be filled with times of sadness and mourning but also of joyous occasions and celebration. After the sadness of losing two more young lives I was able to be a part of the joining of two lives in a celebration of marriage. My good friends Rose and Tim were married on September 8th and it was a most joyous occasion. It was a celebration, a time to dance and laugh and feel happy just to be alive. A week after that, I was celebrating the joyous news of my younger brother John and his girlfriend and my good friend Jane's engagement. There is always balance and true joy can be found each day if you chose to see it. It is easy to focus on all the sadness and question God's purpose but you cannot stay stuck in the grief forever or it will consume you and another life will be lost.
(Enjoying the wedding with Levi)
(Wedding silliness)
            The times of loss and sadness really make me appreciate the gift I have been given when I wake up each day. It makes me realize how precious life truly is and how numbered our days are. Lately I have been dealing with a knee pain that does not seem to heal no matter how much time I take off. This knee pain is annoying but it is a minor inconvenience and nothing to be that upset about as there are much worse things that I could have to deal with. Which brings me to my "nothing" part of my blog.
            After my last race of the season on July 20th I rested, and rested, and rested. My cross training was almost non-existent because everything seemed to aggravate my knee. Well unless you call wake boarding and trapeze cross training!  Even being in the water swimming or trying to aqua jog caused discomfort so it made even wanting to cross train hard. One thing that helps keep me feeling positive is in coaching my high school cross country team. I had my first season of high school coaching this past track season with The Northwest School and I loved it. This fall I was asked to be an assistant cross country coach and I gladly accepted. I love working with the kids and getting to know them. Each kid is so unique and has their own distinct set of talents. I hope my work schedule stays flexible enough so I can continue to play the role of coach. 
(Coaching The Northwest School Cross Country Team. At Portland with the Varsity girls.)
(Wasp sting!)

            I started running, well walking first, a few weeks ago. I have only done slow easy running of less than 6 miles and no workouts. On one of my easy runs I was stung by a wasp and had a mile allergic reaction. As if getting back in shape wasn't hard enough! My knee is feeling better than it has been but it is still not 100% so I am scheduled to see a sports doctor in about a week. My right Achilles has be starting to get a little tender again so I may have a couple things to talk about during my appointment. The Achilles baffles me because it seems to cause pain. With all my time off for my knee I had my Achilles feeling 100% but the moment I start any form of running it comes back. I will be playing around with ways to help fix this problem in the coming months and any advice any of my readers may have I would love to hear it.
           That in a nutshell is what has been happening over the last couple of months. I celebrated my 28th birthday and ran a cross country race recently but I will save that for another post as this one is already too long.
(Spending time with my nephew.)
            Until then, keep living your life to the fullest and always be sure to tell those you love how much they mean to you because our days are numbered and God is the only one with the count.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Patience


(Trying out paddle boarding)
            It has been awhile since my last update. Mainly because I am taking a lot of down time so running wise I have not been up to much as of late. July 20th was my last race of the outdoor season. I then proceeded to take a couple weeks of zero running and no “cross training.” I played a lot, doing things like jumping off diving boards, wake boarding, attempting to play tennis, softball, etc. but I did not schedule any “exercise” sessions throughout my day. My goal was to get my right Achilles and left knee feeling pain free before starting to train again.
(Awesome tennis group)
            After a couple weeks rest I started to do some spinning and swimming along with some really light easy running. I noticed the pain in my Achilles and knee were still there. It would go away during my run but I did not like the fact that the nagging pains were still with me.
            I could run through the discomfort but since it is another 4 years until the next Olympic Trials I am playing it safe right now. I went to Neil Chasan, my PT at Sports Reaction Center on Wednesday August 22nd to get the injuries diagnosed. I had started running again the week before and after leaving SRC was back to no running. My left knee has Chondromalasia, which basically means I am having a tracking issue in my knee that is causing my patella to grind against my femur. This is causing a lot of pain in my knee. It is also causing a softening of my patella. Long term this is not good but as of right now I have not done anything irreversible to the knee.
            I was born with extremely flat feet and extra bones in my ankles so some of these issues are due to my bio mechanics. I have some exercises that I can do to help with my alignment and Orthotics I should be wearing. I have gone back and forth from using Orthotics and not and using motion control shoes and not. After experimenting over the years I have discovered that I have some issues that cannot be fixed by getting stronger. My feet are the way they are. Each time my foot hits the ground I have extra stretch on my Achilles and if you travel up my leg it also causes extra stress on my knee by pulling it different ways.
            I am not usually an advocate of huge motion control shoes or Orthotics but there are definitely certain situations that warrant the use of them. I run a lot so the amount of times my feet strike the ground adds up.  If I can toe the line without pain running in the heavier shoes will be worth it!
(My summer of burgers)
            So now I am looking at another few weeks of rest and cross training. I have been struggling with the whole cross training part. If I am not running it is hard for me to get into the gym, pool or lake to cross train. I guess I am lazy when it comes to that. Plus it’s the summer and I am easily distracted by other things, bar-b-q? Be right over! Wake boarding? Yeah that counts as cross training! I also have been trying to re-evaluate things in my life and figure out the next logical step for Levi and me.
(Hanging on the boat with Sasha)
             It isn't always easy for me to be patient especially when I hear about a competition happening nearly every weekend near me. I do have small doubts creep into my mind as to whether or not I will ever get back to where I was or if I will ever be able to "get fit" again. But I have the support and logic of those around me to keep me sane. I also think back to 2008 when I had a major surgery and struggled to walk a mile for nearly a month and I came back and had the best outdoor season of my life up to that point.
              Life is an adventure and right now I am o.k. with taking it a day at a time and not stressing about my so called “missed training.” If anything this will help me be ready to survive the next four years both mentally and physically in the sport I love and be able to take successes, failures, and focus shifts without going crazy.
(Wake boarding on Lake Washington)