|(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 cliché 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.)|