Friday, May 9, 2014

Where is Madam Pomfrey When You Need Her?

2014 Started off with a bang for me.  I finally made the commitment to myself to make good choices, and began training for my first half marathon.  Perhaps it is because I am a scientist, but I didn't just jump right into a training plan. I of course read countless books on preparing for a half marathon (thank you Jeff Galloway), downloaded training apps for my phone, was properly fitted for shoes by a store specializing shoes for runners (I opted for the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14) and educated myself on proper running form (Chi running anyone?) and breathing techniques.  I documented every training session in my running journal, and started to engage the online running community for support. (a special shout-out to the Dis-Broads)  Then things came to a screeching halt….

In mid-March, I noticed a fair amount of groin pain during one of my short run sessions, rather than take a break I decided to cowboy-up and run through the pain, but after three miles realized that I should probably call it quits for the day.  I chalked the pain up to a groin strain and decided to take a few days off (which really stressed me out because I had a detailed training schedule to keep dammit and I don’t like to deviate from a plan, EVER!)  A week into the injury, things were not getting better so I decided to go to my primary care physician (who is also a runner that had just completed ALL of the races during the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February = she ran 22.4 miles over the course of 3 days) and she too felt it was a groin injury and gave me some stretching exercises.  After 2 more weeks, things were getting worse so I went to a local sports medicine practice, met with a P.A. who diagnosed it as a hip flexor strain after the X-rays were negative and sent me off to physical therapy.  Three weeks of physical therapy left me borderline crippled, the therapist was baffled as she could not pinpoint the injury and was resigned to a “ruling things out” kind of therapy so I BEGGED to get in with the practice's Orthopedic Surgeon, stat.  I have to admit that in a fit of desperation, I also planned my first visit to a chiropractor, who I had affectionately started referring to as a “Witch Doctor” because the whole idea of a chiropractor seemed a little voodooy to me – but what can I say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The orthopedic doc suspected a labral tear, which devastated me as this almost always requires surgery to fix, but was sending me for an MRI Arthrogram to confirm… if you don’t know what an arthrogram is, basically a radiologist crams a 5 inch needle in your groin to fill up the hip joint with dye before the MRI… (silver lining, because I was so freaked out about the arthrogram I was able to score 2 Valium from the doc for the procedure #winning).  The same day as the appointment with the orthopedic doc I had my appointment with the chiropractor, who said he’d be “surprised” if it was a labral tear based upon my description of the events leading up to the pain … My immediate thought was “listen buddy, I’m willing to let you give me an ‘adjustment’ because the physical therapist determined that my alignment was waaaay out of whack and the realization that my right leg is now 1+ inches shorter than my left leg was freaking me out, but you are not a real doctor therefore forgive me if I don’t run off to cancel my MRI appointment”.  ~side note, I loved getting the adjustment and totally made a follow up appointment with Dr. Steinbar that same day #believer ~

At this point in the story, I am in a severe funk. No one knows what is wrong with me, I am incapable of walking, all of the hard work, time and money I have put into training and race registration is slipping through my fingers and I just want answers and a timeline to when I can resume running.  The morning after my MRI the orthopedic doc called with the results and finally, after 6 weeks of excruciating pain, 3 doctors, 1 X-ray, 3 weeks of PT, 1 chiropractor and an MRI/Arthrogram they found that I have a stress fracture in my right femoral neck. My first thought? “Damn it, the Witch Doctor was right”.
Yep, there it is. My stress fracture in all its painful glory. 

The next day I was back at the doctor, being fitted for crutches and told that I would not be allowed to bear any weight on my right leg for 6-8 weeks until a follow up MRI showed that it had healed.  Really? Doc, 6-8 weeks on crutches seems pretty impossible, can we negotiate this? Evidently not, my other option is to ignore his treatment plan have the bone completely break which will require surgery to pin the bone together, or even worse have the bone break and displace which will require hip replacement. Um… yep ok you scared me straight, crutches it is!

So, I’m 2 weeks into my life on crutches and my outlook on the whole situation has transitioned from a place of anger and sadness to a place of understanding and healing.  I am ok with the fact that I am going to have to take a step back and give my body the time it needs to rebuild before I can move forward to achieve the goals I have set for myself. Falling back into my scientific mindset, I've been researching some of the underlying causes of this specific type of stress fracture in runners and realize that there are a few things I need to do before I resume a rigorous training schedule. First, I have started a strict regimen of Muggle Skelegro  (like my Harry Potter reference there?); a concoction of Vitamin D3, Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM, and Calcium.  I have a sneaking suspicion that some of this fracture may be due to nutritional deficiencies knowing how little dairy and leafy greens I eat (evidently McDonald's isn't a balanced meal, who knew?).  I also recognize the importance of building up my leg muscles through strength training to better support and cushion those crucial weight bearing joints for runners, something I had never really considered. 

I may not have Madam Pomfrey but this muggle will get her bones to mend!
The reality is that I may have to take a full year off to build up my body so that it is better prepared to handle the stress of running, and I am finally ok with that.  Throughout this process I have learned so much about the human body and how to properly care for it… something that I had previously taken for granted. I may not be able to cross off of my bucket list “completing a half-marathon before I turn 40” but instead I am committed to replacing it with “completing my FIRST half-marathon IN MY 40’s”!


  1. #1 That is awful, but I'm glad you got a proper diagnosis and have "a plan" (I'm a big fan of plans!).
    #2 I hope your leg heals up quickly!
    #3 I love your blog! Seriously. Harry Potter and running!
    #4 When I started back to running a couple of years ago, I did three months of walking three miles three times a week to help my tendonitis-prone body get used to the extra stress. I still ended up with a couple of bizarre issues but I think it helped a lot.

  2. I'm sorry this is happening, but at least you have a plan. Would some weightlifting help? The load bearing exercises can help with bone strength...or so I've read. Good luck!

  3. major hugs hun! Maybe we can train together next year? I hope the healing process (both physical and emotional) is a complete one! -tasha