When life gets tough, it is not my nature to sit around and have a pity party for myself. I realize life gets tough for everyone at some point and more often for others; even when my life provides me with challenges, I’m smart enough to step back and remember that I have a pretty darn good life.
That said, I have been somewhat quiet on the blog front lately because I’ve had quite a bit of stuff going on in that has pushed me to all sorts of new limits. Frankly, my life just hasn’t been “blog worthy” lately. I will certainly not get into details of all of my personal business, but what I will discuss is how challenging its been that I can’t fall back on my usual “coping mechanism” for stress – my training.
As most people know, I have spent the last 5 years of my life swimming, biking and running to my hearts desires – with the typical aches and pains here and there, but virtually “injury” free. Prior to triathlon, I spent 6 or 7 years running…a lot. And before that, playing all sorts of sports. I had one injury in 2008, which actually led me to triathlon, but otherwise, I have never been sidelined for more than a few days at a time. I have taken some downtime during those 5 years to throw away the training schedule and do boat loads of yoga, but its always been on my terms.
Which brings me to my foot. My stupid right foot, that I’ve come to despise.
What we thought was a stress fracture, was not. I had an MRI that told me the plantar fascia tendon was partially torn. So I rested. I ARP’d, I wore a boot, and I rested. And I got zero relief. As it stands right now, I haven’t run in 6 weeks and my foot doesn’t feel any better. So I saw a foot specialist (it took quite a while to get an appointment with him), who finally told me what is really going on with my foot. Hindsight is 20/20, but I should have seen him in August when my foot started hurting!
Basically, there is 2.8mm of fascia surrounding my left heal bone with “normal” being ~2 – 3mm. The fascia on my right foot currently measures 7.46mm. The dark spot / line seen on the MRI and classified as a “partial tear” is actually just an area of dense scar tissue at the attachment. Scar tissue forms when you don’t get rid of the fluid and inflammation that builds when you have plantar fasciitis for long periods of time. At this point, it is considered Plantar Fasciosis due to the presence of scar tissue (vs. inflammation as with standard plantar fasciitis) and hundreds of micro tears. Though I treated the symptoms all along, I never actually took the time off to let the inflammation and fluid subside because I had a race to do! Stupid, yes – and I’m regretting that now. I can rest, ice, APR, acupuncture, laser, massage, ART, etc to my hearts desires…they will not help with scar tissue as they are all targeted on inflammation. If I chose not to do anything, I will have pain for the rest of my life (per my Dr). Until surgery, I can continue to do most anything except run and jump since at this point, I can’t make it any worse than it is. :-\
So it’s confirmed – I will have a 2-part outpatient procedure next Friday. The first part of treatment is called the Topaz Procedure (don’t watch that if you have weak stomach), which is more “surgical” and will require general anesthesia. The doctor described it to me like boring dynamite through rock to break up the scar tissue. The second procedure is called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) and acts as the perfect “compliment” to the Topaz. PRP can be done with local anesthesia but I will get at the same time, thank god. If you’ve never had needles in your heal, trust me, you don’t want them while you are awake! PRP is a newer treatment that has reported some great results from studies. Per my doctor, the combo of Topaz / PRP is “the cats meow” for advanced cases like mine. He has only had 3 athletes out of hundreds of cases get this combo and not get relief. Please pray I’m not his 4th. 🙂
I will be in a boot again for ~3 weeks and after that the course of action (unfortunately) is to be determined. Unlike, say, a broken bone where you set it, put it in a cast and wait x weeks for it to get better – this isn’t the type of injury or procedure that everyone has the same results or time frame for recovery. I hope that after 3 weeks in the boot I am feeling good and at that point will be cleared to do anything but run and jump for ~4 more weeks.
Unfortunately, after the procedure when I am (hopefully) pain-free, the story is not over. The second phase of this injury is getting to the root of what caused it so I don’t end up back here in 6 months. Obviously resting and getting proper treatment if I ever feel it coming on down the road are a given, but with the amount of running I do, I need to be sure I’m in the right shoes, have the right insoles, proper gait, etc. The doctor and I will go through all of that in my follow up appointments.
Despite all of this, I am trying my best to stay positive. I have a lot of other issues going on and would do anything to be able to pour myself into my training and racing, but for now, I am spending my time riding, burning up the elliptical, the step mill, taking body pump and working on some much needed core/glute strength. I am confident I will get back at it when my foot is healed and am hoping this forced rest will be beneficial to my mind and body in the long run. 🙂