Ligaments – do you really need them?

It turns out the answer is no.

I finally gave in and made a physical therapy appointment. It was today at noon. I was told to dress in loose, comfortable clothing. Naturally I wore black skinny pants to work and changed into my running shoes before I made the long trek to the building next-door to my office.

I 100% expected them to dismiss my concerns the way the doctor did. Instead, my concerns were validated. We talked about my injury, past injuries (lots involving my poor ankles), medical history and current exercise routines. Then he examined my ankles.

Immediately, he asked if I’m double-jointed. I said no, but when he asked if I could bend my thumb down to touch my forearm, I succeeded. Well, that’s something I didn’t know I could do. But I failed all his other tests – turns out I’m just really flexible (something I already knew – hence the long cheerleading career) and my ankles are shot (we knew this too). So shot, that they bend and rotate in ways that suggest I am missing entire ligaments, and probably have been for quite some time. Ligaments keep bones where they should be, but my ankle ligaments that are still left aren’t doing much.

Anyway – back to my current injury. It was a pretty bad high ankle sprain to the anterior tibiofibular ligament – likely a grade II. Even though it was 5½ weeks ago, the swelling is still significant and the pain is miserable. He thinks that if I were to get an X-ray, it would show my tibia and fibula are separated rather than overlapping each other because the ligament that keeps them overlapping is the one that’s torn.

Bad news for the 5K in 2½ weeks, right? No! He says because I’ve been running and working out despite the pain, I can’t really make it worse unless I sprain it again. So I’m allowed to keep running and working out, but I absolutely have to ice every night and after every run/workout. And, the least fun part – I have to go to physical therapy for the next five weeks. Fortunately only once a week, but still not what I was hoping for. We’ll work on strengthening everything from my hips down, so that my muscles can make up for the work my ligaments can no longer do.

On a positive note, I’ve raised $611 toward my $1,000 goal.

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Why I’m running

When I applied to be on the Dana-Farber B.A.A. 5K team, I had to write my reasons for wanting to run with the team instead of as an individual. I mean, why would one want to be required to fundraise $500 and pay a $75 registration fee instead of paying a $50 registration fee with no fundraising requirement?

Here’s why:

runI didn’t know they were going to include that in an email to our whole team, and I’m a little embarrassed, but it’s the truth.

Back in the saddle

And by saddle, I mean running shoes and YakTrax.

Three weeks ago, I finally decided to wrap up my bum ankle and pound some pavement. I’m working from home (as in, Longmeadow) on Wednesdays right now so the minute I’ve logged my 8.5 hours, I can do what I need to do instead of taking a train ride followed by a 2-hour drive and then having a chance to work out, which honestly does not usually happen. When you wake at 4, spend 5-6:30 in the car, 6:30-7 on the T, 7-3:30 at the office, 3:30-4 on the T, and 4-6ish in the car, you definitely do not have much energy to work out at night. I’ve really got to figure something out.

So anyway, I did a 1-mile run without stopping. My ankle hurt like a mo-fo, but I did it. However, I was in so much pain afterward that I decided I can’t do that again. So a week later, after daily icing, I ventured out again for a 2.5-mile run/walk session. I forget what the run vs. walk times were, but I averaged a 13-minute mile so it was a lot of walking, and some slow running (AKA jogging). The pain during my run was significantly better, but it still hurt pretty bad afterward. Friday, I had a rough commute and a shitty day at work, but knew running would help me clear my head. I was right. I logged 2.75 miles, another run/walk session. I ran for 2, walked for 1, averaging a 12-minute mile. Pain continued to improve. And then last night, after a long day of driving to and from my mom’s to attend my cousin’s baby shower, and eating pretty lousy, I put in another 2.7 miles. This time, I ran for 3, walked for 2, averaging 12:24.

Then all my pain came back. I took a full week off from running and went to my primary care physician’s urgent care clinic on Friday. I saw a different doctor, who I really did not like. She looked at my ankle for about 3 seconds and said, “If you can run, it’s not broken. I’m not sure what you want me to do. We can take an X-ray to see if was fractured previously, but has since healed.” OK…what would the point of that be? I’m glad to hear there’s no way it is currently broken, but I expected her to examine it a little more. There is a significantly larger mass on that bone that sticks out from the outside of my ankle as compared to my right ankle. The physical therapy department ended up calling me to schedule an appointment – I may or may not call them back. I’m going to see how running goes tomorrow.

My goal tomorrow is 5 minutes of running, 1-2 minutes of walking. Because six 5-minute run sessions plus a little bit of walking is all I need to finish a 5K.

I’m confident that April 18 is not going to suck terribly. However, it’s going to be slower than last year, when I trained like a beast for 8 solid weeks leading up to the race. That was my first race, though, so I was super nervous and cared a lot about my time. This year, I know the course, know I can finish, and can focus on the cause rather than my time. I might have to slow down a few times. I might even need to walk or take a water break. But I’ll finish, and hopefully will meet my $1,000 fundraising goal. I’m 55.5% there!