Thursday, January 29, 2015

Starting to wonder what Doctors actually DO

This is sadly going to be completely and utterly NRR. If you need to, you can go now to some other blog that is probably less whiny that this one will be. I hear Ultra marathon Man has a good blog lol. Alright, so when we last left off I was waiting for my first Physio appointment. Well I finally met Julia, my PT. She could hardly read the scribble that Dr. Urquhart had made on my referral so I went through my story for her. I fell. On my knee and hands. I knew right away something had happened with the knee, but what I STILL DO NOT KNOW! It became swollen in under 6 hours, it was badly bruised, it took 5 days of intense icing and elevation to get the swelling down and now I limp. I had a big bandage on for a week when they thought I had broken a bone. A week later I heard a crazy crack noise and had intense pain across my kneecap (with the bandage on). After I removed the big bandage one ER doctor had put on my leg (because another ER doctor said my injury was just bursitis) I saw my bruise had changed into a sick yellow color and spread down my leg. I've had 3 x-rays, all clear. One ER doctor even claimed he could see that I hadn't damaged any soft tissue from one x-ray. I honestly thought all you could see on an x-ray is bone, but this guy was quite sure of himself. Then I went to see the Orthopedic surgeon and he said I had hurt my PCL and maybe other tissue in my knee so I should have an MRI. So Julia took notes and then did her own physical exam. She said she thinks I might have sprained my PCL but her bet is on a torn ACL. GAWD. So, to recap dear reader, I've gone from "it might be a broken kneecap/patella" to "Nothing is wrong" to "You probably tore your PCL and might have hurt other tissue" to "Sprained PCL and Maybe Torn ACL." Oh. My. God this is SO frustrating. Honestly I was hoping for a broken bone since you can see that on an x-ray, no other tests required, throw it in a cast then move on to rehab. Now I've got this game-show joke of an injury list with no end in sight. MRI wait times are about 250 days in the HRM. Everyone tells me to simply pack up and go somewhere else for the test. That still puts me and my family out at least $200 for gas and lost wages from work. I cannot afford it. Plain and simple. Even then I would likely wait 2 months or more. What the HELL is the point of these tests if you are already healed before you get access to them?! I have contacted my MLA, my MP and provincial Ombudsman. The MLA is forwarding my concerns to the minister of Health. My Ombudsman was NO help whatsoever, simply repeating the information easily found on their website. I've also asked if I can get the possible-cancer inducing CT scan since it seems to give the same information as an MRI. All of this is causing me so much stress it makes me cry. I hurt and I don't know why. I can't run and I don't know why. Four doctors and none of them can tell me what is wrong, just that something is. Really.-Is that what you spent 100k on for a degree? At least two of them agree I should be on crutches. None of them gave me any pain medication so I went begging for some from a pharmacist. What the hell kind of health care system do we have here?! Mentally I am having a hard time (as if you couldn't read between the lines before now). I don't want to take my pain medication because it has nasty side effects, I don't use my crutches unless I have a long walk to do, and even then I'm getting to the point I might just toss them too and I'm not "resting" my knee like I know I should, but honestly What For? No one can say 100% that XX is injured and the health care system doesn't seem to think my injury is serious to get a timely test so what is the point?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Heavy Heart and Muscle Tantrums

I found my physiotherapist to help me through this torn PCL. I've had Brent as my therapist before but it was for another issue four or five years ago. He's a big cyclist so he should be able to tell me if I'm okay to start cycling on a stationary bike. I start tomorrow morning...yay? My experience with physiotherapists has really run the range of super sweet to a closet psychopath-seriously. The super sweet physiotherapists, while they seem to double as a counselor, they also don't push me enough so I can see results quickly with whatever injury brought me in to their office. The psychopath only happened once, but it was for a finger I broke in 3 places. He was rough (physically), gave me a lecture on my priorities when I was late ONE time (I had even called ahead to let them know!), meanwhile he was constantly late for our appointments, told me how he "got back" at other patients who were late or missed appointments, made weird statements on how all physiotherapists must like to cause people pain (um.... what?!) and even chastised me for grocery shopping on the weekend for god's sake! If I disagreed with him he would be even more rough, which he said he needed to be because I wasn't working hard enough on my own. Fair enough, but when you have no tendon to use because of a surgical accident, bending a finger that was broken in 3 places is only going to have limited results at best. I stopped going to him after 7 or 8 visits. Honestly I'm surprised I made it that long. I always was in more pain when I left that guy. I've also had totally normal physiotherapists, which is the category Brent falls into. He seems to enjoy his career and is efficient at getting people back on their feet (or legs, knees, whatever). He did seem a bit aloof, but he's also super busy. Whatever, we don't need to be BFFs but I need to know I can trust my therapists not to leave me in more pain than when I started, be willing to formulate a treatment plan together and know that I am willing to do whatever I need to do to get out of their office and back outside doing what I love. I don't think that's asking too much. Last night I had horrible calf cramps in my left leg, so bad I was rolling around on the bed clutching my leg waking my husband from his sleep. The leg still hurts this morning so I asked a friend what he thought and he said it's my calf muscle "crying out for exercise." - I love how he put that. My whole body is crying out for exercise though!! He recommends swimming to help. I'm going to use the hot tub tonight while my daughter has swim class so I'm hoping if it hasn't calmed down it will after that. OUCH!! Like this didn't hurt enough already! My heavy heart is from losing a good friend from my childhood to cancer. She was a beautiful, creative, funny and a straight up good friend to me during some difficult years in my own life. We were on the swim team together for years and she once tried to teach me to play her favorite instrument, the violin. I was so bad at it she said I should stick to the drums-she was right! Despite her beautiful and generous soul she suffered greatly from bowel cancer these past 7 years and passed away yesterday. She leaves behind her husband Andrew (who she also knew since childhood) their two adopted children, her younger brother Manuel, her parents, along with countless friends and fans who adored her and her music. My heart breaks for her and her family. RIP Fleur

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Road to Recovery is called PCL

Well I finally have my answer after 2 weeks of hobbling around, babying my leg. The Orthopedic surgeon said I have likely torn my PCL ligament and I have a bad bone bruise. Then I was told to get on a pair of crutches until my physiotherapist says not to use them any more. He made it pretty clear I was not to try and "work through" the pain with this injury, so in the interest of getting back out there faster I will be a good patient and listen and not run. UGH! %$^#%*^*(^%!! Okay, so what to do. I have chosen my rehab place-the physiotherapy clinic in the same sports complex where Hannah takes her dance classes. Seems like a convenient choice. They offer physiotherapy but also other alternative treatments (like acupuncture) that I enjoy. Aside from that, I've looked up KT taping methods for this kind of injury and found a simple one that helps keep my knee from feeling like its pressing down on my leg. Its actually supposed to help the swelling that's still in there. I'm also doing whatever upper/middle body workouts I can modify with a leg I'm not supposed to use. So, no plyometric or cardio workouts, its weight training and maybe a bit of upper body yoga for me. These crutches are certainly giving my arms a workout-ouch! I don't know how people do it for more than a week, those things pinch man! I don't think I'll need them for very long though, they are really just helping me keep a normal walking gait without putting all of my weight on my left leg. My hips and my right quad muscle are grateful. So aside from upper body work I've also looked up the initial exercises physiotherapists recommend for this stage, in this case it consists quad flexing (glamorous - I know). I sit and squeeze my left quad muscle and hold it for 10 seconds, repeating 10 times, three times a day. I can also do this standing up and with my hamstring muscle (yay, variety!). The idea is to keep the big muscles firing so they stay as strong as possible for when I get full ROM back in my knee. I think I will find a whole new level of patience and perseverance with this injury. lol

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pitty Party

Okay, okay so I've had my pitty party, complete with a small binge on chocolate chip cookies and a short cry. Now I've moved into impatience. At times the pain in my knee is almost gone, albeit my leg is usually frozen in place during those moments, and then there are times when it feels like someone is stabbing me in the knee or leg with a hot poker. When my pain is almost gone I start to think maybe the ER doctors were overreacting and I can get away with just taping my knee until it feels better but then the hot stabby pain starts and I think I need a full-blown cast. Either way I really, really can't wait for Friday morning when I see this Orthopedic surgeon so I can get a definite answer and then a treatment plan. This whole "we're not really sure" diagnosis sucks. How can I rehab something when they don't know what's going on? This is very frustrating and I'm now 2 weeks behind schedule in my Waskally Wrabbit Training Plan, never mind giving up any idea I might have had about running the Run for Marilou next weekend! If it turns out that nothing is seriously wrong then I can deal with taking my runs easy for a few weeks. But this whole let's wait and see thing is HARD. And I've exhausted Google's search functionality researching the difference between a broken knee cap, an injured knee ligament and a simple knee sprain. My Google diagnosis is that this is likely NOT just a sprain. But I've got symptoms of both a ligament and broken bone issue so I sure hope this guy has an answer. C'mon Friday!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Oh My %$!!@##*%^ Knee

Okay, so that stupid fall I described in my last post? Yeeeaaah. I finally got it checked out after realizing Friday that the swelling was still pretty significant and the kneecap itself felt distorted. I went into the ER Saturday morning (which, BTW, is the BEST time to go into an ER in HRM since there is no one there). I waited all of 30 minutes to be triaged (it was between me and the older man who had the flu) and seen by a med student (during a regular time I could wait up to 3 hours for this same sequence of events). She lightly touched the top of my knee and I almost cried it hurt so bad. Yikes, I knew that couldn't be good. She said there was still a lot of swelling but it wasn't significant enough to be drained (-wait-what? Oh hells no you were not going to stick a needle in my knee-OMG!) Then she said I might have broken my knee cap. I'm not sure if I said Oh Damn or Oh Shit. Off to xray I went. Another 30 minutes passed and the Doctor (with the med student in tow) came in and asked if they had taken the xray of the correct leg. I said they had but had to do the xrays a few times over. So I waited another 30 minutes for a radiologist to come into work and have a look at the xrays. They couldn't find anything conclusive. So I sat in the cast room having a huge bandage put on my leg and I'm still asking, so did I sprain it then? Or is it cracked...or what? The Doctor had long gone onto another patient (by 10am the place was filling up) so it was me, the med student and the casting guy. The med student said if they hadn't taken an xray they would say it was broken. She gave me an appointment slip to see an orthopedic surgeon in a week and a prescription for crutches and a leg brace. She said hopefully by the time I see the surgeon the break will start to heal and should show up on an xray at that time. Until then I'm to keep my leg immobilized, keep taking pain meds and wait. I looked for the "butterfly" brace she had prescribed but it seems those need to be ordered into a drug store (yes even in a city like Halifax, they don't supply these things in-store). My poor/very accommodating husband and I spent hours driving around the city looking at braces but had no luck finding anything that worked. I figure I'll wait until Friday and see what the surgeon says before I start ordering knee braces. My hope is that I cracked it and I will only need to tape this thing up after Friday. I can tell you, having your leg immobilized gets old after about three hobbling steps. So this also means my daily running streak is out the window. Boo. My January Pushup challenge though is still going strong. At least I can do upper body work to try and keep the grumpiness at bay. Let's see what Friday holds...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Big Chill

This Christmas my husband got me a few different rolls of KT Tape (he's so romantic-lol). I have only discovered KT tape this year because A. it wasn't widely available here in little-old Nova Scotia and B. I haven't been injured. Now I'm wondering if my hubby has some psychic abilities. I was running along, on my run-commute home after work on Monday, debating whether I should have stayed on the trail or gotten off when I did to catch the bus when BAM. The sidewalk rushed towards me as I caught a toe and tripped. It's kind of funny though, the little flashes of thought that go through your head as you fall. This time it was "Oh damn, my white mittens are going to get all dirty." I mean really. I was suddenly worried about my white mittens?! Ugh. Anyhow. I landed on my suddenly precious white mittens and my left knee. Ouch. I rolled to my left side in pain but got up quickly as I was now being watched by everyone heading home from work in their cars. I checked my jacket-whew! No rips (great job Mountain Hard Wear!). I could feel my left knee stinging but I forced myself to walk to the next bus stop without looking at it because I didn't want to miss my bus (it was FREEZING) and I knew once I looked at it I would feel worse. Arriving at the bus stop I grabbed a handful of snow and pressed it to my knee. Ah, that felt better. I looked at my new tights (THANKS MOM!) and was surprised to find no rips there either (Go Nike!). My kneecap was swelling up though. I grabbed the bus and got home. Since then I've been icing and elevating my knee but the swelling hasn't gone down by very much. I'm pretty sure I really banged up the bursa on top of the knee. I can walk, yes, I think I'm fine, but I am a bit nervous to run on it. So I looked up some KT taping videos and with a bit of patience and practice got a configuration around my knee that helps, a bit. So I'm walking no problem but I don't want to cause more damage if I run. Honestly though, with temperatures at the -15C range I'm not overly eager to spend more than a half hour outside. I've been alternating running short bouts outside and using my treadmill (best $150 I ever spent on kijiji BTW) until this happened. So, should I chill out and wait for the swelling to go away? Should I suck it up and run anyway? Or should I (gasp) go to the ER and get an xray? Decisions, decisions. I'll keep you all posted :-) Until then stay safe and stay warm out there!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello 2015!

Wow it's really 2015. The year the movie "Back to the Future" said we would all ride in floating cars, ride hover boards and wear strange looking military-inspired outfits. Well, aside from a hover board prototype, none of that's happened. I think the difference between 1989 and 2015 is big enough thanks. Okay, so onto running related topics. I've become a streaker! Yup, not the nudity kind but a "I'm gonna run at least 1 mile every single day in 2015" kind of streaker. After last year of waffling around workouts I figure this will encourage more consistency in my running. So far, so good. I've had two 1 mile days so far with the rest of my runs between 5-7 miles. Both of my 1 miler days were days that it was too nasty outside to do anything so I hopped on my treadmill. And, I have to say, I am enjoying it even if I have a banged up little toe from a Christmas-based accident. Yeah, a big heavy piece of wood came crashing down on my toe causing it to be a wee bit swollen for...what are we now...three weeks?! Wearing my running shoes is very uncomfortable so I've gone back to my trusty VFF sprints. It's funny. The doctor who looked at my toe told me to do RICE and wear a sturdy shoe. Uh huh. Every time they say that I try their advice (I swear I do!) but after a 10th of a mile in my "sturdy" shoes I returned home and put on my VFFs. Bliss...well, at least I can run without pain in them! Honestly though, I would rather wear my regular running shoes. Wearing VFFs in the winter gets you some strange looks from people when you're in a winter running coat (LOVE my Ghost Whisper jacket!!), tights, a buff to cover your face, mitts and a hat. Comfortable-yes. And if it keeps me running (and not the crazy grumpy person I became for the week after the toe smash), then I think we can all agree this poor fashion choice is best for all. I just hope the swelling goes down soon-this sixth toe feeling sucks! So, my goals for 2015. Well, the first is to keep up the streak. The second is to run the Moose 25k Run in March, the WW Ultra again in May, run the Sole Sisters 5k with my mom and daughter in June and possibly run the Brookvale Ultra in August. I am toying with the idea of running the NS Marathon (it's in its 45th year!) but that's a week away from the Brookvale Ultra-which is not to be underestimated. Neither fill up quickly so I have time to decide. For the fall I'd like to run a race in October, but that's a very difficult month to schedule with my daughter's birthday, Thanksgiving and Halloween. Last year I managed to run the last MEC trail half marathon so I might just repeat that. It was a really nice way to end off the running racing season. Well, that's my check-in for the moment. All of my Mountain Hard wear gear is holding up great during these colder days, and with the temperatures going down to -18 this week I know the Ghost Whisper jacket will keep me warm-now if they could only make this material for running pants! :-) Happy running out there-and stay safe and visible!