I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wallowing in self-pity.

Well, here we are. For years (over 10 years to be exact), while I managed to get practically every injury in a Runner's Manual, I was, at the same time, able to run through each and every one of them, taking may be a week or two off in the most acute period, and then coming back. I ran with compartment syndrome, with stress fractures in every possible bone (including femur neck), torn tendons, cartilages and muscles, strains and sprains, various -itis (inflammations of tendons, bursa and/or ligaments)...you name it, chances are, I had it, and I had overcome it. May be this is the time to pay for it all at once.

It all started so innocent. I had a little stress fracture and a little anterior tibialis tendonitis in June. I rested and came back to it - slowly by all means. A couple of months later the 1-year old plantar fasciitis (that was there but not really stopping me) began rearing its head - likely due to over-compensating for the right leg pain, I put some more weight on a left. At some point, since I was ignoring it completely, it tore a bit at calcaneus attachment, accumulating a bone edema as well at that place. So, OK, sucks, I rested a bit more. And came back, again, slowly. But since the pain in the inside of the heel was still quite prominent, my body reacted by rolling the foot on the outside a bit more to compensate...yet again. Now, I was king of hurting on both, outside and inside, of my left foot, yet running here and there some, not much, just waiting (and not doing anything else - but, you know, RICE, right?) Best treatment is rest, so I was, by my definition, resting.

Then Grand Canyon trip came, and there was no way I was ditching it, so I ran. It was fun. I have no regrets. By the end of the crossing, I kept uncontrollably rolled my foot who knows where and the outside of my ankle began hurting, turning into a peronial tendonitis. But, you know, it's just -itis, right? Nothing a little rest wouldn't cure.

But it didn't. Nor did it anything good for my foot - outside or inside. And I succumbed, I went to a doctor. Doctor Chris Seller of Performance wellness is awesome. I actually told him so - and I hate medicine in this country. He is one of a few (of whom I can count on one hand) medical professional who had listened from start to finish, HEARD what was said, applied THINKING and LOGIC, and drew conclusions.

Doctor Chris Seller, however, is not a magician. Sadly. Because by avoiding my injury for so long and pretending it's not there, things had gotten to the point where it will take a lot of time and care to get them unwind back. You see, as the PF tear was healing, since it wasn't stretching or strengthening correctly, it got all bunched up at the spot of a tear and caught a few other tendons...and, most importantly, trapped a nerve. As I kept my denial alive and rolled the foot, trying to run, same issue happened on the outside - and trapped yet another nerve there. In a meantime, all those tendons had adhered to each other and even to the bone. Keeping those couple of nerves trapped inside, inflamed, squeezed, bundled up and screaming in agony of pain. That, and a couple of foot bones getting "dropped" (prolapsed) as they don't hold in place anymore.

Thus the treatment. He digs in, he tries to separate the fibers, pull each of them apart, away from one another and the bones, free the nerves...which don't really want to come out, punishing me for not listening to them at the time it was still not gone far.

Who would have known. I had run through so many things, and some little silly nerve entrapment(s) stopped me dead. With little light at the end of a tunnel. Almost 6 months of no real running, and I wonder how I am still keeping my sanity. I almost stopped dreaming of races (although had one 2 nights ago, and in it I won a random 50 miler I didn't even knew I was running), I am not making plans, I am somewhere between despair and content...not sure which one is worse.

I even cried today, as I was laying on  a cot with electrodes stuck around my foot after excruciating digging. Just quietly cried, tears silently countering my face. I am tired. It's not the end of the world. But today I felt simply tired, down and somber. It's a humbling experience for sure. I am not invincible...

But that's ok, no condolences required.This stupid little thing had also given me a lot in exchange. It gave me appreciation of what I was able to do before. And what I plan to do to some extent again. On what it means to me. Not to race, not to participate in crowds, not to have a group belonging. But simply to run. It also reminded me that I have more than that in my identity. So much more. I am not just a runner. I am beyond. Nothing changes in the world when I stop. My family is here. My soul. My heart. My mind. I am still the same...

I am here for a long haul. I just need to inhale, be patient, and realize perspectives. This is what I am known for in so many other areas anyway:)

p.s. it was actually awesome to throw caution out the window this post-rain morning at the dark-o'early and run "fast" (ha! at 9 min/mile pace) for 4 miles and push. I was curious if I could push. It was so greatly missed...so much.


Rooster said...

I hope you get better soon. I had a trapped nerve on my forth toe from doing all you described except it was with my toe not foot. It hurt so bad I couldn't walk without excruciating pain and yet it was just a toe! Nerve pain is unrelenting. Once I got all unburied it was mostly fine. That was 7 years ago and still today I have pay attention to it so it doesn't get all bunched up again. Sending you good healing thoughts. You will be back before you know it.

ALM said...

Oh Olga, I can totally relate, especially to the last 2 paragraphs. Being tired, down and somber is all part of the healing process too. Without it, we would not do what it takes to address the situation; REST. I was just thinking this morning on my run how much humility presents itself when an injury holds a person back. As much as we want to run and participate and test our limits, being held back makes us remember who ELSE we are in addition to running and puts everything into a different perspective. I feel for you. You'll be back, there's no doubt about that! Take care of yourself!g

Sarah said...

Nerve pain is the worst! I feel your pain, literally. And I have to agree, despite hating it, the year and a half that I was out of running I discovered a lot about myself and knew I still had a good, even great, life without running. I know you'll be back much sooner than I was. Hugs.

ultrastevep said...

Olga, I hope the healing comes by the Spring as you R&R over the winter....that's what winters are for.
This reminds me of something my mother used to tell us when we were young and I think of it whenever I am feeling down about not running "I cried when I had no shoes, then I saw a man who had no feet"
Happy Thanksgiving to you and Larry!

Larry said...

Hang in there Baby!!!

Steve: Our "winters" are your late spring/early falls. This is the prime season for trail running in centex. But, we'll get through it. :)

Danni said...

Before you know it you'll be back. Sucks though. I do know how you feel (or sort of) since I've been sidelined for months with injury that inhibits walking.

Anonymous said...

Lord help the fascia that gets in your way. I know you will get through this, stronger than ever. Godspeed!


JeffO said...

Sorry to hear this.
I haven't raced since September, and not sure about my racing future. Only thing is, I may be stopping before getting crippled. I have too many crippled ex-ultra friends who can only walk and ride bikes today.
I hope you caught this soon enough and can be back running next year.

Lisa B said...

Ah, sweet Olga, I am sorry for your injury but glad you found a good doctor to help you. You are strong and tough and will be back running strong again. But I understand, from my own experience, how hard the process can be. You say there is more to your identity than running. Yes! Yes, Yes! You are so right. I hope you and Larry and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I miss you.

Love, hugs and healing,

kelly said...

Hang in there Olga. You will be back and running strong soon. Give it time and it will heal itself. I feel your pain.

Meghan said...


I think all of us runners have been where you are in some way, having run ourselves into injury and then deeper into it with our sport. The intensity that makes us so passionate about running can get us into trouble, can't it?

I'm very sorry.

I'm on the flip side of where you are, about 10 months after acknowledging that my body possessed multiple injuries and actively deciding not to run/seeking medical assistance. It's been a long, hard road, watching my friends and loved ones fly by on training runs, races, and adventure runs while I warmed the bench and did my short recovery runs. I've cried, written dozens of pages in my journal, drank too much wine while wallowing in self pity, hiked a lot, found other outlets for my passion, found joy in supporting my friends' and loved ones' running, lived vicariously through others, gotten strong at the gym, listened to the medical professionals who were trying to help, and slowly, slowly, smartly returned to my sport.

And, here I am. I can run so much and I'm thankful for every step. You will be here, too, I am confident.

Healing thoughts to you, Olga. Danni and I spent the weekend together and we talked about you a lot, sent healing vibes your way. :)

fitmacdaddy said...

Olga, thanks for this. I'm running through pain right now and can't decide if I want to just keep on, or actually seek help to get it fixed. RICE doesn't always work well, right? ps, I got your email and blog comment. More on that later.

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