Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stress Fracture Update. How this was supposed to be a triumphant return to running.

I've sat down at least 20 times to try and write but no matter what I wrote, I would just end up erasing it and getting off the computer. I have things to say, I just don't feel like saying them. And while my attitude during this time off of from running has been overall pretty positive, I have finally admitted last week that I have been slightly depressed.

Running is my anti depressant medication. Depression runs in my family. It's just a fact of life. I have 6 siblings. 4 of them are on anti depression medication. My grandma is and so are 2 of my aunts. I need running. Biking is not the same, yoga is not the same, lifting weights is not the same, hiking comes close but still just doesn't do it. And the thought, though crazy as it is, that I won't run again, has caused me to withdraw myself. From friends, from this blog, from all of you kind people. From the things that would really have helped me and encouraged me.

It's over today. So here's the update. 3 weeks ago I had a follow up x-ray and was given the go ahead to start running again. (Which I thought was stupid because it didn't show up on the x-ray to begin with.) I felt deep inside that I wasn't quite ready yet because of a few little test jogs during a couple hikes that I had done on my own the previous week. But when my husband said that he was going for a short run that night, and I had been cleared to run, I couldn't pass it up and went along. After a mile I could feel something by my ankle. Truthfully, it had been so long since I had felt any pain I wasn't sure if it was pain or just muscles that hadn't been worked in a while. I walked and there was no pain so we turned around and headed for home just to be safe. We ran up a big hill on the way back and it felt so good to be out running again that I sprinted up to the top. Talk about a serious runner's high. The ankle ached the rest of the night and the next day. I sat there worrying and wondering if it was all in my head so I gave it 3 days and then ran again just 2 miles. But by the time I got home I knew it wasn't totally healed yet and pretty much cried my eyes out to my husband.

I texted with my doctor, who was as frustrated as I was, and he stuck me in a boot for 4 weeks. It felt like I was at two extremes. First, I could do anything but run and now he wanted me to do nothing. After more tears to a good friend, I picked myself up and decided to take matters into my own hands. Doctor Google and I became good friends and I researched everything I could about stress fractures. I learned a lot. I stopped taking my anti inflammatories. I bought a portable ultrasound machine. I continued to ride my bike.

These little ankle wings make for good resistance while deep water pool running.

And through a chance conversation (you know I don't believe in chance), I found an underwater treadmill in my little town. I feel like that was a tender mercy sent from heaven to help me cope. And it's been great. I now have a plan to return to running safely and am excited. My real workouts will continue in the pool and on the bike for a couple of months and I'll be using speed walking and a run/walk program to get me back into running. I compromised with my doctor yesterday and will be in the boot 3 weeks and will use the 4th week to start walking. So, in 2 short days this boot will be gone. It finally seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel.


I have no shame by putting this picture on here. This pool has the best toys. And it's $30 a month for a pool pass. The physical therapist has been great working with me on balance and strengthening exercises in the pool. I have even gotten to do jump lunges and jump squats as well as just running back and forth, forward and backward on the pool floor. I really look forward to the workouts.

I wanted to share with you a couple of sites that have really inspired me and I feel like have given me good concise information.
First is The Pete Pfitzinger Lab Report. It not only had a 9 week pool running training plan, but also gives a return to running schedule after stress fractures. If only I had known this prior to my return, I may have not even had to wear this stupid boot at all. The phrase in that article that stuck out to me was "There is a danger during the first few weeks back of releasing your pent-up physical and emotional energy and overdoing it." Perfect words to describe exactly what I did sprinting up that hill.
Next was Camille Herron's blog post on overcoming stress fractures. This was chock full of good information including tests to see if you're ready to run again as well as reasons behind why stress fractures occur in the first place. She is also the one who convinced me to ditch the anti inflammatories. I have osteoarthritis in my wrists, elbows, and my right foot. (I just found out about the foot in my bone scan. It doesn't hurt me at all.) But I have been taking Celebrex for about 4 years now. I am a chronic user. I have been off for almost 3 weeks now and though I notice my elbows when I ride my bike, it is o.k. I would urge everyone to read this even if you've never had a stress fracture before. I have never had a broken bone in my life until now. You just never know. And I wish I had found this at the very beginning.

I am back and can't wait to catch up with all of you and I have lots more things to share including some good learning lessons from all of this, my new training goal (since my May marathon is as good as gone), as well as an awesome chia seed recipe. So good to be back. And it will be even better when I am running again.

24 comments:

Taryn said...

That is so awesome that you were able to use the pool treadmill...that little invention looks incredible!

And only two more days...how exciting!

NY Wolve said...

good luck on the recovery. I had a very frustrating stress fracture coming off a super year of running. It was very difficult, both physically and mentally. I ended up quitting running, and regretting it every day. And it seemed to get harder and harder to start again. I tried and failed several times (funny how hard it is to get back after a long absence!)

So I wish success for you, and i hope you do many of the things I didn't -- maintain CV level, run underwater, weight train, PT, etc. It can only help, and keep the faith.

Redhead Running said...

This post gives me PTSD!!! I went through this too girl and I know how much it sucks. My doc gave me an overly optimistic allowance to xtrain my little heart out while I recovered from my stress fracture and didn't even put me in the boot. Well guess what? It didn't heal but got worse. I spent 17 full weeks in a boot and on crutches. And it took me 9 months before I was cleared to run again. I am just now creeping up in the miles, 3 as of this week. And although my doc said I was fine and could increase the mileage I've been coming back uber conservative so I never repeat that horrible experience. Being injured for an extended amount of time is disheartening, frustrating, and depressing. I wish I could give you a hug!!!

Julia said...

friend! it is so great to hear from you on the blog! this is fantastic news! i hope everything goes well for you...it sounds like you have exciting and promising days ahead :) i will check in often to see how its going of course!

Jen said...

I can totally relate to you in terms of the running as anti depressant. I used to take anti-depressant meds and no longer need to because I run. I am incredibly happy you can run again - in the pool. I've never seen a pool treadmill before and the idea of that is incredible. Welcome back and I cannot wait to read about your ups and downs in your return.

Andrea said...

*hug* I can't seem to write when going through a sports injury either. I'm a planner - and you just can't "plan" recovery very well. Glad you have found some things to tide you over until you are back on the road. Who knows, you might learn to love it!

Michelle Dragoo said...

awh, my thoughts and prayers are with you...good for you for perservering!

Cory Reese said...

Just reading about all you have gone through makes me sick to my stomach. Non-runners have no idea how it is TORTURE to not be able to do what we love.

Everyone I know who has gone through this has come back stronger and faster after the healing is done. Hang in there and good luck!

Alma said...

I'm so sorry about the fracture - how incredibly frustrating. You are doing such a great job with the cross-training though. Hang in there!

Jill said...

So sorry about the fracture, ouch! How cool that you found and got to use a pool 'mill! Awesome! Keep up the great work. Hope you can get back to running soon.

Laura Boll said...

I've never been diagnosed with depression, but have had some times where I felt I was pretty close, and running has always been enough to get me through it, more than cross training, I know what you mean!
So glad to hear you're learning so much, and getting some great opportunities for pool work! I had a similar experience with my almost stress fracture last summer, it never showed on an xray, but we saw it on an mri... then I was "okayed" to run again by an xray-- how does that make any sense!?

Laura said...

Continue to heal up, listen to your body and recover smart. Wishing you all the best!

Jen @ Run for Anna said...

Welcome back! This whole process will make you stronger than ever. Take care of yourself!

ashley & sundance said...

oh Jen... how I miss your face. I'm glad you are able to pool run. the underwater treadmill is so cool!

Though I must admit I'm bummed you won't be running Ogden with me this year! Maybe we could still meet up for a lunch or dinner date?

and again... I miss your face.

Michael said...

welcome back. we missed you. M

Jerilee E. said...

I am so glad you are finally on the mend! Running just becomes so much of who we are, it's hard when it is not there for a while.

Coy Martinez said...

I'm glad you're sharing this!! I went through the same thing and the pool saved me from impending mental doom. I pool jogged and swam! It's a great workout and who knows, maybe you'll have a tri in your future!!? :)

You have a smile on your face in that pic so that's a good thing right? :)

Michael said...

Hi Jen, I think of you. I hope you're ok. Did you see this post? It was for you. M


http://4-30.blogspot.com/2012/01/stay-in-bed-world-sleep-in-peace.html

Jen said...

Michael, I did see your post. It was so nice and brought tears to my eyes. (It's been an emotional ride!) Thank you. I can't comment on your blog and didn't know how to contact you. But thanks so much!

Michael said...

I'll lift the post restrictions.. a couple of people have asked. Not sure why i removed the option.. sorting stuff out I guess. I'm glad you're ok. M

Connie said...

Jen, I've missed reading your blog and was wondering how you're doing. I'm glad you're alright.

Be strong and know that you will get better and you will be able to run again.

Trust me too, those first pain free miles will be glorious!

Kristin W said...

I just stumbled across this year old post and wanted to say THANK YOU! I was just diagnosed with a stress fracture and am having the same feelings...and am so scared to never fully recover. I hate cross training and swimming, but had never heard of an underwater treadmill!

Thank you for the resources and for the comfort that I got from this post!

Sienna Christie said...

As marathoner, you could get stress fracture anytime, especially if you push yourself to run even if you already feel pain in your body. And when you do, take a rest. If the pain gets worse, go to an orthopedic. Don’t ignore whatever pain you feel. Your body has limitations too, and resting could be one of the solutions. @ Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

Andri Septen said...

it is likely to crack. This normally occurs in healthy and fit individuals who subject their body to excess physical activities. This kind of fracture is normally experienced by sportspersons and military recruits who engage in physical activities for long periods of time. They develop a stress fracture that leads to foot pain. The second situation is where people have extremely weak bones. This commonly affects women with osteoporosis.