Thursday, January 07, 2010
After many calls to the Doctor's office, many messages left, I finally got a call back today. It seems they wrote my number down wrong, and have been calling without being able to reach me (hello? Don't you check the patient's file when that happens? My number is right there!)... Anyway, I waited all day for the Doctor's call because the secretary said he wanted to speak to me himself...
Its not good news.
He says my surgeries are very complex and he will not do them at the highly-rated hospital across the street because HIS surgery center has the best equipment and HIS staff are a finely tuned team working towards the patient's benefit. Egotistical? I thought so, but maybe he has a point. He gets the best outcome when he works in his own space, with his own people and tools because he is most familiar with them. He says that every time he has agreed to work at the hospital he has regretted it because it made everything more complicated. Hmmmm... how good is he if he can't be flexible? Or is he right? Do I want him searching for a particular tool when he's got my foot cut open and is sawing my bones? Maybe not...
He said he will have his secretary call me with the absolute rock bottom cost of doing the surgeries at his center, without any insurance coverage. Then I will have to decide whether or not to proceed.
I've cried and cried over this - from frustration, from pain, from doubt - but now I'm going to get busy searching the internet for another doctor who IS covered by my insurance, and before I set the appt. to see him I'll ask where he does his surgeries!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I went to the ortho today, a new guy who specializes in ankles. He came highly recommended by a number of different sources and I was anxious to see what he could do for me. Let me back up a bit here...
I was born with club feet, my left more severe than my right. My mother didn't have the money or the energy to have me operated on (it would have meant 3 months in casts by the time they did both feet) so she put me in orthopedic shoes for 12 years and hoped for the best. I have know my whole "adult" life (from HS onwards) that my feet were messed up, that the corrective shoes only helped so much. It is partly why I felt I could never run - my left ankle, in particular, would often roll out and sprain. When it wasn't actually rolling it felt unstable anyway so I always feared the next accident...
I took up running again 2.5 years ago, and have had all kinds of problems that stem from my bad ankles - torn calf, shin splints, knee problems - likely due to the excess pressures put on the muscles and joints because of my weak ankles. I also live with chronic ankle pain and swelling, although sometimes the problem becomes acute, as it has again in the past month. After my last half marathon my ankle swelling and pain didn't recede, as they usually do, and I decided I'd had enough of living like this, so off to the uber-doc I went.
No surprises there, he said my ligaments are shot, particularly in my left ankle, and need reconstruction. However, before he will fix it he needs to correct my congenital defect or its like sticking a band-aid on an amputated limb - it won't help. He outlined two surgeries for me, the first to reset the bones in my foot to correct my ankle position and the second to reconstruct my ligaments. Scary stuff, involving cut bones and permanent screws, but he claims to do this all the time and says he has a 100% effective rate with this surgery (is any surgery ever perfect? Hmmmm). I'm thinking OK, maybe the time has come to do this, I've always know it was likely to happen in my future, why keep suffering, right? So we discuss timing - my next two marathons are Jan and Feb, I could do the surgery in March on the first foot... 6-12 weeks on crutches and then up to 2 years without running... but I could cycle and swim...
As I try to wrap my head around all this would entail I'm in a bit of shock but feeling hopeful that maybe, once and for all, the pain will be gone when this is said and done... until... I find out he only operates in a private surgery center not covered by my insurance! He has hospital privileges across the street, where my insurance WILL cover, but has not agreed yet to do the surgery there. And so I will wait for an answer... or maybe have to find someone else, starting all over again? Or not do this at all, and continue to suffer... or pay for the whole thing myself (not likely, I don't have that kind of money in the bank!). From hopeful to frustrated, trying to fend off despair... I will wait and pray for good news after the new year.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sunday morning I set out to run 20 miles. A year ago that would've been no big deal, but just last week I wrote that I had the worst 5 mile run of my life... so I truly had no idea what this day would bring.
I went to bed late Saturday night (after swallowing 2 Aleve in hopes of reducing the swelling in my ankle overnight) and planned to get up at 4:30 a.m. I had laid out my clothes, my kinesio tape, my water bottle filled with Accelerade; I had loaded my belt with gu, a baggie of more Accelerade powder, my camera, my ipod, chapstick... all the things I would need for a long unsupported run. I had already researched online where I thought the best route would be, based on the Valley Isle Road Runners website, and dh and I planned to drive to the south side of the island to do this run. Oh, did I forget to mention that we are on vacation on Maui?
Since we knew this would take a long time, and since I kept insisting that we NOT focus on speed but just on covering the distance, we knew we would need to start in the dark to avoid the worst heat of the day. At 5:15 we headed out and began the 25 mile drive to Kihei. The plan was to start at Kamaole (I) Beach park and run south through Wailea, Makena and finally the Lava Fields of A'Hihi-Kina'u reserve and La Perouse Bay. (Check these places out - they're beautiful!) Our training schedule called for 18-20 miles but I was secretly hoping to cover 22 since my next marathon is just 4 weeks away...
We arrived at the beach park in Kihei only to find a sign that says the park is open from 7 am to 7 pm, and it was just a little after 6 am. A police officer happened to be nearby and he encouraged us NOT to park there, but to find a spot on the side street instead. Once we moved the car we had to find a restroom before we began... all told, we were delayed by almost 30 minutes and didn't get on the road until 6:35 a.m.
It was very humid and the forecast was for 40% chance of morning showers... We were tooling along the mostly flat old road in Kihei as the sun rose. Within a few miles we reached Wailea, one of the most beautiful resort areas in all of the islands of Hawaii... home to the Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea Resort to name just two... We were treated to wonderful views of Lanai as we ran on wide sidewalks (a real treat after the cambered shoulder of the road we'd been running on in Ka'anapali) that wound around some of the most exclusive golf courses in Hawaii. This area had constant rolling hills, but we were also treated to our first brief rain shower, offering some relief from the humidity. As we continue to run south and approached Makena we noticed signs for an Aluminum Man race taking place (swim + run). Not far from that were signs warning drivers to watch out for runners... We felt lucky to have stumbled upon this event and those signs, feeling a little safer on the road (the sidewalks ended in Wailea).
I knew that we would need more water along the route as we only carried 22 - 24 ounces on us, but as we moved from Makena into the less populated area approaching the Reserve (approximately 10k into our run) I thought we'd be OK for the next 8 miles and could fill up on our return. What I hadn't counted on was the sun's breaking through the clouds on the south side of Haleakala and warming up the morning so quickly...
Running up and down some steeper rolling hills we now had a view of Molokini and then of Kaho'olawe... so very scenic...
We stopped at the entrance to the reserve, where the landscape was about to change dramatically... from lush green to barren lava crags leading to the sea. These photos were taken around 8 miles into our run:
In spite of my swollen ankle, I'm feeling pretty good about now. I'm warmed up and running fairly strong; my knee had a few scary twinges in the earlier miles but has not given me any worry for the past hour - I'm happy to be running without my knee brace finally! The last three half marathons I ran in I started to feel fatigued around mile 10 and just pushed through to the end on sheer will. Would today finally be different???
We continued through the lava until the road ended at La Perouse Bay. Bob was feeling fatigued at this point and was just about out of water, which surprised me since I usually drink far more than he does. Luckily, a Park Ranger was out early and we asked him if by chance he had any water in his truck? He did, and he graciously refilled our bottles! After verbal thanks to him and silent thanks to the spirit of Aloha, we continued a bit further on a craggy path in order to hit the 10 mile mark before starting back. The sun was burning brighter now and we had 4 miles of lava fields to traverse before we would get back to "civilization", so we headed out again. Bob wanted to walk more of the hills, so we took our time returning. As soon as we reached Makena we stopped at the first hotel and refilled our bottles with sport drink mix and ice water. Nothing ever tasted so good! We took a short break and had some gu, refilled our bottles yet again, and then took off. Bob elected to walk the rest of the way, he was that fatigued. I was feeling really good (must be something in the air...) and told him I wanted the extra mileage, so I would run ahead 4-5 minutes and then double back to walk with him a bit, and then would repeat the sequence.
Makena soon became Wailea, and we stopped again for water. I couldn't believe how good I felt (all except my ankle, which I just tuned out) so I kept pushing... Once we left Wailea and entered Kihei the whole town was awake and on the road! A caravan of 50+ harleys passed us on some kind of charity ride, then a group at least as large went by in the other direction on scooters, wearing shirts that said "Toys for Tots"... lots of noise, lots of traffic, lots of heat, but the end was near!
We paused in Kihei to photograph a hula halau (hula school) practicing on the beach, and then pushed on to the finish.
In the end I managed to get my 22 miles in and was none the worse for wear. I am amazed at what I can do when I remove expectations from the goal... I didn't care about time, I just cared about distance, and when the distance was done I was riding sky high! My next marathon is Jan. 17th and I KNOW I can do it... maybe not fast, but I WILL finish it. That is a relief! Almost more importantly, during this run I was reminded of why I love Hawaii... away from the tourists, off the beaten path, talking to the locals... this is the place I feel most at peace.
Map of area we ran in:
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted, but I was called a Cougar Friday night. I was in Vegas with my friend and 2 of her friends from HS. The three of them are in their mid-thirties, which doesn't make me quite old enough to be their mother but certainly old enough to have babysat for them... anyway, we went out to a club at the Palms. Being young beautiful women we were put on the VIP Guest list and whisked right into the club, without having to pay the cover charge. I was thinking I could get used to this, when these young guys got into the elevator behind us and started saying things like: "Oooh, its Cougar night" and "Gonna get me some Cougar to-night"... They were obviously drunk and definitely skeevy looking, but I was insulted all the same! After a bit I decided to just laugh it all off....
Fast forward a few hours ... we've been dancing and standing around for 3 hours and its now nearly 3 a.m. ... I was done. My feet hurt, I was bored and tired and just ready for bed, so I left the club to sit down in the casino. The gals followed about 15 minutes later, and they rode down in the elevator with another bunch of young guys. When they approached me one of the guys asked "So, are you the Mama Bear?" WHAT??!!
Another insult?? I told him "Walk away little boy, before I smack you silly"!
I guess I had been feeling really good about myself lately because of my weight loss and my running accomplishments, and to have 2 different people insult me on one night was just a bit much for my ego to handle. I've now put it into perspective - these were young, drunk guys and I was old enough to be their Mother, so what did I expect?- but it made me realize that if I want to go dancing I need to do it in an age-appropriate club! The problem wasn't with me, it was with the club they chose, right?
Monday, November 23, 2009
Six months ago I was writing a blog about how easy my 18 mile run was - Just another Sunday Run Day - and I was on top of the world and confident in my new running successes. I had a series of really good HM races, each one faster than the one before and I dared to dream of even greater success...
Then I got hurt. Whether or not my injury was brought on by my running or simply made worse by my anatomy I'll never know, and it doesn't matter. I do know that I refused to accept an Rx to stay off my feet and found a Dr. who would work with me towards recovery. I had already entered 4 more races (pre-injury) and I was determined to finish them, albeit within my new physical limitations.
I went to physical therapy, did everything I was supposed to do, I iced my knee, I rested more than I thought I should from a training perspective and less than I thought I should from a recovery perspective, but I progressed... slowly. Two steps forward, one step back; Two steps backwards, one step forward. I had good days and bad days and was filled with hope and plunged into despair at times.
What I learned is this: I do not give up. Not in races, not in recovery. I keep trying to find a practitioner who will wave a magic wand over me and make me better, but I know that won't happen. So I keep trying new things, supplements, exercises, adaptive training... each time, my hope surges that this will fix me -- until reality sets in and I realize that nothing will change in such a short period of time.
So today I did 18 miles again. I walked and jogged 5 pre-dawn miles and went back out for 13 more using my regular 1:1 intervals. I didn't push for time (just the opposite, I forced myself to hold back so I could run with someone else), I kept my eye on the goal (to finish!) and I was happy with my accomplishment. Will I be able to run my next HM? I don't know. Will I finish it? Heck yes!! Even if I wake up that morning in pain, even if I have a "bad" running day - I will keep my eye on the goal and I will finish.
Humility does not come easily to me, but I am humbled and grateful that I can still get 18 miles done.
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