Decisions, Decisions

Somehow, we’re at the beginning of November. The cross country season is all but over and our mornings are now starting in the 20s. I’m confident I’ve had my last run in shorts and I’m confused by the time change over the past weekend. I loved walking out the door at 6:10 to light this morning, but I’m struggling to stay awake in the evenings. Keeping up with running in medical school is challenging, to say the least. There is significant pressure to study all the time and taking an hour off to run every day makes me worry that I’m falling behind on the ever-present new material. As such, I have good weeks of running where I get in 60 miles and bad weeks where I don’t crack 30. I’m working on being okay with that fact.

It’s hard to focus on mileage right now for another reason, namely that I’m staring down the reality of needing another surgery. Back in the spring, I had a repeat EMG on my foot because I was having numbness again. It turns out that my tibial nerve really doesn’t work that well, which explains my odd footstrike on my left foot, recurrent numbness and why speed work has felt so awkward over the past year. I met with the surgeon in October and it seems that to meet my current performance goals, I need surgery first. I’m struggling far more with this decision than with the decision to have compartment syndrome surgery. With my CS, it was urgent and I was young enough that I felt like I had many years of my best running ahead of me. With this surgery, however, I find myself wondering if another surgery (plus the recovery, plus 6 weeks of sub-q blood thinner, plus risks) is really worth it. Will I have time to recover, rebuild and try again at my OT time before the natural slowing of aging sets in? How long will my recovery and return to competition be? Do I even have time to train at the level required for an OTQ while I’m in medical school?

If I don’t have surgery, the biggest risks are permanent damage to the nerve and curling of the toes as the intrinsic muscles of my foot stop functioning. The prognosis for tarsal tunnel surgery is generally good, with about 2 weeks on crutches followed by 4 weeks in a boot. Dr. Charlson (who did all three of my husband’s surgeries) feels confident that with surgery just before New Years, I could be competitive by the fall. With my track record of healing, Will and I think a half marathon for the fall is probably more realistic than Chicago. Since we have Summer 2014 off from classes, that is a huge opportunity for me to log serious miles and see how close to the OT standard I can get in the half marathon.

For now, I’m moping around and alternate between good run days and bad run days. I change my mind on surgery multiple times in a day, even multiple times on a run depending on whether I can feel my foot or not. I’m hoping to have it figured out in the next couple of weeks so that I can plot both my path leading up to surgery and try to come up with a plan for coming back (again).

One thought on “Decisions, Decisions

  1. Ryan

    I doubt you would have logged the miles and time needed to be as fast as you are if an OT qualifying time was the only reason you run. You clearly get more out of running than just meeting time goals. Putting aside the concerns about the length of a competitive running career (although you are young enough to have a bunch of “fast” years left), it would suck to not be able to run at any level 5-6 years from now or to have a bigger, more invasive procedure done in a few years if you could have fixed the problem now. Those are just the thoughts of a 35 year old hobby fitness/running enthusiast. The thought of not being able to run or lift (regardless of whether or not it is at a highly competitive level or not) would make surgery a no-brainer for me.

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