Since I’ll be up at Mount Hor tomorrow for a ski race, we’re celebrating a day early! Tomorrow marks a year since my foot surgery. I’m about 80% back to normal; I’ll give myself 100% when I can run on uneven terrain or wear heels to a wedding and be pain free the next day. The latter example is fresh in my mind as I’m still limping around from Saturday night and wincing every time I pronate.
I originally started this blog to keep track of my recovery from compartment syndrome surgery and to create a resource for others with CS because it is still so hard to find information about immediate and long term recovery. During a recent conversation with Laurel, I was complaining about how my foot had gone numb for the first time in a long time. It wasn’t nearly as bad as before surgery, but still aggravating enough to be noticed. Laurel quipped “I swear there’s no such thing as “cured” after having CS. Things are better but nowhere near perfect.”
And she’s right. Things are much better post surgery (post both surgeries at this point.) I haven’t had a “wooden foot” run in years. I haven’t tripped and fallen because I literally don’t know where my foot is since my first surgery. For the most part, I don’t have screaming pain in my calf. Clearly, my performances have continued to improve despite a less than perfect repair.
But if something is going to go wrong on a run, it’s going to be my left foot going numb or my calf hurting. If I’m going to be sore after a workout, my surgery side is significantly worse. And try as I might, my left calf has just never caught up to my right. This means I have to be aggressive about stretching, strengthening and foam rolling my left side. If I miss a day, I get called out early on in the next run by whatever gremlin still lives in my left calf.
Anyone else have surgery and have a similar experience of “better but not perfect?”
Full race write-up tomorrow, but I survived today and still have the majority of my ankle intact. Muddy day and ran out of fitness at about the 7 mile mark but thrilled to come back, run a negative split and only be a little (ok, more than a little but not a lot) slower than last year at this time. It begins!!
2nd place woman, 8th overall, 1:03:48 (6:52).
With a high of 14, today felt more like January than March. Since I missed most of the winter, however, I don’t have much room for complaint. Still, I’m ready for slightly warmer weather!
Recovery is going really well (knocks on wood). I’m running about 2 miles at a time continuously, longer if I take some short walk breaks. My ankle feels pretty good, although I’m still rocking an epic cankle. I’m working to get back in the routine of foam rolling twice daily, core and stretching. That’s quite enough to build back in for now but at some point, I have to get fueling dialed back in. Evidently animal crackers and string cheese aren’t optimal fuel?!
The other big (sad) news is that the ski season is over. The team did great at the State Meet with multiple people in the top 10 and some epic relays. My post-states depression is in full swing, though. I’m loving the study time but I miss my daily dose of total, easy happiness courtesy of coaching.
Tomorrow, I’m doing a “workout” with Joey (not to be confused with Joe, who is WAY too fast for me right now). She is training for her first VCM and is doing 800s tomorrow. I’ll join her for warmup and cool down and then alternate 800s if I can manage the pace. The breaks will rest my foot but it will be fun to be real again, even if for a couple repeats on the track.
It’s hard to believe that I’m a month out. With my first surgery, I was still in pain, just recovering from my DVT and on crutches with no weight bearing. By contrast, I spent my 4 week anniversary yesterday walking in real boots at practice, biking and lifting. Granted, the regular boots were an experiment and a failed one (so not ready) but it was good to push a little.
I did 60 minutes of aquajogging on Sunday, so I think I’m ready to step up the cardio a little. My other new focus is transitioning out of my walking boot. I’ve been walking around at home some but am still very unstable. Over the next week, I’ll be working on walking in a sneaker daily and on the stability pad to take the next step (literally) towards running.
Warning, slightly icky picture below of my Frankenfoot.
I got my split off today and got to see my foot for the first time, which was pretty darn exciting. What is even more exciting, however, is that I’m cleared for moderate activity meaning that I can pedal a bike gently and aquajog as well as lift with both legs, as long as I’m not moving any sleds. I’m also tasked with weaning off my crutches over the next four weeks and even took my first tentative crutch free steps tonight.
All in all, I haven’t run in 15 days which seems like forever but isn’t too bad from a physiological perspective. For someone who isn’t post surgery, you have about two weeks before fitness starts to drop off precipitously. I won’t be as lucky because I was immobilized, but I shouldn’t be horribly out of shape either. My hope for the next few weeks is to alternate between biking and aquajogging, about 30 minutes at a time, plus lifting and lots of gentle stretching. I did 30 minutes on the bike tonight and besides a very tired left glute, things really felt pretty good. I’m cautiously hopeful!
Dr. Charlson was happy with how the incision looked and filled me in on the surgery again (since I don’t remember our first post-surgery conversation). He was happy with how things went but surprised both with how tight things were and how high up he had to go on my ankle to get things to let go. With my first surgery, Dr. Slauterback had a similar reaction. Evidently I excel at building scar tissue! Beyond the joke, it’s something to remember as I start training again: I really need to keep up with soft tissue mobilization.
Picture below, and more updates to come as I tackle the pool.
From an informal poll I took on New Year’s Eve, most people view recovery from surgery as a time to veg out, catch up on TV and generally ignore exercise. For me, it’s precious weeks off from the aerobic base I’ve spent the last 36 months building. As such, I’ve been “working out” almost since surgery. Granted I’ve been limited by the instruction to not weight bear and the sheer of ice over Burlington, but I’ve made do and found some entertaining websites in the process.
First, I googled “chair workouts.” I figured that there must be people who have limited mobility that still like to workout and I’m not the first person on crutches. It turns out that they run the gamut but that YouTube is full of personal trainers with “great cardio workouts.” I’ve tried a couple of them but my two favorites are the following:
Chair Cardio by Trainer Trish (tough on already tired crutch arms)
Ridiculous as it may sound for someone who runs 70 miles a week, I’m working through these videos every day, with a goal of adding reps of the first workout and completing the whole second workout. In concert with my crutch to and from our classroom, this comprises most of my daily workout. I’m also doing as much strength training as I can, primarily upper body and core. I figure that if I can come out of this with great arms, I’m ahead of the game.
After finding out that UVM’s handicap doors don’t work and crutching half a mile on ice tonight due to some jerk parked in the handicapped space without a permit, I googled “keeping fit on crutches” for entertainment. I learned that crutching for 10 minutes burns 50 calories and got some not-so-useful tips on “surviving crutches.” The article is right about the bag (I have a backpack for school and a lovely Vera Bradley tote for home), but misses just about everything else including what to do if an ice storm hits (tiny steps!), how to not show everyone how sweaty you are (black everything) and ways to style your hair when showering is just too damn hard (low bun, works every time).
Thankfully, I only have about another week on crutches. Next week, I see Mark and transition to my walking boot. Assuming the ice is gone by then, this will make coaching and life in general much easier. I also look forward to many boring hours on the bike and in the pool.
I’ve tried to write this blog post a few times this week, but ended up nauseous and at a loss for words every time that I tried, which I guess captures my first week of recovery. In comparison to my last surgery, my first few days were much better but Days 5 and 6 were pretty grim. I stopped taking pain medicine yesterday, which left me uncomfortable and grumpy. Thank goodness for Scandal, the world’s most addicting TV show.
Earlier in the week, I was able to lift and even do a “chair workout.” From plotting 70 mile weeks to doing senior citizen chair workouts is quite the transition. Still, it helps me approach normal to have a “workout” to complete every day and maintaining strength isn’t going to hurt my return to running. In that vein, Will and I agree that we are going to work on building the foundation before I get back to running. While this may mean that I don’t run as soon as I might like, having a good foundation under me will allow me to get back up to normal volume more quickly. It’s not hard to get back to running 4 miles a day, 6 days a week. Try to get back to 70 to 80 miles a week without a good foundation, however, and you’ll be on the injury train before you know it.
For the next week, my goal is to just survive. School starts again tomorrow, which will be exhausting. I’m also hoping to return to coaching because I miss my kids and we are about 6 weeks from the state meet. Snow adds a level of difficulty, but I’m hopeful I can at least stay upright. On the 14th, my cast comes off and I can weight bear! One of the biggest differences between this surgery and my compartment release is that I think I could walk if I had to, a drastic difference from the compartment release where I had to be bribed into walking after 6 weeks. I’m looking forward to being able to return to the gym, even if it’s only to colonize the recumbent bicycle and pool.
Surgery was about 100 times better this time around. Anesthesia worked their butts off for me and I woke up feeling great and out of pain.
We’ll see how things go down the line but Dr. Charlson was encouraged by what he saw once he released my nerves, which were conveniently compressed by some unexpected fascia.
Now the hard part begins: recovery and staying still. Anyone have TV show requests?!