Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Date with the Doc


I know it's difficult for some to understand my procrastination seeking the advice of a foot specialist for my continuous nagging heel concerns....but I had my reasons, logical or not, and did what I had to do.

But last Friday, I did it - I sought the expertise of a podiatrist.  And not any ole podiatrist I randomly picked out of the yellow pages (done that before), no I saw one who is a mega ultra runner (is that an oxymoron?  Aren't all ultra runners "mega" runners?  The sentence made me laugh.); he is a friend of the XC coach I work/run with, who has done many ultra races, including the infamous Leadville 100 miler - a race I consider personally to be the epitome of all 100-mile endurance challenge races. 

So I figured this guy would understand how important this running job of mine meant to me; he'd understand my pleas to get me bandaged up and back out on the roads again - feeling well.  Like yesterday :).

I've seen doctors who don't fully understand this.  My favorite line of all from one of these highly educated white-coat people was, "You need to stop running or you will die" - after I landed in the hospital due to a severe case of dehydration.  Plain and simple - I WOULD DIE if I continued to run.  No negotiations like: be certain I drank more water, make sure I got in some electrolytes.... nope, it was die or nothing.  I kept running, drank more water, I still have a pulse.

Anyway, a couple x-rays later, a lot of conversations (about running, of course): no stress fracture and no heel spur (well, I do have a small one which he said has been there 20-25 years and was in no way affecting this current issues at hand).  What I have, and which I had basically came to the same WebMD conclusion a few weeks ago, is I have a very severe case of Plantar Faciitis (this dumb heel thing has changed symptoms at least 20 times since it's mission to take me down.  Certainly had me on my toes trying to self-diagnosis - literally.  Bahahaah).

Though those two words - Plantar Faciitis - are not exactly ideal in terms of treating this bugger; but I can't stress how just the mere fact I received an answer - an official diagnosis from someone with more than on online degree - eased my mind.  At least from here when I Google symptoms of my heel, I can Google the correct problem.  That's got to save me at least 13-hours/day in wasted cyber-browsing (and now can turn that attention towards more boot shopping). 

There is no easy magical wand-waving solution here, as there never is, and I get that.  One of my co-workers told me as I headed out of work early for my appointment and told her how nervous I was, that she was afraid I was going in with high expectations and was surely going to be disappointed when I walked out without a magical fix.  No, I had no expectations - I merely wanted an answer as to what it was ... and ok, secretly hoped I would be told I could keep running, even if was painful. 

I got my diagnosis.  I was told I could run.  Mission accomplished. 

Will the pain every go away?  There's a high probability not.  I walked out with a cortisone shot, the bottom of my foot wrapped in so much tape it can barely move, told not to run for 3 days, keep my foot dry so the tape won't come off (I'll take any excuse for a long, leisurely bubble bath - see pic above) and come back in two weeks to discuss any progress, where we'll then discuss where to go from there. 

But I have an answer.  And I can run.  The two things I was seeking.  Will I be able to run at the level I once did?  Will I be able to train at the capacity to run the once love-of-my life road marathons again?  I honestly don't know, and I am slowly becoming at peace with that.  I can't help but wonder if I’ve come to a crossroads, replacing old habits of marathon finish lines for things of new running adventures.  Is something else out there my new way of victory?  I almost find my heart leaning in this direction.

It can be overwhelming in the face of all that needs to be done, to consider what we really want to do.  I’ve gotten so wrapped up in race times and placements and PR’ing that I haven’t taken the time to explore other things I love equally well. That's why instead of thinking about what I have to do, I am going to try to shift my perspective and consider what I want to explore more of.  It’s going to make me a stronger, better runner, I think.  If we aren't paying attention, the way we fill our time defines who we are by default.  Awkkkk!
I'm not going to give up the fight - I was told I could run so I will train around whatever the heel deals me.  I'm excited to test a new adventure, starting with a race I signed up for on Monday: Skyline to Sea Trail Marathon on April 10th in Northern Cali.  A trail marathon – something I’ve never done before.  I have no pressure to PR.  There is no illustrious finish line time dangling out there for me to obsess over.  Heck, I may have to walk most of it, it's not like I'm in pristine running shape right now and I know there is no humanly way I will be by race day, but it's a starting point for which to get some answers: how well will my heel hold up for training - and during the race, will my mind really be at ease with this slower-than-ever pace I've been forced to employ, will I enjoy the trails and the small crowds, will I miss the hype of big-time marathons I once so loved, and a hundred more question..... yes, I want to train well no matter what I run or race, but there's something which seems inviting to me right now, at least until I can test out the heel for awhile, and that's to take my running to places I've never gone before - and I can't wait to find out  what that may be. 
So come and join me and Kovas, Chris K., Patrick, and Kate, if you can, as we seek new adventures in our lives.  Heck, even my podiatrist is even going to be there running, believe it or not (how cool is that??)....I'm hoping he has his magic wand handy just in case the heel decides to rear its ugly head – the one he forgot to use on me Friday.  It’d be so fun if you can join us but if you can't, don’t forget about the adventure that lies in all our running and racing hearts and set out to find your own.  After all, isn’t that what started this journey for you in the first place – Adventure?

I have my answer, I have some things to see if it helps the heel pain (or not) – but I’m not going to give up and will try to not let it take me down.  I have a little race to get ready for, let's get this game rolling - move over Plantar Faciitis I'm ready!!

Week 3:
Weekly running miles:  16 (very low due to the fact I was forced to take the past 3 days off)
Total 2011 miles: 89.1

Monday: Swam 1550 yds, lower body and core wt training
Tuesday:  5.5 miles SICs
Wednesday: 6.5 miles run total.  2 miles wu + upper body wt training4.5 miles at MP later in the evening.
Thursday: 4 miles progression run
Friday: Off (podiatrist induced rest day)
Saturday: 34 miles on le bike.  Yes, that's right, I rode the stationary bike for 2 hours 4 minutes.  My butt will never be the same - but I got some good reading done!
Sunday: 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer; full body wt training

65 comments:

The Green Girl said...

I'm glad you finally got an official diagnosis even if it seems like 99.99% of the time, our self-Google diagnosis is correct.

::hugs::

ShutUpandRun said...

SO so glad you went and got an answer from someone you trusted. You can run and that is the biggie. Wish I could be there on April 10 too. Emma's birthday!

Paul said...

Well that is good news!

I think a PF diagnosis is much better news than a lot of other things it could have been. I'll bet you can figure out a way to reduce it and someday get rid of it.

So great you signed up for sky-to-sea...I look forward to seeing you there!

Running and living said...

Argh...I hate when doctors get all negative. All diagnosis should be given with a message of hope...

My husband has chronic PF, comes and goes, had it last 2 years ago, now back for a couple of months. NPR "On Health" had a recent episode called "Heel pain", and they talked about PF, and about the many unproven techniques that are currently used. The main idea is that PF is not dangerous, and it can be managed. They suggested nonspecific treatments: ice after activity, stretch and stretch some more, wear comfortable shoes....Good luck!

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

That Plantar Faciitis is a bitch I hear. Glad you can still run. I also feel for you on that 2 hour bike ride (my ass feels for you at least) Take care...

Kate said...

Every time I see Kate's name in that list of people who are running Skyline to Sea I get excited, and then I realize that it's not me. :-/ Booo. Oh, well, experiencing it vicariously is better than not at all.

I had a nasty case of PF for about 8 months before I went to the dr for it. They gave me a prescription for anti-inflammatories and a series of stretches to do. The stretches helped immensely, and very quickly. I hope that having an actual diagnosis leads you to successful treatment and a return to running all you want!

And my favorite thing about the stationary bike is all the reading time. I'm not being lazy reading...I'm "working out". Aren't I ambitious? And aren't you!

Bubble Boy said...

JB, you have a great outlook on running and life. Wish I could do the Skyline to Sea with ya all, but I prefer to run with the urban animals rather than the wild kingdom animals. Happy healing/management to the PF. Until then, Calgone take me away, (maybe you are too young to remember that commercial). Bubble Boy

Meg said...

Awesome news, Jill! Congrats!
You'll have to keep us posted on the cortisone shot, I'm so curious! Did it hurt a lot?
Have a fun week back to running!

jgf said...

Woohoo! Kind of... I had PF pretty bad a few years ago. Stretches, ice and a golf ball made a world of difference and I haven't had a problem in a long time. Hopefully yours will become a distant memory!

Adrienne said...

It's got to be a relief to have a diagnosis. Pain is no fun though. Skyline sounds amazing. You guys will have a blast.

marathonmaiden said...

I totally do the same thing with delaying getting medical opinions. So no judgement here. But it always is nice to have a dx. I wish I could join you for that race. Sounds like fun!

HappyTrails said...

Glad you FINALLY have a definitive answer - I am sure it is a relief. It will be interesting to see how the cortisone shot helps. Did the doc recommend any type of rehab 'exercises'? Hey, just remember that 'slower than ever pace' on the trails generally translates to 'harder than ever pace' compared to most road runs. Look on the bright side if you end up doing a few more trail events - you might discover a new talent and passion that you may not have found before! :-) Have a great week!

Tortuga_Runner said...

Ah man, all the cool kids are doing it. I so wish I was in shape for that run. It is not too far from me. I have done several PCTrailRuns, but not this one. Have a blast! Great job getting a diagnosis.

Chris K said...

Stretches: yes, yes, yes. With my own two eyes, today I witness a woman run a 2:48 marathon (3rd overall) who also had a severe case of PF. Maybe you should ask her how she recovered :-) Just saying.

Amanda@runninghood said...

So well written Jill. This was inspiring and encouraging for all of us that love to run and have it is a such a big part of our life. I don't fully understand but I can imagine that I would feel the same ...I wouldn't want to quit...I'd want to use these precious years of my life to push myself and see what I can do with this one body, this one life...I'd want to push through the pain and do everything I can to make it better without sacrificing the one thing that makes my soul feel most alive. Okay, on a less sappy note, I'm thinking of you and wishing it made sense for me to be there in April but it just doesn't work out to be a good plan for my training for Newport. Great post Jill! Here's to many more years of running...hopefully pain free!

Patrick Mahoney said...

Doctors can be lame, for sure. Glad you sought out one who knows what he is talking about based on something other than medical texts, and glad the diagnosis is at least leaning towards the good.

Small Town Runner said...

I just hope you have the best ever 26.2 miler on the trail and enjoy every minute of it!

Also glad you got a good diagnosis and I have confidence that all will heel...um I mean HEAL...soon :)

Thanks for your input on my blog regarding the weights and again on the saturday post. You were very encouraging.

Char said...

Does it matter too much if you can't run at the levels you once did? Sometimes just the fact that you can run is enough. It's something I'm having to come to terms with.

Kovas said...

I have my kids offroads running stroller if you can't make the whole marathon, so we're good.

saundra said...

Great post, Jill. I am very happy that you finally got the answer you so desperately needed in the name of sanity. Best of luck with your rehab/ recovery and on completing your first trail marathon.

Kim (Book Worm Runs) said...

So glad you have a diagnosis and you sound very positive! Keep up the great attitude! :)

Jesse - Run To The Border said...

Glad you finally found out about the problem, and that you found a doc who understands your passion for running.

Jennifer said...

I am so happy you still have a pulse! Ha ha. Glad to hear you are making progress with the doc. Cheers!

C2Iowa said...

Tutto ciò che è d'oro non luccica, non tutti quelli che vagano sono perduti. - J.R.R. Tolkien

Good news. email on the way

Harold said...

Glad you found out for sure what it was. The guessing and self-diagnosing can get nerve-wracking I'm sure! Good luck with the running

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

This is great news! I have friends who have suffered with PF, but with a lot of diligent stretching/exercises, they are able to train.

I love how you are refocusing, but continuing on with the "new Jill."

Suzy said...

Jill - so happy to read that you got an official diagnosis! I know what a relief it can be to finally know what is going on. Keep moving forward and you'll persevere!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Good news! I have PF as well and did the whole cortisone shot as well. Stretches and ice baths have been the best remedy so far. OH and KT Tape on race day has helped as well!

See.Kate.Run said...

I had PF - the craziest creaking sound (like a door in a haunted house) was emanating from my heel for a good 3 weeks. It hurt like a bitch. It took a good 6 months to go away but eventually it did stop hurting and the symptoms subsided. So it does heal, which is my point.. I am glad it is omething that is healable. :)

Looking forward to hearing about that trail marathon! That is something I hope to do one day! :)

Jenn said...

Well-certainly a burden lifted to finally know what it is you're dealing with.

I love your outlook Jill. This hell year has really given you some time to reflect, I suppose. You CAN run and are embracing what that means for you at this point! 34 years of times and placements. Sometimes just getting back to the roots and running for pure love of the sport and adventure just sounds SO appealing. At least for now.....perhaps a small blessing in diguise that WILL make you a better runner!!

I would love to run that trail marathon as just a long adventure fun run. There is a chance I may end up out that way that week. I wonder if it fills up fast? I won't know for a bit. Sounds like so much fun!

Very well written! I'm proud of you Jill! Lots of prayers that you find the perfect way to manage this heel!! Have a great Monday:)

Mamarunsbarefoot said...

When you feel better, barefoot strides will help strengthen that fascia.. It works. Hang in there! Sending you healing!!!

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) said...

Just thought I would share my experience, since I pretty much kicked Plantar in the butt last year.

After runs I would roll a golf ball under my arches for a bit while sitting and doing something else. This is to get the blood flowing, and allowing healing to take place.

Also, I purchased stability shoes (Nike Triax) instead of cushion shoes (Nike Vomero). I also purchased a pair of Nike Free 3.0 shoes and run one shorter run each week with them. This builds the muscles in the arches and simulates barefoot running.

I hope this helps. Yes, I still have some discomfort when waking the morning after a long run. BUT there is no more pain at any time.

DRog said...

also glad you were able to get to the doc for the assessment...and have the f/u appointment. and you just free'd up 13 hrs a day! woo hoo!!!
hoping you can work this out and get better and better. Your attitude and energy seems good and thats more than half the battle? though I only see one swim session...haha j/k have a great week


D

Teamarcia said...

Are those angels I hear singing?
FINALLY a dx! And the world is not ending, the sky is not falling--yay!
I love your attitude about the whole thing. If anyone can overcome/work around this YOU can.
Now you too are tempting me with that damn trail race. I trip on roots you know.

readgirl said...

So happy you finally have a diagnosis for your foot! I know the pain of PF. I had it so bad I could hardly walk, which is when I finally went to a podiatrist. I'm sure you are getting lots of advice to treat it, so along with the anti-inflammatories and wearing supportive shoes...here is what helped me:

Several times a day, SPELL THE ALPHABET WITH YOUR FOOT! Seriously, trace each letter in the air with your foot. You can feel the stretch when you form each letter, some more than others. Do it in the morning before you get out of bed and you can do it while your sitting at the computer or watching TV.

Good luck!

Kathy W.

Laura said...

So glad you have a 'real' answer...It seems like PF is plaguing a lot of runners I know of late. My run bud has it as well and have been using this stretching socks with great success.
Good luck!!

Christi said...

Yea, for a diagnosis!

Velma said...

Glad you got some help. I had PF two years ago. KT tape became a good friend. I also worked on my glue strength and did a lot of leg/angle massage. It all helped, and I only have a twinge here or there. You will get passed this :)

misszippy said...

So glad you are on the way to recovery--I know you'll get there!

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

Glad to hear that you were finally able to make it in to see the doc. I know PF can be really rough, but it sounds like such a better diagnosis than it could have been. Here's to the road to recovery!

Emz said...

YAy for Skyline to Sea Trail Marathon!!

So bummed I won't be there. Sounds like a party!!

Johann said...

Great post Jill! I'm 100% sure you'll keep your passion high by trying out some "new runs". The trails are great and have so many challenges. I adapted to not running for times but only for the love of it and since then I enjoy and love my running much, much more. Take care and keep it positive!

Bethany + Ryan said...

glad you finally got a dx! and good call on seeking out an ultrarunning doctor! hope things start to get better for you! hang in there and stay postive!

Terri said...

That trail run sounds like it's going to be a blast - it will be interesting to see what you get into as you go into healing mode!

Rad Runner said...

PF has waved its hand infront of my face, all you gotta do is kill it with kindness (bubble baths totally count..) Glad you did your body good.
P.S> I totally signed up for sf full! Ahhhhhh

Heather said...

Glad you got an answer and have a plan. And nice bike ride! :)

Andrew Opala said...

It's funny how putting a name on something helps in the mind!

Good luck grasshopper. Make sure that Both Chris and Kovas return alive.

Ewa said...

Skyline to the Sea is a wonderful trail. We did it last August but going up (sea to skyline) but ours was a backpacking trip, not running.
Good you have a diagnosis, at least you can address the issue. I had a PF and running barefoot helped it a lot and fast.

Glenn Jones said...

Well - with an official diagnosis can come an official rehab plan!

onelittletrigirl said...

I want to give you a big hug! Honestly though, I think you will get through this. I really do- I have PF (not bad, but enough) and got the shots. I know that is controversial, but it really did help me.

elaine said...

Dunno if you're still reading, but I'm so glad about your good news; I hope it heals up quickly

gmontalvo13 said...

you're on your way to recovery!

Molly said...

I love how you're following your heart to try a new adventure, and that race sounds perfect!

I've dealt with PF on and off for years, and I wore a boot to bed for six weeks, and that really helped. I also had the cortisone shots, keep doing what you're doing and hopefully it will just take care of itself. So happy you can run though!

Aimee said...

Yay! I'm glad you finally got an answer! At least now, you know where to go from here. And, I think it's awesome that you found a doctor who also runs. I really think that's key in getting a good diagnosis/plan of action for us runners. Regular doctors just don't "get it" which I know you know all about!
Yay for signing up for the race! With so many other bloggers going, it's bound to be tons of fun! I wish I could join you all! Maybe next time!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

I know you are still taped up, but how is the foot today, and how painful was that shot??? Ouch!

mtnrunner2 said...

(This is some of the same info I posted in the comments on my site for you, just in case you didn't see it there)

Ouch. Hope you can recover quickly. I'm confident that the body can heal itself, and maintenance can keep the problems from coming our way.

Good docs that are compatible with your needs are hard to find. Jim P. had a tussle with PF recently and seems to be really impressed with Richard Hansen. You might ping Jim in his comments and see if it's still going OK.

Marlene said...

This sounds soooo positive all around. What a HUGE step to have a great doctor who GETS IT and to have a diagnosis and a plan moving forward. You have a great attitude and I know this is going to result in sooo many new adventures for you!

Rose said...

Doctors who truly understand a passion are awesome I'm glad you found that guy.

I'm only now realizing the awesomeness of the Lucy clothing brand. I'll have to keep an eye out for it in the future.

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

I am taking this as AWESOME news....my sis has the same thing and as long as she tapes it, she is fine. So much better than a fracture. YOU ARE AMAZING and I love your attitude about everything!!

Meg said...

Such a sweet comment you left. Thanks for your honesty and friendship!
meg

gary said...

i love the idea of switching gears and trying new races. the start of a brand new adventure. yay!

funderson said...

I'm glad you went to the doc! I'm with you on going though...SO afraid they're going to tell you to stop running. That trail marathon sounds like bliss.

Paul said...

Okaaay... now I have to be annoying...it really bothers me when people are injured and I don't know the full info...I can empathize but don't now all the info.

What kind of shoes do you wear?

Do you do any exercises for PF?

How long did it take to show up?

What things did you do to try to treat it initially?

What are your symptoms today?



What *exactly* did the doctor tell you?

-p

Paul said...

PS: not meaning to be annoying but empathizing and wanting to help if remotely possible.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I know I am late to the party, but know you know what is wrong, now its time to get better