Monday, September 6, 2010

Injury Update

I hope you'll forgive me for last week's hiatus, but there wasn't much to report. It's a bit depressing to type "60 minutes pool jogging" or some variation thereof for every single entry, not to mention it doesn't exactly make for scintillating reading. During injuries past I've doggedly continued to update this thing every day, as though the act of typing out my cross-training activities would somehow translate into fitness gains, but this time I don't feel compelled to do so. Unfortunately for those of you who read my blog as a diversion from your workday minutiae, this means you'll have to find other ways to pass the time. But, as someone who tries to maintain a relentlessly optimistic attitude when it comes to my own injuries, I'm hoping this will only last for a few more weeks.

So, here's what I know so far: I know that it could be a stress fracture. Or that it might not. It could be soft tissue. Or, alternatively, it's just as likely to be something else. Got it? Are we clear? Good. Glad we're all on the same page. Seriously though, right now my diagnosis is a bit nebulous. My initial instinct was to label it a stress fracture, but as my condition has progressed during the past week I'm not so sure. For starters, my x-ray at Dr. Greenapple's revealed nothing. Or, to be more precise, it revealed nothing conclusive. There were a few abnormalities on the third metatarsal, but with my level of training it's hard to say whether they are recent developments or just lingering remnants of injuries that never quite crept up to the surface. To be fair, a brand new stress fracture would not be likely to show up on an x-ray anyway, so this was hardly an unexpected development. The only way to get a more definitive answer with imaging is to go the route of an MRI, but I've learned from previous experience that even a great insurance policy can leave you with bills upwards of $500. And for what? To continue doing--or not doing--what I'm doing already? The only time I've gotten one was with my first stress fracture, in my left tibia, almost five years ago. I naively agreed to get the MRI, which came back positive, and then the doctor said, "Well, just stay off of it for six more weeks like you've been doing already. Have a nice day." Thanks, but I'll pass this time.

The other reason we're hesitant to label it as a fracture is because my foot also failed (or passed?) the tried and true blue-collar stress fracture test: the tuning fork. Dr. G said that 90% of the time the tuning fork will accurately detect the presence of a fracture. On Monday, just two days after I felt that fateful pop at Greek Fest, he enacted the tuning fork test on my foot and I felt nothing. No pain, no discomfort, no indicator that the sound waves pulsing through my foot were vibrating against a broken and battered bone.

So, what does all this mean? To paraphrase the doctor from a few years ago, it basically means I should keep on staying off of it. So I'm wearing the boot when I'm at work or out and about during the day, which seems to help. I'm also submerging my foot in an icy trash can for three 10-minute cycles every night. And, for good measure, I'm sleeping in a compression sock. Beyond that there doesn't seem to be much that I can do in the way of treatment besides resting and thinking positive thoughts. And, to be honest, I'm already feeling much better. Anyone who witnessed me trying to hobble around under my own power late last weekend can attest to the fact that I was a mess. Today, though I'm still limping noticeably, I no longer feel the sharp pain under the ball of my foot every time I try to bear weight. I'm able to distribute the impact more or less evenly throughout my foot (as opposed to last weekend, when I was trying to stand entirely on the outside edge). So, while I still have a long way to go, it is encouraging to see how much progress I've made.

With that in mind, and with a moratorium on pity parties firmly in place, I've decided to use the next few weeks to try and build up strength in areas I've previously been neglecting. I'm going to make my core workouts more intense and more frequent, striving to strengthen parts of my body that I don't always focus on enough. I'm going to increase my iron consumption (both supplemental and natural) in hopes of raising my levels to their highest possible point when I begin training again. I've also finally started taking a calcium citrate supplement, which was much needed even before this latest incident. And, in what is probably the easiest part of this whole process, I'm getting caught up on my sleep. No more 6am runs (sorry, Caitlin) means no more 5am alarms, which means I can easily nab eight to 10 hours of sleep on any given night. This may not be helping my fitness, but I'm confident it will work wonders in helping my body heal and grow stronger for when I finally get back out there.

So that's where I'm at. It's not necessarily where I'd like to be, but things could definitely be worse. I'm going to try my hardest to be patient and to allow my foot all the time it needs to heal. And, in the meantime, maybe I'll surprise you with a few blogs that are not training-related. Stay tuned.


Mark Hadley said...


I've been there and know the pain and frustration. I fractured (or didn't fracture) my 3rd metatarsal at the 4 mile point in a half marathon (stepped in a hole that make the already hot spot on my foot get red hot!) and like an idiot runner I finished anyways. Luckily you were at the end (correct?) so hopefully limited the damage. I too had learned from an earlier MRI that it wouldn't change anything so like you opted out and proceeded to wear the boot and be a "good boy" for 4-6 weeks. One thing i did learn back then that helped is to monitor my Vitamin D levels as low vitamin D leads to low calcium absorbtion and thus more likely stress fractures. I've talked to Dr. G about it several times so I'm sure he's already planted that bug already.

All this to say, "get well soon, keep that positive attitude and you'll be back in no time."