Posts Tagged ‘tibial stress fracture’

Strife.  Conflict.  Often painful.

If I keep that up I’ll Haiku myself.

My running life has come full circle . . . a circle of strife.

Last summer, I was having toenail problems.  So I had three toenails surgically removed.

The famous "CIRCLE OF LIFE"

They grew back.

I had one permanently removed.  It grew back.  Toenails apparently don’t know the meaning of failure.  Or they fail to understand the concept of permanent.  In any case, I don’t think they’re very bright.  They are farthest away from the brain.  Of course, if you were forced into a smelly shoe for hours everyday, you’d probably not be very bright either.  But I digress.

In the course of all this, I started having trouble with my lower leg.  The toenails no longer bothered me.  But I ended up with a stress fracture of my tibia.

After suffering with that for nearly seven months, it has finally been healed.

In the past week, I have been running six to seven miles a day with no pain in my leg for the first time since last summer.

But now my toe is hurting again.

The circle of strife.

I am the poster child for no pain; no gain.


The less famous "OVAL OF PAIN"

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We’ve all heard the miracle stories.  Mr. X was diagnosed with cancer.  People prayed for him.  Suddenly, the cancer was gone.  There’s not even a shadow on the x-ray.  It’s like it was never there!

For non-believers, there’s always an explanation.  Maybe the original x-ray was wrong.  Maybe that shadow wasn’t a tumor after all but an artifact of some sort.  Nothing miraculous about that and the medical profession is well aware of false positive test results.

But sometimes there was a biopsy which conformed the tumor.  Yet, the tumor is now gone.  What are the odds of two tests being false?

For the believer, it is just an unnecessary affirmation of faith.  They believe whether the cancer goes away or not.  Faith is just that.  There is no need for proof.

Anyway, I submit to you my own faith healing story.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I am a runner.  Basically, that means I go outside, I run around for a while, and I end up back where I started for no apparent reason.  That is, I wasn’t running because a bear was chasing me, and I wasn’t running to get a beer.  Both of those scenarios make sense.  I was merely running for my health, which presents quite the oxymoron when you consider all the various aches and pains I suffer for my art.

Last summer, I started having pain in my right leg.  My tibia to be exact.  I eschewed doctors because I was pretty sure their opinion was going to be to tell me to stop running.  After trying to run through the pain, which usually involved limping back home or calling my wife or daughter to come pick me up because I couldn’t make it back, I finally sought medical attention.  An MRI confirmed I had a stress fracture of my tibia.

And guess what the medical experts told me?


So I did.  Really.  For seven weeks, which is the longest stretch of non-running since 2000 for me, when I committed my body to running to stay in shape and not die as a bloated, out of breath sluggard.


A repeat MRI confirmed some healing, but the fracture was still there.  After consulting with enough doctors to finally get a recommendation I could run with, so to speak, an orthopedic surgeon felt there were signs of healing, and blessed me to run 1-2 miles as I could stand, and go from there.  I also used the elliptical because it was low-impact and didn’t stress my leg.

By the end of December, I was running 3 miles three times a week, and mixing 60 minutes on the elliptical on most of the off days.  I didn’t have to limp home or call for a ride, but I could tell the bone didn’t feel right, even though it was my right leg.  Four months, and I still seemed miles away from the runner who used to run 7-12 miles five days a week as if I were some teenager on the track team.  My speed had also fallen quite a bit.

Needless to say, I was frustrated.

Then, while vacation in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, we met with one of my wife’s high school classmates whom she hadn’t seen in years–maybe since graduation.  They were friends on Facebook and when my daughter updated our status as arriving at the airport in Lihue, my wife’s classmate got in touch with us and arranged an impromptu reunion.

Her husband, as luck turns out, is a born again Christian, but not the get-in-your-face-and-intimidate-you kind.  I’m not even sure if he ever asked us if we were Christians, but he may have known some background from his wife and Facebook.

After an evening of catching up on old times, as we were preparing to part ways for God only knows how long, he asked if he could pray for us and help heal us.  This is what he does.

Now before I go any further, I want to note that I am a Christian and we attend a Presbyterian Church.  I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior.  I don’t pretend to know everything about religion but consider myself open-minded.  I grew up studying science and learning about evolution, but found science to be inadequate to fully explain just what life is and how it came about.  I do pray, and I have prayed for healing in my own leg.  I pray for all my operative patients before and after their surgery.  I believe in the power of prayer, even if it probably doesn’t affect the outcome of a Penn State or Steelers football game.  But I digress.

First, he laid hands on my son and prayed for his neck.  He had injured himself on the trampoline years ago–not serious–but had some nagging neck stiffness and limitation of movement.  After the prayer, he asked my son if he felt any different.  He moved his head around and his eyes got wide.  He did feel different!  But that is not my miracle story.

He also prayed for my daughter who has had shoulder problems since she hurt it lunging a horse, and my wife who has had back problems after two discectomies.  My daughter states she felt some warmth in her shoulder when he prayed, some temporary relief, but as of today, she doesn’t think it is any better.  Ditto for my wife, and I’m not even sure she had the warm sensation.

For me, though, I felt something.  I got goosebumps across my body like I do when the Penn State Blue Band marches onto the field at pre-game.  It was  a tingle throughout my body.  And I did feel like my leg was different.  But I was standing in a restaurant parking lot; not running.  We were just hours away from leaving for home, and I wouldn’t have a chance to run for several days.

But since then, my leg is better.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is 100% and it’s not like it never happened, but it is better than it has been since this started last summer.  Some of what I am feeling I think is scar tissue from the healing process and even that is getting better as I run more.  I ran six miles today.  I still ice the leg afterward, which the orthopod recommended, but God can work that way too.  I believe that God works through doctors.  I pray for Him to guide my hands and judgement when I operate and I belive He does.

Two weeks after the healing, I had the orthopod who looked at my scans before recheck me.  He did a fluoroscan–which is NOT an MRI–but the scan did not show any fracture and there was a healed callous of bone.  (An MRI or a bone scan might show residual fracture but he felt neither was necessary if I wasn’t having any pain.  His previous fluoroscan did show the initial fracture back in November.)

That’s my story . . . and I’m sticking to it.  Whether you choose to believe or not . . . is up to you.

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Up until a few months ago, I was a runner.

I wasn’t running from anything in particular.  Or to anything in particular.  I would leave my house, run, and end up back at my house.  I was running to keep in shape and be healthy.  All this healthy living cost me several toenails, and more recently, a tibial stress fracture.

But my stress fracture did not heal even after I stopped running for seven weeks.  An orthopedic surgeon reviewed the second MRI and declared that he was “unimpressed.”

So, you got a broken bone?

That don’t impress me much.

But he did think it was okay to start back running again.  A little.  He thought it was in some stage of healing.  He used a lot of big words that we eye doctors don’t comprehend.  I tried to look at the MRI myself , but I couldn’t tell whether I was giving birth to a boy or a girl.  I know this much:  there wasn’t any eyeball there.

Instead of my usual 7-10 miles 4-5 times a week, I was restricted to 1-2 miles at most as my leg would tolerate.  That’s almost like being able to have sex, but you can’t go past foreplay.  At one to two miles I’m just getting loose and finding my stride.  But I really wanted to run again.  Within a week, though, my treacherous tibia was aching again.

I already tried swimming.  That didn’t work for me.  I’m not a very good swimmer with two good legs.  I was a drowning waiting to happen.

Stationary bike?  I’m sure Hell is filled with these.

So when my wife and I had the opportunity to buy a used elliptical from a friend who wanted to share her pain with us, I jumped at the opportunity.  Okay, it wasn’t exactly a jump, since that would stress my fracture.

But an elliptical trainer was on the list of approved torture devices that I was allowed to subject myself to.

So after delivery, I was anxious to try this new machine.

As you probably can tell, I am not a machine kind of guy.  I like to throw on the sneakers, commune with nature,  and hit the pavement.  Unfortunately for me, the pavement hits back.  We have a treadmill, but even with its “cushioned deck” there is too much impact for my tibia.  I simply can’t endure spinning on a stationary bike.  I don’t even like biking outside for that matter.  I have tried the stationary bike while listening to music.  I have tried it watching football.  I have tried it watching movies.  I have tried to spin while watching I Love Lucy in the morning.  I.  Kid.  You.  Not.  I will not pedal here or there, I will not pedal anywhere.  I do not like it, Sam I am!

So I was anxious to try this elliptical, but not without some trepidation.

Would I like it?  Will it bore me to tears?

Will I look like this?

The Tony Little "Gazelle"

Run little gazelle, run!

I have gained 12 pounds since I stopped running.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t stop eating and cheeseburgers don’t hurt my tibia.)  Will I be able to exercise again and feel good about myself?

Will it hurt my freaking leg?

I finally got on the machine.

It wasn’t so bad.  Unlike running on the treadmill, there are handles to hold onto.  This is good because I never quite knew what to do with my hands when I ran.  It keeps them busy for me.  I guess it’s kind of like cross country skiing, if I had ever tried that.  But it wasn’t bad and there was no pounding on my tibia.

Ten minutes into the program, I’m feeling pretty good.  I’ve got my running tunes playing on the Ipod and I am a lean, mean elliptical machine.  I’m not a gazelle, but that’s probably a good thing.  I’m actually starting to work up a sweat.  Then, I notice a button that says ‘FAN.’  I push it and the fan turns on.  What a machine!  Genius!

It’s like I’m cross-country skiing in Antarctica with a cool breeze blowing through my hair.  I am so getting the sensation.  It’s almost like being outdoors, but without the quaint smell of skunk or garbage dumpsters lingering in the crisp morning air.

I’ve used the machine three times now, not exceeding 30 minutes.  My tibia has not flared up.  It remains to be seen whether I will eventually become bored or not, but so far I have been pleasantly surprised.  The motion is surprisingly familiar–close enough to running for me to enjoy it and not so different as to be annoying.

For runners looking for a low impact alternative, I highly recommend getting elliptical.

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