Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Diagnoses, Deferments, & My Future As A Radioactive Superhero

So last Wednesday I got in to see a sports medicine doctor (not my regular one, but a good one that I trust) as well as an orthopedic. After talking with me about everything that had happened, examining my left calf, & considering different things that I could do and not do, they both agreed that it sounded an awful lot like a fibular stress fracture. As my PT pointed out, I've likely strained a bunch of surrounding muscles as well, but the main symptom that seems to indicate a bone issue is the crazy sensitivity of the outside of my leg to pressure, right along / behind where the fibula runs. (As in, if I lean against the couch too suddenly or try to cross my left leg over my right, it's like 6/10 pain.) They did say that it's more common to have pain lower down close to the ankle or higher up close to the knee where there is less muscle padding, whereas mine is worst right in the middle, but occasionally it presents this way too, depending on where the fracture is.

Of course the treatment is the same no matter what the problem is: stay off of it, avoid impact, and DEFINITELY don't run on it until the pain (both with impact and pressure) is 100% g-o-n-e GONE. That said, the doctor was pretty clear that he wanted a definitive diagnosis for my medical history and also to give me an idea of how far out I am from 100% complete & utter lack of pain, so he scheduled a bone scan this coming Wednesday. This means I get to get shot up with radioactive goop, chill for 3 hours, & then get stuck under a special camera. I am told I will continue to be radioactive for ~3 days after. By then, I fully expect that my super powers will have emerged.

I'm expecting it will probably be a lot like this. Note the glistening adornment of radioactive isotopes.
So, while that's not exactly great news, there are a few up sides. First, even since that appointment, my leg is feeling much, much better. I can walk on it totally fine, it's only slightly tender to the touch, and (shhh don't tell anyone) the short little jogs I've done across the street to make a red light or down the hall at home have been completely pain-free, so if the bone scan shows no bone injury, I can probably start running again soon (albeit in very, very small quantities).

Second, the benefit of having the worst of it happen over Christmas & not getting to a doctor for weeks is that at this point I've already got four weeks of zero miles under my belt (& will have nearly five by the time I get the results of the bone scan), and the healing time for a fibular stress fracture is typically only 4-8 weeks. Somehow facing just a few more weeks, worst case, of no running at this point seems a lot more psychologically manageable than two months would have sounded the day I started limping on it.

Third, I had the foresight (by which I mean dumb luck) to register for one of the only marathons out there that will potentially defer your entry. I requested a deferral last week and the race director granted it, so I'm only out the administrative fees for that rather than the entire $125 reg fee. So that's pretty sweet.

In the mean time, I am allowed to bike, swim, strength train, & elliptical (basically anything that's low-impact & doesn't hurt), so people with tips / encouragement around that, do not worry that your advice came too late. I have been putting it to good use. :)

This was not a stellar training week as it was book-ended by two bouts of cold-and-sinus-general-unpleasantness, but since I'm not officially training for anything right now, I didn't feel too badly about it. I got some good cardio in on the elliptical & bike & also some strength sessions, and have also been using the extra time / brain space to continue working on my nutrition.

Grand Total: 31.3 miles

    * 16.2 easy (bike)
    * 2.6 speed (bike)
    * 5 tempo (bike)
    * 7.5 elliptical

Monday & Tuesday:

Sick as a dog; mostly lay on the couch / drink tea.


a.m. strength work / p.m. 3.25 warm up, 3 x (.33 @ all-out / .15 easy), .5 easy, 3 x (.33 @ all-out / .15 easy), .5 easy = 7.5 bike; 3.5 easy elliptical.

I'd intended to do another easy half hour on the bike after the intervals, but about 5 minutes in I was having some weird pain in my right knee / quad & instead decided to see if my leg could handle the elliptical. It didn't hurt, so I did the last 25 easy minutes on it. I think I'm getting better at figuring out how to make the elliptical mimic running. Back in June / July I REALLY hated it because it felt *nothing* like running.


4 easy elliptical; 6.75 easy bike. Clearly I'm in better shape than I was in July when I was coming back from the hip injury; 30 easy-but-not-too-easy minutes on the bike used to only get me 6.2 miles, so that's reassuring.


a.m. strength work / p.m. 3.2 warm up, 4 x (1.95 @ LT effort / .33 easy), 2 cool down = 14. (This is my bike equivalent of LT intervals.)


I took Saturday as an intentional rest day & had planned to check out Koret Pool at USF courtesy of Kimra on Sunday, but then the nasty sinus stuff reared its ugly head again & I once again spent a lot of the day on the couch hydrating like a champ.


  1. First of all, what is this bs stupid sinus/cold/whatever that everyone in the Bay Area has been passing back and forth for the entirety of 2014? Because it's the worst, and it's super annoying, and I'm living in fear of getting swine flu, even though these things are probably completely unrelated.

    Second, hooray for being far into healing already, no matter what's going on. And hooray for nice race directors.

    Third, what do you want your superpower to be?

    1. I KNOW RIGHT?? Last weekend I thought I was actually sick; now I think I'm just having allergies / general sinus aggravation due to air dryness or quality or I don't know what. I am super over it & ready to feel normal again.

      As for superpower, bones of steel are sounding pretty sweet right now. ;)

  2. You got lucky with that marathon entry, it's unfair that usually they won't let you cancel, not even for medical reasons....
    Hope you are back to running sometime soon.

    1. Absolutely. I totally understand why they can't do refunds, but several races have either started letting people defer or transfer their entries by a certain date for a fee, which I feel like is a really good & fair way of dealing with people's realities when you plan something (that depends on your health!) months & months & advance. So I hope we see more of that in the future.

  3. Eck, get better soon. I was scheduled for a bone scan, since my fracture took SO long to heal (months longer than expected!) but they took so long to schedule the scan - over a month - that January hit and my deductible reset. No thanks to a $500 bone scan when I was feeling better already (and yes, the radioactive stuff - scary and I don't want to do it lightly). Hope yours shows a definitive diagnosis and gives you some answers!

    1. Ah, bummer. Yeah, I'm already going to meet my deductible by going to PT, so there didn't seem to be any reason not to do the bone scan. I'll definitely be happy just to know for sure.

  4. Grimness but also good you have a diagnosis and a plan. Being radioactive sounds a little scary - hope you glow in the dark or something cool. And yes, wonderful that Napa let you defer.

    Really hope you mend soon. xxx

  5. So sorry to hear about the stress fracture! Thankfully, it sounds like it shouldn't take too long to recover. I'm still coming back from my cuboid stress fracture -- and that happened in early October! Ack! Thank goodness for swimming -- would've gone crazy without it.

    1. Thanks! I am getting by with elliptical, spinning, etc., but I will be SO happy when I can run again.

  6. Sounds like you have a plan of action - so key in the light of a possible stress fracture. Great news that Napa let you defer! Though, I guess all of this means you won't be running Kaiser? *sad face* Heal soon!!

    1. Ugggghhhh, I know. I was holding out hope for a while that I'd at least be able to just run it easy & finish, but that's looking increasingly unlikely. I will come out & spectate though for sure!!

    2. Oh well, figured as much. Let me know where you'll be spectating closer to race day - hopefully we won't miss each other like we did at the SF Half!