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Some Almost Answers

I promised I wouldn’t come back until I can run again, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that it’s going to be a while before my feet get any pavement action, so here I am…even though I’m most definitely not sweating once a day.

I’m still in pain. I’m still not running. I’m still incredibly frustrated, irritable and depressed. I’m still close to physically harming someone on a daily basis. Mostly healthy someones who run a lot of miles. I’m still ready to return to a state where I can sneeze without immediately clutching my side to quiet the pain. And way more than ready to wake up in the morning and grab my hokas instead of a heating pad and a percocet.

And I still have no effing clue what is going on.

Nor does anyone with medical credentials.

The first theory was costochondritis. I know it sounds like a disease I contracted from eating a Costco sized bin of peanut butter pretzels but it’s surprisingly not. (My recycling bin would lead you to believe otherwise.) In reality, it’s bulk-sized amounts of inflammation around your ribs and cartilage.

The next theory was that an excessive amount of scar tissue had accumulated in the rib region of my body. Or maybe it was all part of the same theory. I don’t know. I don’t speak Doctor. A (very) painful round of Graston actually relieved symptoms for a few hours. I was super hopeful. I charged my garmin, set out of my Hokas, and mapped out my route for the next morning.

One painful night of sleep later, and the garmin was back in the drawer, still untouched and neglected.

Yesterday, I went back to one of the several medical professionals I’ve visited during the last month. He happens to be my favorite one. Even when he tells me I’m not allowed to say “Fuck It, I’m going to run through the pain. PEACE,” I still like him. He’s an athlete. He has pictures of sporty things all over his office. He gets my need for sweat and (SPOILER ALERT) doesn’t judge me when I cry in his office because I can’t get any of that salty goodness right now.

When I saw him last week, he did some things to my rib area, was encouraged by my immediate physical response and promised that I would be pain free by now. (“Promised” might not be his word of choice, but let’s go with it.) After I sulked into his office yesterday and told him the pain has not gone away, but worsened, he poked, he prodded and he peppered me with questions to try and figure out what’s going on (again).

After several minutes of this, he developed a couple of new theories. He now speculates that I either have a fracture in my ribs that the Xray didn’t show or I actually tore a muscle. He also didn’t entirely rule out some kind of minor organ failure (I’m only kind of joking). The next step is to get an MRI done and get a better look at what’s going on.

He thinks that no matter what is wrong, I’m looking at minimal options for treatment beyond resting a part of my body that’s impossible to fully rest thanks to that annoying breathing thing. As much as I’d love to fall asleep and not wake up until I can laugh without pain and run again, that’s not really an option. Instead, I’m looking at a timeline for recovery that is going to span several weeks at best.

In some weird way it was a relief to hear some worst case scenarios. Yes, I cried after I left his office yesterday…and maybe a little bit while I was still in it, but at least now I can mentally prepare to be injured and out for the foreseeable future.

One of the most frustrating things about the last few weeks has been the uncertainty. I am so sick of hearing my doctors tell me “you should be better by now, I have no idea what is going on.” Even though we still don’t know exactly what is wrong, I can stop putting myself through the mental anguish of hoping everything will be better “by tomorrow” “in two days” “by the end of the week.” I am emotionally exhausted and desperately in need of some answers, even if they’re not the ones I want to hear.

I’m ready to move on from constant frustration, accept this stupid injury, and spend the next (TBD# of) months resting, healing and getting ready to come back a stronger, faster and more determined runner. I’ve done it before and you can bet your asphalt, I’m going to do it again.

30 Responses to Some Almost Answers

  1. This sucks so bad. All I can say is “I’m sorry.”

  2. Yikes, this does suck. Are you familiar with Joanna Zeiger at http://www.fastatforty.blogspot.com? She’s a super triathlete who has been/had been dealing with pain that was in her rib area that was very difficult to diagnose…. Good Luck!

  3. Hey Emily!

    That totally sucks and sounds really painful :( I actually work for a physical therapy office here on LI and we’ve been getting in patients with that condition recently who have the same complaint, that nothing can fix them and they’re in so much pain. Luckily, we’re manual physical therapists and have been able to fix the problem. Maybe you could find someone like that in your area? I hope that helps & you’re out of pain soon!

  4. Oh man, that sucks. I’ve been injured most of the fall, so I understand the frustration.

  5. So sorry to hear that it’s not getting better. (Pardon me: It’s. NOT. GETTING! BETTER!!!! RRRGH!!!!!!) I like the MRI idea. Good for seeing evidence of inflammation.

    Just got a pair of Hokas, mostly thanks to your raves of them (and the LeftLane discount link the other week)! And I’m starting to plot a 50K for late spring — again inspired by you and a few others. Your great writing about running, training, motivation, and life balance is influencing me, and many others. We’d love to keep hearing from you as you heal!

  6. Wow! You’ve had your fair share of highs and lows this year. This injuy must be so frustrating to someone who is so active and sweaty. I hope they figure out what is wrong with you soon. I remeber when your foot was broken I would think of you and would try to run a few miles for you. I wish I could run a few miles for you right now but, I”m way big pregant. So I will think happy thoughts for you instead.

  7. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with such a frustrating and stupid injury! I hope you’ll be able to figure out the problem and get back on that road to recovery soon, so that you can get back out there crushing miles on the other roads.

  8. Get better soon Emily!! At least it’s the holiday season and there is lots to do!

  9. It sucks. Right when you get that glimmer of hope you feel like you have taken 2 steps back to where you just were. I called my last post “When Will it End?”.

    You know (better than I) you’ll come back stronger and faster this Spring!! At least we have Happy Hours to keep us busy in the winter!! And then über trail runs when the weather warms back up :)

  10. Oh man, Emily. I am so so sorry. I feel your frustration by being sidelined, but I just have to believe everything happens for a reason. I’ll virtually drink with ya.

    Get better.

  11. Definitely been in that “we have no idea why you are in so much pain and you should be better now…we don’t know why you’re not.” And all you can think is just WTF? and cry. I know. Not sure what I have to offer other than true commiseration and big (((hugs))). Hope you are all healed up soon.

  12. So so sorry your going though this… I know it is super hard! Wishing you a speedy recovery!!

  13. Aargh! Injuries. So sorry this one is continuing to keep you down.
    The following is going to be a weird suggestion, but it worked for my sister, who is as hyperactively sporty and physical as you are. About 10 years ago, after a nasty fall (from a horse) followed by 12 hours of neurosurgery, she was told to move as little as possible for a couple of weeks while her back healed. A close friend showed up on the day she got out of the hospital, sat down beside her and taught her how to knit. My sister is SO not a needlework girl. But the friend (also sporty) said it would keep her hands and brain busy while keeping her body still, and that my sister would become obsessed (in a good way) with knitting and the time would pass quickly. It worked, and I have the beautiful sweaters to prove it. Hey, a sweater is a marathon of stitches and it could keep you sane.

  14. I am so very sorry to hear that the injury is not improving :(I am wishing you the best and hope that you heal quickly. Can’t imagine what it feels like to be going through this, but the road will be out there for you when you’re ready again. Take care!

  15. Totally sucks, Emily. Sending you lots of healing thoughts and I hope the MRI reveals the source of the problem, so they can attack it faster and you can heal more quickly!!

  16. Injuries suck. I’m so sorry. I hate the lack of a plan when it comes to them, too. Like, hello, I need to plan on being better in four days, or two weeks, or whatever, so I have a goal I can work toward.
    Hang in there!

  17. Em

    It’s been 7 weeks since I tore my hip flexor and in between, I somehow managed to pick up a swollen ankle/heel (only I can do this!). You’re right, it’s incredibly frustating, heartbreaking not to be out there doing the things you love most.

    Em

  18. this is just plain shitty. Hang in there. And yes, vent here if it helps. There’s a load of us who know just how frustrating this is. I’m crossing my fingers for you.

  19. Rib injuries suck. There is just no way around it. I’m a rower, and our team definitely dealt with more than enough, and enough physical therapists who didn’t know what to do about it. After four years, they seemed to have decided that it is tied in pretty strongly to an imbalance between core and back muscles (and that lopsided sport that is rowing), and focused on improving back strength. If you can find a PT that has some experience with competitive rowers, they may have seen this before and have some ideas. In the meantime, lots of ice, and maybe a few stiff drinks. And to scare you into compliance, a friend of mine who rowed through the pain ended up with 8 months of no activity before she could row again. Best of luck.

  20. Emily! You were actually in my dream last night – we were having dinner in Milton (?!) Vermont. I think my subconcious wondered how you were. Sorry there isn’t any improvement yet. Sending you healthy, healing vibes.

  21. Injuries suck ass! I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis for two months and each week I tell myself that this is the week it will get better and I’ll be running, but the feet haven’t heeled (typo and it stays). Yesterday I did a swim TT and I looked up some old times in my log and I started tearing up bc I saw the little running man icons and I’m not able to run. It seems silly to miss a sport so much, given 900 other things that are going on in the world that deserve attention, but it really stinks. I feel for you. It’s also so hard to talk (write) about injuries, bc then you are acknowledging that they exist. Ugh!

  22. I’m so sorry you are still unable to do your favorite things and are so frustrated by it :( It makes healing really hard! This is a good time of year to take a rest tho; enjoy your holiday parties!

  23. I’m hurt for an indeterminate amount of time also. I haven’t run a step since crossing the finish of the Philly marathon on November 18. ITBS and posterior tibial tendonitis. It’s the worst, I hate it, I’ve gained 5+ lbs and just want to eat crap and get wasted to forget about not running. I feel your pain. May we both get better sooner than we expect, cause this sucks donk.

  24. ah man..this absolutely blows. I’m sorry. It’s mentally draining. :(

  25. Girl do I feel your pain. It’s so frustrating to not know when random mystery pain is going to go away and it’s literally making me batty that I can’t run or really do anything!

    I’m hoping the MRI gives you something more to go on just so you have some answers and maybe a more defined timeline.

    Until then, let’s drink! Together at our pity party table for two!

  26. Aww so sorry to hear :( Hang in there- on the bright side (I’m told there’s always a bright side, though I know it’s hard to see it when you’re injured), if there was ever a good time of year to HAVE to take a rest for a few weeks, this is it! At least racing season is far, far off and a few weeks of rest won’t have too much of an impact on your racing season.

    You need to find something to occupy you while you’re healing. Have you tried gentle yoga? A photography course? Anything to take your mind off things!

    Thinking of you, I hope you’re feeling better soon!!

  27. [...] that I’m not running for the foreseeable future and have some spare time on my hands, I need to do something productive to keep me from crying over [...]

  28. That really, really sucks. I’ve had costochondritis and it is certainly the most frustrating (they didn’t know what it was… it was in my chest so naturally I thought heart attack) and painful experience ever. And I just had to wait a couple weeks while it went away.

    I like a doctor who isn’t scared by a couple tears.

  29. I would agree, when I finally got put in the boot two summers ago, it was a little bit of relief. I was finally forced to face X weeks in a boot. I think you have a great outlook and you’ve come back from injury before and created a lovely marathon PR most of us could only dream about! Chin up, unless that hurts the ribs and then chin down but spirit up :).

  30. [...] This year was no different. Thanks, bitch ribs. [...]

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