Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A New Chapter Begins with Tears

So much has changed since my last post.

On Nov. 13 I saw the podiatrist again, who suggested based on the tenderness of the heel that I "start over" with the effort to fix the PF. No running for a month. And since cycling was causing that weird ankle pain, no cycling either. Wear supportive shoes while walking. He assured me that we needed to use the supportive shoes for the time being, as a "cast to allow my foot to rest." (Fair enough, but if you can call the shoe a "cast" for an initial healing period, good luck if you think you're going to convince me that that's the same shoe I should use for running when that time comes.)

Considering that I thought I had already done this no running approach, and had been so good at listening to my body by taking two months off right after the marathon, the idea of starting over, again, 6 months later, with no running at all was beyond irritating. On the one hand, it turned out to be the worst two months of my life to not be able to do the exercises I enjoy most. On the other, I'm not sure I would've been doing much exercise during this time even had I been able. I was spending way more time and energy on my much-loved cat than I had expected. Her health, and extra efforts to spoil her rotten (since we weren't sure how much time we'd have left with her) took a surprising amount of time out of my days (and my nights - I am an easy and deep sleeper, and even I started taking a sleeping pill).

On Dec. 14, I saw the podiatrist for a follow-up assessment. The foot was getting better, so he told me to keep doing what I was doing. Great. Another month - no running, no cycling. I had decided I would give his way 2-3 months and then decide if I was going to go back to my own efforts (I could see the value of "resting" an injury -- but not for whatever I deemed to be "too long.")

This sucked more than simply because I couldn't run. My cat was having some post-surgical issues and this was really emotionally draining for me and my husband. Having now spent 3 months caring for a dearly loved 13-year-old cat with post-surgical/cancer-related issues, I can't imagine how parents stay sane caring for their chronically ill non-furry babies. It's so scary and heart-wrenching, and tiring. Two of the most stressful months of my life, and I couldn't run. Which isn't to say I couldn't do any exercise, but I didn't. I just wasn't in the mood to make the extra effort to go beyond my comfort zone -- too much else to think about.  (Eventually I did buy a new bathing suit, though, and I've gone swimming a handful of times. So at least that little alternative-activity hurdle is out of the way.)

Between mid-December and mid-January, I started seeing someone who is something between a massage therapist and a chiropractor to work on my ankle. This was someone recommended to me by my long-time massage therapist, as he specializes in ankle and wrist issues. I also started standing on a baseball for 3-5 min. a night before going to bed. (I read that a softball should be used, but all I had was a baseball. And after a few days the hardness of the baseball was not a big deal, but instead felt pretty darn good stretching out that plantar fascia.)  I figured this certainly wouldn't hurt anything, and perhaps was at least a good attempt at an alternative to wearing the Strassburg Sock the podiatrist had prescribed, as I found that it hurt my big toe so much that I had to pull it off during the middle of the night.

I don't know what combo of things did it, but around New Year's, after about 2 weeks of the baseball and 2 visits to the ankle guy, my PF started feeling noticeably better.

On Jan. 11, I saw the podiatrist again, who poked at the foot and determined it was time to start me on a run/walk program (we're talking 1 min. run, 1 min. walk x 5 -- serious new runner type program). I was grateful to be at a point where it seemed reasonable to everyone involved that I start back into the running, however slowly.

But then on Jan. 12, everything in my world stopped, as we had to put our sweet BabyCat to sleep. And so we entered a new chapter in our home with considerable sobbing, grief, and heartache. I'm not going to put down here all my thoughts about my supercute kitty and how dearly I loved her and how terribly I miss her, but suffice it to say that the hole she left in our family is enormous. She was like the bookends of our life. Of all the places we went and things we did, she was here seeing us off before, and here to welcome us back home after. She had such a large personality and played such an important role in our lives-- it is only the many years of wonderful memories we have with her that help soothe the pain of losing her.

I forced myself to the gym on Wed. Jan. 13. to start the run/walk program.  Not because I even cared about the running that day, but because I'd been trying since just before the New Year to stop making excuses and do some kind of exercise (mostly just weights/core work at the gym, some swims) to manage the growing stress of my cat's illness. The only way to cope with her death was to just keep putting one foot in front of the other -- and the 45 min. at the gym was 45 minutes I wasn't sitting in a sobbing heap of sadness on my couch.

So I've started the run/walk program, which calls for runs every other day. At the end of 3 weeks, if all goes well, I will end this program with a 20 min. run, no walking. So far, I've done the runs in the VFFs on the treadmill. Once yesterday, my ankle threatened to twinge, but it never actually happened. The ankle twinges after cycling and even sometimes when I'm just walking around (which at least tells me it's not caused by running) though it has done so much less in the past month. I think the ankle guy is doing something right as I'm really noticing improvements in ankle flexibility.

Jan. 13 Run 1 min. Walk 1 min. x 5

Jan. 15
Run 1 min, walk 1 min x 1
Run 1:30, walk 1 min. x 2
Run 2 min, walk 1 min x 2

Jan. 18
Run 2 min, walk 1 min x 2
Run 3 min, walk 1 min x 2

And so the story of my kitty drama ends, and the story of my running starts...yet again.