Monday, December 13, 2010

Game Play

My second run (4 miles) last week was great! I was just running comfortably no worries about pace or anything else. The ankle was quiet, and yes, it was really fantastic to remember what it feels like to run with nothing hurting. I ended up running 8:30-ish minute miles. Speedy for me! So that's the pace that feels comfortable when nothing hurts. Good to know!

Tonight's run was not as good. I planned 5.8 miles, but had to stop running at about 3.8. I ran a little after that but ended up walking the last mile in. I didn't get the usual sharp pain from the ankle, but something a little more "muted" if that makes any sense. It still hurt enough to let me know I needed to stop, but it just wasn't the same intensity as usual.

I was particularly sad to have it end because I'd been pacing two guys behind me. They'd fallen behind me at one point, but eventually seemed to be making it a point to catch up, and then keep up, with me. So I hung steady for a while. Then I very slowly started picking up the pace....and after a while left them behind with a short sprint. I slowed and was going to let them catch up and start again, but my run didn't last much longer before I had to call it done. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted.

At least now, at home, my foot is completely comfortable. No lingering ankle pain/limping for the rest of the evening. That's something.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First run on my steroid shot

I was a like a kid on Christmas. I was awake at 4am this morning (not unusual) and couldn't get back to sleep (VERY unusual). I think I was anxious to give this steroid shot a try.  I went out to Discovery Park for the first time (yes I'm embarrassed that I've been running in Seattle for 14 years, and just now made it out to the Discovery Park loop), and ran 3.5 miles. I figured I'd try to break some of the mental patterns I have on my usual running routes while trying to break this pain pattern. The ankle felt comfortable, and was not painful at all on the downhills (which is signficiant). I had a little discomfort (not pain) toward the end. It seemed more along the lines of the "you might have some pain for a day or two caused by the shot" than by my usual ankle issues.

Unfortunately on the drive home, something did end up pinching in my ankle wrong (as often happens when I drive after a run). Drag. This pinching tends to happen when I have to raise my toes immediately after running, as one does to press the gas pedal (or to climb the steps to my house).

Last night when trying out some stretching, I had no soreness. Usually I stretch that calf to the point of pain. Last night I could stretch it as far as possible (which is still less than my left foot, as the right has more limited range of motion), but with no pain whatsoever. So that's promising.

I don't think I asked the dr how long it should take for the full antiinflammatory/pain relief effects to kick in, but since he told me I might have some pain at the injection site for a day or two, I figured it might take a few days (quick web search says sometimes a week or two). Would I have loved 100% relief today? Well yeah, duh. Did I expect it? Not even I am that optimistic. One step at a time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

This is your ankle on steroids

Back in June, I had my ankle X-rayed and was told that yes there was a bone spur causing "anterior ankle impingement," and perhaps an injection into the ankle could help atrophy some of the scar tissue around the spur and thus relieve my pain. At the time, I thought I had a mostly pristine ankle, and the injection proposed made me nervous. Nothing I'd learned from my research confirmed that the stuff to be injected  was some magic potion that could atrophy scar tissue without also atrophying the healthy tissue in there. Afraid that I might cause more harm than good, I decided to wait on the shot.

Several months, two doctors, and an MRI later, I was essentially told the same thing. Only this time I was ready for it. First, the news came from a doctor I trust. Second, because of the MRI, I now have a fuller picture of the situation. I now know that my ankle joint is hardly pristine. It's already mussed up in there with osteoarthritis. So my fear that they could put something in my ankle that might damage it-- well, it's already damaged so I figure there's no harm in trying the steroid injection.

Essentially this is the first step before potentially moving toward surgery. It is possible that the steroid breaks the cycle of pain/inflammation, and allows everything in there to calm down enough that the pain goes away forever. Yes, forever. (I'm praying for this option and invite anyone willing to do the same!!)  Or, the pain could go away and return in a matter of months, simply reaffirming that we're looking at the right spot. Anyway, if the pain returns, the surgeon says yes, surgery is a possibility. Yes, it could fix everything. Or it could not. It's hard to say, but the specificitiy of the pain does bode well for the efficacy of surgery. But the first step, before doing surgery is to try a steroid injection.

I'm cautiously optimistic. At the very least it suggests that I should be able to run without pain for some period of time. (I'll test that theory tomorrow.) It's been a long time, so I'm pretty excited about the prospect. If this gives me a chunk of time without ankle issues, I also expect to get a not insignificant amount of grief from my husband and my running partner, both of whom thought I should have gotten the shot when it was first suggested six months ago. Oh well. Getting some mental buy-in to the whole process should only make things go more smoothly than had I done it while thinking that I was doing something harmful. We will see what happens in the coming days/weeks.