Sunday, March 27, 2016

Recovery Update – Patience is a Virtue

Life sometimes takes you down a path of bushwhacking and unrunnable terrain.  I followed that path throughout the month of February. Instead of fighting I let go and decided to stop and embrace the moment that I was in. Don’t get me wrong, fighting injury and anemia is not a fun time, but one that I reflect on and am now grateful for. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I would find that reason.

Throughout February I was plagued with an Achilles injury (Achilles tendonitis+bursitis) that caused me to be unable to run. I couldn’t push off without excruciating pain and aggravating it more. So what did I do?! How did I not go crazy without running? Well what I do know as a physical therapist, is that you do NOT run or do an activity if it causes the injury to become painful. What you do find are other ways to be active. What I found is that I had no Achilles pain with cycling, the Arc Trainer, and walking. So, my choices of activity were those and I did them 5-6 days a week for 1-2 hours at a time. I worked hard on the Arc Trainer, as I was able to get a ‘workout burn’ and a heart rate that equaled what I would have during a running workout. I also got back into the gym and started lifting. Things I had wanted to do, but neglected to do.  These activities helped me work on being balanced both physically and mentally.

I finally hit rock bottom. It had been over a month since I had gotten to run and my Achilles was barely making any progress. I reached out as a physical therapist to other physical therapists that I work with. Community Rehab, my employer, has been such a great company to work for and every one of my coworkers go above and beyond to help those in need…me included. I sent out an email asking for help with my Achilles, and I received several replies offering assistance. Luke Collins, one of my coworkers fortunately made time for me that day to come see him. He did an evaluation and found my gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in my left calf to be tight and knotted up like a braided rope. He ended up dry needling my calf muscles. With every needle inserted in my calf muscle I felt a ZING, some areas worse than others. Then he applied an iontophoresis patch and KT-tape. The instant I got up and stood I had relief and what felt like a release of my calf muscles. I was in complete shock. I went home that night and couldn’t help but go for a test run. That night I was able to run for the first time in over a month pain-free!! I cried in happiness. I continued the PT treatments for the next couple weeks and to this day have not had any Achilles issues. I am now a firm believer in dry needling.

For my anemia I looked into my diet and made changes along with starting a regime of taking two iron pills a day along with a multi-vitamin. Then I followed up with my doctor every other week to have blood tests. I started feeling better as my iron levels started to slowly improve. Recovering from iron deficiency can take many weeks since it takes your body time to build back its iron reserves. I will continue to stay on this regime so that I don’t allow my anemia to recur.
Now at the end of March, I have bushwhacked my way out of the wilderness to find the sweet buttery single-track trail. I will continue to be careful and watch the path set out in front of me to be sure to stay on the trial of good fortune. I have been back to training and even racing without any pain or injuries. My iron is still rebuilding, and I will continue to be careful. I am just so thankful and fortunate to be happy and healthy running once again. Thanks for reading.