Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Injury Updates (6 compiled)

Rather than littering my blog with injury updates, decided to compile all from the last 3 years onto one blog. 

Included are 6 different updates from when I injured my ankle June 1st 2014 until just after surgery.

JUNE 23rd, 2014 
INJURY Updates 1

Decided to change the name of blog from
Race Diary->Run Diary.

Before, I felt limited writing just about my races rather than being able to write about anything related to running. Excited to now post random things.

This time will post about the last three weeks and an ankle injury I've been dealing with.

June 1st at the Kabe Renzan race, I rolled my ankle pretty bad early in the race and not very wisely continued to finish the race. This left my ankle in pretty rough shape and knew I would be taking some time off.

Didn't do any running the first week but unfortunately on Saturday, ended up walking home from Kure to Kurahashi late one night after missing the last bus home after attending the Yukata Festival in Hiorshima City. Took about 4 hours and the ankle was super sore after. Pretty fun though.

Slow hiked Hiyama during the second week even though the ankle was still painful and a bit swollen.

Was receiving special treatment from one of the nurses at a school. She would put shippu (compression) on and gave me a ankle brace to use.

Was frustrating not being able to run for such a long time.

3rd week was slow jogging Hiyama and on the weekend, Danny, Keisuke, and Yousuke came out to Kurahashi and we did Hiyama once all together, Danny and I went and did Hiyama intervals after the onsen and flew back down the same day, and 88kasho the following day.

After this the ankle was pretty stiff but not too bad.

The following day at my last day at Meitoku Elementary School :( was playing soccer with the kids and tried to boot the soccer ball high into the air and hurt the ankle pretty bad again.

Have been occasionally icing and wrapping it but I think it just needs some time without much activity to recover. Also needs strengthening soon.

Trying to enjoy the mountains as much as possible during the remaining last couple months in Japan.

January 16, 2015

Well, I am going on nearly 5months (6 months now at the time of posting this) of the ankle injury that happened back at the Kabe 22km trail race in Japan.

Before this injury, even taking a week off of running after a hard marathon or a hundred was difficult for me. Running, being my daily dose of freedom had become so part of my life I had never stopped to consider my life without it. Everything from my friends, job (running store) and nearly every decision I made was based around running. Upcoming races always had me looking forward to something in the near future and left me always working towards something. Making those little achievements each day, whether it was going out and hammering intervals on the mountain or even just a little 3 mile recovery run made me feel accomplished.

Another giant impact running had on my life was diet. Not only was I burning 7000+ calories a week with running 60+ miles, but in doing so, I also tended to be more disciplined with my diet.  Before/After a run, I never had much of a craving for chocolates, sweets, or treats but after not being able to run, I began to eat just about anything and everything. So, I have been eating more calories, more unhealthy calories and burning significantly less calories. This double whammy has led to me barely even being able to fit into my "fat pants". Haha

Going from Needing to run nearly everyday to not being able to properly run for 5 months has been probably one of the biggest struggles of my life. Pretty easy life huh? During this time, I also moved from Japan back to Minnesota which also has been a struggle to re-adapt to life back home (currently still in the process of doing so).

Even trying to write some updates on this blog is tough, not knowing where to start processing this whole experience. Thankfully, at this point after 5 months, I'm able to try and see some positives of rolling my ankle. What I've been able to positively take away from this is a new appreciation and understanding of what running meant to me. There were days where I felt as if I were a drug addict being withheld from their drugs. I had a burning urge to go run and release that feeling, sometimes actually going out and running furthering my injury and recovery process. In the past 5+ years of my life, my coping mechanism for everything had been to run it off. I had a big assignment due in college, I went for a run. I was bored, I'd go for a run. I didn't feel comfortable where I was in life, I'd go for a run. All of my stressors were either put off for later, subdued, or even eliminated because of running. Losing running felt like I had lost myself. I can only imagine what Geoff Roes went through being at the professional level and struggling with his unknown condition that disabled him from running.

Another difficult thing in this process has been the accepting the reality of the injury and doing what needed to be done to recover (rest). Starting from the moment I rolled my ankle, I knew immediately that it was a serious injury and that it would be best to drop out of the race but instead, I had to prove  to myself that I could finish (only further aggravating the injury). The week of the injury I walked home from Kure (12 miles) proving I could still walk despite the injury (further aggravating the injury). Over and over again, I would try to run through the pain and swelling my ankle was experiencing trying to convince myself that I could still run, when obviously I couldn't. I avoided going to the doctor in fear of being told what I did not want to hear ("you need to take time off running"). My ankle remained swollen and painful for 1 month, 2 months, and even 3 months into the injury before realizing it was time to stop running or I might not be able to run again.

Typing this out now, I realize how foolish it was to not immediately stop running, the moment I rolled my ankle, and properly rest until time had allowed the injury to recover.

What is easy to see now:

Had I properly addressed the injury and took time off, I may have been not able to run for 1month (ish?).

Being blinded by so badly wanting to run and feeling the need to run, I made a relatively small issue a large one and am still paying the time for those decisions.

The last month, I have done minimal running and have been working with a physical therapist to re-strengething my ankle. Every night I use heat beans to warm the ankle and promote circulation (healing I hope). In the last month I have seen lots of improvement but still am battling everyday to make good decisions when/how I should return to running. I do know from trying this several weeks ago that going out and running 1 mile as fast as possible is not the best way.

Condition now:
The ankle has been feeling the best yet but still does not feel "good" yet. It still is tender with certain movements, for example trying to kick water off my legs after a shower, sitting on the ground certain ways, and trying to flutter kick during swimming (can't do at all now). It often locks, pops when adjusting the ankle but it seems like these have been getting better with time.
If I am able to get back to running, I will be grateful beyond belief. I'm hoping that I have not done any permanent damage to it by making all the previous stupid mistakes.

March 30 2016

Well, now I am at the 10th month mark of the ankle sprain that has kept me away from running for the longest time since I've began running.

My ankle is still not run-able and continues to be tender and pop uncomfortably.

I've had MRI/Xrays which didn't show any current tears. There was remaining swelling in the ligaments when the MRIs were taken back in October and it still feels like some abnormality going on.

Went through a couple months of PT to strengthen the ankle/legs/butt but the ankle condition did not get any better.

Have been doing oil massages to my ankle everynight which helps and also have occasionally been putting the hot beans on my ankle. These are nice temporary aids that I hope are contributing to the overall healing of the ankle.

Still cannot get my mind off of running and not being able to run has deeply consumed me the last 10 months. Still not knowing when/if I am going to be able to run is the hardest thing.

Have been going for a couple 3.5 mile loops around home because cannot stand not running. The ankle becomes more poppy/clicky after but not very painful anymore.

How much longer?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Injury Updates 4

Well it has been 7 months since my last post. Wow that amount has gone by so interestingly.  I am on a total of 17 months since my ankle injury and finally have to good news to report.

I arrived in Japan 3 weeks ago and just yesterday I went to the doctor and found out I needed surgery.

This was the best news I have ever received knowing that there is a very likely chance I will be back running a couple months after surgery. I was very emotional on the bikeride home from the doctor finally having an answer to what had been troubling me for so long.

For the last 17 months, I have been enduring more than I have ever had in my life. It was very difficult everyday not knowing what was causing my ankle to not heal properly and not knowing how/if I was going to get any answers.

My injury history timeline was as follows:

June 1st 2014-Lateral Ankle Sprain at Kabe Renzan 22 Trail Race
Sprain happened half way through and I proceeded to finish race.

Did not go to the doctor.

Walked 20km same week as injury after missing last bus to Kurahashi.
Played with elementary school kids in dress shoes and tweaked ankle kicking soccer ball very bad same week.

July 20th 2014 Kurahashi Aquathon Long Course (Swim and half marathon run)
*5 days later*July 25th Fuji Ascent Race (Run up Mt Fuji)

Ankle was in pretty bad shape after these two races. Continued trying to run occasionally and was was hindered by pain/swelling/tightness/catching/locking.

Returned home to Minnesota.

September 18th 2014- X-Ray/MRI  Nothing of concern found by doctors
Did physical therapy for two months after this. Ankle became stronger as did my arse. Ankle pain remained and did not become any better.

Through time, the ankle became less painful and just more uncomfortable and was always a bit tender. I would continue trying to run and would always be sidelined for a couple days after due to increased clicking/popping/catching/swelling.

I started going to a place called Orthology which is a specialized treatment center that assigns you a care team with a Chiropracter/Soft Tissue Specialist/and a Physical Trainer. Here they did lots of soft tissue work/manipulation to break down the scar tissue. There was always immediate relief after these but after testing it after, would always flare up again. I went to about 7 sessions of this which cost $100 a time. It was very frustrating still not feeling like I had any answers and not knowing when/if I was going to be able to run.

I spent countless hours on the internet reading every article about sprained ankles/complications. I needed so bad to find out what was wrong but everytime I would search the internet until 2AM would only leave me feeling raged and stressed out.

It`s embarassing to say, but the last 17 months have been probably the toughest of my life. Just without having the simple act of running in my life, I felt like everything else had been put on hold and all I could do was sulk about not being able to run. I would compare it to having drug addiction withdrawals and immaturely I even told people I would rather go through ANY drug withdrawal than through the pain I was going through. The most difficult part of my problem was not knowing if I would be ever able to return to the lifestyle that loved/needed so much.

People would often say to try other events such as swimming/biking/knitting/whatever but I was solely focused on being able to get back to running. Part of me wished I could adapt a new lifestyle that did not involve running but it was impossible. Every few minutes of everyday for 517 days, I would think to myself, when am I going to be able to run, why can`t anyone figure out what is wrong with my ankle, will I ever be able to run, what happens if I can`t, will I be able to survive without it..ectectect. It was killing me to have to neglect friends offers to go run and I had to start avoiding friends completely to stay away from the fact I couldn`t run. I simply could not accept that I couldn`t run and I apologize to those I acted immature to.

These feelings and uncertainty caused me so much stress through the months it was taking a toll on me. I couldn`t sleep well, I didn`t look forward to much, I was empathizing with others less, I was binge eating to forget, drinking to forget, and not having a healthy lifestyle.

Sadly, I could see myself slipping into bad habits and didn`t even care. I realized alcohol was taking control of my life and unfortunately I was gladly letting it. I`m not blaming alcohol at all as I was in 100% control of my decisions, but I was deciding I wanted to let it control me. I was justifying it with, `Hey I`ll just drink until my ankle problem is solved`. because it seemed like an easy solution. Even having a supportive family and a proper education, I was making such an immature decision and I`m embarrassed because of it.

Thankfully I was able to navigate away from letting alcohol completely control my life with the help of family and friends. It was also very helpful working at the Birchwood Cafe where my co-workers and customers were special people.  I`m very grateful to have such great support systems and people who genuinely care about me. I am always in debt to you.

Bit of a tangent from the ankle but, felt I needed to reflect a bit on that part of the 17 months.

Back to the ankle timeline.

Just yesterday, October 22nd 2015, I went to the Carp trainer Tsutaki-san for the second time to ask about my ankle and he recommended me to a ankle ortho specialist name Fukuhara based out of Ujina here in Hiroshima. I went there the same day and he tried to read my old MRIs and decided to have new ones ordered here in Japan. I went to Kanda Clinic near the station and had an MRI taken quickly. I went back to Fukuhara`s clinic the same day and he detected that I had a bone spur on my talus impinging other ligaments. He said it was a simple surgery and that recovery time was about 3 weeks until I could start doing rehab for it. At that moment, it felt like my eyes were opening up more and I was flooded with joy and anticipation that I might be running in a few months.
I thanked him profusely and he bashfully nods his head and looks down at the computer desk. I wonder if he realizes how much he could be impacting my life.

He asked when I could receive the surgery and I told him that it would have to wait until December when I have an extended period of vacation from work.

As I was biking home, I was very emotional thinking about all the struggling I have been through. It was one of the most relieving feelings in the world. I was so wrapped up in running before that if I went one week without doing so, I would become very irritable and unpleasant. Now I was the happiest man on earth to hear I might be running in 3 months. Funny how perspectives change. If things go smoothly and rehab goes properly, I will have such a different perspective and appreciation for running. 

Even writing this was very emotional and the keyboard is super soaked from my hands sweating.

It`s been less than a day since I figured out that I need surgery and I have been on a high since. My interactions with people have been very different and I feel very grateful for what has happened.

In hindsight, if I am able to run again, I will surprisingly be grateful for this whole experience. Still my perspective and way of viewing life is through running and I can relate this to a verrrrry looong painful race. It had very lows lows and at times I didn`t know how/if I was going to be able to finish.

Enduring this `race` of 17months was much more difficult than any other race I`ve ever done and will ever do. In this way, again, I can reflect on it and take it as a learning experience. Realized the most difficult thing is to accept things that are outside of my control.

Very excited to schedule the surgery and get things going. I can definitely wait a few more months though. Piece of cake.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Injury Updates 5

Since the last post have been throw a host of changes.

First, instead of believing it would be a simple surgery to be able to be back to running, the surgeon told me that he was not quite sure of the problem and wanted to examine more. Since then, I have been back 6 times for different diagnosing. 

2nd Ultrasound
3rd Flueroscope (live xray video)
4th Consult for surgery 
5th Stress xray
6th consult again

I was initially scheduled to have surgery Dec 14th before heading back home to American. My supervisor at work was worried that if there were any complications, I would not be able to return home for the holidays. Rescheduled the surgery for January 16th and just a couple days ago my supervisor has asked me to wait until after the next baseball season to do the surgery.

Because the surgeon is not sure or not if the surgery will even help, I`m at a loss of what to do. 

If I wait to do the surgery its another year at least until I can run. If I do the surgery I am out 3 weeks from work, miss some of baseball season, and over $1000 (with the potential of still not being able to run and conditions may worsen). 

Tomorrow I am going to Mazda Hospital to get a second opinion from the president of orthopedic surgery there Dr Okuhira. After hearing what he says, I plan on going to Dr Fukuhara after and telling him that I need to know how to get answers and fast.

Still have been struggling with out being able to run and not knowing what the outcome of my ankle will be. 

If I can`t run in the near future will be in trouble. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Injury updates 6

It's been over a year since I posted on the Injury updates. Currently am sitting back at my dorm in Hiroshima after having surgery and doing rehab at Hanna Chuo Hospital in Nara Prefecture but want to start reflecting about this whole process.

Continuing from my last post, the second opinion at Mazda Hospital doctor said that he did NOT see a bone spur and that he didn't recommend surgery. This was frustrating hearing the contradicting information from doctors and left me back point A of not knowing what to do.

Decided to get another opinion from Kanda clinic where had the MRI done and he was a creepy looking doctor who recommended to get the surgery from Fukuhara. It seemed like he didn't have an idea of what he was talking about.

I had been running occasionally through the baseball season with the ankle always feeling bad during the run and even worse after. The only thing that actually helped was not running and that wasn't anything I was able to do.

After going to Fukuhara many more times, and still not feeling comfortable at all about getting surgery at his private clinic, I consulted again with my friend Akihiro Ariumi who is an orthopedic surgeon living in Niigata. He passed my information along to his friend who is an ankle surgeon named Okada Sensei. I was actually able to meet him during the Japan Series came in Hokkaido and he checked out my ankle in between innings. From reviewing my files and physically examining my ankle, he thought that I should not get surgery from Fukuhara as well and he recommended visiting Kumai-Sensei who is in Nara.

I went back to Fukuhara to ask for a recommendation to see Dr. Kumai in Nara. He a little impatiently said that he himself recommended Dr. Kumai back last  year when I asked for a second opinion the first time. Despite his dismay, I was enthused to hear that both doctors recommended Dr. Kumai and thought that this could be the guy finally be able and help me out. With money aside, made an appointment as early as possible with him at Nara Kenritsu Daigaku Byouin and made the trip out to see him.

Him and another student named Kevin greeted me and began checking out my ankle. They decided to give me an injection of hyaluronic acid to see if that calmed the symptoms of my pain. His initial plan was to do 3 injections to see the effects and if it didn't help would do surgery.

After returning to Hiroshima, my ankle felt different but not any better.

The second time I went back to Hanna Chuo Hosptial to see Dr. Kumai he checked out my ankle again and after hearing that there was no effect from the injection, decided he would give a shot at surgery.

His plan was to remove the "bone spur" on my ankle and I felt more comfortable getting it done at a public hospital from a reputable surgeon throughout Japan.

My supervisor at work had been skeptical through the process of me going to Nara to get my ankle checked. I feel he was not happy with me decided to do this on my own and not consulted with him before the decisions I made. However, after consulting with him the previous year  before the surgery and that leading to prolonging the surgery for another year, decided it was time to take make some decisions on my own.

The plan was to go home to MN for winter break and come back and do surgery in Nara from Dr. Kumai once returning to Japan.

Needing my ankle to to ready for the baseball season, it was important to get the surgery done as quickly as possible to ensure enough time for recovery and rehabilitation before the 2017 baseball season began.

Scheduled surgery for January 19 2017 in Nara at Hanna Chuo Hospital.

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