Alison’s Blog: Walking in NYC with a boot, tendonitis and pinched nerves

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This is the type of boot that Alison has had to wear this past week.  Today she found out if she can run the NYC marathon.  Read about it below.

Alison:  I’ve given birth to two children, taken a million final exams, and gotten caught smoking by my mom (oh, don’t judge me. It was over 20 years ago, and besides, it wasn’t really me smoking. It was “Fat Girl”). But, this has to be one of the scariest days I’ve had in a long time.

No, I’m not trying to walk through the Times Square of the 1970s without getting mugged. I’m on my way to my orthopedist’s office. Today I find out what is wrong with my neck, and more importantly, my foot.

I go down into the subway at Grand Central, and of course, the express train – which would have gotten me to Union Square in one stop – isn’t running, so I have to wait for the local, and then take a much longer ride to my fate. As I wait on the platform, a person trips over my “boot”. Last week my orthopedist was concerned I might have a stress fracture. He asked if I’d follow his orders and not run for an entire week. I replied, “Umm, yeah…”, which I guess wasn’t very convincing, so he gave me a boot to wear. A boot is basically a cast that you can take off for things like showering and sleeping, and keeps your foot from bending in case there’s a broken bone in there. It’s also great for getting loads of sympathy from your husband (my favorite this week was when I called to Wil who was in the next room and shouted: “Honey!! I can’t reach the remote!”). But, I’ve learned most New Yorkers never look down, so people have been stepping on my boot (and consequently, my sore foot) all week long.

The train comes, and I lug my gimpy leg onto the train (and to any medical professional reading this, please explain to me why they make boots as heavy as a small car). I have to stand, and as I reach up to hold the pole, I wince at the shot of pain that runs from my neck, through my shoulder and into my arm that has been with me for almost 3 weeks now. And I wish that whoever has a voodoo doll of me, that for just one day they’d move the pin into my other shoulder.

As I stand on the train and wait for that shot of pain to lower its volume to an achy grip in my shoulder, I think about the past week or two. I haven’t run in over 10 days. I’ve been in the pool so much that two silver rings I wear are completely tarnished. Peter K has been helping me keep up my marathon level fitness without running, so he’s taught me to replace my runs with non-weight bearing activities that take as long as each run would: deep water running, swimming, elliptical, stationary bike. On Saturday I was supposed to do a 20 mile run, which on a good day would take me 4 hours. So, instead I did TWO hours of deep water running, one hour of recumbent bike, and one hour of elliptical. I worked out for so long that I missed lunch. And the only thing I can say about a two hour deep water run is that it is 120 minutes of my life I will never get back.

I’ve been trying to keep myself thinking positively all week. Every time someone asks me about my foot (which is mostly done by complete strangers), I smile and say, “I might have a stress fracture!”, as if I’m the luckiest runner in the world. I brought a real shoe with me to the appointment in case I can take the damned boot off so that I don’t have to go back to work semi-barefooted. I keep telling myself that life is all about perspective, and that at the same moment that my doctor is going to tell me that my marathon for this year is over, another mom is going to learn that her child has cancer, and maybe a broken foot just isn’t that bad. I’ve been reminding myself of my old “Fat Girl” habits, and that it’s not OK to drown my sorrows in an entire cheesecake, or if it’s good news to celebrate – with the same entire cheesecake. I remind myself that I’ve had Peter K, my coach and mentor, helping me every hobbled step of the way, and that even if I can’t run the marathon I have worked too hard and come too far to ruin it all over a Wendy’s Triple Classic and Biggie fries (though that image isn’t my fault; that’s what the guy on the train next to me was eating, lucky jerk).

I finally get to my stop, and hobble up the steps of the subway (and if you ever want to truly appreciate how many stairs there are in Manhattan, walk around with your foot in a cast for a week). I get to my doctor’s office, and get taken in right away. I sit in the exam room for what feels like the longest five minutes of my life (not true. The longest five minutes is any five minutes during that TWO hour deep water run, but this is a close second). Finally my doctor comes in.

The news is good and bad. The good – no GREAT – news is that my foot isn’t broken. My doctor says, “You have a good flare up of tendonitis. You can run the marathon, but it’s going to hurt.” I reply, “Isn’t running 26 miles going to hurt anyway?”

The bad news is my neck. The injury that hurts much more but has me far less concerned is actually a pretty big problem. The doctor talks about severely pinched nerves losing normal function, neurologists, shots in my neck, lots of physical therapy, and possible surgery in the next year. I admit to the doctor that I’m barely listening to him. He’s a runner himself. He’s done the New York Marathon. He understands.

I put on my extra shoe that I carried for what ends up being a good reason, and heft up my heavy boot into my arms to take back up to my office in Midtown. And I do celebrate – with brown rice sushi instead of a cheesecake. Hey, what can I say? I have to carb load for my run tomorrow ☺.

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