Tag Archives: recovery

The Good News Continues

Today was my first time seeing the sports med doctor in two months. He had been out of the country for my last visit, so I saw the PA.

The news was encouraging. After talking to me about my symptoms and checking my mobility, he told me he thought I was getting better. This was somewhat of a surprise, as I felt slightly better, yet had not improved as much as I had hoped. A lot of that can be attributed to the cold spell we recently suffered, which hopefully is near the end. The hip always struggles in colder weather.

What’s even better is he gave me the go ahead to increase activity and intensity. He said I can go faster and farther, but cautioned me to be careful. I should listen to my body, and make sure I am aware of my symptoms.

He also cautioned me not to go too far at once. He reminded me of the 10% rule that runners obey — not to increase weekly load by more than 10%. That will be difficult to follow to the letter since the weather has thrown a wrench in my training schedule, but in the next week or two, I should have a baseline idea of what I can handle.

Next week I will be in Spartanburg for a couple days. A few weeks later I will be in Brevard. I am okay to ride on these trips, but again, while being careful not to overdo it. He said that I should be prepared to take a day off in between rides in Brevard.

We ended by him saying to come back in 8 weeks. I did some quick math, and realized that would be towards the end of May. What about the Assault on Mount Mitchell? “Make it 6 weeks,” he said. The next appointment will be about a week and a half before the main event. While I feel it is possible, and even likely that I’ll be able to participate, the ultimate decision will be made then.

What is most encouraging is that the further along I go, the better chance I won’t require surgery. So far the recovery schedule is proving the original diagnose of a stress fracture. Since I have been riding without any setbacks, it also calms any concerns that this could have been an overuse injury.

Hips are notorious for healing slowly. I’ll just have to be patient. However difficult it still is, I’m grateful to be back on the bike for the warmer, spring weather.

The Good, the Bad, and the Angry

The Good

I’ve been long overdue for some good news. It came today. No labral tear. I repeat: NO TEAR!

My orthopaedic doctor has left the country, and my GP had the day off, so I had to smooth talk the imaging company to get the MRI results. The X-Ray results concluded that there was a likely lateral labrum tear. As I opened the envelope of the MRI report, I fully expected to find more bad news waiting for me. Not only did I expect a tear, but I thought there was an outside chance there would still be signs of the stress fracture.

The MRI definitively ruled out the stress fracture. It is gone. I won’t miss it.

The report also ruled out a tear. One thing I have to remember is that this is a radiologist’s report, and not an orthopaedic surgeon. While I have to take these results with a grain of salt, they are encouraging.

No stress fracture means no more crutches, no more cane, and most importantly, I can take Advil and anti-inflammatory drugs. It is simply amazing how much these drugs help. My pain and soreness diminished significantly with the first swallow.

The Bad

There are some other things that still need to be dealt with.

I’m reluctant to self-diagnose. I’ve learned the hard way that reading too much on the internet can sometimes do more harm than good. To be honest, I do not understand half of the report, and I agonize myself trying, but there are some things that give me cause for concern.

One issue has to do with the bone marrow in my hip. It may be related to the stress fracture, maybe not. I have no idea, and will try not to worry about it.

The other issue is that I have a small cyst in the labrum. This isn’t the cancerous type, just some swelling, which is likely the cause of the popping, snapping, and the pain. Some of my internet research shows that this type of cyst is often accompanied by a tear, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but my fingers are crossed.

This means that surgery may still be necessary, although there could be alternate methods. From what I understand, the cyst could be zapped with a shot. Physical therapy might also help work it out. While I’ll consider all options, surgery is now more of a last resort.

The Angry

When I first heard about the potential tear, I’ll be honest that I was a little miffed. Why was this not discovered months ago? If the doctor had ordered a different sort of MRI the first time, could he have seen this? Why did he give me short shrift when not seeing healing marks on the X-ray, and make me go another month on the couch?

After reflection, I’m not angry with the doctor. In fact, I feel the opposite. He actually got it right. He told me that I had a stress fracture, and that my hip labrum was ‘off.’ That appears to be the case. He said that when the fracture heals, we’d deal with the rest, which is where we’re at now.

Instead, I am diverting this anger to my recovery. I’m going to be smart, sensible, and listen to my doctor’s orders, but I am going to attack my training and recovery with vigor. This was an unfortunate and uncomfortable setback, but after riding angry, I will emerge stronger with more focus.

Ready or not, here I come.

Not So Fast …

The new ride

The new ride

After a long seven weeks off, I had been looking forward to yesterday’s doctor’s appointment. My expectation and hope was that we would X-ray the hip, see that it is healing, and move on to the next step towards my recovery.

My hopes were dashed by the results. Unfortunately there were no signs of healing.

Stress fractures are strange and perplexing injuries. They often will not show up on X-rays. Mine didn’t show up initially, and we didn’t know it existed until I had the MRI. When a stress fracture is healing, there are visible and distinctive signs that will show up on the image. Mine showed nothing, which means I’m not there yet.

The fact that there were no signs of healing does not mean I am not healing. I know just from the way I feel that the hip is improving. All we know is that the process is a little bit slower than we had hoped. The fact that I am still experiencing soreness, walking with a limp, and having popping instances, all show that the healing process is still ongoing.

The doctor advised me to take another month off. As he put it, I need to ‘respect’ the hip. He looked at my walking gait, and found it to be unnatural. “Is that how you normally walk?” he asked. Nope. Even though crutches are no longer necessary, he suggested using a cane just to keep weight off of it.

While this was disappointing, it was somewhat expected. I could already tell a couple weeks ago that healing was taking longer than I had hoped, which was the reason I canceled my plans in France this year. That turned out to be the correct move. This is a process that I have to be patient with. I’ll follow the doctor’s orders, and hopefully everything will continue to improve.

This sets back some of my spring plans. My heart is set on completing Mitchell, and I will optimistically register next week. However, if the news is not better in a few weeks, I may have no choice other than to be smart and back out.

I can’t complain too much, as there is always someone out there facing tougher odds. Today I heard about Christian Haettich, who is taking on both Haute Route challenges. And by the way, he’s missing an arm and a leg. By comparison, coming back from a measly hip injury seems pretty insignificant.

Time heals all wounds, and this one will be gone eventually.

Breakthrough Week

It has now been nearly seven weeks since my last ride. The time off has been a roller coaster, sometimes with extreme pain, sometimes with absolute boredom. Fortunately, it looks like I am finally closer to the end of my recovery than the beginning.

After two weeks of making hardly any progress, major strides came this week. On Tuesday, I noticed that something felt different. I had more flexibility, mobility, and less soreness. A dull ache existed, at times worse than others, but it was drastically better than it had been a few days before. That was my first breakthrough day. It became even better on Wednesday, Thursday, and then Friday. It feels remarkably better now.

I’m not out of the woods yet. On Monday I will visit Dr. Ekman again, probably get an X-ray, and a direction for treatment. It is possible I’ll need another MRI (Ugh!). My guess is that the fracture has mostly healed, but there are some other soft tissue issues underneath the labrum that still need to be dealt with. There is some lingering soreness, and I can tell that my hip still is not quite right. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be able get everything working in harmony again, and that I can begin training on the bike soon.

In two weeks, I will register for the Assault on Mount Mitchell again. That seems like a bold commitment at this stage of the year, but one I am prepared to make. Even if I cannot train like I have the last couple of years, this is the ride I want to do every year. I’m banking on having enough carryover fitness to make it to the finish line, however slowly, without focusing on time. Any training I can manage until then will be a bonus.

Speaking of Mitchell, my friends in the southeast might be interested to know that I am now blogging for the 2013 Assault. The first post is up now, and more will follow. Much of my material will not be new to readers of this blog, and a few things will be cross-posted over the next few months. I’ll be an editor of sorts as well, working with a few others for different perspectives and tips, varying from beginners to professionals. Even if you do not ride in the Mitchell event, you might find the material useful to prepare for any sort of endurance event.

Finally, I’d like to give a couple shout outs. It was a tough decision for me to bail on this year’s Haute Route plans, even if it was the right decision. I want to thank Wes for backing out with me. We had planned to do the ride together, were going to train together, fly together, and be roommates during the entire event. We both deferred our registrations and plan to participate in the 2014 event.

The final shout out is to the Vicious Cycle team. Wes and I left them in the lurch by backing out. Fortunately they were able to find a couple replacements rather quickly. Keeping in the spirit of internationalism, they added Julian from Edinburgh, UK, and Patrick from Sydney, Australia. They now have a great looking kit, which I’ll be following for this year’s event.

Inspiration Comes When You Least Expect It

It has now been over six weeks of recovery, and my next visit with the doctor (and probably X-Ray) will be Monday. This week, the hip has shown some improvement. I was going to write about my progress, but I’ll save that for another day. I’d rather share a couple things that have inspired me.

The greatest inspiration this week came from Wayne, a regular blog reader since nearly the beginning. He and I have met once, and corresponded over email a few times over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe accident early last year.

Actually, severe is an understatement. His accident was devestating. He spent 1.5 months in the ICU, and another month learning to walk again. While he was in the hospital, he mentally committed himself to getting back on the bike.

Nearly a year later, he is back on the bike again.

I may be injured, but what I’m dealing with is nothing compared to the obstacles Wayne has had to fight with over the last year. He generously shared some words of wisdom in the comments of my Haute Route withdrawal post.

“I would suggest that you don’t forget why most of us start and still ride.”

I’m with Wayne there. While for me it is partly about the fitness and wellness, it is also about being outdoors, getting in tune with nature.

“Be sure to smell the roses or wildflowers as they drift by on the side of the road. Be careful about always having your head down trying to muscle your way up ever bigger hills unless the race is what you seek. I like climbing the hills also, but I like stopping at the top of the hill to survey the world from the top of the hill where I’m standing.”

I can get behind this statement completely. Part of the thrill of climbing hills is seeing the world below your feet. I’ll never forget the spectacular views from when I was on top of Mount Evans, feeling as though I was walking on the clouds with the mountainous heavens below me.

Wayne is now back on the bike, and just recently rode from a few miles inside Fort Jackson. To most of us seasoned cyclists, this wasn’t a ride for the ages, but for Wayne, there could not have been anything more satisfying.

“You could have wrapped my grin around both ears, it was so big.”

Keep on pedaling, Wayne. And make sure you keep in touch.

The other story that inspired me came from Robert Armstrong, aka Coach Rob, and the Vicious Cycle Team Leader. As you know, I recently dropped from the team due to injury, but I have gotten to know Rob and the others during this process.

When discussing training, we had talked about some of his success stories. One of them was Peter LeClaire, a guy who had found himself with a few extra pounds more than he had intended. Rob just recently posted a blog post with Peter’s reflection of his transition. He set a goal of riding in the Etape du Tour (pretty much a single TdF stage event). Not only did he succeed in his goal, but once he shed the excess weight, he kept going and transformed into a beast. Just looking at the pictures that Rob shared are awe-inspiring. Way to go, Peter!

These two tidbits of inspiration have different messages, but both apply to me, and they put this little hiccup in perspective. Sure, I’ve been off the bike for a number of weeks, which has been annoying and uncomfortable. I’ve had to deal with my share of pain, but it has mostly passed, and I will continue to get better. Nothing I’ve had to deal with compares to the recovery that Wayne has made from his accident. The fact that he kept going is, frankly, awesome.

Peter, on the other hand, assures me that no matter what fitness I lose and weight I regain, there is still hope for me to become that tiger again. With some focus and determination, it’s amazing what a person can accomplish.

Thanks for sharing the stories, guys!