When I started this blog, I was wearing a boot on my left foot for Achilles Tendinitis. It was the second time this year I’d worn the boot.
Last summer I was running a lot and then noticed – I don’t remember exactly when – a pain in my ankle. Like all stubborn runners I thought: I’ll just run through it and take it easy tomorrow. I did this for the following 3 months, realizing that no matter how much “down time” I gave myself my ankle wasn’t getting better. Some days I could run just fine and not have any issues. Some days it would start out hurting, but then I’d push through it and be fine at the end of my run. Some days I’d have an excellent pain-free start of the run only to have to stop short due to the pain deciding to stab my leg and threaten to cripple me. So I stopped running around Thanksgiving. I “took it easy” and only did my usual weight training every other day.
In January of this year I went on a couple long walks to test the water with my ankle. I’d looked it up and thought: yep, I have tendinitis, but I’m mostly ok. I don’t hurt too much and if I don’t walk much it’s no biggie. Plus, I don’t get too much pain at all with weight training. I could tell after one walk my ankle still wasn’t happy. I finally went to a specialist around March and he said: yep, you have tendinitis, but it’s actually healing since you’ve been off it a bit. He gave me a script for steroids to help with the inflammation (there was a noticeable, small bump on the back of my ankle) and then another script for the boot. He said to wear it for three weeks, wean off it on 4th and I’d be totally fine. Why, he himself had had the exact same thing happen to him! I had a total of 3 visits to him over the course of treatment and the last one he said I was ok. Only walk 1 mile for a bit and no weights for another couple weeks.
One month later I attempted to run, which I was allowed to do – on a flat surface – and only managed a half mile before my ankle fell apart again. Bump back, ALL the pain back.
I didn’t put the boot back on until June after a trip to Scotland. I didn’t want to be hobbling about doing touristy stuff. I didn’t go back to the doctor because I thought he was full of shit, but also maybe I did something wrong with the rehab as well. I wore the boot for 6 solid weeks and very slowly weaned off it this time. It felt great. There was no bump. I started taking little walks in the neighborhood. Nothing long and not at a fast pace. No pain. I was so incredibly happy and hopeful. I missed talking my long walks, but what I longed for the most was my runs. I’d gotten up to 7 miles before stopping last Thanksgiving.
Then this past Saturday I went to a friend’s house for a BBQ and we all walked into town for a car show. We walked very slowly among the crowds, but it was a lot of walking. Sunday morning I felt fine, but then crossing my legs while sitting at the dining room table I felt a stab of pain. By midday I had a bump again on my ankle. I iced my leg twice that day, but the bump didn’t go away. It was still there Monday and all the old pains started coming back. I’d read enough about Achilles Tendinitis to know that in some cases, it can turn into a chronic condition. I may not have a tear bad enough for surgery, but the usual lighter treatments like what I’d been doing may not ever entirely work. There is the option of surgery in case there’s lots of scar tissue or if bursitis sets in….. I did the worst thing possible by reading so much about it online and collapsed into a blob of angry tears on Monday.
I love running. I ran cross-country in high school as a means of getting out of the house when I was younger. I took it for granted then. Years later I picked it up again and realized it was the only “sport” of sorts that I like – competing against myself and trying to get better. I love having runner highs. It’s addicting, but in a good way. Running also helps me sleep and regulates my mood swings by relieving stress. I zone out when I run – sometimes to the extent of not even remembering the run itself when I’m done. It’s my way of meditating. It also helped me lose 20 pounds when I made more of an effort to get into shape. I weight lift also, which has greatly helped me and I love feeling stronger and don’t mind the sort of muscle pains one feels when lifting. They’re growing pains – growing to be stronger. But no matter how much I lift, I always look forward to my runs.
Now, due to my own stubborn stupidity I may not be able to run again. I might’ve given myself this chronic condition due to how long I refused to accept it for what it was last autumn and should’ve stopped much sooner. That realization made me so utterly miserable I couldn’t do much of anything other than hold back tears all day Monday until I got home. My husband let me cry on him and said I should take it easy and not despair just yet. We did a lot of walking on Saturday so maybe my ankle was being cranky about it and I just needed to rest again. I was comforted by his kindness in being optimistic for me, but part of me knew I may need to face the reality of not being able to run again – let alone taking my long 4-5 mile walks in the neighborhood, or hikes in my favorite parks.
The bump went down a lot on Tuesday and Wednesday and today it’s sorta back, but that might be due to the shoes I’m wearing, which are new and the heel is digging a bit into my ankle, but it’s looking like that on both ankles. My calf has felt tight, so I did some stretching yesterday and did some light weight training (body weight mostly) because I can’t give up all exercise. Even when I had the boot on I was still doing exercising – mostly upper body and core – but hardly doing anything at all for legs.
I’ll hold my breath for now about it and give it some time. I don’t want to call it a chronic condition just yet. More like – I’m afraid to accept it right now.