Although I’ve had quite a few painful niggles before, a bit of tendinitis, over-use stuff, I’ve never suffered with a real injury. Until now.
I’m classing this as a real injury above the other problems I’ve had before because there is a barely a minute of the day that goes by without some level of pain or discomfort. Because I can’t walk (hobble) for more than 10 minutes without more serious levels of pain developing. Because I am somewhat debilitated and I know I can’t run. Because my physio, Tessa, told me it’s an injury.
On Thursday, I went to see Tessa with my lower leg and ankle swollen up beyond recognition, in lots of pain, with limited movement in my ankle and particularly in my big-toe which was seemingly paralysed, and massively limping. She examined me, massaged, manipulated, and diagnosed me with anterior compartment syndrome. She said I needed to RICE, to avoid alcohol, and if it got worse, to go to A&E, but otherwise to come back and see her after the weekend. She also gave me exercises to do too, to try and regain some level of movement.
So, I RICEd. I didn’t dance at my friend’s wedding, at work I sat with my leg up on a stool at my desk, and at home I sat on the sofa with my leg up on the coffee table. I iced with special ice packs that Francis had bought me, and I compressed with new socks that I’d bought, because my compression socks wouldn't fit over my swollen foot.
And so the swelling went down. Today, Tuesday, was my return visit to Tessa. The swelling has reduced so much I can wear my normal compression socks and I can walk with only a minimal limp. My ankle moves a fair bit more than it did, and although my foot, ankle and leg are still painful, everything feels better than last week. I'm even able to move my big toe a bit. This meant that I was expecting her to say, well done, it’s improving much more than expected, you’ll probably be able to run by next week.
What I wasn’t expecting to hear was that she hadn’t wanted to give me the full picture on my first visit in case it freaked me out, and she wanted to see what the damage was like when the swelling had gone down. She said that I had to prepare myself that if it didn’t improve a lot more over the next week or so, there was a chance it could be also be a stress fracture and I’d need to go for a scan and even if there isn’t a stress fracture, it’s very unlikely that I’m going to be ready in time to run the two 50-odd mile races that I’ve got scheduled for July. She’s pleased with progress, but as it turns out, it is a serious injury and it’s going to take time to heal.
Now I have to start coming to terms with the idea that I could be out of the running game for more than another week or so. This could be quite a long lay-off…counted in weeks or months instead of days.
I’m still totally in denial about it, and in the back of my mind, I’m still pretty sure that she’s overreacting, and that by next week it’ll be 100 times better, and she’ll be very surprised, and suggest I go for an easy couple of miles. But I’m telling people what she said because the more I talk about it, and the more people I tell, the more real it is, and hopefully the shock will be less each morning that I wake up and find the pain still hasn’t gone and I still can’t run.