Stitches to Startline

My long journey back into running shoes

7’ to Hopkington

All I need to work with. And to break up the boredom? I think of the state 4×4 finals back at SLU. I can remember every detail until I handed the baton off. You know what I don’t remember?

Cutting in too early.

Because I didn’t. #robbed

These pool workouts remind me of Deb Lyndaker, too. Always had Team Injury keeping our fitness up.

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That’s More Like It

Now that’s the pick me up I needed this morning.

Let’s go, Jack!

Well, I Always Did Like The Pool

Well, this wasn’t the update I was expecting to send, but alas, here it is. I have to take a break from the roads for a bit, how long I am not sure yet. I ran a 16 miler this weekend on the marathon course in Boston and for the most part, I felt awesome. I’ve been having issues with my hip flexors since I began training, so those were bothersome on the run. The peroneal ligament in my right foot has a mind of its own and decides when it will or will not act up. It was pretty pissed on Saturday but I still managed to finish pretty strong. I’ve also been battling an anterior tibial muscle for a few months now and never got it to calm down. I was able to loosen it up before every run to make the discomfort manageable and it usually gets pretty quiet once I am warmed up. Well, I guess it decided to be heard loud and clear this weekend.

It was a really cold day, probably around 10 degrees with the windchill but I felt awesome, especially through the first 8 miles. We started from about the 13-mile mark on the course in Wellesley and ran up Heartbreak Hill and down to the back edge of Bahstan Cawledge. I remember telling one of the Boston Children’s families working a water station that I hoped to feel as good as I did when I got to the top of Heartbreak in April. As soon as I turned around to head back, I quickly realized we had been running with a tailwind the entire time. Well…not so much for the next 8 miles.

Also, Wellesley? Your hills are terrible, just an FYI. That sucker on the way back seemed like Everest. I am glad I only have to run down them in April.

Once I got back to the top of Heartbreak, at about mile 10, I started to feel a little twinge in my left shin but didn’t think anything of it, as I always have some aches and pains. I made my way down the steep part of the hill and stopped at a water station. I noticed the pain was pulsing a bit but as I usually do, I didn’t pay much attention. I thanked everyone for the slushy Gatorade and frozen M & M’s and shoved off. I made it about 100 meters before I felt a searing pain shoot through the edge of my tibia. I stopped dead in my tracks and just uttered the words,

“No…”

I stood there for a couple of minutes while I massaged the area, hoping it was just an angry muscle. I had a similar pain once before, back during an indoor track season in college. I hesitated a bit, took a step, and then another and gradually picked up my speed. It was now dull but I could still feel it. So, I did the smart thing and decided to bag my long and easy plan and just rip it on back to Wellesley. I actually felt really strong over the last few miles and also absurdly cold. By the time I got back to the church where everyone meets, I could feel my shin shouting at me. It wasn’t so much a deep throbbing pain that I experienced in college but more of a sharp shooting sensation every time I took a step. So, I decided to go back and shower before making myself feel better by going to Felipe’s Taqueria in Harvard Square and eating two burritos. I mean, that’s what normal people do, right?

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Yup. And I was still hungry after I hammered them. Don’t judge me. Also, if you are as obsessed with burritos as I am, why don’t you head on over here.

You’re welcome.

Walking back to my car, I felt the shooting pain every time I took a step, so I started to get a little worried. I was hoping some time off my feet would let the muscle settle down, but after a two-hour ride home, it was still there.

When it comes to injuries, as you may have noticed in previous posts, I tend to wait until things are pretty mangled before I call my docs. Well, I couldn’t get to the phone fast enough on Monday morning, making an appointment for that afternoon. In the meantime, I broke out this…

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I think this picture needs some background music. So, just play this while staring at my old friend.

O.K., that’s a bit melodramatic but it is a smashing tune.

Anyway, I took the above photo while waiting for an x-ray, which I am well aware rarely shows what I am dreading. . . a stress fracture. Now, I am a bit optimistic, as the pain is nothing like the stress fracture I had in college. You could have dropped a feather on localized pain and I would jump. They actually hit a tuning fork on the bench next to me and put it on my shin. I am pretty sure I broke nearby windows with the yell I let out. This time around, it’s nowhere near that level of pain. I mean, there is definitely something there, so I am hoping it’s a) an angry nerve b) muscle or c) just a stress reaction.

**Since I started writing this, my doc called and said the x-ray looked normal, but I know that doesn’t mean much. Up next: bone scan, which is how they usually find them. Also, since I started writing this a few days ago, I was told to stretch my left calf on one of those incline boards as my soleus and gastroc were bound tight as a drum. Unfortunately, while doing that, I felt a lot of pain in the achilles region. Since then, it’s been really painful and feels like a pull or strain…I hope.

I was gutted for about half a day or so and then snapped right back to focus on what I needed to do in order to maintain my fitness and get ready for the day I can lace up the sneakers again. So, I did what anyone would do and took to Twitter. There, I got a boost of confidence from one of my favorite athletes who just happens to be battling a similar injury:

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For those who don’t follow international track, Nick Willis is a legendary middle-distance runner from New Zealand. He’s also famous for his outspoken beliefs on doping and calling other pros out. And, he’s known for being a super nice guy. I few other pros responded to the thread and offered some pool running workouts to do. With that, I dug up an old, ridiculously small bathing suit and headed to the therapy pool in my gym. Luckily enough my gym has a physical therapy office attached to it so they installed a pool where people can rehab.

I must have looked annoyed or worried during my first few intervals as the other guy aqua jogging looked up and asked if I was injured as well. I said I was and continued to be annoyed at the fact that I had to be in a pool.

“This is great, isn’t it?”

Um, no?

“This is a blessing, man.”

Not going anywhere except slowly in a circle for the next hour, I indulged.

“Why do you say it’s a blessing?”

And that started an hour-long conversation about luck, injuries, and how we both have always chosen to fight back despite many setbacks. Only my injuries are nothing compared to what he has been through.

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That’s Poocho, in the bottom right corner. He was paralyzed for 3 months after a drunk driver hit his car. He learned to walk again and jogs in the pool every day for a few hours after running his bakery from 3am-3pm.

Needless to say, I was humbled. While I have always had a positive attitude when it comes to injuries and setbacks, I needed a little bit of a reminder Monday night. So, he stayed there with me and we finished the workout together. If our schedules line up, we are going to train together as often as possible.

So, that’s that. I wish I had better news but it is what it is. I do know one thing, though. I will, without a doubt, turn right on Hereford and left onto Boylston come April 16th. You can bet on that.

In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be here. . .

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…being creepy and doing high knees in a speedo for hours a time.

-B

Getting Healthy and Running Boston Again

Hey, everyone. So, I probably should have updated this a lot more, but there was so much time in between procedures that I…ok, that’s an excuse, I just haven’t updated it. I’ll do a quick recap of what’s taken place over the last 5 years, complete with horrible pictures you don’t want to look at but will look at anyway and then be mad that you did.

So, here I am in 2012 after a triumphant first leg in the Transrockies Run, a 125-mile stage race through the Rocky Mountains.

TRR

Classy pose, I know. That’s my good buddy Spencer Newell, whose blog you can read here. We had no idea what we were doing at the time and thought blasting through the first 20 miles was a good idea. What you don’t see is me moaning about not being able to finish while running 12-minute pace for the last 3 miles. I must have been super fun to listen to.

Nope.

Anyway, fast forward to day 4 and things started to get, well, interesting. Here’s Spencer, a few hours after tearing his quad hammering down a steep descent:

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Yeah, no bueno. About 4 miles after Spencer went down, I tried to rip through a stream of mountain runoff, going way too fast, eventually getting my foot caught under a rock. I knew I injured my ankle pretty good but had no idea how bad it was at the time. I hobbled my way to the finish and went to the medical tent. A quick look showed a good bit of blood had pooled at the bottom of my foot, so I knew I most likely tore something. The trainers on hand told me I should probably bag it, but I had a long talk with Spencer and decided I would give it a go. I was running for the Petit Family Foundation and wanted to finish it for them. So, I showed up the next morning for a 19 or so mile jaunt up and around Vail, resulting in this:

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Yup. Yes. Mmmmhmmm. It does say 6:23:09. That is a LONG ASS time to be out in the wilderness on a busted foot. Or completely healthy. I realized about halfway through that it was most likely not a smart idea but, as anyone who has been a teammate of mine knows, I am stubborn and illogical when it comes to injuries. If I can run/play, I will. Kids, you should do the opposite, you’ll end up with better results or at the very least, your own ligaments.

The last stage was a bit of a blur, probably because I consumed at least 1600mgs of ibuprofen over the course of 5 hours and decided to run the whole thing regardless of what my body was telling me. I finished, as you can see here:

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But I paid a heavy price – this is what my feet looked like at the end:

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And yes, before you ask, that is indeed a Michelob Ultra. It was all they had and I don’t care, it was delicious.

I don’t want to go in depth into what the next 5 years were like, so I will just do so in a few short paragraphs with grisly photos as supporting evidence.

So, I ended up tearing the lateral ligaments and peroneal tendon in my right foot and had a few osteochondral lesions on my talus. Sidenote: that would be a fantastic band name, The Osteochondral Lesions.

Anyway.

So, I got checked out by a local Hartford, CT surgeon who had a perm and he told me I needed surgery. So, I went under the knife in December of 2012. First fun photo here:

First ankle repair

Looks like this doc was down with being clean

 

Not bad, right? Well, the surgeon didn’t do a very good job and everything needed to be redone, including taking out the plate he put in the front of my foot, as it was a) bent or b) never put in correctly. The screws kept jamming into the skin whenever I put a shoe on.

bruise

what happened when I wore anything but sneakers

 

So, I found a new surgeon down in New Haven who wore clogs and bowties with skulls on them, so I should have known better. But, he made it seem that I had to have the procedures done and I signed up and went under in January of 2014.

Well…saying the surgery didn’t go as planned would be a pretty drastic understatement. First, they almost put the nerve block in the wrong leg, so that was fun and not unsettling at all. Then, the next day, this happened:

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Yeah, if you were thinking that major blood stains do not look normal, you would be correct. Apparently, they didn’t stitch the incision in my heel well enough. Again, another great sign. The incision that bled was from this:

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That’s a giant titanium screw holding my calcaneus together after they performed an osteotomy (basically cut it and shifted it). Moving on, once the soft cast came off and this beauty was revealed,

Shark bite?

This is what you get when you don’t listen.

they took the stitches out and threw on a hard cast. The cast technician might have well been filibustering an amendment on the Hill as he talked nonstop while wrapping my leg up. He kept pushing me to level my foot parallel to the floor, even though I said it hurt and had a very hard time flexing it that high. Regardless, he got it on and I went home. That night while binge-watching Breaking Bad,  I rolled over only to feel a searing pain rip through my achilles. I thought it must have been scar tissue and thought nothing of it. Fast forward a month and I went to a walking boot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t walk. Yeah, no walking for Brian. I wasn’t in pain, I just didn’t have any power in my right foot and couldn’t push off. So, I went to see my surgeon with my father, a retired physician, to see what was going on.

“We did [a procedure] on your achilles, didn’t we?”

Um, what?

“I don’t know, doc, you tell me. I wasn’t awake during the surgery.”

As you can tell, I was pissed and not having it. We never, not once, spoke about any procedure having to do with my achilles. I didn’t have an achilles injury and I’d never had an achilles injury. I was baffled as to why he would cut into a healthy tendon. But, he did and his cast technician either didn’t know that or was too busy talking for 4 hours to pay enough attention. That searing pain I felt? Yeah, that was my achilles tearing halfway through.

Sooooooooo, I know had an achilles issue which prevented me from walking normally. I couldn’t go for more than a mile without my entire ankle swelling like a balloon. I was all out of sorts and thought my running days were over. I was desperate to find a surgeon talented enough to figure out what was going on and how to fix it. During a casual conversation with a guy I know in NYC, he mentioned that he works with one the world’s leading ankle surgeons. The guy operates on the who’s who of professional athletes. So, through a bit of nepotism, I got an appointment and headed to the city,

Dr. Martin O’Malley is not only the ankle whisperer, he’s also a great guy and thorough as can be. Anyone who has dealt with orthopedic surgeons knows that not all of them have the best bedside manner. Not Dr. O’Malley. I was treated just like any other athlete and he was determined to fix all of the issues that the previous two surgeons created.

On the first visit, I had an x-ray done on my foot in his office (it was dope, an x-ray machine shaped like a throne where it took images of your feet from below), which revealed the issue, or one of them, right away:

Nice knob

That nob there, the one that is highlighted? Yeah, that’s not supposed to be there. When the second surgeon cut into my bone, he did so too high up. It bled and resulted in a huge bone spur which was jamming into my achilles. He recommended that I have this procedure done, which he said he had done many times:

Chuck T lace jammy

Basically, he’d cut into my achilles, lop off and round out the bone spur then sew everything up and anchor it to my calcaneus. Simple, right? I was worried when walking out of that visit until I saw a prominent member of the US men’s national soccer team waiting to be seen. I figured if he was OK with seeing O’Malley, I should be, too. So, I went under again in March of 2015.

Oh, you want another picture? Cool, here you go:

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Not as gory but it will have to do.

Everything went well and I was back to walking without any pain at all. The only problem was I had a hard time pushing off when I went up the stairs, jumped or tried to run. We spent years trying to figure out what was wrong. We did a number of procedures, some of which you can see here:

They blasted my foot with electricity, injected me with my own platelet-rich plasma and then my personal favorite, hit the area with a laser (that was for a calf issue, which is a story for another time). Even after all of that, the pain in my achilles was still there. He had me come in as a test case so that all of the top surgeons could review my file and exam my foot at the same time. No one could figure out what was wrong…until this summer.

Dr. O’Malley brought in his mentor, a very old man who still commanded the entire room without saying a word. They looked at all of my files and images together, trying to find something that was missed. Eventually, his mentor suggested O’Malley should give me an injection that contained a few different painkillers in this one specific area right above the old bone spur. So, with the biggest needle I’ve ever seen, he loaded me up and told me to take a spin around the block.

Now, I was very skeptical, as every other trial ended up with me limping back into the office. But, I had nothing to lose after the last 5 years. So, shrugged my shoulders and gave it a go.

Right from the first stride, I knew something was different. I didn’t want to get too excited as I thought maybe it would only last a block or so before the pain returned.

Nope. It held.

Here’s a reenactment of the scene when I realized I was going to be OK:

BrianHealthy

I flew back into O’Malley’s office and told him the good news.

“Really…wow! Well, that explains a lot.”

“OK, so, that’s it, right? I am good?”

“Well, no, that’s only going to last a few hours.”

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Right, Kanye? I know…

But Dr. O’Malley knew he had figured it out. He grabbed two more needles used to core the earth’s mantle and filled them both with cortisone. Two painful minutes later and I was out the door.

I have been running without foot pain ever since.

Needless to say, it’s been a long journey back to the roads/trails, that’s for sure. But, it seems as though I am finally healthy enough to run significant miles again. So, I will gradually ease myself back into it and…

Hahaha, no I won’t. I am Brian Hetzel, I don’t do gradual, even after 3 surgeries and a 5-year hiatus. I mean, that would be logical and require sound judgment. No, no, no, don’t be silly, you guys. As they say in Swahili, enda kubwa or enda nyumba (ok, no one says go big or go home in Swahili except for me but go with it).

I am running the 2018 Boston Marathon. Yep, that’s right. From 0 miles to 26.2 in 5 months. I mean, why not? 5 years is a long time to sit on the sidelines, especially for someone like myself who can’t sit still for 20 seconds at a clip. As I usually do, I am running for charity, this time I have the honor of being part of Boston Children’s Hospital Miles for Miracles team. It’s an amazing organization and having a dedicated group of people to run with has been awesome. I’ve also been paired up with a current patient by the name of Jackson who is as tough as nails. Anytime I am out on a run and want to stop or cut it short, I think of him. He is a vibrant young man who plays basketball, baseball and snowboards despite battling Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. He’s a champ and his family is awesome, too. His dad recently came out and ran 10 miles with me on the Boston course even though he’s been running 1-mile warm ups before gym workouts. Stud!

The weather hasn’t been great so far, as evidenced here:

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Some ask why I choose to run outside when it’s this cold. I’ve been waiting 5+ years to go outside and run and so I do.

Well, that was a little more longwinded than I anticipated but there you go. For those that have donated already, I can’t thank you enough. If you would like to donate to my run, that would be lovely. Click here and head over to my Miles for Miracles page. If not, wish me luck as I take aim for the Hopkinton starting line this April on marathon Monday.

Cheers,

Brian

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Another year, another Boston Marathon. It’s a reminder of the resilience of runners, what ordinary folks will go through to push themselves to the limit.  And a reminder that each step they make takes the race back from the the events of 2012. I may not be able to run a marathon at the moment, but I will lace up my old running shoes, even if it is just for a few miles. Great job to all those who set out from Hopkington this morning, I hope your Boylston experience was amazing!

“I was beside myself yesterday thinking of those folks that were there watching, so proud of their loved ones for conquering such a feat. Thousands of Parents, grandparents, friends, wives, husbands, little sons and daughters anxiously looking for the right bright pink shirt, those familiar red gloves, mom’s neon spandex, dad’s funny orange shoes, a roommate’s purple hat and freckles, or a fiance’s

I was devastated yesterday not only for the loss of such precious lives, but for the lost memories of those who were running the race, especially those who were running it for the first time. They never got to experience that wall of sound, the absolute joy that is felt when making the final turn onto Boylston. For some, that last 1/3 of a mile was turned into a nightmare, and I grieve for them, too. So many of those running were doing so for amazing causes, celebrating the lives of some, the heroic battles of others. Their reward for spreading good in the world is supposed to be the joy that is Boyltson street, and it was taken away.

The irony of this whole tragedy is that when bad things happen in the life of a runner, he or she laces up the shoes and heads out the door. We process our grief, anger, sadness, joy, and everything in between by going for a run. There something about a long run that quiets the mind, allows you to connect with the outside world, burns off those anxious feelings. I know a lot of brain power was in action this morning all over the world; a few extra miles were run, the pace was a little bit slower, the finish was a little bit stronger as runners were out trying to sort out their grief. I also know that runners, by nature, are resilient. Why else would you want to train through the coldest months of the year in order to run 26 miles. So I have the utmost faith that the turnout for next year’s Boston Marathon will be spectacular, as tens of thousands of runners will be back fighting to restore that sacred 1/3 of a mile.

Right on Hereford, left on Boylston.”

Hospital for Special Surgery, Like a BOSS.

OK, back at it again, albeit without the white Vans.

Daniel? No? Too played out?

Fine.

Anyway, back to the Frankenfoot. After we left Dr. Honkey Clog’s office, I was very uncertain about which direction I should go in. I was resigned to the fact that I needed another procedure, as walking was becoming more and more difficult. The bone spur was digging into the bottom of my achilles, so the farthest I could go was about a mile before that shithead of a tendon would swell up like a balloon. So, naturally, I contacted Rezbollah the Medical Sales Rep™.

Who is Rezbollah the Medical Sales Rep™? I can’t tell you, but just know that he is special.

In many ways. So many ways.

Put it this way – he wears these bad boys…

FlamingoSlippers

…and I still trust his medical opinion and talk to him.

What’s that? Yes, correct – those are men’s dress slippers.

Hmm? Yup, correct again, they have flamingos on them. Let that marinate for a bit before moving on.

……..

………….

……………..

Ok.  Now that you have recovered, Rezbollah the Medical Sales Rep™ pointed me in the direction of a foot and ankle specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Now, I know the place, and know they treat a lot of the top athletes in the world of pro sports, so I was certainly intrigued. Rezbollah tha God™ (Another one of his names. I don’t know what it’s about, ask him) let me know that there might be a considerable wait, but that he would talk with said doc and put in a good word regarding my case. Sure enough, I landed an appointment with *only a three month wait. While that sounds like a lengthy time frame, I was in no rush to be cut open again, so all was good.

On the day of my appointment with Dr. Slim Thug I…

What’s that? You don’t get the reference? Ok, well, step your rap game up as I will only explain it this one time. You see, Slim Thug is the original Boss. If you find that hard to believe, see it for yourself:

Click here like a BOSS

So, as I was saying, on the day of my appointment with Dr. Slim Thug, I gathered my now-enormous medical folder containing all of the pertinent information from my last two surgeries and hopped on the train to Manhattan. I didn’t really know what to expect, so I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know if he was going to tell me that everything was fixable, or that I would walk like Keyser Söze for the rest of my life.

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Now, I am not making fun on Keyser, mostly because he is a bad ass and one of the best movie villains of all time. That and he’s not real. Point being, I was nervous that he was going to tell me I was out of luck and that I should be happy that I was able to walk.

So, there we were, hanging out in the waiting room, one that was decked out with massive framed NBA jerseys, with nice Sharpie notes of thanks regarding one successful procedure or another. Just then, the door opened, and boom, there in all of his shiny baldness, was Michael Bradley, starting central midfielder for the United States men’s national soccer team. Now, anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a massive football fan.

By the way, that’s what it’s called, so shut your mouth with this, “but that’s what Tom Brady plays!” nonsense. Also, you will root for The Arsenal Football Club if you have even a smidgen of taste and self-respect.

Ok, so there is Michael Bradley, who played for Roma in Italy, although I will not hold it against him, because, well, Forza Juve. I am feeling much better about myself at this point because if he trusts Dr. Slim Thug to take care of his money maker feet, then so can I. Naturally, when Michael got up after his name was called and looked over at me, I was super composed and reacted normally.

Nope, not at all, really.

This was about the extent of it…

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You know, minus the Ron Weasley hair cabbage and the Hogwarts backdrop. But, you get the picture.

With my new found confidence, I cruised back to the waiting room after my name was called and took a seat and waited for the doc to come in. The room was covered with famous athlete’s photos, all with personal thank you messages to them. Famous dancers, Olympians, NBA players, etc. I allowed myself to dream a little bit, envisioning what my photo would look like. Probably something like this,

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I am sure he would throw that right up on the wall.

So, after a few minutes of waiting and dreaming, Dr. Slim Thug came in with a few of his residents, and shook our hands. Right off the ba, I could tell he was the man. For one, he had a totally normal personality, which I found was rare for orthopedic surgeons (to all my ortho docs who read this, I’m sorry, but ya’ll are Type-A x 1,000,000). You know, he could carry on conversations that were not 95% about him and his past accomplishments. That, and he swore, literally one or two sentences into our first conversation. Loved it. All of it. Now this is a guy I could get down with. He quickly grabbed my post-op write up from the last procedure and skimmed through a few parts. He was muttering to himself about how long and absurd it was, which I found a) hilarious and b) to be bit of retribution. When he was done, he looked up at me and my father, looked over at his residents, and said,

“Teaching moment – this is why you don’t f**k with an athletes achilles tendon if you don’t have to.”

YES. THIS GUY. Even my father, who hates swearing, laughed and nodded. Inside, I was all like,

 giphy (2).gif(for you, Toons)

Finally, a doc who gets it. It may have taken 2 surgeries and a bunch of dollars, but I had finally found my guy. If Nicholas Sparks were to ever write a book about an ankle’s search for it’s orthopedic surgeon soulmate, well, he should just holler at me.

Next time – Surgery is nice, so I’ll say it thrice.

-B

My foot: The Saga Continues

So, I guess I probably should update this thing every now and then. It’s been a full year since I last wrote, and a whole lot has happened since then. Unfortunately, not much has changed.

A quick recap: I went through a third round of surgery about a year ago, in an attempt to repair what Dr. Edward Scissorhands, the second surgeon, did to my foot. For one reason or another, this guy thought it was prudent to cut several notches in my achilles – even though I have never had an achilles injury – in order to lengthen it. Now, that procedure is usually done to aid in mobility of the foot if things are a bit too tight. The only problem is…my foot wasn’t too tight. I had great range of motion, the achilles was very healthy, with only my lateral ligaments needing work. Unfortunately, I was never prepped about this procedure, I had no idea it was going to happen. Sure enough, after a terrible casting job, part of the achilles popped, creating a 50% tear. I didn’t know it at the time, as it was another 4 weeks until the cast came off. But, I knew something was wrong when I tried walking in the boot and I couldn’t push off on my forefoot. Now, it didn’t hurt, per say – it just didn’t work. Concerned, I contacted Doc S-Hands, and after waiting for a few hours in the office, he finally popped in.

S-Hands, after taking the boot off and looking at a series of dotted scars on the back of my lower leg, said,”Did we do a lengthening?”

Um…what? Pretty sure I was not huffing glue at the time, and that I heard him correctly.

“Well, I was not awake when you were cutting my foot open, so you tell me.”

“Yep, looks like we did. OK, let’s see what it looks like with the ultrasound…I was the lead on this technology at Duke.”

Anger level: Apoplectic

What I wanted to say was, “Cool, I really couldn’t give a whole bunch of shits about your machine. You are also wearing a skull and bones bowtie and clogs and went out in public thinking that was a good look. So, shhhhhhhh, and tell me why I can’t walk, please.”

What I did say was, “What? You cut my achilles? Wait. So…wait… Why?”

I was super pissed, he knew it, but really didn’t seem all that concerned about a) me being upset and b) the state of my foot. He broke out what looked like a Mac 165 OG laptop from 1994 with a wand and lubed up my achilles. After a few minutes of mashing buttons and looking at what seemed like a bad Google Maps picture of the Atlantic Ocean, he pointed to a white streak with a big black sliver and said, “Oh, yeah, that’s a tear, looks about 50% through.”

‘scuse me?

I really didn’t know what to say at the time, as I guess I was a too stunned to react. After a bit more looking at the blob on the screen, I asked him what all of this meant. Again, with all the care of cleaning a fork, he told me that two things could happen. One, my achilles would be fine in the boot, I would just have to be in it a little bit longer and the tear will heal on it’s own. Or two, it could tear completely and that’s no problem, as they can just go in an fix it.

Yep. Just a no big deal, we can fix it attitude from a guy in a skull and bones/clogs combo. No worrrrrrries, Brian, you can just have major surgery again to fix the huge mistake I made on a ligament that was not injured in the first place. You know, the one that is kind of needed for stuff like walking, running, going up steps, playing soccer, dunking on unsuspecting fools, shredding dance floors, spin-kicking dudes wearing pirate bowties who ruin a perfectly good foot, etc.

I left the office in a bit of a state, and immediately called my father, who is a retired physician and known to go HAM on docs that are anything other than professional and competent. Sure enough, he told me to schedule a follow-up appointment so that we could have a nice little group chat.

And/or a coming to Baby Jesus sesh.

Fast forward to the next appointment and homie was over an hour late again, which is a pet peeve of my father’s, so the mood was fun and relaxed.

Nope.

I deferred to the two people speaking in medical terms that might as well have been Vietnamese. If it were up to me, or the hollywood side of my brain, I would have preferred a Jack Nicholson vs Tom Cruise scene from A Few Good Men. Alas, mature people were in the room and hashed out next steps. Unfortunately, Dr. Bow Tie McScissor Clogs didn’t really have any answers. He knew there was a tear and he knew there was a huge bone spur on the calcaneus (during the osteotomy, he cut the bone too high, so when it bled and was healing, it formed a big spur) that was jamming into my achilles causing extra issues.

So, you know, party.

His advice was for us to go and read a scientific paper he just printed out about some shit dealing with jacked up feet and then decide what we wanted to do. Funny, I’m fairly certain that’s what my co-pay was for, to see a doctor who should know a bit more than me about what I should do next.

With that, we left, research paper firmly in the garbage on the way out, never to return again.

Stay tuned for the third surgery details and why my new surgeon is 💯

-B

 

 

 

 

Third Time’s a Charm

Well, it’s been a while since I last posted on here. I guess I could have been better about it, but to be honest, not much has changed. It has been 2 years, 6 months, and 21 days since I last went for a run, but that hopefully will be coming to an end in the near* future.

I am heading into surgery for the third time tomorrow morning and my new surgeon has finally found the underlying problem. It all seems to stem from my last surgery in 2014, when I had a calcaneal osteotomy. I won’t go into the details of the procedure, but it basically involves cutting the bone and shifting it. Unfortunately, when that took place, the bone bled a good bit and formed a large callous, as you can see here:

Nice knob  The screw looks menacing, but I don’t feel a thing. That’s a big ass piece of hardware, though – certainly didn’t realize it was in there until much later. Anyway, you can see the large growth on the top of the calcaneus that has formed, and that is the problem. It is currently jamming into my achilles tendon, which is apparently why there is still swelling a year on after my last surgery. So, after consulting with my doc, I’ve decided to go in again and have that thing lopped off.

I guess things really do come in 3’s, so I should not be surprised by this. This next procedure is apparently very routine, so I am not nervous in the least. In fact, I am really excited about getting it out of the way, because it will allow me to get back out there with the rest of the running world again. Also, with the looks of it, I will have a dope new Chuck T lacing system in my foot:

The only way to get to the bone growth is to go thChuck T lace jammyrough the achilles, which is a bummer. They are going to open it up like a curtain, lop that jammy off, and sew the whole thing back up again. To strengthen the whole area, they are putting in speed bridge that will anchor into the calcaneus, which is crucial. The lacing system is made up of flat sutures, and to avoid any knots, they anchor it into the bone. The anchors get absorbed over time, leaving just the Chuck Taylor jammy, which is what they really should call it. So, that’s about that.

I should be back on my feet in 4 weeks, which is much better than the 8-9 weeks it took me over the last 3 surgeries (I had one on my left foot about 10 years ago). I have big plans in the fall, so I am hoping to be back out on the roads in time to train. You know, why wouldn’t you sign up for the NYC Marathon after the third surgery.

You’re damn right I am running.

Peace and Dilaudid 25mg all day, erryday –

B

A hero of mine

I know, I know – I haven’t written anything in a long while. That will change in the near future, I promise. In the meantime, I wanted to point you all in the direction of a blog that is a must read.

Spencer is a very good friend, one who I have known since my sophomore year at St. Lawrence University. College was a circus of craziness, as it is for most people, so it wasn’t until after graduation that I really got to know him. Since then, I have looked up to his innate ability to be a badass when it comes to endurance sports. I am super competitive when it comes to athletics, and so it has always been hard for me to admit that I am not as talented as someone else (which I need to get over since I am old and brittle these days). However, this has never been the case with Spencer, there has always been so much more to it since we began running together. I know I am slower (by a very wide margin), very much cognizant of that fact. But he has always been so graceful and supportive of me, often telling me our running means much more than a time or ranking. What I didn’t realize, fully, was that running meant more to Spencer than I could have ever imagined at the time.

Spencer is a special, special individual and I would be doing a disservice to him if I tried to do anything other than share his own words. I am humbled and honored to call him a friend, and more than that, a hero of mine who I will always look up to.

Keep going, brother – one foot in front of the other. Love ya.

https://spencernewell1032.wordpress.com/

No words needed.

No words needed.

617, 365

It’s been a full year since the Boston Marathon bombings, so I thought I would repost my thoughts from that day last year. I was injured, as you all, have come to learn, so I wasn’t able to run. It was the first time in a handful of years, something I am both thankful for and saddened about. I was safe and far away from any danger, yet I wasn’t there to help my friends at Marathon Sports, good buddies who saw unspeakable suffering and loss. While a year has passed, these following words still ring true, whether I am running or not:

I was beside myself yesterday thinking of those folks that were there watching, so proud of their loved ones for conquering such a feat. Thousands of Parents, grandparents, friends, wives, husbands, little sons and daughters anxiously looking for the right bright pink shirt, those familiar red gloves, mom’s neon spandex, dad’s funny orange shoes, a roommate’s purple hat and freckles, or a fiance’s handmade racing shirt. They were all there for nothing but good, to embrace and cherish what has become one of the most beautiful moments in sports. In an instant, those loved ones were taken away, that spirit was erased and replaced with terror and agony.

I was devastated yesterday not only for the loss of such precious lives, but for the lost memories of those who were running the race, especially those who were running it for the first time. They never got to experience that wall of sound, the absolute joy that is felt when making the final turn onto Boylston. For some, that last 1/3 of a mile was turned into a nightmare, and I grieve for them, too. So many of those running were doing so for amazing causes, celebrating the lives of some, the heroic battles of others. Their reward for spreading good in the world is supposed to be the joy that is Boyltson street, and it was taken away.

The irony of this whole tragedy is that when bad things happen in the life of a runner, he or she laces up the shoes and heads out the door. We process our grief, anger, sadness, joy, and everything in between by going for a run. There something about a long run that quiets the mind, allows you to connect with the outside world, burns off those anxious feelings. I know a lot of brain power was in action this morning all over the world; a few extra miles were run, the pace was a little bit slower, the finish was a little bit stronger as runners were out trying to sort out their grief. I also know that runners, by nature, are resilient. Why else would you want to train through the coldest months of the year in order to run 26 miles. So I have the utmost faith that the turnout for next year’s Boston Marathon will be spectacular, as tens of thousands of runners will be back fighting to restore that sacred 1/3 of a mile.

Right on Hereford, left on Boylston.

 

And restored it shall be – 617.