A long way back

by Brian

1 year, 6 months, 14 days; 80 weeks; 563 days; 13,512 hours; 810, 720 minutes; 48, 643, 200 seconds; which ever way you look at it, I haven’t taken a single step in running shoes for a very long time. The story is a long one, dating back several decades if I am being completely honest. You see, I was one of those kids who fiend for Jolt Cola because the energy bursting out of my skin would last me for what seemed to be an eternity. It didn’t matter what I did, how far I ran, what glass door I crashed through (true story), I still kept going.

What’s that? Yes, I did jump off the roof of a Jewish temple during a Bat Mitzvah when I was 12 out of sheer boredom only to tear every ligament in my right ankle. I mean, who doesn’t? And yes, I did score the winning goal in the MA state cup semifinal the next day. Smart, I know.

Anyway, I have never been one to sit still for very long. I mean, my mother took me out of public school in the 3rd grade and placed me in a small Catholic school for no other reason than…recess. Yes, the school had recess and I needed it.

Badly.

When the bell would ring after lunch I would rip out the door, bound down the stairs, make fun of the priests, and then hit the courtyard with reckless abandon. It was glorious. Climbing all over the Jesus statue on the little green might not have been allowed, but neither was sprinting in between desk chairs during class and I figured the latter was worse. So, sorry bronze Jesus but you know what was up.

As you can see…after almost telling my life story to get to one simple point…I don’t sit still well, even when banged up, so I have had more than my share of injuries over the years. That still holds true today, and has led me to my current predicament.

What? What’s wrong? Oh, that. It’s not that bad, come on. It just looks like I dangled my foot off the side of a boat during a shark feeding frenzy. Hungry?

I know, I know, it is pretty graphic. I would have been surprised and shocked had this been the first time I’d seen my foot look this way. Unfortunately, what you see in the video is the result of a reparative surgery I had done around 5 weeks ago. The surgery was not to fix an injury, per say, but to fix a botched surgery that was done in December 2012. That one looked a little something li…What? A warning?

Fine. Here. A warning:

WARNING, ANOTHER GNARLY/AWESOME PHOTO THAT YOU SECRETLY LIKE LOOKING AT

Looks like this doc was down with being clean

Looks like this doc was down with being clean

See? Not that bad, right?

Wrong, and you will watch your mouth. It was terrible, actually, I just didn’t know it at the time. I should have, though, as my surgeon had a perm.

Yep, a perm.

You should never trust a man with a perm, especially if he has a scalpel and a vat of anesthesia. Take it from me, it ends up poorly.Yep, a perm.

Anywho, this fist round of surgery involved a piece of bone being removed from the front of my foot (osteotomy) and secured by a big-ass plate and screws. The lateral ligaments were “repaired” after bone spurs were cleaned out of the talus joint. There were no osteochondral lesions on the talus, allegedly, even though they showed up on an MRI. Also, no need to repair that peroneal tear that lit up on the same scan, as Dr. Perm said he checked and the ligament was intact.

Lies.

Turns out that it was in fact torn, as my most recent doc, who we will call Dr. You Better Have Done a Good Job or I will Break Out The Spin Kicks aka Doc, found out when he opened me up. He also found that my lateral ligaments were still torn, there were lesions on my talus, the plate in the front of my foot was all kinds of jacked up causing a screw to stick up into the skin like so:

what happened when I wore anything but sneakers

Happened when I wore anything but sneakers

Yep, that screw doesn't look normal

Yep, that screw doesn’t look normal

Soooooo, I basically had the first surgery for no other reason than a bit of practice on crutches and mind altering medications.

And a lot of Downton Abbey binging.

What? Don’t judge, you know you would be PUMPED if Mr. Carson was cruising through your place and being all kinds of proper while doling out delicious treats. Poor Edith, though, she can go ahead and stop whining.

Ok, so back to my long winded story that you will continue to read because you know what is good for you. I ended up this way, needing surgery in the first place, due to my old injuries in the past (said Baht Mitzvah jumps) and one spectacular one during the 2012 TransRockies Run.

If you don’t know the race, I highly recommend checking their site out here. You and a partner run a 6-day, 120 mile stage race from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, covering roughly 20,000 feet of elevation change. There are lung-busting climbs up to Hope Pass at 12,500ft and amazing down hill bombs like the one on Vail. There are also a lot of sections that you have to pay close attention to, say a flowing stream of mountain run off full of loose rocks. If you don’t pay attention and you are running angry because your partner got hurt 4 miles back, your foot might get lodged between two of those big rocks. 

Snap, crackle and pop.

Yep, that is what happened to me and Spencer, my running partner. He tore his quad coming down stage 4 and had to be carted off the mountain. Angry with the running gods, I started bombing down a 40 degree pitch at about 6 minute pace only to blow out my ankle with 3 miles left on the day. I shuffled the rest of the way in, hopped up on the training table and took off my shoe only to see bruising on the right side of my foot. I knew I was screwed, so I did what any normal person would do.

I threw a $%@#$^ tantrum, felt bad for myself, and moped around in tight spandex.

Back in the med tent at base camp, I found a very angry Spencer who was on his way to the hospital. I went with him, where the scans showed slight tears to his quad. Like a boss, he chose to stick around and volunteer at various aid stations through out the race. As for me, I was in a bit better shape than Spence, as at least I could bend my knees without screaming. My foot hurt like a SOB, but not to the point where I wanted to back out. So, against better judgement and concerns from the staff, I decided to tape up and give the rest of the race a go. After all, I was out there running for a dear friend and a great cause, the Petit Family Foundation (more on the cause in my next post), so there was no way I was going to stop.

2 days and forty seven miles of walking and running later, I arrived in Beaver Creek to the sounds of cheers and my own laughter as I crossed the finish line. This is how I got there on a busted foot:

Lots-o-tape

Lots-o-tape

It took a lot of tape, patient medical staff, and an unhealthy amount of ibuprofen, but I eventually finished the race and got my belt buckle. It was certainly not the way I intended to finish, but I got there nonetheless. Unfortunately, that was the last day I was able to run at all.

1 year, 6 months, 14 days later, here I am, in another cast, hoping the repairs will allow me to get back into running shoes again. And that is the point of this blog.

Spencer and I have some unfinished business to take care of out in Colorado. We started as a team, we always were a team, and we will finish as a team. So, I will be posting about my progress as it comes, hopefully a bit more rapid this time around. We plan on entering the 2015 race, as I will not be healed nor fit enough by August.

Check back here from time to time for updates and other hilarity. If you want a taste for what it is like to read one of my running adventures, check out my first crack at a marathon here. I promise, you will laugh, mostly at my expense.

Best – Brian

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