Monday, July 16, 2007

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him.

A diagnosis! A plan! A potential! Whahoo!

First off, MUCH love and a full on kiss on the lips to Erin, who suggested to me the UW Health sports medicine clinic where I had my appointment today. This place was tha bomb. They had Triathlete magazine in the waiting room. What!?!

I called today to make my appointment, and they said the earliest they could get me in with a doctor was August 5th. Ugh. I pleaded for something better, and she said I could meet with an Athletic Trainer or a Physician's Assistant as early as Friday. Much better, but put my name on a cancellation list. They called 15 minutes later with an appointment for this afternoon. Dope.

Okay, so it's a great facility with a huge gym in the center of it, and it wreaks of athletes and sports medicine. It wasn't like walking into any other clinic I've ever been in - it had the tone and vibe of activity, not deathly illness, and all the other patients around me were high school and college kids clearly into athletics.

Anyway, I get in and see I think an Athletic Trainer, but I don't know for sure, I can't remember her name or what her title was, but she saw me first, gave me a priliminary diagnosis, then relayed that to the doctor who came in and met with me also. First thing was, they listened. I hate that doctors always seems like they're in a huge rush to get to the next person. And they always give me useless information. And I don't trust them. I have no real reason for the distrust, it's just a long held thing. Anyway, these people made me feel like an idiot for feeling that way. She went all the way back to May, when my injury first started, and listened as I told her what I knew - it was overuse. It feels like this. Sometimes like that. Not always, though. Today I did 5 miles and I'm fine, last week 2 miles and I limping. Then she started asking questions that indicated she knew what was happening with me - is it worse going up or downhill? Yes! Some swelling, but only slightly, not bad, right? Yes! She asks more questions, we talk about things, she asks me what I want out of this (besides the obvious, to be healthy in general) - is there something out there I'm training for? I told her I'd feel like a whole new person if I had a late season triathlon in front of me - just something to redeem these lost days and hopes.

So, she puts me on a table and we do some how about this, and now? and how about that, and finally she diagnosed and described what sounded right on to me. It's some kind of syndrome - patella something something - and it has to do with the cartilage just behind my kneecap. Not the cartilage between my leg bones that meet at the knee, which is typical miniscus stuff that requires surgery, but the cartilage behind the kneecap. She said this is the most common injury they see, and everything I'm describing is textbook. (I'm always surprised - I'm sure each time I'm injured that whatever it is will be the first time ever that a doctor has seen it, and he'll call over all his colleagues and they'll pore over me and scratch their heads. So dramatic.) Most interesting was a test she did where she wanted me to lift my right leg, while lying on my left side, vertically, towards the ceiling while she provided resistance. No big deal. I go over to my other side, my left side - where my knee is screwed up - and we did the same exercise and I couldn't resist her resistance at all - it was actually alarming, like something I should've noticed before. Much of the problem happening in my knee, it seems, is a results of weakness in my core. Wowwwwww. Huge epiphany.

So, the treatment: First, I'll start physical therapy to strengthen my core. This I'm excited about - I think it'll teach me great things, but also help this knee get better and avoid future injury. Then - we discussed running. This was after the doctor was in, so there were three of us in there. Not, "they told me what to do without a care for my thoughts" - we discussed it. Together. Basically, let pain be my guide. "If you can go 3 miles without pain, then go three miles." I asked, "Should I stop, though, when I feel it, or just when it hurts?" "Ah," said doc, "good question." He thought about this, and said, "I have no problem with you running if you feel it if you ran 5 miles today and aren't limping around. But don't get to a point where it's painful." I can swim all I want, and I should keep to the no-pain rule on the bike. Most importantly - they virtually prescribed a triathlon for me. Doc told me he thought I should put a late season sprint triathlon on my schedule, "because everybody needs goals to do their best." What? Kickass, this guy! But, he warned, I'm not to do more than sprint distance, and my training should be appropriate to sprint distances, and as one would when coming back from an injury. He told me I couldn't really injure it any worse if I ran through the pain, but that if I got to that limping point again, I'd basically have extinguished whatever healing progress I'd made to that point, and would start over. I need rest, he told me. But, the right kind of rest. "I don't want you to be a couch potato."

I can't tell you how excited, relieved, and happy I am to have some clear direction and advice by people that seemed to truly understand what I was about, what was important to me, and how I should proceed. To have a clear course of action - the PT - that's more than just "ice it and rest", which is what I thought for sure any doctor would tell me, and which of course I've been doing. These people were just fantastic. I feel a thousand times better.

So, mark your calendars everybody - Devil's Challenge Triathlon, September 15th. I feel so liberated, so happy to daydream about a race on my schedule. And while I'll train only within the boundaries of my healing, I am so going to attack this thing. I'm taking it full-on seriously. And by that I mean - I've had a tendancy the last two years to take Sprints a little lightly, since you can kind of go full throttle with no problems, not even drinking or eating if you don't want to. But like I said earlier - I will never, ever again take a day of racing for granted, no matter how short or small. This will be my first serious foray back into Ironman training. Game is on.

And - so much gratitude for everybody's well wishes on baby and my health. JB, very best of luck in your Ironman training, and please keep stopping by. Thanks Bill for your thoughts, and you'll love the concert for sure. TZ and everyone else, thanks a ton, it means a lot.


Todd said...


What time is it? GAME TIME!

Time to pick em up and set em down buddy, awesome awesome news!

Erin said...

So happy you had as great an experience there as I did! Countdown to Devil's Lake...

Pharmie said...

Hooray! Getting a real diagnosis is such a great feeling! Best of luck with your new training. I can't wait to hear all about it as only you can tell.

Anonymous said...

Chris- I get teary hearing about the baby news and reading your discription of that moment you knew you were going to have a girl and I get teary hearing your enthusiasm or 'stupid proudness' for Todd- cuz I have that same feeling about you and I get excited for what's to come for you. Seeing how down you were over the 4th and hearing your renewed excitement is exciting for your fans!

Todd- Congrats- I'm sure I'll get to cheer the both of you on together some day. Game on is right. Holla.