Dec 25, 2008

Post Ironman Injuries and Doctors

The first business day upon my return from the full Ironman, I had a pre-scheduled appointment for some minor, in-office surgery to remove an extremely deep plantar wart in a toe on my left foot. I was left with a gaping hole and about 1/3rd of the meaty part of the toe's interior was now gone. It was numb as I left the office, but MAN did that thing start to hurt a few hours later!! It was extremely slow to heal and bleeds and drains daily, even a month later! I am still limping and wincing in pain with literally every step.

I went for my first post-Ironman run about two weeks ago. This was a deliberately-slow run over my Cal State Long Beach 5-mile loop, a course I know well. To force myself to go very slow, I brought our Border Terrier, Billy The Kid, along for the run; this was a first for both of us.

About 3 miles into this very easy, very slow jog, all of a sudden, BOTH "IT Bands" adjacent to my knees began to painfully rub on the outside of the knee joint. I could not run at all. I was wobbling from side to side and could barely walk.

This happened to both knees literally within minutes of each other. The only other time I had serious IT Band issues was during the full Ironman race. We traced this problem back to incorrect seat height following the frantic rush to replace my bike following the accident where I was hit by a car.

But for both knees to go out at the same time, that is really perplexing and I simply cannot explain it. I'm stumped!

My coach, David Warden, has me now seeing a Physical Therapist and that is going quite well. I am excited about the exercises and the stretching and am hopeful that this treatment may lead to solutions with the myofacial pain syndrome/trigger point in my left upper trapezoid and also with my deep hip socket pain as well as the IT Bands. Only one session so far.

I found a new Podiatrist to check on my theory that perhaps one leg is shorter than the other. Why else would all of my problems and injuries consistently be on my left side? Also, it was the left IT band that went haywire on the bike, and that made perfect sense! If my left leg was shorter than the right, then it would be forced by the bike's crank arm to travel further on the downstroke, stretching that IT band more and more with each successive pedal rotation.

The Podiatrist performed several tests and measurements to conclude that the left side of my body is in fact shorter by about 3/8ths of an inch. But note that I said the left side of my "body" is shorter..not just the left leg. It seems that I am extremely taught/tight in terms of inflexibility. I may also have some vertebrae that need to be popped back in alignment in my upper back. All of these issues may be in collusion to be causing these problems. A small shim was placed into the bottom of my left shoe. I find it very uncomfortable but am going to give it two weeks and see if I notice any changes. It is very painful on the left heel, as if all my weight is bearing on that one heel. Is the pad too thick? Hummmm. Perhaps they have over-adjusted.

The Podiatrist also cut the "cap" or top layer of skin off of my one-month old toe surgery as the surface of the wound had formed a very tough "pudding skin" but there was no healing going on inside that gaping hole, so he opened the wound all over again! There are days when I honestly think that I'd like them to hack off the offending appendage just to relieve the constant throbbing and the limping.

Limping, by the way, causes all kinds of additional problems: it's the law of unintended consequences. I place more weight on my right side and the outside of the right foot in order to relieve the constant pain on the left foot. Now it seems that the right foot has three cracked metatarsals or acutely strained tendons.

The foot has 26 bones, 107 ligaments and 32 muscles and tendons It is an extremely delicate piece of equipment. Limping or favoring one side over the other is just asking for trouble.

I also made my first visit to a Urologist to check things out. No more hemmrohoids (whew!) which I believe were caused by so much time in the saddle on those long weekend rides. Everything checked out perfectly, so that is one area that is doing fine.

Finally, and stop here if you are queazy...

The last of my toenails have either fallen off or I have yanked them out. It sounds absolutely horrible and shocking, but the truth of the matter is that the toenails are FAR FAR more painful to leave in, than when they are removed. Sure it hurts at first, but once the entire nail is removed and the skin heals-over, there is nothing to cause any pain.

My toenails have had serious problems since the Bulldog 50K Ultramarathon run in the Malibu mountains. Ever since then, my nails have been black and blue from banging the front of my shoes on the steep downhill portions of the three-loop, 31-mile run. Then, running the marathon portion of the Ironman last month was the final straw, and most of the nails are now all removed.

But I am relieved and happy to say that there is no pain whatsoever in those toes, except for the gaping hole from the plantar wart removal procedure.

The hip is not as painful, the trapezoid gives me daily reminders but is tolerable, and the IT Bands do not hurt at all when I am just walking around.

The real test of the IT Bands will be doing some easy 2 - 4 mile runs with my son Connor, over the Holidays.