Friday, May 26, 2017

A Calf Update - Hopeful News!

This past Monday, I saw my new doctor for my calves and the experience was exactly what I'd been hoping for!

When I first arrived, the parking lot was overflowing and the waiting room was packed. I immediately felt that I'd picked a doctor in high demand, and that's always a good sign. They also charged me up front, so I don't have to stress about getting a ridiculous bill unexpectedly in the mail. I appreciate that.

First, I had x-rays done on both calves. The technician was friendly and super competent. Then, he took me into an exam room and an assistant took my history. As she finished up, Dr. Guerra came in. I was never left alone to wait in the exam room. (Hence, no pictures!)

I trusted Dr. Guerra on the spot. He sat across from me and listened earnestly to my symptoms, asked good questions, and then examined my calves. I felt listened to and taken seriously.
He has worked with the NHL, MLB, and universities, too. I think I found a good one!
He told me I'm describing classic symptoms of chronic exertional compartment syndrome and that my X-rays were clear. He feels certain CECS is the right diagnosis. He told me about the tests he wants to do: we'll be testing the posterior compartments of both calves and the anterior compartment of my right leg as well.
My gait gets very clompy when the tightness comes on and I get to the point where I can't push through it. On my last run, I noticed definite swelling in my calves and right ankle. 
He plans to do the test three times, once at rest, once a minute after finishing a treadmill run and developing symptoms, and then again five minutes post-run. He told me running on the treadmill means the symptoms might take longer to show up, and suggested I find one to practice on so I get an idea of how long I'll need to run for the test. 
I'm sure they're not measuring PSI but I'm not sure what exactly they call it. I just know they're looking for numbers above 15 (resting) or between 20 and 30 after running.
He then explained how the surgery would work.

You know how the first doctor was all, "The scars will horrify you!"? Dr. Guerra was the opposite of alarmist. He said, "You've probably seen photos online and that is NOT what your scars will look like. We do a two-inch incision and release the fascia along the entire length of the compartment through that. It takes about an hour."
These are my Sub-30 friend Kristin's scars from her CECS surgery. One healed well and one didn't. But they don't look like Google images at ALL, and these are scars I could happily live with if it means I can run.
He plans to do one leg at a time to make sure I respond well to it, but I am hoping I'll be able to convince him to do both at once so I can recover faster. I am a good healer!

I am waiting for an exact date because the test needs to be scheduled in coordination with the adjoined physical therapy office, but it looks like it will be done June 5th or 7th, so hopefully that means surgery could happen by early July.

I am so relieved to have found a doctor who wants to move forward and really help me. I wish I hadn't wasted precious time and money on the first guy! But it'll all be worth it in the end if this finally gets figured out.

I'm looking at a few more months before I'm "fixed" at this rate, but in the grand scheme of things, that's nothing. It means my dreams of running into my 90s are still viable, and that's priceless and absolutely worth the wait.

Thank you guys SO MUCH for being so supportive throughout this ordeal. It's been wonderful to have people to talk to who get it.

ABK

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Integrity Means Teaching the Truth

Alternatively Titled: This Country was Built on the Backs of Slaves

Bear with me while I climb up on my soapbox for a minute here.

There are many things I love about our annual class trip to Washington, DC: the symbolism of the monuments, the architecture, the gorgeous photographs in the Museum of Natural History, the naive idealism that used to be politics, evident in the video presentation preceding the tour of the Capitol Building...

But in the last couple years, I've been more and more bothered by the conspicuous absence of any worthwhile discussion of the real "founding" of America.
There is brief talk of slavery when we visit Mount Vernon and explore the slave quarters, but it does not come up again on the trip. I don't know how to explain what I'm feeling here...Slavery is covered so superficially and in such a way that the reputation of the Founding Fathers is protected. I don't want our 13-year-old students to hear graphic details of slave auctions and rape and abuse but I wish they could hear some objective truth to clarify that these men were flawed human beings, not omniscient gods, not mythical, untouchable legends, and we should take care not to idolize people.

But it seems that any sort of criticism makes one unpatriotic...and apparently that is the worst thing you could be.

There is a profound discomfort as our guide tells us to look left and right at various buildings as we drive by but remains silent as we pass the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, drawing no attention to it.

There is no mention at all of the genocide that had to be orchestrated to allow us to live in this country today. Portraits and statues suggest that Indigenous peoples were eager to give up their land and their homes for the sake of white colonialism. 
Our guides overuse "these men died for your freedom" at memorials until it loses all meaning. I want to experience a tour that doesn't glorify the darkest parts of American history while whitewashing them at the same time.

All of this makes me incredibly uncomfortable. The reverence for the Founding Fathers borders on fanatical at times, and their shortcomings are dismissed because "well, that was normal for the time period." It is not normal for us, and giving them a pass normalizes racism and sexism, as if there was once an acceptable time to curtail rights and own human beings. 

I wish our tours were more honest about our history. I wish we had a chance to see diverse monuments that pay homage to the people who toiled against their will so we could live here as we do.

America did not spring up in a vacuum. It was not manifest destiny. People were murdered to secure our place on this land. The country was built through slave labor in the most literal sense of the phrase. And here we are, reaping the benefits, and barely sparing a moment to acknowledge from whence we came.

This is "our country". We feel that we own it. We take pride in it. (Sometimes.) We feel patriotic toward it. (Maybe.) But this blinkered nationalism...It has always made my skin crawl, and it seems to get worse every year.

I think this trip is valuable, but I just can't help but feel we're missing an opportunity to deepen the lesson and explore crucial complexities that would help our students develop compassion alongside national pride. Would it kill us to inject a little honesty into our history lessons?

ABK