Saturday, January 27, 2018

Make a Difference: Holocaust Remembrance Day

In observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I made a donation to our local Holocaust Museum. This museum was started by local 7th graders; survivors, liberators, and volunteers who live in Naples have made it a permanent thing.
For almost 10 years now I've brought my students to this museum during our Holocaust education unit. They see artifacts that can't be found anywhere else because they come from local survivors. They get to meet survivors and hear their stories. The museum also has a "classroom" where students learn about aspects of the Holocaust we may otherwise miss, like Jan Karski and his mission to inform the US about the Holocaust early on.
This year, their classroom lesson was about life after liberation. Students watched videos about liberation, displaced persons, and refugees, and then made connections to today's world and the crisis in Syria.

Holocaust education is paramount to raising thoughtful, engaged, motivated young citizens and activists. Consider doing more than remembering today. Consider making a donation, either to my museum - I'll leave the link here, or to another organization that is doing the important work of building a future where this truly cannot happen again.
In today's current climate, learning the lessons of the Holocaust is more dire than ever. Remembering in silence isn't enough. Speak up, educate, and do what you can to make a difference.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Post-Run Self Care

(I know that, for the next little while, my posts are going to be a lot about compartment syndrome and what things look like as I get back into running. This is partially because right now that's just my life, but it's also because I've met a few people during this whole debacle who had lots of questions about diagnosis and treatment, and I want to be able to give them information about post-op life, too.)

These days, I have to be sure to take care of my body after I run. I want to avoid injury as best I can, but I think it's actually more mental at this point. I am hyper-aware of every ache and I'm paranoid I'm going to get injured again, even though the chance of having a recurrence of compartment syndrome is very slim. My biggest fear is that the pain will return and it'll turn out I didn't have CS after all. So, to get some peace of mind, my post-run regimen has changed.

Before, I'd finish a run, do a couple half-assed stretches, and hop in the shower.

 Not anymore. This is what post-run self care looks like now.

1. Calf stretches immediately after my run is done, before even getting home. 30 seconds on each calf, 3x each.
I usually do these on a curb after a five-minute cool-down.
2. At home, I elevate with ice and TENS stimulation for 10-20 minutes. My PT told me icing for more than 10 minutes doesn't really do anything, but my TENS unit defaults to 20 minutes so I just go with it usually.
4. Then, after my shower, I massage my calves when I put on lotion. Sometimes I'll use Icy Hot, but I don't really know if that does anything.

5. If I'm feeling like maybe I did a little too much and my calves are sore, I'll do some towel stretches:
My PT recommended these stretches and they're awesome because they can be done in front of the TV.
These little changes, done consistently, should keep my calves in good shape and hopefully prevent any other kinds of muscular issues from arising. (Compartment syndrome is not a muscular issue but avoiding cramps and knots of all kinds is key to my mental recovery at this point!)

I am committed to being a more well-rounded athlete to support my running this time around, and this post-run regimen is part of that!


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fingers Crossed

On Tuesday night, I ran for the first time since my second surgery.

I had wanted to run all weekend, but we were away for a wedding and timing just didn't work out. I was nervous to go alone Tuesday but I also didn't want to go with anyone. I just needed the chance to test the waters.

Matt came with me because when we run together we don't really run together. We walked the warmup together and I told him, "If this run goes well, I'm signing up for the A1A 5k when we get home."
It's happening! I chose my outfit very carefully for this run because I needed the best mental vibes I could get.
And then I turned my watch on and started my first 3-minute interval, and Matt took off at his loping pace. He'd come back and loop around to meet up with me every few minutes throughout the run.

I ran in the circle neighborhood I stuck to after the first surgery; it's pretty and predictable...and quiet. I don't feel too self-conscious there.

For the first three minutes, I felt a little tight and stiff. I was doing 3:1 intervals, and at my first walk break I started to feel loosened up. The rest of the run was just...Amazing.
First walk break. Starting to feel good.
I had some hamstring tightness and I could feel a knot in my right calf, but it was definitely not tight or painful. I can't express the relief of being able to tell that a muscle ache is just a knot that needs some massaging.

By the middle of the run, I was grinning. I struggled a little in the chilly air and my legs felt tired and out-of-practice but I felt good. About 3/4 of the way done, I almost started crying. OAR's "City on Down" came on my playlist and for some reason everything just felt so perfect.
Matt caught me mid-joy. I couldn't contain my elation!
When we got home, I iced and used my TENS unit while I signed up for the race.

I also managed to convince my sister to run it with me - she usually meets me at the finish line of this race, so I am ecstatic - and even Matt and Oden (who we stay with for A1A every year) may run it! It'll be like a big celebratory party race! Obviously I will be using intervals and focusing on just finishing nice and easy, but I can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of this frustrating, depressing year of injury.
2 miles done and feeling GREAT!
I know I'm not fully "recovered"; Dr. G. said to expect it to take 3 months before I'm ready to pursue the kind of running I was doing pre-diagnosis. So, I will be patient and listen to my body. And maybe in the fall, I'll be ready to aim for a longer or faster race...

But honestly? I'm not even that impatient anymore, because now that there's forward progress, I am satisfied. I am ready to take the days as they come, because I have a lifetime of running ahead of me.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Running Journey Part II

In November 2016, I suddenly began experiencing unexplainable calf pain. Going back to read that blog entry is a little surreal, because I had no idea of what lay ahead. It's weird that I can know that November 28, 2016 was the day compartment syndrome first affected me.

And today is the last day of that chapter.

Although I tried lots of solutions back then - rest, heat, ice, stretching - nothing helped. The pain was more than muscle fatigue or the usual tightness runners sometimes experience during training.

My calves felt like rocks. My feet began to feel like they were slapping the ground. I couldn't run through it.

At this point, I had been running for about seven years and the only other time I'd ever felt pain like this was during my first marathon.

It took months of denial before Elizabeth pushed me to go see a doctor. This was followed by months of dead ends and waiting before I had an answer and a solution at hand. The first two doctors I saw were unhelpful and defeatist*, respectively. I self-diagnosed my issue and began calling around to sports medicine doctors to find someone who could do a pressure test for me.

That was when I finally began finding answers. I am so lucky I found Dr. Guerra and that he was so willing to work with me. Now, two surgeries and almost 14 months later, I am officially on the road to full recovery.

I had my last post-op with Dr. G today. He looked at both legs and tested my range of motion. He told me I looked "fantastic". He told me he feels very optimistic about my prognosis. He told me I could forgo PT after my final appointment this week and rely on at-home exercises as I finally finally FINALLY begin to run again.

I have lost fitness this year and I've lost forward momentum, but I am so grateful. I'm near tears just thinking about what the future could hold now. The goals I can resume pursuing. The improved quality of life I'll be able to enjoy once more.

Dr. G gave me back my legs. I can't even explain what that means...but I know you guys will get it.
Here's to Part II of this journey.


*Tangent: When I went to see my regular doctor last week, she was all, "Anything new happen this year?!" and I was like, "Funny you should ask. I had two surgeries!" and then I told her the entire story and when I told her about the vascular surgeon and his whole "women don't like scars" spiel she rolled her eyes so hard I thought they might fall out of her head.