Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Shoeless Shin Saga

It's been almost three months since I tore up my shin. If you were to graph my emotional, mental and physical status throughout the last twelve weeks, it would probably look like a sine wave. For those of you who don't dig the math metaphors, it has been very...up and down. One could probably make quite a dramatic movie out of it: The Shoeless Shin Saga.

Sine wave

Folks, I have tried pretty much everything. I tried living in the pool for weeks on end. Then I tried giving up the pool and only doing short runs. I tried strengthening and massaging my shin every other day. When it began to hurt more, I tried to go back to the pool. I wore a friggin wetsuit to relieve any stress on my tibia, letting my legs float along the surface effortlessly while the rest of me thrashed through the water like a drowning whale. (Why a whale, you might ask? Oh, because I brilliantly decided to cut the collar off my wetsuit due to painful chafing, thereby allowing a river of water to rush in as soon as I went horizontal. Didn't help much that the wetsuit was already baggy to begin with...though it did make the workout more challenging with an extra twenty pounds to pull.) After a week of being mocked by lifeguards, randoms in the elevator and early-morning security guards on patrol for my ridiculous attire ("Are you wearing a WETSUIT in the POOL?!"; "Isn't the water pretty warm?!"; "What kind of bathing suit is that?"), I said screw it and gave up exercise altogether. Perhaps complete rest for more than a few days was what I needed? To be honest, the first two days were not quite on purpose, since it was a pretty intense weekend of partying that came at the tail-end of a six-day bender. Yes, apparently I thought I was 18 again and that it was Frosh week. I later realized (much later, since it took me a while to be able to form thought processes) that I had spent more time being drunk that weekend than sober. I'm not sure I should be proud of that, but it is still somewhat of a shocking fact. If I had tried to swim those two days I would have definitely run straight into a wall at some point. Or just drowned. I highly doubt the possibility of any other outcome.

'Recovery' drinks (Damn you Milne)

Nevertheless, this kick-started what was probably an *ultimately* healthy five days of complete rest. I didn't mind it much until the last day, when I was in an incredibly foul mood and was thinking negatively about everything. I'm pretty sure that's the day the b/f came to visit me and I not only cursed running but life in general. I also claimed I would never be healed since after five days my shin was the same piece of s*%$ as it was a month ago. Then I drank a bottle of wine, felt better, and woke up with a pounding headache AND a throbbing shin.

Whining and wining

Instead of succumbing to another day of sloth, depression and yet another hangover, however, I said 'eff it,' put my shoes on, and went for a run.

It felt amazing. The fresh, crisp air, the dark and empty but simultaneously comforting downtown streets, the unusual peacefulness of Yonge and Dundas Square at 6am. All the things I used to love about my early morning runs came rushing back to me within minutes. A good thing, since my run lasted a whoppin' 19 of 'em. After a few minutes of fresh, bouncy strides, the heaviness set in my legs, my left hamstring started to get sore, and I became legitimately tired. Oh my. I couldn't believe that a twenty-minute run had taken that much out of me. That used to be half of my warm-ups! I doubled my workout time with stretching and core, and returned to my apartment a new person: my headache was gone, I felt happy, and I was HUNGRY! I hadn't felt that deep, grumbling hunger in so long. I swear there is a specific type of hunger that is only triggered by running, and it makes food taste so good! I am not sure of everything I ate afterwards, but it was a lot, and it all tasted like it came from a buffet on a cruise to the Caribbean. (And if anyone has seen my fridge, it was definitely not food of that quality). Yogurt, honey, bananas, peanut butter, nutella, maple nut granola...I wanted to combine them all into one giant breakfast party in a bowl and devour it all at once. So I did.

Breakfast party in a bowl

The best part, however, was that I didn't feel my shin while I was running. It stiffened up a little afterwards, but wasn't any worse than before. So since then I have been running about 30min every other day and doing elliptical or biking the other days. Some days the shin sucks, sometimes it is OK. I have stopped worrying so much about feeling it all the time. I went to the sports doctor on Wednesday and she basically told me that the tightness I was feeling was scar tissue and lumps and bumps from it healing weird (I think she said something about high heels and vodka being detrimental to healing, but I don't think she was serious), and that I would need ART and acupuncture to straighten it out. I was relieved to hear this and am happy that I can hopefully get back to 100% with some therapy.

Best news? I found an awesome physiotherapist who is intent on curing Shoeless Coolis. He has apparently already been following my blog so I didn't have to explain my frustrations to him. His assessment of the situation is one I am in complete agreement with: the healing has happened. There is no more tear to be found. The other 'stuff' that is going on needs to be straightened out and strengthened. His plan for my shin is to 'kick the #$^% out of it, let it recover, then strengthen the %#$^ out of it, and repeat.' I like this plan. A lot. I have a feeling I will be in a lot of ART and acupuncture-induced pain in the next few weeks, but at least I can keep shuffling along in the early morning darkness and enjoy as many breakfast parties in a bowl as I wish.