22 November 2009

Is it or Isn’t It?

Dr. Cattarin reporting, here. I gave in and went to a real doctor, and the outcome was exactly as I expected: inconclusive. So now I ponder, is it or isn’t it busted, and how, and how long till it’s fixed? Remember “What About Bob?” It’s time for baby steps, baby steps…

Not being able to stand the suspense, I booked a slot with my favorite orthopedist. He’s a favorite because he runs, and therefore he gets it. The first time I saw him several years back after my first marathon, we did the runner chat thing, and I recall his comment about the ultra he’d done many years prior: “I think that one did some real damage.” Pretty amusing coming from an orthopedist. On this visit Dr. Ortho reported he’s shifted to triathlons. Not just the garden variety, but the whole hog, the Ironman strain. The guy’s got drive.

Of course my ulterior motive in stopping in to see him now and then is to get him to join our club. To date, I’ve failed in this quest, but why quit? Nothing would beat having his expertise as close as a Saturday morning rail trail run away. Perhaps that’s cheating, or perhaps that’s health care reform and cost containment?

Anyway, Dr. Ortho poked, prodded, palpated, massaged, and manipulated. He snapped a shot of my leg, which of course showed nothing, since a stress fracture won’t usually show up, but it’s a good idea just in case, it’s a ticket to convince the insurance company if we want to move on to a bone scan, and it did show a heck of a cambium layer on my tibia, which, with a little translation, is a good thing and says, in short, that I run. I found it reassuring that all this effort does produce something medically noticeable besides wounds.

And in the end? Well, hate to say I told you so, but, he couldn’t say any better than I. He agreed that the characteristics pointed toward a tendon issue, though there was plenty of room for doubt. Having found no sharp pain spots, the chances of a stress fracture diminished – welcome news – but, well, we just don’t know. The prescription? Take another week off, pop the Vitamin I, give it a go, and report back to headquarters. Aye aye, Cap’n.

And so about a week later (yeah, not exactly a week, but this isn’t an exact science, either) I trod the neighborhood for a couple of miles. And it felt OK. So the next day, I cranked it up to three and a half. And it felt OK. I think. Maybe there was a twinge? Maybe I’m paranoid? Today, four and a half. Same inconclusiveness. Popping extra meds for recent dental work clouds the picture even more. Life doesn’t happen standing still, and things don’t happen one at a time; there is no control group for comparison.

And so I’m really not much further along than I have been. I still don’t know what the problem really is, whether it’s healed or not, and if not, how long it would take. My stated goal is not to worry about running next week, but worry about being able to run ten years from now. Having just turned the corner on my post-surgery recovery after many months of work, the prospect of letting my fitness level slip due to another long break makes it really tough to focus on that long view. Just keep telling yourself, don’t be a fool…

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