Sunday, January 8, 2012

Counting Your Losses

With the first day of classes coming up (tomorrow technically, but I have Mondays free), I know things are going to get really busy. My next appointment with the sports doctor is Friday morning (another day when I don’t have classes…I love distance learning). Hopefully I’ll be able to get off the crutches and just gimp around in the boot. It’s one thing to get to class late and have everybody stare at you; it’s another to do it on crutches. But, as my sister pointed out, at least I have an obvious excuse.
So what else would I do with the last remaining bits of my free time but Google stress fractures? And to my surprise I came across something I haven’t yet in the previous 20 Google searches: Vitamin D. I guess rewording “heel stress fracture running” is a worthwhile pastime after all.

Anyway, apparently vitamin D deficiency is a risk for stress fractures. Don’t get me wrong, I know the main cause is doing (way) too much, too soon. But it does seem a bit extreme to have them in both heels at the same time. Since the plantar fasciitis forced me to live on stationary biking and swimming, when the outdoor pool closed my only sunny activity was riding…and then it started raining. And raining. It snowed once, but the point is we’ve been indoors for a few months now. So where do I get my vitamin D?

Answer: What vitamin D? Before classes ended I walked to class, to the car, drove home (does sunshine through the windshield count?), and that was it. My total exposure time was probably less than 30 minutes. Plus, sunshine is hard to come by in winter, especially one as rainy as this one. So basically all the vitamin D I was getting when I started back running was from my daily multivitamin, and I’m sure that, as with calcium, there’s only so much you can absorb from that before you need outside sources.

So what do I do? Google, of course! What foods contain vitamin D? Well, according to the NIH, “the flesh of fatty fish and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts…are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.” Umm, ok…not so encouraging for a vegetarian who finds eggs repulsive unless they’re in baked goods. But it goes on to say that most milk is fortified with vitamin D, as well as some cereals. I guess I’ll have to start checking labels for vitamin D now, too.

I just want to heal as soon as possible. I know I won’t be running for a while yet, but I would love to be able to maintain the activities I had before I tried to run again. That includes biking, swimming (for real, like kicking), and most of all, riding. I went to the barn today for the first time in a week, walking up to aisle on crutches to say hi to Sydney…and he was afraid of me. He didn’t recognize me for me, only saw the crutches. I couldn’t reassure him—he only came out of the corner when Zoe brought a treat from the tack room. I feel like I’m losing him, like he’s not mine anymore. And of all the things I’ve lost, that’s the worst.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where's My Calcium?

I am proud to say…I’m learning to like yogurt.

As part of my efforts to undo the damage I’ve done to my poor feet, I’m bombarding my body with as much calcium as possible, which means finding sources that aren’t totally repulsive. As of yet, the only two I really can enjoy are hot chocolate (30+% DV in 1 cup, if made with milk or from mix that contains dried milk) and pudding (only about 10% per serving). The problem is, heating milk takes FOREVER, so hot chocolate is frustratingly annoying; and yogurt has more calcium per serving than pudding, so I feel like in order to really go the whole nine yards the yogurt is a better choice. The only better calcium source (I’ve found) is milk.

And after forcing myself to chug an entire cup of skim milk (30%, just think about that!), yogurt seems much more inviting. I think the taste just took some getting used to. Being a pudding fanatic, I was kind of expecting that same sweetness, but the first time I tried yogurt it just tasted like sour milk. It smelled great—I was all ready for cinnamon-roll goodness—but eww, it was like eating acid!

Finally, after my fifth official serving of yogurt, the sour taste is less obvious and I can experience (to a certain extent, anyway) the yumminess they intend when they make flavors like cinnamon roll. Ok, maybe not so much (the cinnamon roll was the first flavor I tried and it was so repulsive I have yet to try it again…as before, I’m not sure if that’s changed now that I’m getting used to the taste). I recommend the Yoplait Light—probably because they come in flavors that aren’t too “fruity” (I’m definitely a chocolate/cookies/cake person). Especially the Boston Cream Pie and Red Velvet Cake varieties.

Another good source is VitaminWater—the zero-calorie Orange flavor, anyway. At 4% per serving and 2.5 servings per bottle, I easily got 10% of my calcium right there. And since it’s only water it doesn’t fill me up, and I can go have some more yogurt! :)

Plus, my sports doctor said that vitamin C helps the body absorb calcium. And ONE SERVING (remember, 2.5 per bottle!) of this stuff has 120% DV of vitamin C!! I foresee a fridge stocked with Yoplait and orange VitaminWaters. Oh, and freezer of ice cream. Never forget that ice cream has calcium too!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Walmart + Crutches =

Happy New Year’s…I guess. Let me start by saying I should really probably definitely take this opportunity to make a resolution not to do stupid things that keep me from the activities I love—or activity of any kind.

So instead of being a plantar fasciitis blog, I’m turning this into a blog about what not to do to your feet. Remember restraint? Well, then you’re the only one, because I didn’t. Long story short, I had worked myself up to a consistent 9 miles/day, with several 12-milers interspersed. I felt great—no problems whatsoever. So I tried a couple of long runs, and still felt fine (other than the soreness I would expect). In fact foot pain was just a distant memory.

Then on Tuesday, a week and a half after Thanksgiving break ended, I finished up my run with mild pain in both heels. I didn’t think anything of it until I tried to walk to class later that day and could hardly use my right foot until I had been walking on it for a little while. Just resting, I could make my feet hurt with dorsiflexion, or pushing on the outside edges of my heels—it felt like heel bruises. So I took a few days off and iced, went back to just the pool and biking.

By Friday I felt better, so I tried to run again after being in the pool, since motion seemed to help warm things up and move better. Bad idea. I didn’t make it very far before I had to stop and hobble back to the locker room at the pool. I think I took 8 aspirin throughout the rest of the day just trying to make it through.

The next morning I could hardly get out of bed. I had to crawl to the bathroom and slide down the stairs. The doctor at the walk-in (the only place open on a Saturday) prescribed ibuprofen and told me to stay off it for a couple days, only swimming. The diagnosis? Insertional achilles tendinitis, although, she said, “it’s odd you have it in both feet.” I was to come back in two weeks if it still hurt to walk.
A week and a half later (it got bumped up because of Christmas) I was back talking to my regular doctor, who listened to my symptoms and said he didn’t think it was tendinitis. On the ibuprofen prescription, the left foot felt pain-free, but I still couldn’t raise my right heel off the ground. He prescribed naproxen for “inflammatory issues,” sent me for x-rays of my ankles, and referred me to both physical therapy (again) and a sports medicine doctor.

The sports doc took more x-rays (this time specifically of the heels), but found nothing. She thought it was either tendinitis or a stress fracture. So I got an MRI scan of my right foot, both to rule out the fracture and (since the pain was more behind my ankle, which I thought was too high up for a calcaneal fracture) to look at the tendons/ligaments in my foot.

So on Friday I found myself struggling not to pass out while I stared at the crack in my heel bone and thinking about all the things I had done since it happened and probably made it worse, and that oh my god there’s a crack in there right now and it’s my foot and I’ve never been good with blood/anatomy type stuff anyway and it all just overwhelmed me. Not to mention, it’s both feet.

So now what? Well, right now I’m sitting on my butt all day because there are no pools open on New Year’s. The only things I’m allowed to do are aqua-jogging (no impact) and swimming with a pull buoy (no kicking). The biggest workout I got today was trying to navigate Walmart on crutches (note to self: shop at Giant for the next few weeks). The sports doctor said I’m looking at 3-4 months before getting back to running. I go back in two weeks to (maybe) get rid of the crutches and just go with the walking boot for a while…but that still leaves three days of getting to class on crutches. I guess I’ll just have to give myself a lot of extra time wherever I go!

My sister asked if it was hard to use the crutches…I said the hardest part is landing on the other foot, which I know also has a stress fracture. I can just imagine making the other one worse while I’m trying to heal the right one.

I’ve been off all pain medications for about three days now. In fact, I Googled a bit and found some articles suggesting that both ibuprofen and naproxen can keep bone from healing…. Go figure, I should have been taking Tylenol the whole time! But it doesn’t hurt to walk around the house or to/from the pool locker room, so I guess I’m getting somewhere. In the meantime, I’ve been chugging milk as fast as possible without thinking about it (I hate milk) and trying to find yogurt that doesn’t taste gross (minimal success there). All those grade-school lessons about how calcium builds strong bones are coming back!