Sunday, April 12, 2009


Over the past 2 years of doing triathlons I have had little aches and pains.
Some haven driven me to see sports medicine doctors.
Some I am able to deal with.

First I had knee issues.
I saw Dr. Zaslav and Dr. Stadler over this.
Fortunately over the years as I have strengthened my quadricep, this has gotten SO much better. Sure from time to time it twinges, but it's not painful like it used to be.

The more recent injury has been the pain in my shin which last year was diagnosed as compartment syndrome. It's something I have always felt. I remember I used to hate speed walking with friends for exercise in college b/c it would make my shin hurt. Jogging actually felt better than walking!
As I have increased my training it has caused this pressure to build up enough to officially be diagnosed by Dr. Stadler. I spent some time in Physical Therapy with the great Jim Miller. This seemed to be working!

What is CECS?
Think of your muscle like a sausage. The meat being your muscle and the skin being your fascia. When everyone exercises your muscles require more oxygen and blood flow so they expand. Sometimes the fascia does not expand with your muscle cutting off blood flow and oxygen to that area. This is common in hands and legs.
I continued to take time off as I trained for Timerbman 70.3 - which during that race I had to walk up the hills because the shin was so swollen =(.
I took time off and slowly worked my way into marathon training. There were days I thought my leg was going to completely explode and there were days where it was manageable.
This winter I took it VERY easy. I haven't run much - enough to get me through. Unfortunately, the past month or so it has felt worse. My whole lower leg goes numb - it's so weird! I first started feeling it during my track workouts, but of course pretended it was my gait or something - which through this I think my gait is getting better although it still has a ways to go.
Then during the Monument 10k I had 2 issues - the stomach and the leg. I blamed everything on the stomach because I was too afraid of admitting how bad my leg hurt. I didn't tell anyone - not even IronGreg.
The following weekend I signed up to do the Ashland 10k. I wanted to work on nutrition and see how my stomach did. Well my stomach did a little better - still had issues, but not as bad. However, the leg was worse. And this time my friend Lizzy was running with me so there was no hiding my pain.
So on Monday after the race I called Dr. Zaslav to see if he knew anything else to help me out here. they asked me to come in right away when I was on the phone. Well, I work so I couldn't just get up and leave! So since I had Good Friday off I made my way in to go see him. We talked for a bit and he said that the reason at around mile 2 my foot was numb and by mile 4 my whole lower leg was because there was no blood or oxygen getting to that area - the furthest point away from the pressurized muscled first. he said I am a textbook case. And although Dr. Stadler and I have been doing everything right -it was obvious that the conservative methods of treating CECS (chronic exertional compartment syndrome) were just not working. And to make this go away once and for all - a fasciotomy.

So on April 28th I go in and have all my compartments tested, since only one has been tested so far. Afterwards I find out which compartments will be operated on and get all the pre-op informational meeting.
Then on April 30th I go in for the fasciotomy.

What is a fasciotomy?
Well - do not google it. I repeat do not google it. And if you do, beware it is not pretty pictures. Most pictures shown are emergency fasciotomies where it's just an ugly mess requiring grafting and all. That is not what is happening to me.
I will have 2 x 2" incisions on my shin where they go in and cut the fascia around my muscle. This will allow my muscle to expand when I exercise. It might look funny when it happens, but at least I will have blood and oxygen flowing to my leg!

He said I will have scars =(
I wonder if Costco sells Mederma!

What does this mean for Ironman Arizona training?
He wants to do the surgery right away to not get in the way of training too much. I will be on crutches at first. For the first 3 weeks I can't do anything. Although Coach G had a great point - that this is the time to clean out closets and such that I won't have time to do when training picks up!
After 10 days I get my stitches out.
After 3 weeks I can get back in the pool and on the stationary bike.
After 6 weeks I should be able to start running again. Albeit slowly.
So IMAZ is definitely still do-able. My training will focus on the swim and the bike and the run will be just to finish.

I am nervous because I have under had surgery, if you want to call it that, when getting my wisdom teeth out.
I am excited to be able to run again. The post run frustrations were really getting the best of me. I just want to be able to run. I was doing so well before all this.
I am not looking forward to the scars. =( But like IronGreg and my wonderful friends have said - they will be tough badass scars.
I will not be able to participate in the upcoming Rockett's Landing triathlon. But hopefully, I will be able to volunteer on teh run course with my other CZC volunteers!

So for the next 18 days I will be wearing skirts and heels as much as possible - I hope the weather cooperates with my fashion plan.
My first week back, my wonderful co-worker has agreed to take me to and from work everyday since it is my right leg so driving won't be possible at first. Many thanks to her in advance for that!
I will be accepting dog walkers - walking up and down 2 flights of stairs on crutches with a dog just doesn't sound fun, although I might win America's Funniest Home Videos!
And I have changed the date of my exam for post-op, so this will give me time when I can't train to focus on my LEED exam!

My fingers are tired of typing now.

Oh wait! I am drinking a hot chocolate now. Mmmmm Lent is over. Happy Easter!


Cyndi said...


I'm so sorry that it came down to surgery. If there's anything at all I can do PLEASE let me know!


BTW - are you taking your LEED exam in June? That's when Derek's got to take his. You guys should be study buddies!

tri-ing races not cases said...

Sad to hear about your surgery but glad it looks like there is a fix to your shin/leg issues. The scars will just make you look tough as your are running by all those folks at AZ.

tryingtotrigirl said...

Fave- let me know if you need anything!! I know the surgery thing sucks, but if you come out without pain and able to do what you want, it will be worth it.

seriously- anything!

tryingtotrigirl said...

Fave- let me know if you need anything!! I know the surgery thing sucks, but if you come out without pain and able to do what you want, it will be worth it.

seriously- anything!

Jon LEED AP said...

Sorry to hear about your surgery. I love outdoor adventure races and I go nuts if I can workout for more than a day or so. I also saw your note on the LEED Exam, I teach LEED Courses and if you're interested in LEED training, I'd be happy to help out.

SusieQ said...

Darn surgery...but you won't regret it as it's going to make you feel mucho better in the long run.

TriGirl Kate O said...

You know I'll be there to help you and Princess! xoxo

TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

You are being smart and will be so much better off for Arizona! If Princess would like to spend some time with Fezzy - just give a holler! Hugs - and keep us in the loop about the details.

Real Deal said...

So sorry to hear about the surgery. An Ironman tat near the scar would be pretty bada$$!!

And yeah, I had to google fasciotomy. Holy cow, you were right! Those are some gory pictures!

Fave said...

of course I accept LEED training!
I am taking LEED-CI

Denise W said...

After I saw your status on fb I UNFORTUNATELY googled fasciotomy. UGGGHHHH. I am so glad to hear that yours will not be a case like those pics. Tell your fellow IM racers at every start you got your scars swimming the Alcatraz channel fighting off the sharks. You badass you.