Saturday, May 16, 2015

Marathons, menisci and MRIs

My Boston Marathon experience left me be beat and dejected.  Weather aside, how could I fall apart so completely after the best training cycle of my life?

After a few days of moping, I got the itch to go running again.  I was patient and waited ten days.  On the tenth day, I dropped a car off for service and planned to run the six miles back to my house.  The first 1.7 miles were okay, other than I felt a little slow, but hey, this was a warm-up.

At mile 1.71, I felt pain in the outside of my left knee.  Ever the optimist, I walked for a bit and then ran for about twenty seconds.  As each one of those twenty seconds passed, the pain increased until it was intolerable.  As I was still four miles from my house, I did this about twenty times, hoping the pain would work itself out.  It didn't.  I then gave up and walked the remaining four miles home.  This was not a fun experience.  Towards the end, I even felt pain while I was walking.

I called my primary care physician the next day.  I told his staff I was pretty sure I tore my left meniscus and needed a MRI.  My doctor is good about these things.  He didn't make me come in so I could tell him in person I think I tore my meniscus.  He's known me for a long time and even reads this blog on occasion.  He also knows I previously tore my left ACL and my left and right menisci. He put in for approval with my insurance carrier that day.  It takes 10-12 working days for the carrier to approve, which translates into three weeks.  I still haven't heard.  

In the meantime, hoping against hope, I waited a couple days and ran again.  The pain came on around mile one.  I waited another five days.  This time I made it for twelve minutes before the pain said, "hello".

Professional athletes have a better time of it.  Feel a tinge in your knee?  Within a day the MRI has been done, and if its a torn meniscus, the surgery is done a day later, if no swelling.

Contrast that to the general public.  Meet with primary care physician (I skipped this step), get insurance approval for MRI, make MRI appointment, have MRI done, meet with orthopedist, get approval for surgery, make appointment for surgery and have the surgery.  I'm guessing this will take a minimum of two months.

This might not seem like much, but when you're in the best shape of the last ten years of your life, it seems like an eternity.  I want to run.  I want to put a new race on the calendar and start a new training cycle, knowing I'm a smarter and stronger runner than I was six months ago.  But the knee says, "nope".

I'm also placed in the odd position of wanting my meniscus to be torn.  This would explain why I fell apart at Boston.  At the same time it adds a nice asterisk to my performance, "I ran a 3:11, but I ran the last ten miles with a torn meniscus".  

In the meantime, I've discovered I can ride a bike without pain, so I'm back on the bike.

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