Patterns for these notes:
- I’ve been doing them monthly since early last year
- I’d start by telling you where I was up to with my running numbers, coming into the month and leaving the month
- There’s a little commentary about some things that happened, tough stuff and rewarding stuff
- I wind up things looking head to the next month
First up this is a note for three months not for one month, but more why on that shortly.
My last run note was for July. Coming into August I had run 1138km so far in 2020, past halfway to my goal to run 2000km over the year. I’d come back from a bad injury earlier in the year and over June and July ran 420km, to help me make up for lost time. Things seemed moving positively onwards.
Usually these posts I’d now go on and say something like “I’ve run 389km over those three months, another 483km to go this year before the end of the year to hit 2000km”. All true, but that’s not how this update is going to go.
Coming into August as well as being buoyed by my running progress I’d also set in motion something else, that was sort of related to my running.
Let’s rewind a little.
In my January run note I mentioned I was getting a pain in my right shin. Nothing huge, nothing regular, just sometimes there was something. When I got the calf injury in March my mind went off my shin problem to the more prominent (read: painful, run stopping) injury. I also thought my shin problem wasn’t worth the NHS’s time, with all the Covid-19 stuff going on. Let’s see if the rest from running calms my shin problem.
After about three weeks of resting my calf I eased back into running and my shin seemed OK, a little mumble here and then but nothing massive. Maybe it’s just an age thing. I am in my mid-40s! And my calf felt fine. Onwards with the running!
But as time went on I became aware of a lump on my shin where the pain was. Sometimes there was a clear redness of the skin on and around the lump. Sometimes the lump just seemed to ache all the time. Some nights I’d be woken from my sleep by the pain. It wasn’t so bad I couldn’t get back to sleep at all, it didn’t feel as bad as someone stabbing my leg, but I was regularly aware of the pain.
At the end of July I decided to talk to a doctor at the surgery I am registered at. After my initial chats with my doctor recommended I go to the hospital to get my leg scanned. I would be referred. After two months of waiting, in early October I got a call to book in for a scan, for a trip to a ghostly Bradford Royal Infirmary a few days later on a Saturday.
By that point, on every run every time my right foot touched the floor I feel something in my right shin. I had my scan. At the end of the session the doctor asked if I had anywhere to go, “I think it’d really help us if you went for another scan today”. By this point I had done Internet Research and was aware of what the possibilities were. Being asked to go for a second scan, a different scan did nothing to reduce the possibilities or alleviate my worries. Along the ghostly corridors I walked, the right leg of my jean rolled up, with a thin film of lubricant on the shin still. Second scan done I went home, told to wait for my doctor to get in touch.
A couple of days later my doctor rang me, said they’d narrowed the possibilities down to several things, from a stress fracture to maybe bone cancer. I was being referred again, and it was likely I’d need another scan. The next day I got a brisk text message from an orthopaedic doctor, recommending I take daily doses of vitamin D (which I do anyway) and referring me to a physio. Across the stepping stones of the NHS I go. (And, yeah, I’ve mapped my journey and experience out, like it’s a work thing.)
The next week — three weeks ago — a physio got in touch.
I spent the first ten minutes bringing the physio up to speed, as the notes from the orthopaedic doctor were non-existent. Neither of us has talked to the orthopaedic doctor, my only communication being the very brief text message. This didn’t help the physio, but he did some digging, pulling up my scans and believed it’s most likely to be a pretty bad stress fracture, but not ruling a couple of conditions out. “As you seem to really enjoy running you’re going to hate what I say next, sorry” the physio prepared me as he shared the recommendation: Not run for 6 weeks (or go on long walks), rest the pressure on the leg, review how things are then. If I’d been in the hospital having the chat he’d be sending me away with an air boot. We had a chat about exercises I could still do — part of my motivation for running is to keep my diabetes and my weight in check — and he talked me through some stretches, even asking if I was near a computer so I could look up pictures. Brilliant work from the physio overcoming not being able to show me. And going on my static bike was OK too. I’ll have to manage.
So, here we are. At the moment I am on 1517km for the year so far. It unlikely I will do any more running this year. If the leg is better at the six week mark I’ve been told I will need to build up again, “almost like Couch to 5k”. 2000km isn’t going to happen. I am the sort of person that likes to set achievable goals (I am definitely not one of those people who sets “ambitious sprint goals” at work). I thought 2000km was doable. After overcoming the calf injury I felt I was going to still do it too. I was looking forward to running on foggy grey winter days. Now… I am resting, I am waiting. I am enjoying watching all my chums going out and running, through Twitter, Instagram and Strava. I am not enjoying not being out there though. But rest and wait for an evaluation in early December it is.
But I’d like to end with something positive, an appeal to you, dear reader, the same thing my doctor told me back in early August: If you’ve any lumps or long standing niggles, don’t do nothing, get in touch with your doctor. They are there, they are still there to make sure you are OK or if you need treatment or help. Please, get your pains and lumps checked, despite everything Covid-19 going on at the moment. Stay well as well as stay safe.