Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I'm Running Again!

As I documented in my last post, I've replaced my soft cast and sling for a bionic, futuristic-type brace. Given the progress I've been making lately, I thought the next step would be to actually go out on a run.

So after I got home from work on Thursday I got my running gear on, laced up my shoes and headed out. It was certainly a different experience! While the pavement felt great under my feet and it felt good to be breaking a sweat, wearing the brace was a bit awkward -- I wasn't able to swing my arms all that much so as a result my stride was really, really short.

My brace has a hinge at the elbow where you can pretty much lock it into one position, and eventually I ended up locking it at about a 45-degree angle so that I could relax my arm a little more, which felt a lot better. With my stride being so short, I can only manage about a 12-minute mile, and for now I am throwing some walk breaks in there too.

I ended up running 3.25 miles on Thursday, Saturday I logged another 2 miles and on Monday I logged another 3. For now I'm just going to go 2-3 miles per run and just go every other day or so. It's not ideal but as you can see from my post-run photo that I'm pretty happy anyway!

One thing I'm starting to realize is that this whole thing is a really big deal. I have to admit, I was pretty naive at the beginning. I didn't realize it would be this hard. Did I mention before that I am stubborn? I did believe I could will myself through all of this, and that just isn't going to happen.

It's frustrating because some days I feel great and others I just feel absolutely awful. Some days I need to stay in bed until 4:15 p.m. (like I did on Sunday), or I can't eat, or just spend the day feeling really crappy.

In the end I did suffer a major trauma, and that I had major surgery to fix it. As much as I hate it, recovery -- in all shapes and forms -- is going to take a while. The only thing I can do is to keep a positive attitude, work hard on my exercise and rehab, and let time do its thing.

By the way, notice I'm wearing some Indy Mini gear? You will see me rocking that look quite often in the future as I continue to promote the race and how it should be a part of your 2016 race calendar! For more info go to the Indy Mini's website and register. Don't forget to check the box that you heard about the Mini from a Mini ambassador, and select my name. Thanks!

So in between my first two runs, I had my first PT appointment on Friday. The appointment began with all sorts of measurements and assessments, then Ryan, my therapist, started to bring the pain!

Because my arm had been immobilized for so long, EVERYTHING was super stiff, especially my shoulder, which kind of surprised me. At the beginning of the session I couldn't lift my arm above my shoulder, but by the end it was starting to improve, and so far in the exercises I'm doing at home, it takes a few reps before everything starts to loosen up.

Here and there I feel some progress, like my arm extends further than it has before or my fingers have a little more dexterity. In the next three weeks I have eight PT appointments scheduled. I'm sure by the time our Italy trip rolls around things will be better, and hopefully I can leave that big brace at home! 

I've also changed my running plans for the next couple of months as well. It looks like the St. Jude half is out...one because I may not be ready and two because they won't let me switch from the full to the half, so I'm looking at hopefully running a Thanksgiving Day race and then return to the Chili Chilly 5K where I broke 30 minutes last year. Seems like that is more prudent.

In the meantime I just need to let days turn into weeks turn into months. Not my strong suit but I'll get it done!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Taking A Step Forward

Ever since I had surgery on my fractured humerus on Sept. 8, I had been counting the days until I could finally ditch the splint and sling that had become an unwanted part of my life.

That day arrived Tuesday when I had the staples removed (more than 30 of them) and was fitted for a brace on my arm, and another for my wrist. So, as you can see, now I'm bionic for a while!

It was quite an interesting visit to the doctor, because as soon as the nurse removed my splint and bandages, I wanted to see what it looked like. Since the incision was on the back of my arm Dacy took a photo and showed it to me, and I immediately got queasy and almost passed out!

Actually, I was kind of shocked by what I saw. I won't get into a lot of details, but my incision was more than a foot long and went well past my elbow. Wow, I wasn't expecting that!

I was kind of embarrassed by it, but the nurse said that surprisingly enough a lot of people have that same reaction. I kind of felt better after learning that!

Once the nurse was finished with me I met with a guy named Keith, who is Dr. Chhadia's assistant. He started to move my arm around, and I have to admit that I was really feeling a lot of apprehension. Between the swelling and the stiffness that had set in over the last four weeks, I have very little range of motion in my arm, which is a bit discouraging.

What makes it even harder is that my radial nerve -- the large nerve that lets us lift our hand and fingers -- is what Keith called "shocked", meaning it's not functioning very well, leaving me with a limp hand and very little function with my fingers. I can make a fist with my left hand but can't open my hand back up without help. The really have no timetable as to when my hand will regain function, it my be a few weeks to a couple of months.


Reality is really setting in for me, that this is going to be a long process, but it's not all bad. The brace looks cumbersome, but I like the fact I can move my arm around, and honestly, I feel a lot more "normal" now. I can do a lot of things now that I couldn't do when I was in a sling, and I like the fact that I can move my arm around and help with the healing process.

And I can run! Keith said if I wanted to give it a try there was no reason that I shouldn't. I'll probably wait until the weekend or when I'm feeling a bit more confident with the brace, but it is nice to know that I can run when I'm ready.

I will also be starting physical therapy next week, so while there were a lot of discouraging (and painful) moments yesterday, I feel like I took a huge step forward in my recovery. I'm really determined to work hard to get my arm back in shape, and yesterday was the first part of that process. It won't be easy, but I'm going to get it done.

Let the comeback begin!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Three Things Thursday

Happy almost the weekend! For those of you running the Chicago Marathon, this weekend is a biggie, the final 20-miler before heading into taper mode. Good luck!

I'm still typing one-handed so you won't get my usual lengthy prose, but here's what is going on with me!

*Medical update...still healing! I still have a lot of swelling going on but overall I'm feeling better every day. I went back to work on Monday so I'm pretty tired by the time I'm back home at night, but my boss has been cool and let me leave a little early each day, which is nice.

I go see Dr. Chhadia on Tuesday to get my stitches out and to be evaluated. I'm crossing my fingers that he will put a smaller brace on and clear me to run. I'm getting really anxious to get back on the road again!

*Indy Mini registration is open! As an Indy Mini ambassador, that's exciting news, and I am extending my own personal invitation to join me in Indy for the big race on May 7. I can't say enough great things about the race...it's well organized, the course is insanely fast and Indianapolis is a cool city with lots to do.

If you live in the Midwest and like big races, the Mini should be a destination race for you, and if you are feeling extra adventurous (like my friends Wally an Larissa were last May), Indy is just two hours from Cincinnati, and you could drive down there and run one of the Flying Pig races the next day too!

For more info go to the Indy Mini's website.

*Five more weeks...until our Italy trip! I can't wait! One of my goals is to make sure that I run while I'm there, so I'm asking for some help. If you have ever run in Milan or Rome I'd love to hear about it, both good and bad. We will be staying near the Vatican in Rome, so I'm especially interested in routes nearby.

I'm in the process of checking with the local clubs, but if you have any feedback to offer just drop it in the comments section. Thanks!

Friday, September 11, 2015

How I'm Feeling

Well, it's now been 15 days since my bicycle crash that resulted in my broken left humerus, and I'm finally starting to feel progress. Finally!

Most of the progress stems from having surgery on Tuesday morning, Dr. Chhadia, my surgeon, found a third fracture during surgery, so the procedure took a bit longer than planned, and in the end he fixed me with a plate and 10 screws. I'm looking forward to seeing an x-ray of that handiwork!

Here I am just after coming out of recovery...still not sure where I was but still smiling!

I was able to go home a few hours after surgery but had to return to the hospital because I was running a fever, which was a real bummer. But after a few hours my fever went down and I was able to return home.

Prior to surgery they had put a "block" in my left arm, which basically numbs the entire arm for 16-24 hours. Unfortunately mine wore off a lot sooner and then the REAL pain set in! I barely slept Tuesday night and it took me a couple of days to feel caught up, but I'm feeling much better today.

I can't say the pain is gone, but I'm managing the pain well, thanks to hydrocodone and muscle relaxers! I even went out for a short walk around the block today, and while I felt a bit tight all over, it was nice to get outside and move a little bit.

The next step comes next week when I get the stitches out, and hopefully get a less restrictive brace as well. Dr. Chhadia said I'll regain a little more motion and will be doing some strength training soon.

So we are moving forward! It has been a tough couple of weeks but I'm thankful for the support of my family and friends, especially my wife, Darcy, who has been amazing, and my Mom, who was here for a few days. I may be 46 years old, but I still need my Mom every once in a while. :-)

I don't know when I can start running again, but hopefully it will be before our trip to Italy in six weeks as I am looking forward to running through Rome! The St. Jude Marathon is certainly out, but I'm still holding out hope to still run the half, which I think is still possible.

This was for sure a setback but I really consider myself lucky because things could've been worse, way worse. Lots of other bad things could've happened, but they didn't, and for that I am very grateful!

I'm also very stubborn! Dr. Chhadia estimates it will be 4-6 weeks until full recovery, but I'm challenging myself to do better than that. That's just who I am.

I hope you have a great weekend, and best of luck in your training and racing!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Three Things Thursday...Video Edition!

I don't have the attention span to type up a one-handed post, so I made a video instead! I talk about my unfortunate arm breaking incident and my plans for the future!