Bam! Pop! $&@*!

Well, my flight home was quite eventful.  Unfortunately.  I managed to severely strain my left calf muscle… and it wasn’t a running related injury.  How does that happen?  Well, friends, it takes talent.  Pure talent.  Which, I clearly possess.

After a day packed with meetings on the Hill in DC, and two delayed flights, I was exhausted when I finally boarded my last flight home last night.  I walked down the aisle to my assigned row and paused to hoist my luggage, err, uh, I mean “carry-on” bag into the overhead bin.  I noticed right away the bag felt about 50 pounds heavier than it had when I hoisted it up on the previous flight.  I briefly thought about asking the guy in line behind me for help, but not wanting to appear a weak, helpless, woman, I mustered all my strength, pushed up onto my tiptoes and pushed and pushed my bag into the bin.  In the middle of that pushing and stretching up on my tiptoes, I felt a “bam” on the back of my left calf, like someone had just hurled a baseball at me.  In fact, I even turned around and checked to make sure nothing had, in fact, hit me!  Seeing nothing on the floor, I twisted my body forward again and gave my bag one final push into the overhead bin.

I sat down and rubbed my calf muscle. It was sore!  And it still felt sore in the radius of the size of a baseball.  It was a weird feeling.  By now, my calf was starting to feel tight.  And painful, rather than sore.  Damnit!  It was starting to sink in that this was going to be a lingering pain.  During takeoff, my muscle continued to stiffen.  I tried flex my foot and was hit with sheer pain.  As the flight attendants made their way down the aisle to offer beverages, I asked for a bag of ice for my leg.  I was hoping I could ice it enough to just numb it altogether.  I closed my eyes, held the ice to my calf, and slowly repeated in my head “it’s ok.”  “This will not take long to heal.”  “It’s going to be ok.”  Those thoughts were beat back with more thoughts of “I really screwed up my leg.”  “I won’t be able to run my marathon in 3 weeks.”  “An injury like this won’t even allow me to cross train on the bike.”  “I’m screwed.”  “With no cardio cross training, I’m going to gain weight while this heals up.”  “WHY didn’t I just ask for some help to get it up in the overhead bin???!! With a short flight, the captain was announcing our decent into Des Moines before the numbing set into the muscle.

Once on the ground, I turned to the guy sitting next to me and asked if he would mind helping me get my bad down and explained what happened while I had attempted to hoist it up. He was happy to help.  I stood up, gathered my carry-on bags, and took a step forward.  Or, attempted to take a step forward.  And failed. Miserably.  I couldn’t put my foot flat on the ground.  I couldn’t put any weight on my leg.  How in the world was I going to get myself off this plane and through the airport?!?  I started hobbling towards the front of the plane, grimacing in pain.  The flight attendant took one look at me and put her hand on the phone, offering to call me a wheelchair.  I told her it wasn’t as bad as it may have appeared, I didn’t want to wait for a wheelchair, I was sure I’d be fine. I started up the jet bridge, attempting to pull my bag behind me and keep any weight off my leg.  It was a struggle.  The guy who got my bag down from the overhead bin offered to take my bag for me.  I declined at first and when he asked a second time, I gave in. His name was Max, I learned as I hobbled next to him and he was returning from the Dominican Republic.  I was silently freaking out.  What was I going to do.  I knew my boyfriend, Josh, was waiting for me curbside and all I needed to do was make it that far.  The Des Moines airport is not large, by any means, so it was completely doable.  As we passed security, they called out to me to sit down and allow them to call me a wheelchair.  Max, stopped and told them that would be a good idea.  I held stubborn and strong and told them I’d be fine.  I had a ride waiting for me and I could make it that far without a wheelchair.  I hobbled on, reaching the exit.  I thanked Max and headed outside.  I saw Josh parked all the way down at the other end.  By now, anxiety and sadness was settling in.  I called him and asked him to drive up to me.

Josh is a runner and I thought for sure, he’d have an answer.  He’d know what happened to me and what I could do.  No dice.  He’d never heard of this type of injury before and started googling the symptoms.  Well, the google results were scary.  A pulled muscle.  A torn muscle.  Nothing sounded good.  Nothing sounded like a quick heal.

I called my doctor’s office as soon as it opened this morning and scheduled an appointment to get it checked out.  As I started to get ready, I noticed a little more range of motion in my foot.  I could circle my ankle.  I still couldn’t put my foot flat on the ground or stand on my leg, but it wasn’t as stiff.  At my appointment, the doctor pulled, pushed, and squeezed my foot and calf to test reflexes.  He didn’t feel or notice anything that indicated I had torn my muscle.  Good news!  He didn’t notice or feel anything that would indicate an injury to the Achilles tendon.  Good news!  He diagnosed me with a strained muscle.  I cannot do any activity outside of what is required for my job for 1 full week.  That includes no spinning or running the Girls on the Run 5k next week.  The 2nd week, I can incorporate light spinning and attempt 1 or 2 short jogs.  Of course, this is assuming that I can put my foot flat by then and actually walk, not limp or hobble.  The 3rd week, I can keep to light activity, and God willing, will be ready to run the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon on June 2nd.  Good grief!  Leave it to me to incur a sports injury, while not performing a sport at all, but simply stretching on my tiptoes!  And of course it would be leading up to my next marathon!  Oh, I did get some prescription strength ibuprofen, which is a little bit like magic.  So far, it has helped.

So, I guess I’ll be focusing on upper body strength for the next several weeks.  I’ll sit on the spin bike and bark out orders to my classes.  And my wonderful boyfriend, who also took time today to chauffeur me around to my appointments and help me around my house, will run with my niece in my place at the Girls on the Run 5k next Friday.

Here’s hoping to a fast recovery!

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