Saturday, April 21, 2018

Maybe, possibly, something that could have the potential of being a hint of good news for my knee

I had my weekly physical therapy appointment on Thursday. Accounting for the week I was in Costa Rica, I have now been in physical therapy for 15 weeks. I needed to have a tough conversation with my therapist about whether or not this is working.

I still have pain in my knee when I'm going downstairs and when I'm walking quickly. I feel better, and stronger, and my balance is definitely getting better. But I am disappointed things aren't moving more quickly. Are my expectations too high? Am I just impatient? Do I need to try something else?

When I brought this up to my therapist, right before she started massaging/annihilating my left IT band, she said she was actually pleased with my progress and was only going to schedule me for one more appointment. What what what! We are not jumping to any conclusions, but it seems that I can try running again soon and keep up with all my PT moves at home. Honestly, I'm a bit nervous to try to run again considering walking fast causes pain. I will give it at least until my next appointment next week.

Until then, I'm wearing snazzy kinesio tape on my knee to help my patella track correctly, and hoping for the best.
My spiffy accessory.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Week in review April 9-15: Happy Marathon Monday! (even if I can’t run)

Bike, PT, despair.
WOWEE, what a finish! Yay, Desi! She is local-ish and trains not far from me, but I’m not worthy to tie her running shoes. Ha! Luckily, my boss is also a runner, so I was able to sneak in 10 or so minutes of marathon watching during the day to see the victory.

Anyway. I don’t have a whole lot to report this week because I didn’t do a whole lot. It was a lot of the same ol’, same ol’: I had to work one night, my knee hurt, and the weekend was busy. Combine all that and you get a perfect storm of not doing a lot of training.

I have been frustrated, but lately I am getting more and more frustrated with the continued pain and inability to do much. I need to have a serious talk with my therapist soon about whether my expectations are too ambitious or if we need to try a different tactic.

Last week I did:

Rehab/PT: Three times, one therapy session and two homework sessions, for about 2 hours total. Not enough. Blech.

Bike: One super easy trainer ride of 8 fake miles in almost an hour. Boring and depressing because my knee still hurt the next day even with very light resistance.

Total: Four sessions in three hours.

This week I’m going to try to shake it up a bit with shorter bike sessions and maybe some weights afterward, instead of longer bike sessions (which hurt my knee anyway) every other day. It’s cold and miserable outside anyway, so what else am I going to do? Ugh! I just want to get back to a semblance of normal. Warm weather wouldn’t hurt, either.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Knee update, five months in

PT, ice, repeat
Both my and my physical therapist’s schedule were weird this week so I went for my weekly appointment on Tuesday. I explained to her that it has been a bit more painful off and on lately, that it hurt more after a not-out-of-the-ordinary trainer ride on Saturday, and that the pain seems to have moved from the front of the joint to back inside the joint. We have been laying off most of my quad exercises at home, so that could explain why my patellar inflammation has calmed down. But why did the pain move to inside the joint?

She suspected my IT band and possibly my hamstring is tight to the point of putting pressure on the knee, so she stretched my legs in all these weird stretches. She even had me lie on my stomach and stretched out my quad by bending my knee until my foot touched my butt, which is the deepest my knee has been bent since November without locking up. Not going to lie, I was nervous, but I came out on the other side unscathed and my knee felt good enough to do all my PT moves with only a bit of discomfort here and there.

So my homework for at least the next week is to continue with my quad-free PT homework and add in foam rolling of my IT bands, especially the left side. I’m not surprised that it’s causing problems, as my orthopedist remarked on how tight my hamstrings and IT bands were when I first saw him in November. He initially thought my extreme knee pain and locking was probably just an inflamed IT band, which ticked me off because I thought he wasn’t taking me seriously. He probably wasn’t WRONG, it just turned out I had a chondral fissure as well.

Long story short: Five months later I am doing a bit better but still not back to normal. I'm not sure yet what my next steps are. It could be more PT, it could be going back to the orthopedist, it could be chicken cartilage. Who knows?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Week in review April 2-8: Knee pain and general blah-ness

It was another blah week last week. My schedule was screwed up because of Easter; I did all my grocery shopping and food prep Monday. My knee was bothering me and I was just DONE with everything by Friday so I ate chips and drank wine instead of working out. By Sunday I was in a decent amount of pain again.

On the plus side, I did get in more than 5 hours of training only doing activity three days of the week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I'm on a quad-free PT homework schedule for a while (quad exercises seem to irritate my patella) but I didn't do nearly enough overall. Biking at a low resistance seemed to be OK, until it suddenly started bothering me again.

Standing on my feet doing food prep irritates my knee. Walking hurts sometimes. I think it's time to have a hard talk with my therapist tomorrow and see if this is really worth my time and enormous amount of money I'm shelling out every week (thanks, insurance barely covering anything). I'm not crazy about chicken cartilage injections and I REALLY don't want surgery for an arthroscopic debridement. Maybe I'm just being impatient. I know I will be heartbroken if I'm told I can't run again.

By the numbers, it was:

Bike: Twice, both on the trainer, for 27 fake trainer miles in about 2.5 hours. This was all low resistance, which in theory shouldn't brother my knee, but on Sunday it was in a decent amount of pain.

PT/rehab: Three times, one in-person clinic visit and two homework sessions, for about 2 hours. Not nearly enough.

Weights: One body/heavy weight session of upper and abs for about 30 minutes. This was the bright spot of my training week, as I did a couple extra standing pull-ups and chin-ups and a couple extra shoulder presses.

Total: Six sessions for a bit longer than 5 hours.

My schedule is weird this week so I'm going to physical therapy tomorrow instead of later in the week. We'll see what my therapist has to say, but I'm not banking on good news.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

March in review: Not bad for only training half the month

Considering I was on vacation for most of the first half of March, it actually wasn’t that bad of a month, training-wise. I spent almost exactly the same amount of (officially logged) time at PT and on the trainer, with a couple of other oddball workouts in there for good measure.
March training minutes.
Overall, I spent 9:30:13 on the trainer, which works out to 100.25 fake trainer miles in 8 sessions. I did that without even really keeping track. I’m kind of annoyed with myself because one more ride would have made it 112 miles, Ironman distance, but I still broke 100 so I can’t be too sad. It’s almost the same mileage as last month in fewer sessions, but this month I did two longer Saturday sessions and rounded up to the next even mile, which accounts for the difference.

I track PT and rehab more loosely, since there is a decent amount of time gathering equipment and resting between sets in there, but I logged 9:30 for the month of March for that, too. That works out to 3 PT sessions and 9 homework sessions. Real talk: I don’t know if it is doing me any good. It’s been three months and my knee still hurts. How long does it take to strengthen your glutes?

I also lifted weights twice in March and swam, or tried to, once. Overall, it was 23 sessions in about 20.5 hours, which I can’t be too upset about. I definitely would NOT trade my Costa Rican vacation for more training time. =)

Let's also take a look at my loose goals for 2018 over March:

Work through my health issues and re-start a training schedule that gets me back to racing. Still in progress. I’m not as optimistic as I was last month. I don't know what else to do except keep plugging away.

Run some cool places, maybe another marathon. Still in progress. Maybe I will just volunteer this year.

Work on whole-body health, incorporating things like yoga and pre-hab. Still in progress. I stretch during PT, but have to kick myself into gear when it comes to yoga.

Keep a healthy work-life-training-family-friends-other balance. Well, I went on vacation, like a REAL vacation, not staying in a family member’s guest room. Work was work. There wasn’t much “other.” I had a lot of weekend nights in. Oh, well.

Have fun. Yeah, there was some of that. After Costa Rica things were pretty low-key with food prep, errands, training, and not much other stuff. I did try a couple new recipes and made a corned beef for St. Patrick's Day. We had a fun parade in our neighborhood. And we had a heck of a time watching college basketball – Go Blue.

I'm really not sure what's April's going to bring, but it will probably include more easy biking, more physical therapy, more upper body weights, maybe a swim, and maybe some yoga. And, hopefully, some warmer weather so I can get outside. I am so freaking sick of this snow.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Week in review March 26-April 1: Most training hours in a LONG time

Lots of rehab and lots of riding.
I knew I'd had a pretty good week — I had done at least SOMETHING every day and did PT or my PT homework every day except Tuesday.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see almost 8.5 hours when I added everything up. Which isn't a lot, but the last time I did more than 8 hours was mid September!!! Wow!

I did a bit of everything last week and between that and the consistency, it paid off at the end. It worked out to be:

PT/rehab: 6 times, 1 therapy session at the clinic and 5 homework sessions, for about 3:45. (If I take out all the waiting around and resting time, this is my best guess.)

Bike: 3 times, all on the trainer, for 39 trainer miles in about 3:41. If I had added up my mileage ahead of time I would have done one more mile. Oh well.

Weights: 1 heavy/body session of upper body and abs for about 30 minutes.

Swim: One swim cut short when I started having breathing problems after 1000 pull buoy meters in about 27 minutes. I'm honestly not sure how to proceed here — probably stick to very easy swims for the time being until I can rule out a problem from the chlorine.

Overall: 11 sessions in about 8:24. I mean, it's not great, but it's more than I have been doing, so hooray!

This coming week probably won't be as great because I've already done nothing this evening except eat cupcakes and do the food prep I couldn't do yesterday since everything was closed. And, I don't have Friday off again, sadly. But I have the weekend wide open so far, so that's something.

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Another frustrating swim

I was actually looking forward to swimming last Tuesday. I got the pool with plenty of time, found a decent parking spot, and even had a lane to myself. Jackpot!

I planned to try to do a 400-300-200-100 and back up again, all with a pull buoy of course. And I was actually doing well! Not fast, but less slow than what I have been doing, and the speed was challenging.

And then, at the very end of the first 100, I started getting that panicky feeling and couldn't catch a full breath. I rested a bit and tried again but that was a no go. I pretended to stretch out a cramp, got out of the pool, and headed home early.

I thought that I was done with this panic when I went on a different thyroid medication and started to get my anxiety under control. I've even swam a bunch of times successfully since then! I've been tested before for asthma, so I don't think it's that, but there was a sign up saying the chlorine levels were high. Is there some kind of threshold where I breathe just hard enough and the chlorine is just high enough that it bothers me?

I mean, I'm not fast to begin with, so having breathing problems when I actually try to push myself is pretty depressing. I think if I do make to the pool again any time soon it'll be easy does it until I can get to a doctor and make sure there's nothing physically wrong with me.

Boo not being able to swim.