As I mentioned previously, there is a bone deformity on (or as a part of) my right heel. The MRI not only confirmed that, but it also showed the resulting damage to my Achilles tendon. The “Tendinosis” was caused by the tendon rubbing up and down over the protruding bone growth on the back and top of my heel. He also pointed to an “Equinus” (tight calf muscle & Achilles tendon) as a factor which increases the tension of the tendon, thereby exacerbating the damage. He told me to envision a rope being grabbed from both ends, pulled taught, and rubbed back and forth over a sharp corner of a counter.
There are two paths of treatment. One involves surgery (I'll explain that later). The other is a conservative approach, and the one I'll be taking, based on my doctor's recommendation. It's a 3-phased plan. Phase 1 is Rest & Protection. I'll be in a walking boot for 3 weeks, after which the condition will be reevaluated. If things have improved, we move to Phase 2 — Strengthening. After this is, of course, Phase 3, which is Return to Activity. The lengths and activities of phases 2 & 3 will be determined after phase 1 is complete.
I'll do my best to maintain optimism during this entire process, but there's a chance this will permanently affect my future running goals. Most doctors like to hint at worst-case scenarios, and this guy is no different (except for the fact that he's a Sports Doctor with a lot of knowledge and experience with endurance racing — running and triathlon). He said that, due to this deformity (man, that word makes me sound like Quasimodo or something), maybe I won't be a “marathon runner”. Perhaps I'll only be able to run limited mileage, possibly combined with cross-training (the latter not being a bad thing, necessarily). Swallowing the possibility of not being able to run as much and as far as I'd like to is difficult. I'm choosing to focus on the word “possibility”, and not the phrase “not able to.” The wild card in this whole scenario is the protruding heel bone. As long as that's there, the condition could return (and possibly worsen) in the future.
Which leads us to...
This condition has proven itself to be chronic before, so there's no guarantee that the above-mentioned “conservative” approach will take care of the problem. If it doesn't, surgery will be the option. This will involve cutting around the heel and slightly up, detaching the Achilles tendon, shaving the heel bone, removing scar tissue from the tendon, then reattaching the Achilles tendon to the heel bone...after which I'd be completely out of commission for a half a year, minimum. Even after healing from this procedure, there's no guarantee I could run the way (or as far as, or as much as) I'd prefer to.
In the meantime, I'll be
To be honest, I'm feeling pretty melancholy about the whole predicament. Part of me wants to stay plugged into the running community (both online and local) because it's a great bunch of people, and part of me wants to completely disconnect because it reminds me that I can't physically be a part of it (if you're reading this and you're NOT a runner, this probably sounds pretty extreme). Odds are that I'll pull back a little... but running is in my blood, so I'm sure I'll still be part of the “gang”.
And of course I'll keep you posted on my progress (and still post some crazy videos from time to time).
I have a two-mile “race” (fun run) scheduled with my oldest daughter next Saturday. There's no way on Earth I'd miss this. I can't think of a better way to end my running for the time being.
Here's to hoping my blog title has even more relevance in a few months, and that I don't have to change it to The Retired Runner.