Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hmmm. Didn't see that one coming

Sprained ankles are no big deal, right? Ice, maybe an ace bandage, some rest, and then you're all better. At least that's what I thought. I've only sprained my ankle once and that was back in 1999 while playing 2 on 2 basketball. Some moron got over aggressive and moved under my when I jumped up for a rebound and I rolled my ankle when I came down on his foot. I heard my ankle snap and was sure that it was broken. But after a little ice I was walking and after a few weeks I thought I was fine. That was nine years ago.

About 6 weeks ago I fell off my daughter's horse a week before I started training for the KC marathon. My biggest concern was a serious deep thigh bruise from where the horse's hoof hit my right leg. My left ankle was a little sore, but not really painful and didn't have any swelling. The bruise went away after a couple of weeks, but the ankle kept getting sorer and sorer. On one early run it felt like I had glass in the joint for a few steps, but I'd had a similar pain a couple of years ago so I kept running and after a few steps it went away. After each run the ankle would be sore and a little swollen, but after a day or so it would be okay, and I was able to run 20 to 25 miles a week so I figured it couldn't be too bad.

On Saturday my left calf gave up after running 7 miles of a planned 16 mile run. I had a bad cramp on the outside and as I rolled it on a foam roller it was very painful. I got it loosened up and stretched and tried running again, but after another mile I realized that I was done for the day. Later I was poking around on my lower leg and found very, very painful points along the outside of my lower leg that made me wonder if the bone was broken. When it still hurt on Monday I bit the bullet and scheduled an appointment with my running doctor. He diagnosed an unstable ankle joint ordered an MRI.

Today I got the results. A bad ATL ligament, probably from the basketball sprain nearly a decade ago, probably aggravated by falling off the horse, and even worse two osteochondral lesions of the talus. That's doctor speak for broken bones in my ankle joint. The unstable ankle has allowed the bones to smash into each other and pulverize the bone under the cartilage in a couple of spots. Unfortunately, the breaks require surgery to drill out the broken, dead bone and repair the damaged ligament. The break is still fairly small, about 1.0 cm square, so the prognosis is probably pretty good.

There's no urgency in getting the surgery so I'm waiting until the end of September, but I'm done running for some time. The KC marathon is definitely off, and the Houston marathon in January if very unlikely. In fact, any serious running is probably several months in the future. After the surgery I can't put any weight on the ankle for at least 6 weeks to allow the bone to heal and then I can start putting weight on it. I guess resumption of activity depends on how quickly the bone and ligament heal.

I'm a little shell shocked right now, but I'll deal with it. I stopped by the running store on the way home from work and picked up an aqua jogging belt. Running in the water is supposed to be a very good way to work out while you have injuries like this. I'm going to give cycling and swimming a try too. Who knows, maybe I'll come out of this as a triathlete.

I'm considering getting my left shoulder looked at. I've broken it twice and it pops, clicks, and grinds when I move it. It's pretty gross when I swim because I can hear it really well in the water. I figure it the first surgery maxes out my insurance deductible I might as well get the shoulder done this year too to minimize my out of pocket expenses.

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