Runner Blues…

Anticipating that rehab session plus shock wave therapy will make extra weak, I decided not to run today, not even on the treadmill.  Nah, that’s not being honest. The truth is I’m still feeling sad for Harley and my hopes to get back on the saddle seem dim at the moment. I know it’s making me feel inadequate at the moment, making me doubt if I can get back to competitive-running again.

Somehow I still enjoyed an hour of power-spinning and usual 120 ab crunches.  I took it upon myself to do physical rehab exercises after my workout to make a self-evaluation of my progress.

My left shoulder is now  approximately 75% ROM, and my right at 50% ROM. It’s the 2nd time I managed to undo my “tight” sportsbra on my own. Left me breathless and aching a bit, but I got it done.

I thought about stepping on the TM and doing a short run or walk…but suddenly it didn’t seem important or appealing to me. My God, what’s wrong with me? Must be having some blues…I think it goes with the downfall of  a dream to be a biker. After 4 years, I was really looking for some change, something more exciting than running alone.  Biking gave me that new impetus. I embraced the possibility of lesser running and more biking. I thought it was a clever move to preserve the integrity of my feet.

Moreover, I thought biking would be a key activity that my partner and I will enjoy. It was not meant to be.

Let this day be, and sort your feelings again tomorrow.


Harley, my MTB, had to go…

When I started on this journey to bike as a cross training from running, I was so surprised that after a few times, I genuinely liked it so much that my schedule took a revamp and interspersed running and biking so that I could have BOTH sports in tow.

I know, deep inside when I was hitting 23kph speed and gone as far as 80km, ALL BY MYSELF, that I was getting in competition form.

Then the accident came and “Harley” took a backseat and to this day, is “parked” outside my condo. Everyday, I gaze at it, missing the high I got from biking, missing the free spirit that was starting to dream big… Despite my gains in health and ROM, I knew it will take awhile before I ride on a bike again, IF i will ever ride a bike again. I don’t know…if you ask me right now, I will tell you in the eye that I WILL GET BACK ON THE SADDLE. When, i don’t know yet.

So many people have discouraged me from riding again, some to the point of saying I was crazy to even think of it after what I’ve been through.

He said it best – “You’re accident-prone. Can’t ride a bike again.”

His offer was practical. Take away the bike and buy another one when I’m ready.  My eyes welled in tears, but it was for the best. My Harley started to collect dust and rust. I could make someone happy by giving it up. But why did it hurt so much? Like saying good bye to a good, good friend.

What’s that cliche when things are inexplicably painful? “It’s surreal” may be an overstatement but I have a deep sense of loss right now…

Alive and Moving…6-8 weeks Post-Op

Day 27, Oct 8

The second half of my disturbed sleep was quire refreshing, and so I took my good mood as an impetus to raise the bar a bit in my workout today:

20minutes spinning at ave HR 140bpm

60minutes interval TM training: 2minutes slow jog, then 8minutes TM walk on 15% incline

10minutes spinning at ave HR 145 bpm

120reps ab crunches

…and voila! 1000 calories. Sweat dripped all over my smiling face.

Started more serious rehab on my arms ROM by wall exercises…even if I feel a bit silly doing them. I know  I have significant improvement in ROM since my hand and arms reaching for the steering wheel is now easy and fluid, despite my moving the seat nearer by a notch.  Here’s a list of things I still cannot do or do well:

–          Scratch my back, scrub my mid-back

–          Wear racer back bra

–          Reach for the higher shelves

–          Carry Mark the hedgehog in my hands

–          Wipe the full-length mirrors

–          Scrub the bathroom tiles

–          Sleep on my side

–          Carry groceries and laundry bags

–          Give my man a better foot massage

I am really looking forward to getting that “sports” clearance from my Ortho next wed. I’ve been a happy camper these past 2 weeks, regaining  a lost of my lost energy and getting as much rest as I can.

Started also high-calcium choco drink 2 days ago, with hopes that it may be instrumental in getting faster bone growth.

Day 33, Oct 14

Still got a little nervous with getting an xray done 4weeks post –surgery. I made a resolution to see another ortho after Dr Torres ignored the feedback I was giving him about my right shoulder.  Over the weekend, I  felt my left arm was improving much faster in terms of reach and mobility.  In fact, I started to scratch my back as far as my left arm would allow.

Dr Gary Eufemio, who also treated stress fracture in my ankle in 2010, saw things in a completely different light.  If it were up to him, he would not have operated, instead “force the two broken bones to fuse” with aid of a scapular brace.  At least , he praised the good alignment work on the ortho implant.

I agreed on an “aggressive” rehab program that will bring my recovery up to speed within 2months. But I was happy that Dr Eufemio said I can indulge in as much sports as I want while undergoing rehab.

He also made the expected diagnosis of frozen shoulders (adhesive capasulitis : shoulder impingement syndrome) after I showed how way off my right shoulder was, compared to the left with the clavicle fracture.

Day 34. Oct 16

Having a definitive, aggressive rehab plan sounds scary, because IT IS.

Before the actual rehab, I was subjected to a nerve test that resulted in “partial denervation” in my right shoulder, biceps and triceps. This complements the diagnosis of rotator cuff tear that had led to this frozen shoulder issues.

First, I had some neuromuscular electric stimulation with warm compress over my shoulders and neck. This felt even soothing, until the therapist increased the current and then I was NOT having fun anymore.

Second was a therapeutic kind of ultrasound for the shoulders. The clinic temperature was very cold, hence the touch of transmission gel on my skin made me a little chilly inside.

Third was another electrical stimulation but this time it was alternately done with arm raises. We found out that my right arm could be raised all the way up (almost 180 deg) while my left only at 50 deg angle.

The last and fourth one proved to be really challenging. Shockwave therapy is used to awaken those muscles, nerves, ligaments from my accident and innervate those scar tissue for a more rapid healing. Or so they say because when the pains came, I was already shouting…oh well. At least I could stand the pains for 10minutes each shoulder.

For the 1st time in weeks, I slept for straight 5hours..

Day 36, Oct 18, 2013

Like a child deprived of play, I set my sights on completing my first 1hr of running on the treadmill, with an average speed of 6 (progressively from 5 and ending at 6.5). I ended up at 8km with a low caloric output of 350 calories due to seemingly low HR. Made up for calorie deficit with 20mins spinning and 150abs. How’s that for a great comeback?

Throughout that 1 hour, being very observant on my body and possible responses to this stress called running, it was a relief that I was breathing quite normally. I do believe that I have gained some good endurance these past weeks.  Half of the time, I was even talking to the guard on duty…

But it is NOT yet a comeback as I still struggled out of my wet singlets.  My indication of a real comeback are based on two really important things:

–          That I can squeeze myself in and out of a sportsbra (you know how compressed they are L )

–          That I can road-run an 8Km for an hour (Treadmills are 5x more forgiving than roads)

I also started additional rehab workouts seeing that my arms are now more cooperative. To my mind, I will come better prepared for my real PT sessions next week if I keep myself properly stretched out.  It is fortunate that I have somehow mastered the art of deep breathing to manage stress (in this case, pain).

In addition, I was pleasantly surprised I could raise BOTH arm in a lying position on the gym bench, and even do leg raises comfortably.

Day 39, Oct 21

Tried to jumpstart my day with a treadmill run but I couldn’t raise my HR enough with my restrained stride.  Even if I have somehow resolved in my head that the suture is fine and I have no reason to fear tearing, the bra strap clinging to my surgical would is a constant reminder that I am not yet 100% back.  At least I had some improvement as I am now officially cruising 8KM on the TM for an hour.

I rationalized that I will probably need some strength-preservation due to the afternoon’s 2nd PT session.

Getting too early at the Rehab Clinic gave me time to walk around and calm my nerves.  It wasn’t fear or worry that sent the jitters; it was actually a degree of excitement, pretty much like anticipating the start of a race.

Getting My Life Back…5 weeks Post-Op

Day 21, Oct 2, 2013

Programmed for some action via driving and errands, it felt that a lot of my bouncy, upbeat self is back in the groove.  It’s funny  that  I can still drive decently simply by using the lower end of the stirring wheel. Even if this was theoretically possible, not everyone would dare as I did, since reaction time to for immediate action could be compromised.  My driving style was, obviously, very very defensive, almost leisurely, at the expense of the other motorists on the road.

Everything, at this point, was LESS painful — the tugging feeling at my implant suture, the crackling sounds at the back of my neck, some degree of impingement in my right biceps.  Because of this, I also went to see Carlo, my friend who is fitness instructor, a biker and a friend.  I like his positivism in all this, referring to my accident as just a good experience to draw from.  He also gave me a theory that the bike “rollers” were disaligned  when  we changed rear tires the night prior to accident.  Plus, he gave me an objective assessment that I would not totally decondition as he has  known me to have speedy recoveries in my previous running injuries.

Day 22, Oct 3, 2013

Sleep has also improved a lot, not in terms of number of times I am awakened due to shoulder and neck cramping…but just plain overall sleep. I do believe it’s more of the adjustment of my body towards a new wake-sleep schedule.  I now look forward to waking up at 6AM and starting my walking workout shortly.  I haven’t actually lost weight on the so-called starvation AM low-intensity workout…but at least I am not gaining any….since I know I am eating more, having access to foods at my fingertips.

I made a mental  note to find a way to get my actual metabolic rate when I’m more mobile.  Although there is no question that my metabolism is high due to my active lifestyle, sometimes it bothers me that I sweat like a pig after 15-20minutes of exercise.  And that means by the end of the hour, I am soaked and happy.  For the past week, since I started developing an inclined walk-workout  that raises my HR to an average of 145bpm (around 70% of my maxHR) and burns an average of 635 calories, I’ve noticed my legs seem to be back to normal.  After today’s walk-hour, I attempted a 5mins-very very very slow jog or shuffle that I aborted halfway when I felt some tugging in my wound.  It is this that worries me; that I might do something that might cause micro-tears  even if all I’m moving are my legs.

Contrary to that brief jog at the mill, I felt pain-free doing 30sets of ab-crunches (using a very low incline so as not to stress my back or neck).  At least I can add this specific workout starting tomorrow.  I keep getting suggestions to start weights on the arms, especially my “un-injured” right arm. To help me gain confidence and be decisive, I  have set a specific milestone that I will start weights (even the lightest one) ONLY after I get my xray that would show callus (new bone formation) .

Day 25, Oct 6

Planning for a day out, even just to Gateway/SM Cubao/Ali Mall, is a major event for someone who could not go out for weeks. But I started my day with a ramp-up of workout.

20minutes spinning yielding 200 calories

40minutes TM walking on 12% incline yielding 450 calories

20minutes TM slow slow jogging at 4% incline yielding 150 calories

40reps x 3sets abs crunches

Yes, I am crazy. Especially the slow jog part which was a wee bit jarring. I learned soon enough that if I clutch my left breast, I wouldn’t feel the tugging of my skin along the suture line. I laughed at the thought that my breast probably weighed at least a pound, to have any effect that way.  Got a bit conscious of passers by who cocked their head in disbelief that I was jogging with a hand to the breast.

But still I was happy to be feeling more and more ALIVE. Today also started my return to the usual AM routine of cooking kids breakfast and having a cup of java and PB crackers prior to workout.

Small wonder that caffeine and food helps prolong a workout and sustain high intensity periods.

Day 26, Oct 7

Sleep last night went this way: 10P-12A leakbreak; 12AM-2AM leakbreak; 2AM – 5:30AM wake up.  The tugging was still there but not as “heavy” and limiting as it used to be.

WOD: 30minutes spinning at aveHR 140bpm; 50minutes TM walking on 14% incline (this was supposed to be my HIIT, since I rested 1 minute at 8% incline then did 9minutes at 14% incline.

Abs crunches 130sets, over “rehab” stretching.  My partner assisted me in some. A bit worried that my shoulders are not  “aligned” at the moment.

Getting Better…4 weeks Post-Op

Day 14, Sept 25, 2013

You don’t know how liberating it feels to have surgical staples removed. Although I knew from my son Jason’s experience when he had an appendectomy in 2010, I still felt a tugging in heart each time Dr Torres pulled at the staples. Eleven, all of them, and jokingly he asked me if I wanted to keep them as memorabilia to which I graciously declined. For the first time I had the wound dressing-free, for longer than a couple of minutes. I immediately felt some relief. Still I requested for a fresh dressing to be placed, not certain if my supposedly dry wound will stand up to my next day’s shower. Basically, I felt uneasy to get the wound wet, knowing it will heal even faster if I keep it dry.

Stopped using the clavicle brace altogether since my ortho found no value in keeping my body alignment in place while recovering.  Instead, I avoided using the sofa and stuck to the rigid dining chair to watch TV or do some chores.

Tried to get back into the groove of prepping my stuff for next day’s workout. Its been getting harder to choose shirts since I need ample elbow room to support my arms as much as use something that discretely covers my nipples. Yes, I haven’t used a brassierie since the accident. And yes, ive even tried going panty-less…anything that can count to limit moving my arms, especially moving them upward or towards the back of my body.  Never before have I experienced this immobility. So that’s what they call Range of Motion.  I used to take it for granted from a perfectly-moving human being’s point of view.  But then again, from an athlete’s perspective, the idea of ROM is pretty much hinged on stretching and having flexibility to perform and be safe with sports.

It goes back to my state of conditioning prior to the accident.

A month before the accident, I embarked on a whole new attitude about my training, and took weight-lifting seriously.  Even if they were just free weights, I worked on circuits  after my run/ride and after 3 weeks, the definition in my upper arms showed strength formation.  But I didn’t stop there. Between circuits, I did either ab crunches or leg raises and completed 100sets any given day.

In other words, I was in excellent health, almost athlete-level, not even taking any medicine except vitamins.  If any, I was kinda proud  that I was so unlike my peers, who were overweight and weak.  But like I said, it’s been like a lifelong passion since 2009, and my philosophy has been “train all year round”.

Little did I know this health and condition would be pivotal in my recovery from the bike crash.

Dr Torres made no bones about castigating me for not using my sling (I opted for a clavicle brace) but he gave me thumbs up for a DRY, healing suture.  Though it still looked nasty, I was given the go-signal to no longer use any dressing.  He said that people my age usually takes 3-4 weeks  at the initial stage of recovery — my 15days of healing can best be attributed to my excellent condition prior to the accident and surgery.

 Day 15, Sept 26, 2013

Despite being free from the “bondage” of a dressing, I feel my big stitch but without pain.  I’m even more worried about not progressing faster on ROM and finding a better sleep position.

For the past 4 days, my Treadmill Walking replaced my usual morning routine.  I started to wear run shoes again, when my rubber slippers gave me some blisters.  I tried to focus on a goal of 500 calories, and that would require an incline at an average of 12% and an average HR of 126bpm.  Today, I crossed my limit and did 560calories for one hour. Really proves that my legs are particularly strong, my heart bullish enough to take on a load of sustained effort at 75% of MaxHR.  More importantly, as it is when I run, my spirit SOARS. Despite the difficulty and the music as distraction, I’m totally out of myself when I am enjoying my workout.

I know if I do this progressive training right, I will come back as a stronger runner, since I am conditioning my body towards fast tempo in combination with hills workout. I force myself to  just maintain this workout mode till Sunday and make adjustments starting Monday, if needed.

I know people will think I’m crazy, living as though I am a real athlete. In my mind and heart, I am. And I regret that I didn’t have an athlete’s lifestyle early on, as it

 Day 16, Sept 27, 2013

Still waking up every 2-2.5 hrs the night through. Pretty much due to neckstrain plus the feeling of gravity in the surgical wound.

Today I did a self-assessment of my  physical condition.   Overall, I’m utilizing only 50% of my capabilities for movement and stretch. Since I don’t use my left arm as often as the right, the right side of me can do a lot more stuff, sans pain at all.  My legs are okay but not yet as strong as before, feeling tightness in the right quads and hams, presumably where I fell and got some bruising.

Due to the fractured clavicle, my upper body is still stiff and inflexible.  Here is a list of things I still cannot do, partially or entirely:

–          Body scrubbing, esp at my back

–          Changing shirts, where raising arms is needed

–          Reach for anything beyond 120 degrees of arms-reach, so that means cupboards, cabinets, shelves, ref top etc

–          Lift anything above 2pounds for more than a few seconds –

And here’s what Ive managed to do to keep busy:

–          Cook/fry breakfast for kids, with plenty of caution..

–          Take showers, but always shoutout to either kids for back-scrub

–          Sweep floors twice a day, light dusting included

 Day 17 Sept 28, 2013 Baby’s Day Out

TMW for 1 hour at 6:30 results: 575cals, ave 12%incline, ave HR 137bpm. Managed to put on (and take off) my own clothes ALONE, for the workout.

Took a major step to recovery by driving to and from araneta center, for groceries, a movie and time-off for Jason at cyberzone.  Also started to wear my contact lens again. Some adjustment to my view of the world but it felt good to be outside my tower.  Was just two weeks ago but I certainly miss my community.  Having an injury always bring out the humble side of you.  I walked ever so slowly as I could not to even trip and fall.  I actually miss my hustling and bustling world that I sang  Dito Ba in my mind, as though so much has changed and then realized it was only me.

I was expecting to get as much “straight sleep” as I did the night before, since I must have exhausted myself out today and felt lead-eyes at 9PM. Unfortunately the comibination of gravity-pull on my suture and muscle-nerve strain on my right neck/shoulder area — had me waking up every 2 hours — just to re-position and  try to get back to sleep.

 Day 18 Sept 29, 2013

As usual, for the past 2 weeks, I woke up at 6AM (always ahead by 15-30mins from alarm clock, so why do I still activate the clock?) and went about getting ready for my daily TM walking.

While I don’t think I am losing weight which is NOT my objective anyway, I feel really great and gratified after each hourly TMW I’ve made since a week ago.  I’ve been chastised to doing too much- too soon, especially by non-runner friends.  There is no way one can ever

I’m back re-researching on sleep positions on a fractured clavicle. I devour everything there is to try because I truly believe I will heal faster with undisturbed sleep.  Would you believe that since I got injured, I stopped taking caffeine — primarily to help me knock off better at night.  And I also stopped taking afternoon naps which I’m not very fond of, anyway.  These had minimally helped me get the sleep I need at night…and I’m getting desperate!  What bothers me most is the “wake-up” hanging pain in my right biceps…and I’m guessing I don’t have any broken bones but I got some muscles, tendons and nerves pretty messed up there.  I have no issue whatsoever with this arm UNLESS I sleep…and then it reminds itself with this pain that wakes you up.

To block boredom and focus on recovery actively, I had this one chance to ‘train for a marathon” by the book.  I had time, wisdom and experience all working for me now, and I knew EXACTLY what I had to do, at the correct timing and effort, to get back “home”.

 Day 19, Sept 30, 2013

Started on Hirudoid last night, after reading practically all the forums on “rotator cuff injuries” and “bruising”.  Still have doubts about the condition of my right shoulder and arm and worried that if I don’t act soon, I will have more issues on ROM…but  I also know my ROM, on both arms, are improving slowly but significantly. Problem with me is that I can only be patient if I could put a formula or a timeline on this. Even if OCD is supposed to be a clinical diagnosis, I must be OC, since I am such a sucker for things being in its proper place and time — even if they are in an abnormal state like an injury would be.  Anyway, the hirudoid is supposed to hasten recovery from bruising by increasing blood flow.  I immediately noticed an improvement in my right arm bruise (it was the nastiest of them all!) after 2 applications.

I am extra happy today because 1. First time I slept for 4hrs straight (so that means I woke up only once on 1 7hr-sleep!) and 2.  I burned 700 calories on TMW inclined at ave 12%, but MORE excitedly, ave HR went up to 147 and also hitting a high of 167….almost like I ran a 10Km. Tried spinning for a few minutes but still finding the courage to stretch myself  out in the handlebars.