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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The year I broke my feet running Bloomsday

Yup, that's me in a bikini, lounging near a swimming pool, while reading Fatal Attraction. If you want to know why read on. . .

It all began in 1989 when I went to Spokane, Washington to run in the annual Bloomsday run. It's a 12km, timed road race for professional and novice runners alike. Every person who ran could look at a large digital clock as they crossed the finish line and would receive a postcard in the mail that would tell them their official finishing time and where they finished within their age and gender categories. Every finisher also received a special t-shirt. The design changes each year and 2012 will be the 36th running of Bloomsday!

I trained in Santa Clara, CA which is as flat as a pancake then flew to Spokane, WA for the hill filled big race. I had just passed the second mile mark and was on a downhill trajectory when I felt it, a twinge in both feet right right under the knots of where I'd tied my shoelaces.

It happened right along this rock wall. I stopped and loosened my laces. But it didn't help.

After my feet started hurting I ran five more miles and finished the race. Later that day they still hurt. The next day they hurt even more. By the time I got back to CA I had to go to the doctor.

The podiatrist examined my feet and told me she thought I had a mild case of tendinitis. She said "Take aspirin and use an ice pack, you can even keep working, just take breaks and elevate your feet from time to time."

So I did. For several more days I'd walk into Nordstrom and head to the Ladies Shoe department to sell shoes for eight hours. Until (I think) it was the fourth morning when I realized I simply couldn't do it anymore. My feet hurt too bad. Excruciatingly bad. I walked into the store, called the podiatrist, and scheduled another appointment.

The doctor I saw the first time was on vacation so I saw a different doctor. When the x-rays came back normal he told me to stay off my feet for two weeks. He suspected I had stress (hairline) fractures because they won't show up on a regular x-ray. He said if it was tendinitis there should be improvement by staying off my feet.

Two weeks later they hurt just as bad so he sent me in for a bone scan. Have you ever had a bone scan? They're kind of scary.

It's nuclear medicine. The nurse injected me with radioactive isotopes. She was wearing protective gear like gloves and a lead apron, took the syringe out of what looked like a lead lined tube and injected the radioisotopes straight into my arm. I left and returned a few hours later when the radioactivity had settled into my bones. Then I had to lie still while a big machine slowly passed over me recording all of the bones in my body from head to toe.

Then I went home and had to wait for the results. When I got the phone call the doctor asked if I wanted the good news or bad news first. I said the bad news please. . .

Doctor: Your feet are broken.

Me: Broken? (I'd been walking around on broken feet?)

Doctor: Both of them.

Me: Um, what's the good news?


Me: (He almost sounded giddy. I'm not kidding!)

Doctor: The radiologist and I couldn't believe it when we saw your scan results. Not only have we never seen anyone break the bone you broke, you broke the exact same bone, in the exact same spot on both feet!!!!!

Me:  (The impression I was left with was that that was more rare than winning the lottery or being struck by lightening.)

Doctor: We're going to submit your x-rays to a medical journal. You're feet are going to be published! You're going to have very famous broken feet!!!!!

Me: Yay?

In the picture above the green bones (the second and third metatarsals and navicular bone) are the most frequent sites for stress fractures in the feet. So of course I broke a completely, different bone. I'm not sure exactly which one but it had to be one of the cuneiform bones.

So, did I need casts, crutches a wheelchair or walker for my recovery? Nope. I had to stay off my feet as much as possible for the next six weeks so I crawled around the house and every now and then I would hobble out to the pool.

Before I became "The Flirty Girl" I was the not flirty girl.

To make sure guys wouldn't hit on me I tried to look anti-social by wearing sunglasses, never smiling and would read my paperback copy of Fatal Attraction. It worked. LOL it was the most un-flirty I could make myself.

At the end of six weeks my breaks were healed and I went back to work. A week later I developed tendinitis in the arches of both feet from not walking around for 8 weeks then walking on them too much so I had to take another two or three weeks off.

After that I became a clerical for the Ladies Shoe Department so I wouldn't have to walk at work for the next year.

So why did I bring this up? Because I learned last week that Be The Match (aka The National Marrow Donor Program) is going to have a 5 km "Be The One Run" fundraising run right here in San Jose! It made me want to run again. But now, after reliving my traumatic ordeal through the process of making cartoons for this post I'm thinking I should register to walk or volunteer :)

But if you have good, strong, ordinary feet that have never been stress fractured and published in a medical journal, I'm thinking you might want to run if there's going to be a "Be The One Run" in your city!

Atlanta, GA
Charlotte, NC
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
Houston, TX
Long Beach, CA
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Phoenix, AZ
Portland, OR
Richmond, VA
San Jose, CA
St. Louis, MO
Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL

CLICK HERE to learn all the details.

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