20 August 2013

4 Stitches

[WARNING: bloody pictures included in this post. proceed at your own risk!]

I crashed last week, in every sense of the word. With the Dirt Crits over, that means that my Thursday nights were now free to jump into the Alpine Shop Trail Running Series at Castlewood State Park. Last week, I wanted to get one last long run in before Thunder Rolls, but a little farther out than the weekend. So I persuaded Jeff to come do an easy 12 miles before the race, then the 4-ish mile race, then an easy cool-down for a nice long run total. We did the race loop 3 times keeping really even splits, just chatting along and cruising. Then we changed shoes and lined up for the real race, each intending to hammer our own effort. And hammer we did.
Start of the Alpine Shop Thursday Night Trail Run #2!
Through 3-something miles I was having a great race, in solid position as 2nd place female and ahead of my orienteering buddy Jeff (not Sona). We came to the final downhill of the race, 5 minutes from the finish line, and I tried to use my self-proclaimed "good" downhill skills to my advantage in the close race for bragging rights. A root, or a rock, or maybe even a patch of weird dirt had other ideas. I tripped and slammed knee-first into the singletrack. Heart rate racing. Blood on my legs. Instant calf cramps and breathing problems as I tried to wrap my head around why I was suddenly stationary. Jeff (not Sona) immediately stopped his race to help me as I was writhing on the side of the trail. It was not pretty. It took an eternity for my HR and breathing to get out of the panic zone and into the "let's take stock of what just happened" zone. By that time, my good friend, and competitor Laura, had also stopped, and the two of them worked to get me calmed down and comfortable. Several other runners asked if they could help but I waved them on. It took a couple of tries to get me upright since I have a weird problem with seeing my own blood and passing out. But by the time Jeff, David, and Sunny came running back up the trail to check on me, Jeff and Laura had me up and gimping down the trail, along with Tom and John on mountain bikes. It was quite the entourage. Karen met us at the finish line.
Jeff, Laura, and Karen helping me off the trail.
I have commented on this before, but I'll say it here too - it is amazing having medical professionals as part of the St. Louis mtb/running community. Jeff and Karen used their ER/ortho skillz to examine my knee, clean it out, and recommend that I go get stitches. Again, I couldn't handle watching and had to lay down to avoid fainting. So strange. But they dug in there and got the bloody mess clean enough for me to drive to the closest ER (St. John's). Eric was helping out too by bringing me food...don't forget I had just run almost 16 miles on a few gels and a bar, and he stocked me up on calories for the long night ahead.
The knee, at Castlewood, after being rinsed out.
David and Jeff both offered to come to the ER with me, but I was positive I could handle it by myself. I also needed some alone time to process what just happened. And to cry. I bawled almost the whole way there. Frustrated that I had just wrapped up a great 3-week training block in preparation for a tough field at Thunder Rolls, and now I was injured. Angry that I had been so clumsy on a trail I had pre-ran THREE FREAKING TIMES that same night. Sad that, despite the amazing support from my teammates and friends, I really didn't have anyone else to call to get me through this. Sigh. Such is the life of a single girl. [NOTE: please don't read into this that no one offered to come with me. Several people did, and several more people would have come with if I had asked. But I didn't ask, and honestly I prefer to have my cry-fests by myself, and once I was in the exam room it was boring. No need for an entourage there.] I was still weepy when I checked myself into the ER. The nurse was the most gracious and comforting person at that time. I could barely choke out my name and birthdate and she was just so patient and accommodating. Actually the whole staff at St. John's was like that. Another plug for getting injured in St. Louis - excellent medical care is available.
The ER team got me through x-rays and sutures and sent me on my way after only a few hours. The next morning, I got up for work like usual, and could barely walk to my bathroom which is only about 10 feet away from my bed. I was in trouble. I called in to explain my situation and spent the rest of the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in bed. OK, well I did get out a little bit to do some errands and cheer my friends on at Conquer Castlewood, but there was a whole lot more time spent horizontal than I'm used to. Thankfully, my brother shared his Netflix password with me so I passed the time by watching Grey's Anatomy - a show I have never seen before. Blasphemous, I know.
The wound, Friday night, first bandage change.
So anyway, that's the story of my stitches. Things are still not progressing as quickly as I'd like. I managed to pedal a whopping 5 revolutions on my trainer last night. That was a big mental challenge. But my knee is still too swollen for an MRI to check for more serious damage, which I am slightly terrified about. I'm hitting the RICE hard and checking in frequently with my teammates for the medical advice, the emotional support, and to figure out what exactly we are going to do about Thunder Rolls in 3 days.
What I've been up to lately.
Here is one interesting things about being injured: my food intake is way way down. I'm not saying my appetite is gone, I am just noticing that I need way less food when I am not training. Captain Obvious, I know, but I get through the day on my normal breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and an afternoon snack. No dinner. It's so weird not to be hungry. But I think this is a good thing, to get back in touch with a nutritional baseline that doesn't include 15+ hrs/wk of training.
I'm working on keeping perspective and staying positive. As far as we know, this is just a flesh wound with lots of swelling in the joint. Things could be much, much worse. I haven't even hit one week of rest yet, and I have friends who have been doing rehab for all of 2013, or who are facing many months more in the future. So I have no right to complain or get too down on myself. And, Carrie sent me this timely video on how a happy brain improves productivity in all areas of life. So I am working really hard on looking for positive things in each day. Every little baby step gets celebrated. Every little set-back gets endured. I will get through this.

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  1. I had a nice scare a few weeks ago: during a parkour workout I started getting a pain in my side, and sat out. It kept getting worse, and when I explained my symptoms (sharp pain in my right abdominal area getting sharper the lower it went) my fiancee's mom (an RN) said "that sounds like appendicitis" and sent me to the ER.

    Long story short, it was not. Despite all the doctors and nurses calling me "Mr Appendicitis" for the night, it was "just" a severely strained abdominal muscle. I had to take a full week off running, two weeks off trail running, and I'm still not back at parkour.

    It sucks, but it could have been worse. I hope that's the same for you.

    Heal fast!

  2. Sorry to hear about your injury. Saw the pics earlier on Twitter and hoped it wasn't too serious.

    I'm on the disabled list and volunteering at TR2013 (looks like I'm at the canoe put-in), and I hope that you heal fast so I can see you guys on the course.

    Good luck!

  3. Nice battle scar...And somehow when I am just laying around the house not doing anything my food intake goes way up. Heal up fast.

  4. That was a nasty gouge you got. I'm sorry you were hurt and are still hurting and even temporarily on the DL. I hope that you're healed up fast and it doesn't interfere with your race schedule. Sending good thoughts your way!

  5. It could be worse. You should see the scars I have from falling off the treadmill. At least you were doing something cool:)Apologies to anyone reading this who has fallen off a treadmill. Nothing funny about it.

    Thunder Rolls status? Hope you are able to race.

    1. No Thunder Rolls for me, racing anyway. I went and spectated though! Sara Dallman from Ohio took my place and was a total badass. I had a great time though!

  6. Oh my god! It looks so nasty. Sometimes road bikers fall in accident and it's really pathetic. Please beware about it. And I suggest you all dirt jump mountain bikes for riding.