Me and my Meniscus

Have you watched the film Spirit of the Marathon?  I love this movie-length documentary.  It tells real stories of real people preparing for their first marathon, Chicago marathon 2005 (there is even a runner who has to pull out of training due to a knee injury).  It also tells the stories of a handful of elite runners preparing for the same marathon.

One of those elites is Deena Kastor, an Olympian from the US.  At the beginning of her training program she tripped over a pine cone and broke a bone in her foot.  I haven’t watched this film for a while so this information is from memory.  A totally non-running related injury.  She was just going about life and something damaged her and got in the way of her running.  What did she do?  She kept training.  She had access to a water treadmill and kept on running.  It wasn’t ideal but she went out and smashed that marathon.  My memories say she was the first woman.

This came to mind on Friday when I visited the physio yet again for more treatment on my knee.  The physio I was seeing is on leave so I got to see the principal of the practice.  He read the notes on my knee and then asked me to tell him the story of how my knee problem came to be.

  • I told him that I’d done Ross Marathon the day before.
  • I told him that I’d woken the next day full  of energy and a bit twitchy in the legs and had taken myself off for a 3km walk.  No knee pain.  Just a general satisfied achy-tiredness was all I felt.
  • I told him that I’d mown the lawns (this is a job that takes me a full hour). No knee pain or discomfort.
  • I told him that I’d been called to the calf shed to help and that a calf had hit me in the knee.
  • I told him that that night my knee had been sore and had woken me up a few times and that the next day it had ached even when sitting.
  • I told him that since that day it had slowly started to come right but from time to time it felt like I had a big prickle stuck in the outside of my knee.

The physio did ligament and range of motion testing – all came up 100% ok and no pain or discomfort.  He asked me what I had been told my problem was.  ITB Syndrome, I said.  He said very politely that he didn’t agree with that diagnosis.  He said I’d sustained minor damage to my meniscus.  This made so much sense to me.  How could a knock from a calf in the knee bring on ITB syndrome?  All the treatment I’ve been receiving and the rehab I’ve been doing hasn’t been a waste of time.  The physio wants me to keep going with it so that the muscles that support my knee are built up.  The diagnosis of ITB Syndrome is understandable due to the full range of motion in the knee and where the discomfort is.

Where to from here?  I was allowed to try a 5km run on Friday but if there was discomfort the following day that would be the sign to scale back again.  There was discomfort.  I’m taking another week off running.  I’m pleased to say that today there is hardly any noticeable difference between left and right knee.  My right knee is just doing its thing and not doing its usual attention grabbing stuff.  And that 5kms?  I loved it.  I could’ve run and run and run (apart from the knee discomfort that is).  My fitness and endurance doesn’t seem to have been damaged like my poor right meniscus has.

I had an interesting experience on Friday.  I was having a quick coffee at a cafe and I was looking up meniscus on my smart phone.  A waiter stopped and said Oh, you’ve damaged your meniscus have you?  I nodded.  Don’t worry, he said, I damaged both mine at the same time and they have both healed as good as new, just rest.  I asked him how long healing had taken and he said just over a month.  I was so buoyed up by this.

Here’s to another week of the Rehab Race.  Like Deena Kasta, my current issue wasn’t caused by running, I was helping my over-worked husband.  I probably should’ve said no but that’s hard to do when we are so stretched.  Deena didn’t give up but held on to her dream.  My reality is that I might have to let go of my Ultra dream for this year, but the great thing is that it can easily be picked up again in 2017 or whenever it might be right.  That road isn’t going anywhere!  It will wait for me until me and my meniscus are ready to tackle it.

Every day is a day closer to getting back into running.  Getting the knee right has become so much more important than running the Ultra.  I’m in running for a long time, not a fast time – I hope for a lifetime.  Quitting isn’t an option.

far happy always

Happy running 🙂

PS when I got my running gear out on Friday I hugged it and said Hello Old Friends.  I miss the whole routine of running so much.  Then today when I folded it all up (it’s been on the airer) I gave it all another hug.  Hopefully it won’t be too long until I can get it out again.  Come on meniscus, respond to time and rehab, Team Unsporty Woman needs you!

16 thoughts on “Me and my Meniscus

  1. Hugging your running gear lol!! We all have our favourite bits of kit with happy memories! Sometimes just putting it on makes you feel better😊

  2. ooh, its pouring with rain here today, dark, grey and windy too… i may just venture onto Netflix! 🙂
    My hubby ALWAYS reckons a second opinion is your prerogative and he almost always gets one… So stoked that you on the road to recovery now and that your PMA is well in tact… *mwah* you go girl!!!! ~*~*~sending you some sunshine~*~*~

  3. Annie what a journey you are on. Would it be possible to have a scan to see exactly what is going on? How bad the tear is?
    Hoping the week off allows for more healing. Your positive attitude has really settled in. Good for you. Did I ever tell you that I fell getting out of bed in 2007 and broke my foot? Freak accident that shut down my rock climbing season instantly. I hear you on the accident having nothing to do with the sport.

    1. Things are so much better today thanks Sue (must be because it’s your birthday!). I asked about a scan but the physio thinks it isn’t necessary due to the range of movement I have with totally no pain. The only time I feel a level of discomfort is when I’m running. He says it’s not a tear but rather a sprain of the menisci. You didn’t tell me about your broken foot. That must’ve been devastating! And getting out of bed too….beds are dangerous places I always say. Best not to be in them too much! hehe.

  4. good to see you are embracing your recovery the same way you face your training. I’m sure you will get there in good shape but as you know the race or challenge will still be there when you are ready. Keep up the good work, Jo. xx

    1. Thanks Jo, and very well done for Melbourne Marathon, you are a star!!! Some of the things I’ve learnt about muscles is going to help me into the future. I can’t see myself stopping my rehab routine, perhaps cutting it down a little – the time its taking is huge! I’ve even bought an extra set of resistance bands, a second foam roller and yoga mat for my office.

  5. Speaking from the “wisdom” of having numerous problems since I started exercising 4 years ago, surprising my previously sloth like body with large amounts of work, I would ask for a scan.
    Because I have been misdiagnosed on several occasions which led to longer time off and longer recovery!
    It’s good you have seen someone else’s opinion but if the knee does not improve soon do think getting a scan to get a definite diagnosis xxx

    1. Thanks Sam, I asked about a scan and at the moment the Physio says that becuase I have full range of movement without any pain that he believes it’s a light sprain. If in two weeks it hasn’t shown more signs of healing he will send me for a scan. I hear you and appreciate your wisdom. The ITB diagnosis didn’t sit well with me. An osteo and a physio both said ITB. Hopefully the knee will keep improving but if not I’ll be going for the scan. I hope you are improving every day xxx

  6. Never hugged my gear but have spoke to my shoes. Somebody had to tell them how good they looked. It takes all kinds i suppose.

    1. Can’t say I’ve ever hugged my running gear before either, but I’ve never had such a big break from running 🙂 I speak to my running shoes usually at the start of a race and say ‘Take me to the finish line, take me to the finish line’. Oh and I click my heels together three times when I say it!

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