Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A confirmed stress fracture, the runaround from the hospital, a rant, and some family time...

Well it’s been a very disappointing turn for the worst this year for me.  After starting out great this spring, I ran into a disaster with my leg at the beginning of May. My favorite stretch of racing all year is May into June.  And it’s all lost.  I lost ANOTHER Redhook opportunity. I have paid for Redhook 3 years in a row and have missed it ALL 3 of the last 3 years.  What a sh*tshow.  My seacoast series run is out the window now and I have to rethink my direction at this point.  I took 3 weeks completely off right after my nice win at the Children’s Museum 5k in Dover. The very next day I had a horrendous pain in my left leg which was diagnosed (incorrectly) as a stress reaction in my left tibia after I ran on it for a week and just couldn’t deal with it any more.  Since, I have taken more time off....

Fast forward 3 weeks from my initial x-ray.  I missed a bunch of May races (just about all of them in fact).  I didn’t stay off my leg but I didn’t do any running or cycling or anything other than a whole ton of yard work during that time.  The doctor told me actually to 'take a few days off at least'.  Famous last words...especially when it was misdiagnosed.  My leg didn’t really feel like it was getting much better at any time.  It has been really depressing. At times, it would feel like it was maybe starting to get better but then it would start hurting me again when I was climbing stairs or holding the baby, etc.   I tried running 1 mile after 1 week off.  I ran a 7:50 or something in that neighborhood (out and back on the street) and it was ‘ok’.  I got about 0.4 in and felt the leg again (that was 0.4 better than the week before, where it would hurt immediately).  So I did just the 1 mile and stopped.  One week later (now after 2 full weeks off) I ran another mile but slower and on the grass/dirt.  It was better.  Almost no issues but still occasionally ‘feelings’ in that area.  Not 100% but I was not about to do anything dumb.  I took a third week off and started to come to grips with the fact I’m missing Market Square Day…which is probably my favorite race of the year.  And it will be the first time since 2006 that I haven’t run it.  I’m honestly still kind of in shock and denial about that.  People have been asking me all year about my ‘goal’ race(s).  I would mention MSD each time.  Now, I’m out.  Multiple race registration money wasted.  Lots of time wasted thinking about running well there and at Redhook and Mt. Washington.  

Then after 3 weeks, I ran 2 miles easy on the road (about 8 min pace) on that Sunday. That was my longest run since May 9th when I finally had enough.  The following Monday, I ran 3 miles easy on the road around 7:45 pace with just a slight discomfort but nothing alarming.  Then on Tuesday (this is all last week) I ran 4 miles on the road in 29:02.  No real issues other than a very slight twinge at 3.5.  I am so hypersensitive that I notice just about every little thing.  It could be nothing but I know it’s still something not quite right.  If this never happened, that feeling I get now on that left side would be nothing of concern…but because of the pain I had initially and because of what I know it can/does lead to, I really get nervous when I get any sensation in that area.  I have also had absolutely no feeling in my left lower leg on the inside, since this initially happened.  I have been told the nerve took a hit and it could be 6+ weeks for it to improve.  I have never had a nerve issue like this before.  From my knee to my ankle on the left side (inside) I have no feeling other than when I tap a certain part on my upper calf.  Only then do I get a tingle and pins and needles straight down my leg.  Other than that, I can’t even feel my fingers touching my leg.  I’ve been concerned about it all this time but the doctors I’ve spoken with don’t seem to think it’s a big deal.

Then, Wednesday of last week I had my first doctor’s appointment with my new primary care doctor.  During the appointment, he ran down to the Orthopedist’s office and talked to the sports medicine guy about my issue.  They brought up my X-ray from the beginning of MAY.  And guess what…. I HAVE A STRESS FRACTURE.  It was missed on the initial x-ray and evaluation from the ER doctor on May 11.  Great.  Apparently no radiologist followed up or looked at it, which I believe is hospital policy (and if they did, they missed the fracture).  Do I have a lawsuit on my hands?  Or at least should I push back on any bills I get as a result of that visit?  I’ve been pushed in that direction actually.  A missed fracture is unacceptable.   The orthopedist looked at the x-ray from May and immediately saw the line.  I got an immediate appointment with him the next day (Thursday of last week).  I was hoping for something a little more than just him saying I have a fracture but that’s what happened.  He did show it to me on the monitor (a monitor I wish the ER doctor had access to 3 weeks prior).  Then he recommended a bone scan.  I said sure.  Whatever it takes.  It's interesting that the ER doctor didn't see it and told me to 'take a few days off' after I pushed him about training.  What if I took the few days off, then ran on it and made it fracture all the way across?   Unreal.  I can appreciate that stress fractures are hard to see on x-rays early on (and sometimes are not able to be seen)... but when the orthopedist sees the fracture on that same INITIAL x-ray immediately, that's just complete bullsh*t on the ER doctor.  

I told the orthopedist I was interested in seeing if I could still make Mt. Washington.  While he did say to stay off it and not test it out anymore (which is helpful), he did say that ‘after the scan, we can sit down and have a discussion about Mt. Washington’.  That to me indicated that we’d have the scan and he’d look at it, pretty quick….like within a week or so (because Mt. Washington is coming up).  He also mentioned the uphill nature of the race, and how it would be different than say if I ran a normal type of up/down race.   On the way out, he indicated that when the scan is scheduled (pending approval from my insurance), it would only take a ‘day or two’.  Then we can have a quick appt. so he can look at it.  He said as soon as the scan was scheduled, I need to call back and they can shift their appointments around so I can get in quick to get the follow up.  They told me that the insurance usually approves it quick and then they can get it scheduled right away.  I figured I’d hear back Friday.  Nothing.  The weekend went by but I wasn't anticipating hearing anything on the weekend anyways.  I called back yesterday (Monday).  Still nothing.  They fumbled around and indicated that they were going to follow up that day because they hadn’t heard anything back apparently.  I got no call.  Then today, I call back again after lunch because I still haven’t gotten a call.  This time, I find out they got the approval and faxed over the order yesterday to scheduling.  So they forwarded me over to the scheduling department.  They told me they got it today, not yesterday.  Regardless… JULY 1 is my appointment.  YES, JULY.  Over 3 weeks from now.  What a sh*tshow.  I’m sorry, but this whole thing just sucks.  I immediately called the orthopedist office back and told them I need an alternative. I’m not going to sit here and wonder for another 3 weeks if I should be walking around on my leg.  That’s unacceptable.  What if I had a job where I needed to be on my feet?   The woman on the phone at the orthopedists' office actually told me ‘well, we don’t have any clue about their scheduling over there’…and I said that’s fine, but I should not have had my expectations set that it would be done in a day or two (and she did agree).  That’s ridiculous.  And we can ‘talk about Mount Washington’…. when?  For next year?  Sometime in July when the race is in June?  I’m tempted to just go back to the ER to get another x-ray and then call the orthopedist's office and have them look at it again just to give me some sort of information. Is it better?  Is it worse?  That’s all I need at this point.  I don’t need to wait another 3 + weeks and shell out more dollars for a ‘contracted service’.  The hospital already screwed me the first time when they missed a fracture on the x-ray which does show it.  I am now waiting for them to call back after they discuss any available options with the doctor. I don’t want to go run on something and make it worse if it’s bad… but I also don’t want to sit on my ass and wonder when I may be able to start running again.   Regardless, my leg is up and down as far as pain goes now.  I have moments of discomfort and other times nothing.  In the last few days for some reason it’s felt worse.  So I guess I’m not out of the woods…but it would be nice to get some professional help.

So I continue to do nothing and wait.  All my plans for summer racing are gone.  Done.  It’s not due to this hospital back-and-forth per-se but they aren't helping me move in the right direction (yet).  I have to re-evaluate my plans once I have confirmation and some sort of idea.  I can only imagine what it would be like if I had some sort of serious medical condition.  I can’t wait for that day to come.  

For now, I am making the most of my 7 week sabbatical (off work from late May until July 13).  I’ve been spending a lot of time around the house (painting and fixing things….the list is endless) and spending time w/ the family, which is ultimately the most important thing anyways.   Tabby and I have been outside a lot when the days are nice (not like today) just in the yard and in the trails behind the house.  It’s surreal that the summer and beautiful weather that I waited all winter for, is here, and I can’t do anything ‘active’.  I’ve even lost the interest in following what is going on with running and racing.  I don’t want to get any more depressed about it than I already am.  An update will follow once I hear back from the doctor’s office…but I’m not crossing my fingers.  If I was 28, I wouldn’t have this hit me so hard…but at 38…and on my last legs with the fast racing, this really hurts.  Missing time now is not good.


  1. That sucks man. I hope things turn around for you.

  2. Bummer. Welcome to health care, be your own advocate and don't take any sh**t. Hope you get answers and are back on your feet quickly.

  3. Hang in there man! I'm so sorry to hear about this. I really feel your pain with the "runaround" at doctors offices....