Heels over Head: Pondering the possible

2013-10-11 08:49

So the doc told me not to run, just when I was planning to start up my blog about running again. Usually it’s the other way around.

Doctors beg patients to go run or do something to improve their health, but what they don’t tell you is that, once you’re hooked and addicted, then they’ll tell you to slow down. Life’s not fair that way.

That’s why we have physios.

On Monday I found myself going to a doctor with my problematic Achilles tendon for a sixth opinion on whether to operate or not.

So far the vote from the specialists and laypersons I’ve consulted has been in favour of the knife, but I say no, no, no and am looking for allies.

Thankfully the doc agreed with me, but then he went and made the problem bigger by declaring the tendon full of holes, like a swiss cheese, a symptom of the incurable ravages of impending middle age.

His sharp intake of breath when he took a first look at my heels didn’t help. Then he squeezed my calves to make my feet jump, and seemed to relax a bit. Contrary to what he thought, the tendon was still in one piece.

It’s because of these calves that my tendons have been chronically messed up for as long as I can remember. The robustness of the calves say: run, but the tendons usually need some ass-kicking with a gentle rub before they really wake up in the mornings.

After a diagnosis, the doc went on to tell me, very gently, as if I’m a woman sensitive about my age, it’s all downhill from now on – and not in a good way. I should rest the tendons for a few weeks or a few months or a few years (or a lifetime, except his mouth didn’t say that).

The Comrades ultra-marathon really is just another word for “slow, painful death” or “all that is evil”.

But I’m too damn intimidated to disagree with doc, or mention the fact that I have a glamorous Nike 10km night race coming up on Saturday (although these Nike events are so polished and party-like and distracting that the running usually happens without me noticing much).

Horrible images of me trying desperately to love that pretentious activity called cycling flashed through my head, interspersed with more pleasant alternative images of me as a late-night debauched champagne-sipper and orgy-goer who doesn’t have a care or an alarm clock.

Physio Superwoman put paid to all that. About 24 hours following the distressing diagnosis, which was followed by an initial and very successful self-medication with a few glasses of bubbly accompanied by fine chocolates, I hand the physio the doctor’s letter.

No sharp intakes of breath from her side, no clicking of tongue, in fact, I don’t even think she blinked in any unusual manner.

Nothing from her side either about cancelling Comrades Entry 2014. She prods and pulls and flexes the heel a couple of times, talks about strengthening my core muscles even more and stretching a lot.

She says I should maybe try lay off running for a few days, lose a bit of weight to take the strain off the Achilles (difficult but not as impossible as never running again) and, er, take the Nike race easy.

How could it be that a day ago I was ready to surrender to cleats and padded pants, and now suddenly I have my running mojo back?

Doctors are good at diagnosing problems, but physios deal with what is possible, she explains. And impossible, to them, is nothing too.

» Follow @carienduplessis as she tweets from the Nike We Run Jozi on Saturday night.

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