I had my appointment with the orthopedist at Emory today. And in Swim Bike Mom style, it was a bit of an ordeal. [Mostly of my own making.]
First, after I wrote my earlier post today, I managed to read more past race reports from Couer d’Alene. (Big mistake). And then I got freaked out by many emails from friends who were freaking me out about the freaking hills on the freaking bike course. So pretty much after my panic attacks, I left to see Dr. Miracle Man Hands (to work on my other issue—neck—-which I never mention because it is tolerable)… and the whole drive to see him, I cried.
Oh my gosh. Ironman. What am I thinking? This is insane. I’m not doing this. That’s even IF I can do this after the other shoe drops this afternoon after my OTHER appointment…. and all the time I am taking off from work. Holy cow… I’m going to be unemployed…
Then after I left Dr. MMH, I proceeded to cry myself right to a restaurant where I sat at the bar (had water to drink) alone (where I literally ignored a woman who kept trying to chat with me) and ate a salad (really) and then subsequently, had an in-restaurant coughing fit (that was karma talking for me not being nice to the chatty Cathy next to me…) due to this stupid headcold I’ve been fighting.
Ironman. Boo freaking hooooooo.
So I’m crying my way up the elevator (Why oh Ironman, oh WHY!??!).. and as I am standing at the desk to check-in, I see a father and his son…. about my son’s age. The boy is about five years old… and I am no doctor, but he had a lot of things going on. A wheelchair. Oxygen. Braces. And his sweet little face. And I see them, and I literally burst into tears… audible tears.
I ran to the bathroom where I proceeded to have another coughing fit (stupid ass pollen!).
So in the bathroom, I am weeping and feeling stupid for even thinking about Ironman, when I have healthy kids and a loud mouth and giant cheap sunglasses I love. And a bike. And a job. Get yourself together!!!
I do. (Sort of), and I sit down with a guy to check-in.
Apparently, Dr. Fletcher “doesn’t normally see patients OVER the age of 18.”
“Excuse me,” I say.
“You are not eighteen,” the guy says, smiling. “No offense.”
I am thinking, I waited three weeks to get in to see someone, and I’m about to be age-discriminated against. The HORROR! But they let me in. Whew.
Then I am escorted into the room and given the fabulous blue paper pants to put on. I have been in these pants before. Well, not these pants.
Because Dr. Fletcher sees kids.
So I had kid sized blue pants. Paper Spandex, if you will. (Where is my bike? I could cycle in these babies!)
But turns out that while Dr. Fletcher does see kids mostly… he is also a hip specialist. [A-maz-ing how these things work. And Dr. Miracle Man Hands had referred me. Miracle. See? ]
So. I’m in my little blue pants. (Literally). With my crying eyes, and I’m sent off to x-ray again. The MRI is reviewed. Apparently, my MRI was crappy quality, so Dr. Fletcher couldn’t see much… but he could see enough.
A few things about the young, handsome doctor. He had excellent patient “bedside” manner. He and his intern were just amazing. (Intern? Doctor? P.A.? Ugh…I am sorry if I got the title wrong… I’m useless with directions and titles.) Dr. Fletcher drew diagrams. He explained everything. He used to run marathons. He now runs and ellipticals. He talked and I listened and asked questions and asked if shiny new Newtons would solve my problem (they would not. Poo.).
And the diagnosis was bitter… and yet, so very sweet…
I have retroversion of the hips. What?
A type of hip dysplasia. What?
Well. Basically, it’s not you, it’s me. [Dear Triathlon, it’s not you. It’s me.]
My hips are screwy. Like a Scarlett Letter. Retroversion. [And we all know the hips don’t lie.]
So as I listen to the good Dr. Fletcher, it all makes sense to me. My limited range of motion in certain directions. My horrific running form, no matter how many 100ups I do…. The pain off and on since I have been running. The way it jumps from hip to hip like Rotavirus.
He showed me why my anatomy hates running. He explained why it hurts to run. Where most people have a certain range of motion… I have about 50% of it, which impinges my running ability and my form… and hence, it usually hurts.
The good news… he couldn’t see a labral tear. But then he said, “Even if you do have a torn or partially torn labrum, it wouldn’t change anything.”
I braced for it. I waited for it. I waited for the news… you can’t race. I held my breath, for a minute.
“You have 8 weeks until Ironman, right?”
“Yes,” I said.
“This boils down to how bad do you want it.”
My eyes lit up.
I said, “Want it? As in the race? You mean I can do it?”
He said, “Definitely. If you can take it, you can do it. You will do absolutely no permanent damage. The edema I am seeing is on the other side of the impingement—so the stress fracture risk is not there. The labrum, I can’t see damaged. And again, if I could… it wouldn’t change anything right now… you know your limits. If it hurts, stop. If you can go–then go. After the race, we can discuss options, but I really think that you can function in perpetuity with cross-training and limiting the running as you see fit.”
I wanted to hug him. But instead, I asked if I could have a lollipop and a sticker. (Because I know the kid docs well).
Now. I have 8 weeks. I can introduce some running back into the schedule. But Coach M and I are going to be ultra conservative… maybe topping out at 5, 6 or 8 miles…after I build back up. Maybe. If it hurts, I stop.
I want to be able to RUN on race day.
…because this is my body structure at issue, this makes this Ironman that much more important and vital to me. Because this kind of running… well, it’s never going to really work for me. Absent major surgery (e.g., massive bone reconstruction and breakage…), running will always be a struggle. I can run. But I may have periods (like the last three weeks), where I won’t be able to…
This is it. My big race. My big shot at a marathon—and Ironman—all in one. I made it this far in the training without blaming my Scarlett Hip. So I have a base that I may never have again. Mentally and physically…Better make it count. Every day, every training session, every bite of food into my mouth.
I am going to make it count. That is all.
[Love and hugs and thanks to all of you for your emails today… Sorry for the long post. But thanks for listening….I couldn’t do it without you! And seriously, thanks to Dr. Miracle Man Hands and Dr. Nicholas Fletcher. Two of Atlanta’s finest. For sure.]