Surgery is the Next Step
Hey there! Sorry I’ve been silent for the last couple of days but things have been really busy on my end with Adam’s mom in town. Plus I’ve been mentally preparing for the Compartment Syndrome test that I had yesterday. I’m not the kind of person who loves doctor visits, especially when they involve invasive procedures.
To cut to the chase, after more than a month of waiting, I finally had the test done yesterday and it’s been confirmed that I have Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome.
The test consists of first getting a lidocaine injection in each of the compartments in the calf to numb them before the test begins. Then they insert a long needle into each of the four compartments in each calf to take a pressure reading. If you’re squeamish like me this is the worst part. I didn’t look but I could feel the blood running down my legs.
They took a pressure reading before I even ran to act as a baseline. They said if the numbers were high enough I wouldn’t even need to run.
At rest my calves were borderline, ranging from 18 to 54. Anything over 20 is considered indicative of compartment syndrome and anything over 30 is as close to a certainty as one can get. The doctor wanted me to run and come back for an additional reading so that he could be sure about all the compartments.
I ran on the treadmill for 10 minutes @ 13 minute pace. It was honestly the most satisfying run I’ve had since May. How sad is that? Basically with the lidocaine I was able to run without feeling the pain/pressure for much longer than I normally do. Most days I last about 3-5 minutes before I have to stop.
After that 10 minute run each compartment tested pretty high: 50-80 range. The doctor said he normally sees people with high pressure readings in 2/4 compartments but rarely with high pressure in all 4 compartments. That makes me a great candidate for the surgery.
My calf muscles are really big, apparently.
The next step is to have a double fasciotomy. It’s a fairly minor surgery in which they cut the fascia (casing) surrounding the calf muscle so that it can expand as much as it wants to when I run.
I was able to get an appointment next week to meet the doctor that will likely do the surgery. We’ll talk about the pros/cons of the surgery and what to expect once it’s completed.
The doctor I met with today assured me that I would be back to running in three months post-surgery, and that the surgery has a really high success rate of getting people back out there doing the sport they love.
He said if I’m willing to give up running I don’t need to have the surgery but of course that is just not an option. I told him I have goals and I’m going to meet them.
What’s the longest you’ve ever had to go without running?