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.ย 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?

19 comments

  1. Susan

    I am glad you got your answers and have a plan of action. It will all be fine! I have gone months and months without running. Sometimes by choice and sometimes because of injury. Focus on your recovery and the time will go quickly! I promise ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Kristina

      Thanks Susan! Right now I am laser focused on my appointment next week with the surgeon. Trying to take everything one step at a time until I am REALLY in the process of recovery. Hard not to get excited about it though!

  2. Heather [is probably running]

    Answers and a course of action. Finally.

    Since I started running consistently I think my longest break was ~6 weeks. It was frustrating and I can’t imagine having to face down having surgery and another 3 months of recovery. At least you finally have a clear diagnosis. And we can look forward to your killer comeback in 2018.
    Heather [is probably running] recently posted…Goals: Tahqua Trail Run 25kMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      Oh man, it’s so crazy to think of my recovery timetable rolling into 2018. I am trying to come to terms with it though. I hope if I can schedule the surgery by the end of this month or early next month I can be running a little bit by the holidays. Halloween now seems unrealistic, unfortunately!

      1. Heather [is probably running]

        I hope you are running before the year is over too! I just meant all of your huge PRs are going to be coming in 2018 ๐Ÿ™‚
        Heather [is probably running] recently posted…Goals: Tahqua Trail Run 25kMy Profile

  3. cheryl

    I am glad that you finally have answers, and now you can start taking steps towards your goals. I am sure it is frustrating, but now you are on your way to healthy running!
    cheryl recently posted…Blog update!!My Profile

    1. Kristina

      Thank you Cheryl. I really cannot wait to get back to it. Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. For a while I had sort of lost my focus on wanting to run an ultramarathon, instead wanting to get better at shorter distances, but now I want to run ALL THE MILES!

  4. Hanna @ minimal marathoner

    So will you have the actual surgery next week, or just meet with the doctor? When do you think you’ll be able to complete all your surgeries?

    Anyway, I’m glad you at least have some answers. That’s gotta feel like a step in the right direction, so to speak!
    Hanna @ minimal marathoner recently posted…A Breakthrough: Chicago Marathon Training Week 9My Profile

    1. Kristina

      Just meeting with the surgeon to go over all the details about the surgery next week. I am hopeful at the end of that appointment we’ll schedule the date for the surgery. Based on my ability to get to speak with the surgeon so quickly after the test I am hopeful that maybe I can get the surgery before the end of the month. Trying not to get my hopes up too much but it seems plausible!

  5. Lisa @ TechChick Adventures

    Oh wow! Good that you’ve got a definitive diagnosis. That sounds like pretty positive success rates after surgery – that’s great! I know you are looking forward to having this taken care of. How is the recovery going to be for just walking around afterwards? How much will walking be limited?
    Lisa @ TechChick Adventures recently posted…Mexico – cliff jumping, spa treatments, and runningMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      The doctor said that I will be up and walking around the very next day after surgery! He said I’ll slowly ease back into exercise and that most people make a full recovery in 2 to 3 months… and that by the end of 3 months I would definitely be back to running!
      Kristina recently posted…Surgery is the Next StepMy Profile

  6. Nathaly Abrahan

    Hi Kristina! I am so glad that you got a diagnose and that you have an actual solution for coming back to running. I know three months is a lot, but it’s totally worth it if that’s whats going to make you feel better for once and for all.

    The maximum time I’ve spent without running due to an injury has been two weeks. They felt long, but I’m so glad I had patience and took two weeks off.
    Nathaly Abrahan recently posted…RACE RECAP: FULL MOON 5K TRAIL RACE, A DOWN2EARTH RACE.My Profile

    1. Kristina

      Thanks Nathaly! I’m glad to have a definitive diagnosis as well. It feels good to be able to finally move forward. I feel like I can see the finish line now ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s still far off in the distance but I can see it!

  7. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    Go girl! I’m glad you got a very definitive answer. You do have goals and you will freaking meet them. I had knee surgery and I went back to look at blog posts so I can give you some dates!

    I had knee surgery on Jan 30, 2014.
    On Feb 23, I went for a .05 mile run. Yes, .05 hahaha. My kneecap hurt so I walked home.
    March 4, I could run 18 min on the treadmill.
    March 9, I ran 4 miles outside
    March 16 I ran 8 miles
    March 23 I ran 12 miles

    That all actually doesn’t sound so bad does it!? And I had freaking KNEE surgery. Looking back at these dates, I want to tell you to be optimistic and maybe you will be back to running before 3 months!?

    Oh I also checked, and I was on the elliptical for 20-30 minutes less than 2 weeks after surg! This sounds crazy, but I don’t even think I took crutches to work! I had surgery on a Thurs and I am pretty sure I went back to work by Tuesday or Wed. Although that was just one leg.
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…YOU WILL NEVER GUESS WHO I RAN INTO IN CAPE MAY!!!!My Profile

    1. Kristina

      Thank you for sharing this timeline with me! I remember when you had the surgery but I had forgotten how quickly you recovered. I think it’s possible that I could be running before the end of 3 months. I’ve heard that some people are back to running after just 6 weeks, but that 8 weeks is the usual recovery period. I think the doctor said 3 months since I am having both legs done and he wanted to present a worst case scenario.

      I read one forum of a guy who had both calves done and he went out for a run 10 days after surgery. I’m sure that was not recommended by anyone but at the same time, I don’t think it could hurt anything either. They don’t touch the actual muscle during the surgery so I don’t think anything is at risk for being damaged if you return too soon. I think it’s probably just a strengthening/pain tolerance thing. I doubt I would ever do something like that but it gives me hope for a speedy recovery!

      1. Megan @ Meg Go Run

        Yes I just wanted to give you hope! Obviously you will listen to your body just like I did (hence the .05 mile run when I tried it out hahaha!)
        Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Weekend Wrap UpMy Profile

  8. Sam @ G & G Nutrition Co.

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with this but I’m sure it’s a relief to have definitive answers! I will be sending you good vibes throughout the next few weeks!
    I was down for the count for a little while the year before last with my knee and then my ankle. It sucked, but I feel like physical therapy was amazing and made me so much stronger. It also gave me a new perspective about my health.
    Sending you hugs!
    Sam @ G & G Nutrition Co. recently posted…Lately: July 2017My Profile

  9. Staci

    I just had surgery in July. I also just started being able to run again. I didn’t run for 7 weeks, and did very minimal running prior to that. It sucks but knowing I am going to get back to where I was eventually helps ease the pain of each new run.
    Hopefully everything goes without a hitch for you!

  10. Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    I’m glad you have a definite answer and a plan! I had hip surgery in 2010. I stopped running in July, had the surgery in November, and started running again in February. That was the longest Ive taken off from running. Now Im at 5 weeks since my last run and it feels like forever!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…Somethings Gotta GiveMy Profile

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