Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Comeback Kinda Athlete

We are really looking forward to our upcoming family weekend in Ottawa since last going together in 2012 and 2010. It was so kind when Manny, elite athlete coordinator, contacted me shortly after my accident, informing me that we were still more than welcome to go (if I was up to it). He also offered me the opportunity to commentate the 10 km race that I was supposed to run. I had a great time commentating the marathon last year so look forward to doing both races this year. Additionally, the boys are racing the 5 km, Leah and I will have our first ride on the Amphibus, and we will get to see several relatives.

For anyone who is interested in saying hello, here is my schedule for the expo at the Ottawa Race Weekend:

Thursday, May 23
6:00-7:00 pm tRANscend
7:00-8:00 pm Saucony

Friday, May 24
3:00-4:00 pm iRun
4:00-5:00 pm Saucony

Saturday, May 25
10:00-11:00 am iRun
11:00-12:00 pm Saucony

May 17, 2014 Three Weeks Post Surgery

Since last writing, a week after my surgery involving placement of a plate, 1 large and 2 small screws due to a fractured femur (after running a 1/2 marathon with an undiagnosed stress fracture)*, I've gradually transitioned from being barely capable to do much of anything, to establishing a safe routine, including most housework, various rehab exercises and normal living activities. I've categorized my progress as a way to summarize the last few weeks.

Orthopaedic Surgeon 
Friday, May 9 was my 2 week post-op appointment with my orthopaedic surgeon and good running friend, Dr. James Dill. Coach Rick took me to the 7:45 am appointment and Josie stayed with the kids since Jonathan had to work. The appointment started with an x-ray at the Brantford General Hospital Fracture Clinic. It was my first x-ray since the accident where a transfer board and extra assistance was not necessary, which was somewhat of a milestone.
As a local dietitian who often sees patients needing to lose weight to better their chances of success for hip or knee replacements, I've always known of James' excellent reputation. His sister is a speedy marathon mom from the east coast and they are incredibly caring and lovely people. Thank you, Jen and PEI friends, for your support over the years.
James was involved from the day of my accident, including viewing the x-ray and CT scans, and we've been running together for several years so he obviously had a great understanding of my history.  It was no surprise that he conducted a very thorough appointment in which I think I caught him off guard when to his first question, "So, where do we start?" I replied, "When can I run my first marathon?". A sense of humour is a good thing. We decided to cover the basics then eventually got to it later. From the appointment I learned that I could start showering because the incision was healed (never did have staples or stitches), begin warm water classes in the hydrotherapy pool at the gym at 3 weeks, begin driving at 5 weeks, resume taking my routine supplements (iron, multi-vitamin/mineral), and make the family trip to Ottawa at 4 weeks as I would still be taking Fragmin (to prevent blood clotting). One of the best pieces of news was when James explained that I wouldn't necessarily have to get the plate and screws removed. We will cross that bridge if we come to it but unless there is an infection, discomfort, or arthritis, my hardware is there to stay. One less surgery the better! The other great piece of news was our discussion about my return to running. No one knows what tomorrow will bring but I'm trusting James who is optimistic for a full recovery, and I am listening to my heart, which tells me that I will return to travel down that Road to Rio. I am realistic that God may have other plans, and that is fine, yet do strongly believe that with each and every day, I feel my marathon return is that much closer. After 3 babies and collapsing in the heat at World Champs, and other minor injuries, I have proven to be a comeback kinda athlete; one tough momma.

*I think I have this right - I had a stable, garden I, non-displaced intertrochanteric fracture. Fortunately with my fracture, the femoral neck area, with the really good blood supply, was not harmed so there remains good healing potential. I am blessed that it was 80%, not 100%, fractured.

Physiotherapy and Massage
At my first appointment at home because I can't yet drive, Sherri and I basically talked about everything that happened. From the "why" to "Rio", we covered it all. She gave me some basic exercises and reviewed the safety of my daily activities, explaining that she would continue to see me weekly at home, and follow up with James and Ron for my treatment plan.
Thankful for an elevator in the massage therapy building that is close to home, I was able to get David booked to give me a gentle massage. My left knee has been bruised, the last few days, which is  normal after surgery. We too had a good discussion about everything, looking back and looking forward.

I've been very blessed to be relatively pain-free from the beginning, when I am not moving. That is why I'm smiling in some pictures and grimacing in others. When in hospital I was often asked about my pain level, which was 9/10 with movement. Childbirth remained at 10/10 and broken ribs moved down to 8/10.
Since returning home, I had a few small sudden movements and sneezes, which resulted in a decent amount of throbbing pain in the upper leg area. It often lasted about 10-15 minutes but subsided on its own. And other than taking 2 tylenols last week after my first busy day, I haven't taken anything since. I will sometimes feel a dull ache in the leg while sitting but I think that can be expected at this point.
Check out my "Pain will not prevail" for a few of my thoughts on the subject.


Daily Activities 
On Thursday, eleven days after my surgery, and after one week at home, I made my first trip upstairs to sleep in my own bed and enjoy my first shower. I didn't mind sleeping on the couch or bathing with a laundry tub but after being in my own bed and shower, I knew there would be no turning back.
I'm not overly confident using my crutches on the stairs so have been safely bum-scootching my way up and down, once or twice a day.
After Jonathan's parents left, I was on my own for the before school routine. Of course Jonathan was more than willing to do the work but I insisted that I learn to do it. When the first morning came where I had to make our weekly batch of pancakes, it was exhausting. Seemed like it took nearly twice as long as normal. I can easily stand at the sink to wash dishes or chop vegetables but back n' forth, from one counter to the fridge to another counter, is incredibly slow with crutches. I have learned to ask for help and the kids have been great to fetch things from the fridge, grab things I can't reach and pick up dropped items from the floor.
Thankfully I had two friends from church come to help me with some cooking and cleaning. Let me tell you, it was hard to say yes to their generous offer but when the alternative is to ask Jonathan, I decided to take them up on it. Cleaning floors is likely the most difficult job with crutches. The kids can vacuum but mopping is something that only an adult, or much older child, can do.

Back to the Gym!
Friday, May 16 was a big, big day for me as I was able to return to my normal routine. I got myself and the kids ready and out the door for Jonathan to do drop-off at the school and gym. I must admit that it was pretty emotional for me. I remember it was one of the first thoughts I had while in hospital. I knew that as soon as I made my return to the gym, I was on the road to recovery. While dropping off Leah at the childcare, I had some tears of joy as I was so glad to be back. Poor Leah started crying as a result but quickly cheered up again when I reminded her of all the stories she wanted to share.
I safely made my way to the hydrotherapy pool and joined the older folks under the great instruction of Tia for a warm water workout. For years I've admired people's dedication to improving their health in these classes, often using walkers or canes to get there. I knew if they could do it after illness or surgery, I could too. The heat and gentle movement felt great, and because of the buoyancy and 50% weight bearing, I could almost walk while in the water. Folks double my age were lapping me in the warm up but it was a great session where I was able to move comfortably and easily increase my range of motion and strength. Because the first half of the 1 hr class is lower body, I think I will move over to do some pool running for the second half, next week. After carefully drying off, changing and making my way to the weight room, while chatting with my gym buddies I hadn't seen in a few weeks, I got on the recumbent bike for 15 minutes of easy, low-resistance biking. Again, it was great to easily move the leg with no pain or discomfort. I finished up the morning with some upper body weights then gave myself twice as long to shower before heading down to get Leah.

We just returned from opening our cabin for the summer where we will now spend more time with me not training for the Commonwealth Games Marathon(Glasgow, Scotland in July). With a pool and plenty of paths, I’ll have lots of opportunity to continue healing while slowly returning to training. I’ll likely post again at the end of May, after our Ottawa weekend and my 5 week post-op appointment, which will hopefully show some serious bone healing! Thanks for your continued prayers and support. 
#KristaStrong . God is Good. The Glass is Half Full.

Back at the gym. What a great feeling.

Still some swelling in the (left) leg but at least there is some definition again.

The scar won't be too bad at all. Nothing a little Vitamin E can't help.
Looking even better a week later.

Talk about inspiration. Returning to surfing after a shark takes her arm?! Wow! I had always wanted to watch, "Soul Surfer" about Bethany Hamilton. So glad the kids let me pick the family movie the other night. Makes a return to running, after a busted leg with some hardware installed, seem not so bad! A great quote from Bethany in the movie when hoping to return to surfing, "I don't need easy. I need possible". 

Spending more time with Leah at home allows me to work on my artistic skills. Clifford looks pretty good, if I say so myself. She has enjoyed more time with mom, reading books, learning numbers and letters, and listening to nursery songs (thank you, youtube!).

In great hands with my running friend and orthopaedic surgeon!

Love the personal cards, pictures and letters from the kids for Mother's Day.

Making things work. I sit on my walker to fold laundry with my #1 helper, Leah. 

Thanks for the kind words, Sam, Daivd, and NYRR. You bet I'll "come back stronger than ever"! 
Just had to take this picture. There are times I am bummed but looking at my short 2014 season is certainly something to be proud of. I still managed to race 7 events this year, from a 3,000 m on the track in early February to the half marathon in late April.  And my NYC half marathon time of 72:26 in March was technically a (2 second!) PB because it was on a certified course.
My 70:52 from 2013 was from Vancouver Scotiabank, a non record-eligible course (point-to-point).
My 32:41 from the 2014 Yonge St 10 km was 11 seconds faster than my 10 km PB from 2013 in Ottawa but it was also a non-record eligible course (downhill).

Walking to and from the mailbox, twice that day, was a big accomplishment. I'm now up to about 1 km per day, which takes about 24 minutes. Leah and I enjoy little games along the way and the mailbox never has more the one day of mail in it at a time now. 

Grammy and Grampa with Leah, opening a beautiful Edible Arrangement from my friend Jody and her family. Their care for our family during this tough time was amazing.  We sure loved having them around and I was sad to see them go.

I'm able to easily stand on both legs with weight evenly distributed. I can do calf raises and not-so-deep squats. But raising the leg, using the hip flexor is nearly impossible. I know it will come.
Thanks so much for this, Hugh Cameron. Speaks volumes!

What a wonderful Mother's Day with my #TeamDuChene. I was able to return to church (very thankful for the elevator), spend most of the day outside in the beautiful weather, enjoy a late lunch at the Blue Dog, and watch a movie with snacks later in the evening.

Mark 11:22-24 "Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Week Later ... Life in my Home Office

A Week Later ... Life in my Home Office
#KristaStrong #TeamDuChene #MarathonMom
"Your optimism and steadfast faith are such an inspiration. Your honesty in sharing the tears and struggles is equally an inspiration. Praying for you!"

It's about noon on Sunday, May 4. Exactly one week ago, I sat alone in the elite room after a "gutsy" finish of the Montreal CDN Half Marathon Championships, not knowing I had a fractured femur, while the other runners attended the awards ceremony. I was so close to defending my title but forced to settle with some different hardware instead: 1 bronze medal, 1 plate and 3 screws. Definitely not in the plan. Even I cringe when I watch the Canada Running Series and iRun finishing videos. The "Eye of the Tiger" song and "Break a Leg" expression have a whole new meaning now.
Now that I'm home, I continue to receive amazing support and am so grateful. Jonathan's parents have been over the top with the kids, meals, and housework. They are amazing people who continuously serve others, never expecting anything in return. Our kids have been so blessed to have them, especially as their only grandparents (Jonathan never even met my parents). Having watched our 3 kids while we were in Europe after World Champs last August, and Jamaica this past January, they have really gotten to know eachother. I am so pleased when, from the couch where I spend much of my time, I hear them obey their grandparents. Micah, Seth and Leah aren't perfect but seeing the respect they show is very special for Jonathan and I. Parenting is a tough job so it's nice to feel like you aren't doing too bad once in a while.
After our 9 hr drive home from Montreal General, Jonathan wanted to get me in the house safely before allowing hugging and kissing from the kids. He felt it was very important that they see my fragile condition, first. Poor Leah sat on the piano bench like a little puppy in training. Seth was gentle and caring, setting up a game of chess right beside me. And Micah was his normal self, full of questions.  They are doing very well to be careful around my bad leg but are still kids and I am often reminding them to take caution.
I slept a solid 7 hours last night without waking with the desire to change position or use the washroom. And we've been settling in to a fairly good routine at home. The kids fetch anything I need, say good night before heading up to bed and greet me first thing in the morning upon waking. I'm still in pyjamas with hairy legs but I've washed my hair twice. Progress.
I've had a steady but tolerable pace of visitors, which has been nice. I'm an extrovert so welcome any opportunity to fill my day but must remember to keep pacing myself. Rest is still extremely important.
I am able to move my leg much easier every day, sit for longer periods on various chairs and couches, and even carefully and steadily stand with weight on both legs. The incision is healing well and I am only using tylenol about twice every 24 hrs. But it hurts with the occasional muscle spasm, sudden movement, or sneeze (that I anticipated from broken ribs last year) and I still have a good amount of swelling, particularly around the knee. Much like after a pregnancy, I am finding it difficult to know how to stand and move properly. I don't want to develop bad habits, do too much or too little. Sherri will see me for physio on Tuesday and James will see me in the fracture clinic on Friday.  They will be able to assess me and we will then create an updated recovery plan.
Just like after Micah was born and I returned home from hospital, Jonathan has now left for a few days of work out of town so we are back in the great care of his folks. There are so many comparisons to having a baby; they will stay as long as needed but are willing to head home when we think and feel it is right. Before leaving, Jonathan helped me bathe and wash my hair just in time to get cozy on my couch to hear our church service via FaceTime. Thanks, Natalie and Keith. The gang has returned with cards and gifts so I'll sign off until the next time.

Jeremiah 29:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Home Sweet Home.

The new hardware. 

Like my recent presentation to the swim club on, "Dealing with Disappointment", it's time to practise what I preach by focusing on the benefits to the back-up plan.

Shortly after showing her how I'd administer my needle, Leah was on the couch, talking herself through her own injection.

Flowers, cards, food. Thanks, Brant Community Church and others.

Recently Britanie finished chemo and radiation and had her second mastectomy . I guess it's my turn for the recovery road.

My morning view. 

My aunt said she thought I might prefer baking over flowers, if given the choice. Like when my mom was sick,  Aunt Andrea's love and care was expressed in her caring and thoughtful way. Thanks so much for the baking and visit. Another area to pace myself. Must hide from kids.

Leah using her "crutches", walking around the house saying she can't yet use the stairs. Micah fetching me coffee in the background. So glad I trained him to do so, carefully, before my accident.

My sweets. 

Thanks for the visit, card and "Half Full" shirt, Mike!

Kids pitching in, tidying and vacuuming. 

Lots of reading, lego and chess.

Seth will often come and sit beside me, playing songs on his "flute" or singing to me. Love.

Physio discharge note. "Cooperative, motivated +++, emotional". Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
New book to read, "David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell".

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Discharge Day at Montreal General - Another Day ... in a New Office

#KristaStrong #MarathonMom #TeamDuChene

After an even better night of sleeping, I woke up finally feeling somewhat myself again. Yesterday, when discussing my fainting situation with internal medicine, we agreed that I decrease the usage of the oxycodone painkiller. So, I completely stopped it but continued taking tylenol every four hours. Several years ago, I remember watching the clock while on "oxy" after dry socket and infection upon getting my four wisdom teeth out. It was terrible and I could see how people could become addicted. But this time, it was different. I was taking the oxy and tylenol every four hours, more so to stay on top of the pain, rather than use as needed. I can still only sleep in one position, completely on my back, but was only up a few times in the night. Icing has really helped alleviate some of the chronic pain in the entire upper leg area from surgery but lateral movement is still extremely painful in the specific area of the fracture.
Anyway, I knew today was the day. I made my first solo trip to the washroom with my crutches, said goodbye and thanked ortho during rounds, ordered my room service breakfast (omelette, oatmeal, cottage cheese, fruit, milk and coffee), had my lovely bedside sponge bath, got dressed into something other than a hospital gown (ok, my pyjamas from home, but still), did my physio bed exercises, ate my breakfast, packed up what I could, and waited for Jonathan. Physio stopped by for the big test - my endurance. Four days ago I successfully ran 21 km. Today I crutched myself all the way down the hall and back. No problem. No sweating. No fatigue. And most importantly, no fainting! Said goodbye and thanked physio then Jonathan got all the discharge reports, packed up my stuff and hunted for a wheelchair to roll me out. Theft is a big problem at this hospital (and maybe many others) so the best we could do was use a commode to transport me safely. Kinda gross but we covered it with a towel and pillow as there was no way I was going to try to use the crutches. Another fainting setback wasn't what I wanted. Must. Pace. Myself.
My lovely roommate's daughter helped us make our way out and stayed with me while Jonathan got the rental van. The parking lot is just crazy at Montreal General so it took him a while. It was somewhat of a culture shock for me to see so many people, all at once. Sadly, my shock became reality when I witnessed the familiar scene of hospital patients walking out for a smoke while dragging along their IV poles. One man even mastered the art of placing his coffee on top of the pump without spilling a drop as he made his way just outside the door. Sad.
We said our good byes then a coworker of Jonathan's happened to pass by. Not surprised that she didn't even recognize me; my new highlights have turned into lowlights and I haven't worn any make up in days. What a blessing to have her come by at that time. Getting into the van while it was raining was NOT easy. A nurse herself, she was able to carefully hold my leg so that I could get in. Again, that lateral movement was very painful. But we did it! Thanks, Francine.
We shut the door, I took a picture of our #TeamDuChene leader driving away, and set out for our 6.5 + hour ride home. Funny thing is that Jonathan and I recently committed to spending more quality time together. Didn't quite mean this much but we will take it. Coffees in hand and chatting through the long drive together while he warns me of every bump in the road has allowed us to catch up on things and make the time pass. I've been delivering things to him using my good leg and we successfully stopped in Cornwall and Belleville for food and washroom breaks. Using the "deluxe female urinal" has been amazing. Seriously, I'm going to keep this thing for our 3 yr old daughter (ok, and myself) for those emergencies.  I managed to crutch around beside the van for a few minutes but had to again remind myself to take it easy when a gust of wind nearly knocked me over. Such little strength but it will return.
I think I'll turn my screens off, have a nap and just enjoy the rest of the ride with my hubby. Once we reach the other side of Toronto, I'm sure I will start to get very excited to see the kids again. I hope they recognize me! They don't know we are coming and we hope to make it home before they are in bed. 
Thanks again for your continued support, love and prayers. I have received hundreds of encouraging messages and can only hope that I can keep inspiring others as I share my story.  
Eventually we will examine the "why" and "what's next" but right now the focus is on healing and family. Pardon the pun, but I am going to enjoy this break. I'm already making notes of the blessings, which include more time at our cabin this summer and allowing my toenails to grow back! Thank you, "Get Out There Magazine" for the article, "What happened to Krista DuChene?". I know a lot of people have been concerned. Athletes get injured. Like my heat exhaustion at World Champs in Russia, I will not dwell on it and over-think it but will eventually come up with a plan to again return to running, fast, fit and healthy. Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to my running and orthopaedic surgeon friend, James. He just returned to work after taking time off for his new baby and has been involved with every event, since entering Montreal General Emergency Sunday afternoon. Going back and reading the initial emails and text messages brings tears to my eyes. 
God is good. The glass is always half full. And here's my new hashtag for this story, thanks to Alan Brookes, "#KristaStrong".
I'm so going to read this book with all the extra couch time I'll have. Seriously.  Nearly 39 yrs old, a Christian with 3 kids, an Olympic silver medalist, the 2014 Boston Marathon champ whom I personally met a month before at the NYC half marathon, and ....wait for it..... apparently another marathoner who suffered a fractured femur while running. While I was leading the race Sunday, I was thinking of him as just a week before, he lead Boston as the oldie. It encouraged me as I pulled away to - almost - secure the win. 
Love this picture. Thanks again, Alan. #KristaStrong

Ready. Set. Go. On our way home!
Had to get off the 401 for a bit due to a closure but enjoyed the view.
Not my favourite coffee but had not yet indulged in my coffee/mocha and cookie after-race treat. Normally I allow myself this treat if I get a PB, win overall, or earn prize money. Not a win or PB but the bronze did earn me some cash. 

Thanks, Sherri and Essential Physiotherapy for the "new equipment for my home office"as you put it. 

True love. So glad he got the "deluxe" one. 

Saying thanks and goodbye to an amazing physio team. They certainly saw me at my lowest and like a good health care professional, perfectly mastered the art and science of caring for a patient. Thank you.
Outta here! See ya, Montreal General! Thanks for your great care. 

Thank you for being such a great roommate. I must admit, at one point I was a bit envious to see you zipping around with your walker at age 86 after back surgery, not fainting. I had mentioned it to my running friend/ortho surgeon who is providing my care at home. He said you must be doping!
I'll kinda miss this. Really, who can beat ordering your own daily breakfast in bed?