Comeback athlete Krista DuChene on the road to recovery
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 10K 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 5K, 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 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend:
Thursday, May 22
6:00-7:00 pm tRANscend
7:00-8:00 pm Saucony
Friday, May 23
3:00-4:00 pm iRun
4:00-5:00 pm Saucony
Saturday, May 24
10:00-11:00 am iRun
11:00-12:00 pm Saucony
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. We have seen a big improvement in a short period of time.
*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. The possibility of a protruding bone? Now THAT would have been ugly … and more than likely the end of my running career.
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, my marathon return is that much closer. I may be able to start some easy jogging as early as the end of July. After three 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. My style.
Physiotherapy and Massage
At my first physio 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. And I was able to walk 1K home with my crutches since Jonathan was at hockey with the kids.
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, even moments after the race. When in hospital I was often asked about my pain level. I rated it 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 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. I’m not against taking anything if necessary but do believe the body has a natural way of telling you to take it easier the next time. I’ve always aimed to listen to my body. Obviously I’m not perfect at this – not many people finish a 1/2 marathon with a broken leg. Sure, I may have done a bit more harm, hopping to the end with the finish line in site but a fracture was new to me and hindsight is always 20/20.
Check out my “Pain will not prevail” for a some previous thoughts of mine on the subject.
I am getting great sleep at night, which, like training is key to recovery. I can now lay on each side for a short period of time with a pillow between my legs. It doesn’t last long but at least I get a break from laying on my back. And I’m sticking to my normal 1 pm nap time where Leah often lies on the floor beside me because I can no longer carry her upstairs ):
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, on my own. 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 for several minutes but back n’ forth, from hobbling from one counter to the fridge to another counter, is incredibly slow and awkward 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. In fact, now when I drop something, Micah says, “I’ve got it, mom” before I have to ask. Sweet kid.
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, who is already doing so much for our family, 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. Thanks, Sue and Gloria!
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. She thinks it’s quite funny that I had my long compression sock and “racing underwear”, as she calls it, cut off before surgery.
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 my 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 increased 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. No rush. 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, no fitness benefit but 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
May 20th, 2014