I'm usually very quick to respond. Field trip permission slips that need to be signed and returned in two weeks? They are in the teacher's hand the following day. Bills get paid as soon as I open the envelope, and I RSVP (a dying art) as soon as an invitation is received. Emails? Friends make fun of my lightning-fast replies. Yet when it came to my painful Achilles tendon, I ignored it like a dweeby, dull admirer at a college mixer. Maybe if I just didn't pay it/him any attention, it/him would go away.
Yet my injured ankle was definitely on my mind--especially whenever I walked after sitting for too long or headed down stairs. I gave our RLAM intern a key to our front door as it was taking me so long to hobble down from my second-floor office. Also, I finally got a look at it when I was shaving my legs one morning. (Two uncommon occurrences in my daily life: 1. looking at myself for more than the two minutes I spend brushing with my electric toothbrush; and, 2. shaving my legs.) My painful left ankle was a thick cord along the back of my foot, whereas my just-fine right one was a narrow reed. Action needed to be taken. No more ignoring a problem that had been bothering me off and on since the twins were born, 5.5 years ago.
One reason I hadn't taken action: Our family finances were even tighter than my tendon. If we feel too cash-strapped to take the kids out for gelato, how could I justify the co-pays and deductible for a sports orthopedist? But the bigger deterent was the "what if..." that loomed over my head. What if I went to a sports doc and that person told me to stop running for weeks or months? Heck, even the mere thought of a few days of no running makes me feel like a caged animal. Given the level of pain I'd felt, I was certain a doc would sideline me.
Instead I opted to see my friend Ali, an athletic trainer at a nearby college. She's been studying an intriguing treatment option called Graston Technique, and she was eager for a running guinea pig. After poking, prodding, and having me do a few simple tests, Ali got out oddly shaped, charcoal-colored tools that she told me were made out of bone. They looked like something recovered from the ancient tomb of a Chinese knitter. I gave Ali advice about training for her first half-marathon, this June, as she rubbed the rounded edges of the a tool against my ankle. It only hurt once, when she seemed to be digging for one deeply buried spot. (Graston Technique works on built-up scar tissue.) Otherwise the treatment felt like a quirky massage.
Afterward, Ali worked me through a few strengthening exercises that were more taxing on my brain cells--"point your toes and draw your foot on the diaganol. No, point your toes, not flex them....Point. Point."--than my body. We were done in less than a half hour. Exchanging tales of our kids--her adorably chubby 5-month-old eating avocado for the first time and Phoebe's newfound free-throw shooting skills--it had felt more like a gab session than a P.T. appointment. Yet the seemingly rudimentary tools and Ali's gifted touch worked miracles. That evening my forever-freezing foot felt warm to the touch at the ankle; the next morning, barely 12 hours after treatment, the swelling was noticeably diminished.
Ali's worked her magic three more times--and has never breathed a word about curtailing my running. The pain now is an occasional whisper instead of obnoxious shouting. If I had better flexibility, I'd be kicking myself for waiting so long to take action.