How did I get here?

I’m a curious individual, a researcher. I like to read up on topics, especially those related to running form, running health and injuries such as my dreaded plantar fasciitis. I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles and consider myself quite knowledgeable about running injuries.

But lying in the ICU on a hospital bed with beeps ringing in my ears, I struggled to comprehend how this could’ve happened to me!

A pulmonary embolism (PE). Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my right leg. What? I don’t understand?

I drifted between moments where I couldn’t breathe and worried that if I passed out, I would never wake up. A ton of bricks weighed down on my aching chest and injections pierced my stomach. Heat and spiders crawled over my face causing me more irritation as my body rejected the painkillers. Just what I needed, a rash that was hard to scratch between all the ECG patchwork of stickers over my body. I eventually went numb when a stranger washed my body and I needed to ask the nurse for a bedpan whenever I needed the toilet.

DVT is quite common with leg injuries.

The specialist rattled through explanations of how my sprained ankle injury was to blame but that besides pain, I didn’t display any typical tell-tale signs. He prescribed blood thinners and a few days later I was discharged and able to rest in my own bed. Bliss.

The Googling has started and I’ve been doing so much reading up on DVT and PE. A life-threatening condition that is so unknown (well to me it was).

But I’m wiser. And I want the message to get out there. A simple D-Dimer blood test could’ve picked up any DVT in the early stages and avoided the PE.

I’ll definitely be more vigilant & responsible going forward. As runners, we often trip and fall, we accidentally roll our ankles, we self (mis) diagnose calf sprains and tears. Being aware of all complications and treatment is important. There are blind spots and sometimes we don’t know what to look for out of pure ignorance.

It’s back to physio tomorrow to continue treating my ankle. The next 6 months will be different to how I had envisaged them. Giving up my Dis-Chem entry. No more Two Oceans half marathon. I guess more gentle walks. Perhaps even some yoga.

But definitely a re-focus on what’s really important in my life. My health is top of that list right now. Body, let’s do this!

Wiehl’s on wheels

I felt trapped. Nursing my sprained ankle meant I had been balancing my body on crutches for three weeks while holding up a heavy moon boot. My knee and calf muscle were crying. My hands ached. I needed to get out of the house and feel like myself again. So I sent an urgent WhatsApp to my sister, “Please take me shopping!”

I was caught off guard when she arrived to fetch me with a wheelchair on the backseat of the car. “I’m not disabled,” was my defense but she bundled me up and off we drove.

By the time we arrived at the mall, I had stopped fighting and climbed in the wheelchair. What a relief to have my foot up and my hands free!

I could finally whizz around Woolies and pick out my own veggies and fruit again. I could feel the fabrics of the new fashion displayed in the stores. And it felt so good to just slow down and be outdoors.

The wheelchair humbles you. I was worried people would stare (which they did). But it showed me a different view of the world.

I observed:

– that some shops are easier to maneuver around than others. You need quite a wide path for the wheelchair to drive through. Shops such as Typo & Cardies do not cater all that well for wheelchairs.

– trying on a pair of shoes was difficult. The bench in Poetry is positioned conveniently (for able-bodied people) right smack in front of the shoe rack on a lovely fawn and pink carpet. It was a struggle to get close sitting in the wheelchair.

– when paying for goods, I could not see the POS / credit card machine screen when I was promoted to input my pin. It’s a tad too high.

– people apologize to you all the time. As you pass them or come around the corner, they see you, they jump out the way and say sorry.

– the beautician in Dis-Chem was the most comfortable dealing with me and even gave me mini manicure.

– when we stopped for lunch, the waitress remove the able bodied chair and wheeled my wheelchair in. It’s cumbersome sitting in the wheelchair. The foot rests are in the way under the table. The arm rests stop you from pulling the wheelchair closer to the table. And the legs of the table are in the way of this huge wheelchair seat.

For me personally, I didn’t mind hoping out of the wheelchair into the restaurant chair & asking the staff to move the wheelchair away. I know this isn’t an option for everyone.

It was great to get out! But more than a shopping trip, what I observed and how I felt in that wheelchair gave me a lot of food for thought.

Is wearing a moon boot for x6 weeks really the end of the world? Being impatient not being able to drive and my irritation depending on others almost seemed ridiculous knowing that it’s temporary.

Most of all, spending time in the wheelchair reminded me of just how incredibly blessed I am to have the use of both of my legs, to walk, to jog and to run!

That’s it. I’m out!

I’ve sprained my ankle. I wish I had a more elaborate story as to how I managed to sprain it. I wasn’t saving a kitten up a tree. I didn’t fall off my bike. I wasn’t even participating in a trail run. I simply stepped off the patio onto the grass on my way to pick up dog pooh. Yeah, that’s it.

The timing is actually perfect. It’s year-end and the race calendar has run out. Spraining my ankle has forced me to go into a phase of forced rest without having serious FOMO about any races I’m missing.

Come to think about it, I have missed quite a few races this year. Not entirely out of choice, but because they’ve sold out so quickly. I blame Discovery and their ridiculous point system. Since they entered the game with their Vitality Series, things have been quite chaotic at races.

The entries have sold out fast. The fields have become bigger and bigger resulting in gridlocked traffic on the road as well as huge congestion in the race. I’m seeing an increase in litter at all the water stops from mainly inexperienced runners.

Running a race in Jo’burg has become quite painful. And the last time I checked, old favourites such as Om Die Dam and Oceans were already sold out. We used to have a few months to plan and think about the races we’d like to enter. Not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. The increase in the number of people running and getting fit is wonderful. It’s positive. I mean, WTH! Sell out races is great. But the vibe has changed. I’ve started to choose an afternoon run around my neighborhood and the occasional run with Graham Block’s group over the stress of an actual running race.

I might feel different about the whole situation next year. Things might have changed. Maybe I’m just tired and winding down. Maybe I’m just really miserable and yes, maybe it is FOMO. With my ankle injury, I’m going nowhere fast and putting my feet foot up has left me with lots of time to think. 

I’m doing a lot of that lately.

 

Behind the Dassie lens

As we headed back to work after a thrilling weekend down in Nature’s Valley, I was swiping through a couple of photographs on my iPhone that KK had taken from the Otter Trail Dassie 10km trail run.

The mixture of pics show me as a bag of nerves before the race, my daring efforts during the middle of the race (just after I ran into a tree), followed by hilarious pics of me gripped with fear as I crossed the balance beam over shark & piranha infested water.

We had made the decision to go down to Knysna even though KK had pulled out of the Otter Challenge race due to injury. We had already booked flights, accommodation etc. and we thought we’d go down to support friends running the race and just enjoy a weekend away.

It’s not what KK had originally planned for his Otter 2017 trip. But his injury had forced him to drop out. Not being able to run, missing out of the hype, the registration, race number collection and then the race itself wasn’t fun. Playing the supporter role is not what he signed up for.

But when I see the photos, I realize that throughout the entire time, not once did he make others feel bad or guilty. He didn’t sulk or get irritated by our excitement.

But his weekend revolved around me. He helped pick out my new hydration pack, thank goodness, as there was no water point on the Dassie. He nudged me every morning to go for my morning runs and there would always be cups of hot tea when I returned.

And on race day, he was there. He gave me his usual prep talk when I got my nervous running cough attack, he made sure I had all my kit and he popped up at every possible moment to take photos of me during the race, cheering me on, at the start, during the middle of the race when I wanted to quit, and at the finish line. KK was present.

His happiness for me finishing my race shines through in the pics. I can still hear his cheers from the side of the road and he was genuinely interested in my over-analysis of every step of the race.

Sometimes it’s how you show up to a race, more than crossing the finish line that shows what kind of athlete you are.

I know you’ll be back to run your Otter, but this ones for you babes!