The Day the Running Stopped, Part Two: AKA In Which I Ignore All Common Sense
Several hours after I got home from my disastrous 5K, where I literally hobbled through the last mile, I felt a bit better. I still couldn’t put a lot of weight on the leg, but with rest it wasn’t painful. It was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, which for our family has always meant our little small town’s Memorial Day Parade. Our daughter is in the band, and she marches in it every year.
I thought about staying home and resting. I thought about maybe going to the local urgent care around the corner. I debated with myself over and over. And in the end, indecision won out. I would go to the parade on my daughter’s crutches to keep weight off my leg. I would rest on the sofa. I would have Monday to rest on the sofa. And by Monday night, I should be much better.
I told myself everything would be fine. If I willed it to be, it would be. I had a big week ahead of me: our town’s 5K was the following weekend and the last week before the race is always insanely busy. We take delivery on donated items, we assemble the race bags (1000 of them!) , we have to prepare everything on the site the day before. It is a huge undertaking. I had no time to be off my feet and resting with that coming up. I was sure I would be fine if I just took it easy for a few days.
By Monday night, I actually was feeling some better. I stopped using the crutches and adopted a modified gait (read: limp) that allowed me to walk mostly normally (or so I told myself). I steeled myself for work Tuesday, popped an ibuprofen and my most comfortable shoes, and went on to work.
I work as a substitute teacher at our local high school. This day I was in several different classrooms, walking all around our one story building. I knew, perhaps, that this wasn’t ideal for me trying to move forward from this injury. My iPhone told me I walked nearly two miles just in the course of the day. By 1pm, I was sore and visited the nurse’s office for some ibuprofen. They were busy enough to not really notice the strange walk I’d adopted. I was relieved.
Tuesday afternoon I knew somehow in my head that my leg was probably going to need attention. I enlisted my kids’ help in getting my race stuff for Sunday organized and out into the garage so that I wouldn’t have to haul it all up the stairs. But I still resisted going to the doctor; I just couldn’t spare the time. I was sure after another night off my feet and another stiff dose of ibuprofen that I would gradually feel less pain over time, and I would be fine.
When I woke up for work Wednesday morning, I was disappointed that I didn’t feel better. I had been so sure that after eight hours off of my feet and some sleep that I would see an improvement. My leg didn’t feel worse, but it didn’t feel better either. I popped my ibuprofen and massaged in a soothing cream that a friend had given me. I wondered how I would get through not only a day of school, but our race bag stuffing party that night. I packed a bottle of ibuprofen in my school bag and the soothing cream. Maybe I would have to double up doses today.
I could tell I was worse by 8:15 am. I had been in a computer lab with students when I rose to stand from a sitting position and felt significant pain just to stand. I tried to walk but my leg felt like it wasn’t in place. I had to sort of hitch it a time or two to get it to work properly. Once I had it in place I felt fine but the getting it there was filled with white hot pain.
Still, I had to get through the day. I had three different teachers to cover, including one of my “regulars”, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I could not have been more relieved when I saw my last four classes were watching a movie. I wouldn’t have to move around a lot, and it would give me the opportunity to rest.
In retrospect, I should have noticed things going slowly downhill. When I went to heat up my lunch in the library, people asked what was wrong with me. My limp, which I thought was just noticeable to me, was being commented upon right and left. Each time I got up from a sitting position hurt worse and worse. And the hitching I was having to do to get my right leg walking felt more and more like a “putting it in place”…in the back of my head I knew that couldn’t be good. At the end of the day, I was relieved to close my classroom door and be done. I was going to go to the doctor. Enough was enough. I would have to delegate some of my responsibilities and get my leg looked at.
I walked to my car and went to move it to the other side of the building. My younger son was in the other wing of the school that housed middle school kids, and I normally picked him up there at the end of his day, about half an hour after mine ended. I went to walk to the door of the school when suddenly I realized that I couldn’t really walk. I was pulling my right leg with all of my might and it was incredibly painful.
The principal noticed and told me to wait in my car. She would send my son out when the day was done. I sent my older daughter in to fetch him and needed to walk about six steps back to my car. I stood there, paralyzed. I couldn’t move now. Not without incredible pain. I willed myself to get back to my car and shouted expletives as I hauled myself into the driver’s seat.
I realized, then, that everything was falling apart. This was not something I could will away. This was not something I could just go to my primary care doctor for. I was going to have to stop everything and get to the ER. This was serious.
I sat there, with tears streaming down my face, wondering what was happening to me.