I woke up today, April 6, feeling pretty terrible. Awfully terrible. I still feel terrible.
But yesterday I felt even worse - even if the actually feelings were different kinds of terrible.
In the end, terrible is terrible no matter how or where it feels.
Let me begin with the terrible feeling I have today. It’s a gorgeous day. The sun is up. It’s spring. It’s bright. Today is the type of day I wait all winter for. And today was supposed to be very special.
Months ago two of my dearest friends agreed to run a wonderful marathon relay at the New Jersey shore with me. I have run this race with each of them at various times, but the three of us have never run the race together. It’s a fantastic race - loads of fun. I had been looking forward to this for months. Having the opportunity to spend the day with two great friends would have been awesome.
Friends, the NJ shore, a big race, sunshine, and spring…
It would have been the best.
Alas! As you can see, I’m writing a blog post. I’m not at the shore. I’m typing. I’m obviously not running.
I feel terrible about this. Terrible. Terrible for me. Terrible for my friends. Terrible for having to cancel what would have been a fantastic day.
All of this is certainly one way of feeling terrible.
But, yesterday I felt a different kind of terrible - physical pain terrible.
For the last two years, or so, I have had a chronic problem with my right Achilles tendon. It gets hurt, I tear it slightly, or I aggravate it, and I suffer in pain. I visit the world’s greatest chiropractor who always finds a way to help me heal quickly. He manipulates, he uses Active Release Therapy (ART), he works magic… I give my doctor much of the credit for getting my Achilles in good enough shape to carry me through the New York City Marathon last fall for my 21st marathon and 7th in NYC.
You see, I really should just let the Achilles heal and give it a long vacation.
But I can’t.
I have to run.
And in the spring, I have to play ball. Softball.
I play in two competitive softball leagues. This baseball thing I’m doing now is to re-live a dream from long ago and to see if it is possible to actually pitch again after being away from the game (baseball) for thirty-four years.
On the other hand, I am always planning my next big race and early awaiting my next softball game. This is supposed to be the best time of year. I stay in shape all winter through daily exercise to be ready for the spring.
I have to run and I have to play ball.
If you knew me, you’d understand. I don’t stay still for every long and running and playing ball are as much a part of me as eating and sleeping and breathing. In fact, I would, on most days, trade the eating and the sleeping part for playing ball. (Two years ago, I was playing softball and fighting a virus and had a situation where I found myself short of breath for more than a scary moment. That made me realize that I won’t trade breathing for anything.)
But to get back to this story, two days ago, on Thursday evening, I went out for an easy 3 miler to warm-up for what was supposed to be today’s big run.
I don’t know why, but after that, and all through the later evening, my Achilles decided to hurt. I iced and stretched and did all of the requisite stuff… I figured I had it all under control. My Achilles pains me a lot. This seemed no different.
Later, at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning, I woke up with my Achilles on fire. No, that’s not quite how to explain it. It was on FIRE! I’ve never had pain like that wake me up. That’s why I woke up feeling terrible yesterday. I woke up in terrible pain.
Friday’s terrible was physical pain.
Today’s terrible was emotional (and still a little physical). I hated to cancel the big race with my friends.
Yesterday I tried to make an appointment to see my doctor, he always makes time for me, always, but he was extremely busy and the only time available was at the same time that I had to be at a school event. I couldn’t make it. My only choice was to try to hobble through the day and night and try to look as close to normal as I walked around. (I think I did a pretty good job of that.)
This morning I visited the doctor’s where they gave me Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT), on the Achilles to help stimulate healing. The doctor said, “This should do the trick.”
We talked about the baseball game and about me pitching tomorrow. I loved his answer. “Do it. Go out there and play. Pitch. If you get hurt more, we’ll fix you up again next week.”
He then then said, “I’ll put KT tape on there and you should be good. What color do you want? I have beige or black.”
I chose black. It looks tougher.
I’ll spend the day today taking it easy (I’m not good at that.) I’ll ice the injury a few times. I’ll hope to heal a bit.
I’m a little depressed today. It’s a glorious day and I should be running right now.
But, I’m optimistic…
I still think I’m pitching tomorrow!!
The Achilles hurts, but it doesn’t kill. I figured I’d test out the leg, and give my arm a little pre-game workout.
I got my kids’ old “pitch-back” out of the garage, set it up, and took out a bucket of baseballs and threw pitch after pitch after pitch. I have a million baseballs so I didn’t have to retrieve any until I went through my bucket of 75 balls. The balls scattered across the backyard. It was great. Not wanted to overdo it, I only threw 100 pitches.
But, the Achilles worked.
My arm felt good.
And I am declaring myself ready for Opening Day!
Previous installments of this series can be found here:
The entire can also be found at www.drpaulsem.com