People often ask me how my recovery is going. I find it really hard to respond well to this question. I am still struggling with my leg. My left leg still doesn't function how it should and causes me pain if I do too much. I've had a multitude of diagnoses over the last few years but I still haven't got to the bottom of it. So, in answer to the question, I can't recover until I've got the diagnosis and addressed it. I know that people ask because they care and want the best for me so that's why it's a hard question to answer.
After the operation I had in August (blog about that here) I really hoped my symptoms would disappear, I'd get back to running, and life as I previously knew it. As the weeks passed the discomfort slowly returned as I went back to normal life and exercise. To say I was upset by this would be a huge understatement.
I had stopped taking anti-depressants when I thought I had a solid diagnosis and the future looked bright. As I found myself right back to square one, with no diagnosis, my mental health deteriorated. I had lots of other personal issues going on in my life too and I found it really hard to cope. I sought out some of the best practitioners possible to help find out what was going on with my leg. I was advised to do no exercise until we found the problem. This only exacerbated my mental challenges and I felt the best option was to begin taking medication again.
For the next few months, on a weekly basis, I was working with a podiatrist, chiropractor and personal trainer. Together they tried to figure out what might be going on. This cost me a lot of money and unfortunately resulted in no change.
Through the whole process over the years, I hadn't seen an osteopath and this kept getting recommended to me. Randomly, I had just taught an osteo and her staff to rock-climb at work, and as a thank you I'd been offered a free consultation. This seemed far too coincidental to me, and an opportunity not to be missed. I got an appointment as soon as I could and got her opinion.
After looking at me standing and moving, she had a good prod and poke around my body. Her thoughts were that it's likely to be vascular. She noticed that my pulse was weaker at my ankle than it was higher up my leg. The two main thoughts that I receive from people are that it's either vascular or nerve related. What I loved about her process was that she said it's best we find out what's going on inside instead of treating the symptoms (which is what many people have been doing without necessarily knowing why). So she referred me for a doppler ultrasound scan (stress test).
Whilst at work one day, I received a phone call from my surgeon who said that he had been speaking to another vascular specialist about my case. He mentioned that there was a condition called Endofibrosis. It's typically a cyclists problem but can occur in runners. I researched the symptoms and it did sound very similar to my struggles. Luckily, the test for this is the stress test I had been referred for.
Whilst seeing the podiatrist some time ago I had been referred to see another Sports Medicine Doctor in Wanaka. The first time I met with her she examined me and thought that the problem was coming from my spine. A similar diagnosis to one from the UK. She wanted me to have a lumbar spine MRI but it would cost lots of money. I mentioned that I had one done in the UK a year and a half before and she requested I get that sent over.
I would have expected scans to be emailed between countries these days but apparently not. I had to get my mum (in the UK) to phone the hospital and request a document to be sent to me in New Zealand. I had to fill that in and post it by snail mail back to them. They said it could take up to a month to find my file and then they would put it on a CD and post it to me. Anyway, I'll cut a long story short, I managed to get the file.
In the meantime, I had an x-ray on my spine and pelvis which showed some abnormalities but nothing that would cause my pain. Went to Dunedin to have a bone density scan done of the whole lower half of my body from the boobs down. Again, this showed a few areas of damage but nothing to cause the leg pain. Apparently my toes have taken quite a battering over the years!! And I got the referral through for the doppler ultrasound stress test.
In early March I went up to Christchurch for the stress test. This involved having your blood pressure tested pre and post exercise, so I had to take my bike and indoor trainer with me to exercise in the lab. The results from this were given straight away but, annoyingly, they were inconclusive. Some parts of the results look like I could have Endofibrosis and some don't. So I was referred for a CT Angiogram to look in more details at my arteries.
I have some preliminary results from this scan and it looks like my arteries are fine. I am still waiting for further reading of the scan but I don't expect much to come from this.
So where does this leave me at the moment? Everything is still the same symptom wise. I have to be careful I don't do too much activity as my symptoms are worse the more I do. But with lockdown it's not likely I'm going to do too much. I am just waiting for more opinions and also hopefully being referred for a pelvic MRI.
The silver lining with everything I've been through regarding my leg is that I've become very resilient. I find coping with situations like the lockdown far easier than I would have a few years ago. I've learned to be at peace with myself and to be calm when an obstacle is put in my way.