Wednesday, 30 October 2013

On the mend, slowly

I write the post for myself, so in the future I can see how the muscular healing process progressed on me, aged 56. Over the years, the worst injuries that I sustained have been physical in nature, brought on in transit, carrying heavy things or running. Let this be a lesson to me, and at the same time be of use to anyone who's googled 'calf injury'...

It is just over five days since I pulled my calf muscle while running for the bus. With an overloaded rucksack (apart from the usual stuff - laptop, camera, a book, papers - I also had the power cable to keep the laptop going over the weekend, and two lenses that I'd got back from repair) I broke into a sprint across ul. Karczunkowska for the 809 bus to save me a 12-minute walk home. In mid-stride, I felt a sudden sharp pain shoot through my left calf; my immediate thought was that my heavy 10-24mm Nikkor lens had fallen out of my rucksack and onto my leg. But no - this was a muscle injury and a serious one at that. I caught the bus (thankfully!) and sat down, massaging my calf furiously (it felt like an unending, terrible attack of cramp). I limped home from the bus stop in much pain. That night, the cramp kept coming back - I did not sleep comfortably.

So. Saturday morning. How long would it take to recover, I wondered. Thankfully, there's a host of information online these days. Should I see a doc? Question 1: is there internal bleeding? (purple toes, foot, etc) No. Question 2: is the calf swollen? No. Question 3: is there any numbness in the foot? No. This is a Grade 2 calf strain, partial tearing of muscle fibres, five to eight weeks for full recovery. suggests that I've not got the very worse degree of calf injury, so no rush to A&E. No point of blocking the surgery, taking up doctors' time better spent on those in a worse state.

That first day, I had to hop everywhere. The act of placing my left foot on the ground was very painful. Moving about required one-legged hops to the nearest handrail, table, door handle. My right leg, taking all the burden, became very tired of hopping.

Sunday was a bit better. With a bit of effort, I could reach down with my left leg (curled up like a claw) and touch the ground, using it to stabilise me so I could stand (just) on both feet. But distributing my weight equally on both legs brought on sharp stabs of pain in my left leg.

Monday - mercifully, the internet has freed us from the physical constraints of having to be in the office, so I managed to do 90% of what was needed online, and sort the rest out by phone. By Monday, there was no more pain in my left leg whatsoever - while resting. Lying in bed, working at my laptop, I'd suddenly stop and think - what am I doing in bed? Nothing hurts! Yet as soon as I placed my left foot on the floor and tried hobbling to the bathroom - ah! Yes. On Monday I realised that I could now get around the house more effectively by walking around on tip-toes. I could still not place my left foot flat on the floor. On Monday night, after a long soak in a hot bath - I found that I could.

On Tuesday morning, I could now stand with my weight distributed equally between both feet, though with a sense of tension in the left calf. Tip-toeing still the preferred mode of motion. Out of bed today, I spent the day working at the kitchen table, eating lots of pumpkin seeds, which according to Wikipedia are a great natural source of magnesium (no.1 in fact, dark chocolate being no.2). And magnesium, according to Wikipedia is a useful for staving off leg cramps.

By this morning, I'm now back to using both feet flat on the floor, though I can't advance my right foot ahead of the left foot without pain. So I'm walking around with a shuffling gait - left leg forward normally, by right leg can only move as far forward as to be parallel with the left leg - and there it stops. After another long hot bath, I discover than the right foot can now be placed some three-four inches ahead of the left foot without discomfort. Those three-four inches need to be extended to two feet (60cm) before I'd consider my gait to be back to normal.

I'd assess my progress as being around 4%-5% improvement a day, so I'm around 20%-25% better, with some 75% to go. I hope my leg is well enough for me to cautiously go into the office on Monday, which means I have another four days of rest at home before then. If I can place my right foot several inches ahead of where it can go today without stabs of pain, I'll be ready. Physiotherapy - yes, I shall book some sessions with Medicover. I need to be able to walk, cycle and run just as I did before, though one vital lesson has been learned - not to break into a sprint without warming up leg muscles first. And for the leg cramps - less coffee (one a day, not two or three), more water, more of those important minerals - magnesium and potassium.

As I write I'm in good spirits, though I missed not having been able to get out and about these past fine days, and I can feel I'm getting flabby around the middle without my usual exercise.

Today I discovered internet radio station RAB Radio 1, American rhythm'n'blues music from 1942-62. Absolutely brilliant. It allows me to hop from Jeziorki to a 1952 Cadillac Eldorado heading west through the flatlands of Kansas on Highway 24 towards the distant Rockies...

This time last year:
Thorunium the Gothick

This time two years ago:
Łódź Widzew or Widź Łódzew

This time four years ago:
A touch of frost in the garden


Bob said...

Hope your mending quickens! Ice, Ice and more ice and slow very gentle stretching - had the same last year.

Bananas are good for a source of potassium as well. If you need anything over the weekend just call. We are around and it is no problem to pick something up for you.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear... :) I'd still double checked with a medical practitioner. While internet - indeed - is a reach source of information, I dare say, that when it comes to diagnosis and effective recovery, there's nothing better then a visit to a surgery.

@ Bob ;) - are not tomatoes a better source of potassium than bananas.... ? EwaS

KrakowJosh said...

I had the selfsame injury a few years ago after ill-advisedly playing a game of football at age 47 after at least a ten-year hiatus.

The symptoms sound identical, and I'm afraid it was several weeks of very gradual improvement before I was fully mobile again (although I was able to ride a bicycle in reasonable comfort after only a few days). Best of luck!

Bob said...

@Ewa - actually I believe bananas are #10 on the list of sources - 1st is white beans, 2nd Spinach, Baked potatoes and so forth down to the Bananas at #10. Tomatoes are somewhere after bananas.

adthelad said...

Szybko wracaj do zdrowia!

Michael Dembinski said...

@ all

Many thanks for your kind wishes:)

@ KrakowJosh

With this type of injury, cycling is great form of physiotherapy. Only problem is mounting and mismounting:)