Sunday, December 4, 2011

My recent surgery...

The day before surgery - 30 seconds
short of new PR - 1:58:08
Atlanta Half Marathon (7th time)
Hey! Okay, so I thought I'd write a little post on here about my recent surgery... I am back at school and doing well, but still recovering - hence the fact that I am not allowed to run yet.  Anyway, back in 2009, we found out that I had a "lesion" (nice word for "STINKIN' NF TUMOR!!!") along my femoral nerve, in my upper right thigh.

I had been told by coaches that I "favored" one leg over the other, which is common enough to not create any concern- it just means that you strike and push off a tad stronger with one leg.  Other than that, the first symptom in Spring of 2009 when I told the sports trainer that I couldn't feel my kneecap, which created concern- knowing I have NF2, and so I was told to get an x-ray of my knee.  They sent me home and told me that I was fine, but I knew there was a problem.  As the months went by, that area of numbness continued to spread to much larger areas of my leg- up my thigh and down my shin.  I was scheduled to have surgery to remove the now "enhancing lesion" as they called it after my 2nd MRI of the thigh.  About a month before that operation that was scheduled for September 2010, but then after I had done the pre-op testing, it was CANCELED, because they wanted me to get more tests done!  I had to get an EMG to measure the electrical activity of various muscles in my leg, by sticking little needles into the leg muscles. If you are wondering, I think the pin they stuck in my shin muscle was the most painful of them all!

My entire right leg seemed to be getting weaker, particularilly the quad!  When I tried to do the leg extension machine the gym, I could struggle to do 10 pounds or 15 pounds at best, on my right leg, but it felt like about the same effort level to do the same thing with 50 or 60 pounds on my left leg.  I could even see the difference the the size of the leg muscles- IRON on left and JELLO on right! Despite all of that, I continued running, although my stride altered but my body learned to compensate for the uneven strength... my right glutious-maximus (rear) became stronger than my left side glute.

I'd run my first half-marathon (13.1 miles) back in 2003, and had run a best time of 2:01, but usually ran times in the 2:03 - 2:10 range for a half-marathon run on roads, and all of this time just dying to break that 2-hour mark.  A few months after getting diagoses of having this tumor in my leg, I ran the Atlanta Half-Marathon 2009, for the 5th time, plus i've run other halfs as well, and I FINALLY did it... 4 minutes off... I ran 1:57:38 and you know what? I felt like I was on top of the world!  took off those shoes and had terrible blisters but PAIN IS TEMPORARY! (I've also done five full marathons.)

As of June 2010 MRI, the "enhancing lesion" measured approxtimately 5.3 x 3.6 x 1.9 cm.

And after that, I just kept on running... sometimes I told people that I had a tumor in my leg, but usually they didn't believe me, since I'm always running and biking all over the place.  My boyfriend and I did some winter road races, in sub-zero temperatures, and then an open snowshoe championships race.  He decided to do a triathlon when I had gone home for a week, and the next year we both did it, and he preposed to me at the finish line!!!! <3  ...then we both did Syracuse 70.3 IRONMAN!  (and I'm not supposed to be able to swim in open waters or to ride a bike due to lack of balance nerves... and I still had the leg weakness caused by that darn NF tumor!)

Steve kept telling me over and over that pretty soon I won't be able to use the tumor as an excuse for going slow, because when I recover  and the nerve heals, if will get stronger! ... I LOVE HIM!!!

In October, I went to Boston for doctor's appointments, pre-op, met ups with a girl with NF1, Jen, and also participated in many hours of a medical research study about vestibular balance. A week after that, I ran my first ever 50k... yes, that is 31 miles! 

So, the surgery? It FINALLY happened! November 25, 2011, 9 days ago... and yes, the day after running my 7th Atlanta 1/2 Marathon, and barely missed a P.R. time by only 30 seconds, and finished in 1:58:08... I've only made sub-2-hours twice ever, this one and the other I mentioned above.  After the race i cleaned up, and packed up the car, and my parents and I flew off to Boston, where I would have surgery the next day!  We had celebrated our big Thanksgiving family dinner, the prior Sunday, with my grandmother, but we still had Thanksgiving dinner left-overs for the actual day. 

My surgery was at 8am and I woke around 11:15am, I think- well that is first time I noticed the clock. The surgery went very well and my doctor said that the tumor came out relatively easily with nothing apparent left behind.  I was originally told no running for 1 month, but later was told "2 weeks, if its not painful"!

I got discharged the following day and then on Sunday, at 7am, my Mr. Prince Charming came and picked me up and whisped me away, and drove me all the way back to Rochester.... Did I already say how wonderful he is or what?! NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM!

I returned for my follow-up appointment 3 days ago, and he said that it looks like it is healing very well.  When I casually mentioned to the doctor that I had gone to pilates class 3 days post-op he just said "hah, I knew you would!" My mom was there for my follow-up and we met up with Jen also and got lunch. I started Physical Therapy on Friday, one week after surgery.

I will be up and running, very soon! 
I should get back to studying now!