Patting myself on the back

Mission accomplished for this week!  I managed to get three runs in (short and slow runs, but three of them), and I don’t feel awful.  It’s a low bar, but it’s all about celebrating the small successes, right?

In spite of the fact that it’s still March, it was capri weather. The dogs thought it was awesome, especially when I took them to the park before we went home so I could stretch.  It was wet and soggy, but Laika didn’t mind. Clearly.

To celebrate, I’m going to join in some St. Patty’s Day cheer.  Patting myself on the back … get it?  Funny how a few short runs can make me giddy :D  Cheers!

 

And the verdict is …

A few weeks ago, I described the conundrum of my right foot, and the bump on my heel that I have variously blamed on different pieces of footwear.  This bump – and the discomfort that goes with it – has put a serious cramp in my marathon training, and finding things to blame it on has become a small obsession of mine, while I’ve been waiting for some kind of helpful diagnosis.  At long last, I have seen Dr. Sports Medicine, and he delivered his verdict.  The bump is an inflamed bursa sac that is caused by overuse or extreme stress on the heel. This can come from any number of things, depending on the circumstances.  In my case?  The guilty party is … (I bet the anticipation is killing you) … my hockey skates.  However, running was also identified as an achilles-tendonitis-causing accomplice.  The good news? A bit of physiotherapy and some modifications to my skates should fix me up.  And I can still wear my girlie shoes at work.  The bad news?  I’m really behind on my training.  Like, seriously.

So it’s time to get serious.  Time to lace up my shoes, and start putting on the mileage.  Slow and steady, just like I said before, but mileage.  It starts this week, in between physio appointments, and I’ll share all the gory details here.  That way, if I slack off, you’ll know.  And one of you out there will send me a message saying, “Hey, what’s going on over there – don’t you have a marathon to go train for?”

Wish me luck!  Cheers :)

March is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month!

Did you know that March is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month? I have mentioned here before that Kids Get Arthritis Too.  I have also posted about how important it is, especially for rheumatoid arthritis, to get diagnosed early.  But did you also know that the same is true for kids?

As part of its awareness campaign for Juvenile Arthritis, the Arthritis Society has shared this information about a study by the Canadian Alliance of Pediatric Rheumatology Investigators (CAPRI), which found that children will see at least three health practitioners and wait four to five months after their symptoms begin before being correctly diagnosed and receiving optimal care.  One of the reasons is thought to be the overall lack of awareness that kids can get arthritis too.

Other interesting facts about JA from the Arthritis Society: JA is one of the more common disorders resulting in chronic disability in children and adolescents in Canada.  Altogether, approximately 61,500 Canadian toddlers, youths and young adults live with the intense pain and disability of arthritis. That’s at least one case for every school.

For more information about symptoms and treatment, visit here.  And to read stories from families of kids living with arthritis, you can visit this Facebook page, and click “Like” to spread the word.

Cheers :)

Show Us Your Hands!

I have mentioned here before that my mom’s rheumatoid arthritis was most obvious in her hands. Did you know that “arthritis hands” are practically famous? This brings me to week eight (and all caught up) in my series on “42 things you might not know about arthritis”.

There is an awesome community collage project called Show Us Your Hands! that was inspired by a blogger superhero named Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy, who wrote that he is proud of his hands for what they have endured. It has grown into an international awareness movement that is helping to unite and inspire people with inflammatory types of arthritis.  As the project says, “Inflammatory arthritis hands are a visible sign of the enormous strength of people who experience so much pain, that their hands are literally being pulled out of shape.”

It works something like this: rheumatoid arthritis affects the cells that lubricate and line joints.  This tissue becomes inflamed and swollen, and the swollen tissues stretch the supporting structures of the joints, such as ligaments and tendons.  As the support structures stretch out, the joints become deformed and unstable.

I don’t think I have any pictures of my mom’s hands. Heck, I hardly have any pictures of my mom.  But if you look at the hundreds of photos in the interactive collage, you’ll see what arthritis hands look like, and that there’s whole online community where people with inflammatory arthritis can support each other. I wish my mom had known that.  In her own way, she was proud of her hands too.

Cheers :)

Yes, osteoarthritis can happen to you too!

Did you know that sports injuries can contribute to osteoarthritis, particularly when we don’t take the time to let them heal?  Referred to as secondary osteoarthritis, it creeps up in joints that have been damaged by a previous injury.  It’s common in professional athletes (such as hockey and football players), but it can happen in anyone.

Although it’s important to remember that exercise and activity is good for us, we do need to take care of ourselves.  This Arthritis Society video tells the stories of two ordinary people who learned through experience how osteoarthritis can develop from sports injuries that aren’t fully treated.  For all my hockey peeps out there, I’m talking to you too!  If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

Cheers :)

Battle of the sexes

Welcome to the latest belated instalment of ’42 things you might not know about arthritis’! Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from arthritis than men? In Canada, an estimated 64% of those diagnosed with arthritis are women. And according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, most types of arthritis are more common in women. What’s even more interesting is that some research is suggesting that the course of rheumatoid arthritis is significantly worse in women than it is in men.

This article in the journal The Rheumatologist describes the state of play in a lot more detail, and ultimately concludes that the differences may not be as profound as some of the literature suggests.  But the biggest take away for me is that there do seem to be some differences, and this could have significant implications for treatment options. It is now understood that early treatment of RA is critical. If science is starting to find that some treatments are more likely to be successful for women versus men, that could make a huge difference for everyone who is trying to get their disease under control as early as possible. At worst, I can only jump to the conclusion that this merits more study.

Who knew?

Footwear on trial

These are the primary suspects in the unsolved mystery of the bump on my foot that has put a serious cramp in  my training – the story I’ve been promising to tell you for a few posts now.  I don’t know exactly when the bump showed up.  I just noticed it one day last year after a run, when I was being all sucky about my sore foot.

This bump is on the back of my right foot, beside the heel bone.  It’s sort of like a heel spur, but my doctor assures me it isn’t bone.  (Although it does sort of look like I have two heel bones, one beside the other.  Weird, I know.)  The bump itself doesn’t hurt, but it comes with symptoms like achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.  But apparently it’s not quite those either.

I immediately blamed running.  It’s obvious, right?  Runners get these kinds of things.  That’s just how it is and we accept that.  So I did what many runners would do under the circumstances.  I ignored it.  Eventually, it got really annoying.  Then work got busy, and I started slacking on the mileage.  Like magic (or short-term memory loss) the pain went away and I forgot about the bump.  When I laced up my shoes again a few months later, I got all whiny about my sore foot again.  After looking critically at the bump, which seemed to have grown, I spent some quality time with an ice pack and a bottle of ibuprofen, and finally went to see my doctor.  After a lengthy reprieve from running and a few medical referrals later, I still don’t have an answer.  And I still can’t run for more than a couple of consecutive weeks without my foot screaming at me.

While waiting for a small army of medical people to sort this out, I consulted with my friend Google, and found some interesting info.  Any shoes with with a rigid back such as ice skates or dress shoes can cause this type of irritation.  Omigod!  I sometimes wear silly shoes at work.  And I play hockey twice a week.  In ice skates.  Eegads!  This opens up a whole new set of possibilities that I expect I won’t like.

Final results should be in soon, after I see the foot doctor again.  Until then, I am finding other ways to keep my fitness level up, so that I’ll be ready for the Lausanne marathon in October.  I’ll write more about those another day.  In the meantime, who do you think dunnit?  Vote in my first ever poll to tell me what you think!