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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Desperate times, Desperate measures

I'm in route to the US Olympic trials and I certainly didn't make it this far on my own! My ankle has been hooked up, probed, rubbed, shocked, and pricked by more machines and magic medicines than I can count. My good friend, James, suggested that I give a little blog summary of some of my efforts. Getting me to the Olympic Trials has truly been a team effort. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village plus a whole lot more to breed an athlete... especially one on the mend from a serious injury.

A preview of my "medical village":

#1: Vasper

I began using Vasper just over a month after my injury last year. I whole-heartedly attribute the bulk of my return to the track to Vasper. Vasper gave me the ability to exercise when I could barely walk. So what is Vasper? Vasper is a rehab+training system that combines cooling and compression to force the body to produces excessive lactic acid, which in turn, signals the brain to release additional growth hormone. The presence of the additional growth hormone helped my ankle to heal way faster than my surgeon ever expected. Each time I came in for a check up appointment, my doctor would literally drop his jaw in awe at the rate of my recovery.

#2: Nerve-blocking injection

I'm not even go to try to give any medical jargon here because, well I'm certainly no doctor and odds are you aren't either so lay-mans terms should suit everybody just fine :-)(but if you are a doctor, please please enlighten me.) As you know, I'm still having a ton of pain in my right ankle. About a month ago, things flared up worse than they had in quite awhile; it even hurt to sleep. So 2-weeks ago, one of my doctors performed a nerve-blocking injection under ultrasound. They began by shocking me with somewhat painful signals to test my nerve synapses. When they found the general area that things were going awry, they whipped out the ultrasound probe. The scan revealed balloon looking spots in my a few of my nerve pathways. BINGO! My doctor hoped that by injecting those nerves, he could dull some of the painful signals that my ankle was receiving. So far so good... At least I can get a good nights rest now. (I swear that's my ankle and not a baby in the ultrasound image.)

#3: Chinese medicine

The same doctor that did the nerve-blocking injecting recommended that I see his friend who has been working in Chinese medicine for over 45 years and is now retired but will see people as favors. Well lucky for me, I have friends in high places so I could get in ;-) I've seen the guy 3 times total over the last week and half and by my second visit, my ankle literally looked better than EVER!!! I never thought I would see my ankle as small as he got it ever again. He used a series of treatments to draw the swelling out of my ankle and relieve my pain. At my first visit, he began by doing a foot detox. I thought he was going to electrocute me because with out saying anything, he put a rusty looking copper box in a tub of water, then attached wire to the two crude looking bolts on the copper box, then connect to wire to another little machine. He told me to put my feet in the water. I held my breath as he turned on the little machine... totally prepared to be fried! OKAY... so yeah I'm a little dramatic but I was really nervous!!! In the picture below it looks like "beef-broth" as one of my friends pointed out. HA! But according to my Chinese medicine man, the water was changing color as the current detoxed my feet and the color came from fats and yeast that were released from my feet. Sounds a lot less appetizing than beef-broth huh?!

After a 45 minute soak in the tub that didn't actually electrocute and kill me, it was time to soak for 45 in his homemade tea of cooked herbs. On the second visit after soaking, he put my feet on some sort of vibrating + infrared foot massager for 30 minutes to relax my muscles. Then it was time for the real kicker... no it wasn't marijuana he swore several times. But when he lit the herbs on fire in a porcelain bowl, it sure smelled like it. I had to put my foot over the bowl and he placed a paper box over my feet to help contain the smoke. He was essentially smoking my ankle to help release tension and loosen my joint. It worked but whewwww!!! I walked out of there smelling like I had just smoked 100 cigarettes in a sealed room... not a pleasant aroma to be giving off EVER and much less when your next stop is to do a little grocery shopping at Whole Foods. A girl wearing athletic clothes but stinking of cancer sticks is sure to get some disgusted looks from fellow shoppers. And oh boy did I! Two little kids were even pointing, laughing at me, and holding their little noses... awesome! ;-)

At the end of each treatment, the doc slathered my foot in his homemade paste of herbs and spices, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and bandages. I had to keep it on for 3 days at a time. Each time I left a little lighter in my wallet and shaking my head, acknowledging my desperation to get healthy enough to compete at my best. But I have to give two thumbs up to Chinese medicine! Everything he did was all-natural and I've truly seen improvement in my past few training sessions.

#4: Iontophoresis

Ok so again, I can't give any medical jargon, but to the best of my understanding, "ionto" basically delivers a topical low-dose cortisone (or medicine of choice) to the area in which the patch is applied via electrical currents. It feels like tiny pin pricks. We originally started using ionto on my ankle last summer to deaden the sensation of the nerve damage where the bones came out of my skin. When my injury happened, I was told that I would never regain sensation to the top of my foot and base of ankle. Well, actually the nerves began to repair themselves but the signals were all wrong. When anything brushed against those areas, I used to feel like I was being electrocuted. OUCH!!! So my physical therapists at Agile PT used ionto to help calm those sensations. After about a month of treatment, I was doing much better! We now use ionto to treat various spots around my ankle when it's too painful for manual therapy or to just help the general healing process.

#5: Game Ready

If you've ever been in an athletic training room or in a physical therapy office and seen a large red box, chances are you've seen a Game Ready. They're super popular! A Game Ready is an ice machine with attachments for the specific parts of the body in need of treatment. What makes the Game Ready so awesome is it's ability to deliver varying amounts of compression along with cooling. Ever heard the expression: R.I.C.E? Well remember this for your next boo-boo: Rest Ice Compression Elevate. The Game Ready is your one stop shop source to RICE. One of our trainers of Stanford's training room, who is now the head football trainer and just an all around amazing guy, helped me to get a Game Ready of my very own! This machine has been instrumental to my recovery! After long days of practice, I go home and hook myself up to my Game Ready for a least 30 minutes. Sometimes I even sleep with it strapped to my ankle. This was especially crucial last fall as I began a full training regimen. I love my Game Ready so much that I'm hooked up to it right now, after a good long shakeout at the track in Eugene, Oregon!(I wish I was getting paid for every time I just wrote "Game Ready")

#6: Acupuncture

And yup! Ever since 1 month out from my surgeries last year, I've had needles stuck all over my foot from time to time. I did acupuncture every other day for the first two weeks of April 2011 in order to help draw out the initial swelling from the injury and to help my foot regain motion. I still do acupuncture as much as possible, not only for my foot, but for my back, my leg muscles, stress, etc. You name it and acupuncture has a "point" for that! (DROID)... buh bumm ching! (so in case you're wondering... yes that is my attempt at referencing popular culture to be clever... perhaps I failed.) *shrug*

My Olympic Trials in the triple jump begins with the qualifier day on Saturday and the final day, for all the marbles, on Monday, June 25th. Come on crazy treatments... you've gotten me this far...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

JTS4H said...

Wow!! Erica that's a LOT of stuff! I hope everything helped to make your ankle feels better...
This day you and WE (family, friends, fans...) have been waiting for so long has finally arrived I can't wait to see u go out there and do WORK! I really believe in you to make things happen! You're story is beyond amazing you've been thru a lot and never gave up hands down for that now hope your mind is FREE and u will just FLY my best wishes to you. Make that US Team to London you really deserve it.
Love ya dear ;-)