Admitting defeat: Tearing my medial meniscus

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Well I did it. I have my first running injury. It was bound to happen- any long distance runner will tell you of their lumps, bumps, and injuries. I just didn’t think it would happen to me (…said every runner ever). Especially considering most people aren’t educated in health fields and don’t know the correct way to run, find good shoes, stretch… All things I feel I’m better at because of my med school education and personal research into running mechanics. That makes me invincible, right?!

And of course when my knee started hurting in October, I shrugged it off as normal running aches and pains- no pain no gain! Plus, I was training for the Phoenix marathon… Which would be my first marathon and I was super pumped for it. Breaking through personal goals is so rewarding and I wasn’t going to let any muscle pain ruin that for me! And really running isn’t comfortable on anyone’s body. I’m used to being sore after long runs and icing, heating, stretching, etc.

So I kept running through it.

Until my ankle starting hurting in December…

Which meant it was compensating for my knee…

Which meant my knee was really hurt. I taught my hubby all of the diagnostic tests we learned in med school and, based off the positive tests, diagnosed myself with a medial meniscus tear on my left knee. Ouch.

I found an ortho DO in Phoenix who had good reviews, scheduled a same-day appointment, and went to see him. He was great. He did all the same tests I had my husband do with some of his own additions, and gave me the news: “well, you’re a great diagnostician. You have a medial meniscal tear. Let’s schedule an MRI and talk after that.”

The plus side to being a third year medical student is that my doc trusted me with his cell phone number. When my MRI was done, I was able to call him directly and discuss the results. The good news was that my tear wasn’t severe enough to require surgery. The bad news was that I had to rest, ice, stretch, and avoid running. He said I could maybe do the HALF marathon, but it wouldn’t be a personal best, and he didn’t think it was worth risking hurting my knee further. So I opted to listen and do no running. Ouch again.

If you talk to my family or friends, you’ll know it’s difficult to make me slow down. I usually have a million things going on all at once, all of equal importance, and all without enough time. So I haven’t let it slow me down. Instead of making time to run, I fill that time with other things, like the poster I’m preparing for the upcoming pediatrics conference or getting the house ready to host 4 different friends and my parents in the month of January alone. Or, you know, going to my family med rotation every day for 11 hours.

It’s been a good experience overall because it’s taught me that it’s ok to slow down every now and then and that I’m not capable of doing everything. The downside is that I’m not able to release my stress in my favorite way and I’m not able to start my new year the way everyone else seems to, with lofty fitness goals and trips to the gym. But I’m enjoying spending more time at home with my husband and our pets. It stinks that I won’t be able to run the marathon I had been planning on and looking forward to. But there will be other marathons. And I know when I get back to running I will appreciate it more than ever. Stay tuned for an update on my newest rotation, family medicine!

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