Merlin's Surgery Decision

From: Received: 4/9/97

I became an avid runner in the mid eighties, the days of long slow distance. I worked up to 70 mile weeks within one year and logged triple figures from time to time. Had never heard of under-pronation, just knew that I had a high arch and narrow foot. Things were okay for about 2 years, amazingly given the mistakes I was making. Then in late 1986 I felt lateral knee pain while on a leisurely run following the previous day's marathon. I tried to run through it, but as you know it became far too painful. I went to several sports medicine specialists who diagnosed ITBS and recommended everything from physical therapy to foot taping techniques. Things would improve for a short time, until i began to train for a particular race when, inevitably, I was reinjured. This happened around five times over the next 2 years until I took up cycling in total frustration. I enjoyed cycling, but it just isn't running. I was attempting to put off surgery for as long as i could, I don't much care for physicians.

However, I recently decided that life is far too short to not be able to run. I sought out another orthepedist. He sent me to a sports specialist (this guy works with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers I'm told) and he recommended a partial resection of the ITB. It used to be that the ITB was entirely resectioned, but recently success has been acheived with the removal of a 2cm wedge shaped piece of the ITB near the spot that comes into contact with the lateral femoral epicondyle. And so, 11 years after the original injury, having tried stretching, ultrasound, R.I.C.E., cortisone injections, orthotics, cross training, anti-inflammatories, hypnosis, neoprene sleeves,
massage and just gutting out the pain, I am surrendering to the knife. In fact I am scheduled for surgery in about 8 hours.

I have learned a lot about kinesiology, shoe selection, foot type, leg length discrepancies and so on and so on ad infinitum, but the biggest thing that ITBS has taught me is that running is not to be treated as a right that your body grants you in exchange for your motivation to "just do it." Running is a gift that you recieve, and must be treated that way if one is to be like George Sheehan and literally run for the duration of our lives. I hope that surgery will enable me to become one of the fortunate few who run just for fun.


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