Tears, Bedpans and Hearts of Gold

#KristaStrong #MarathonMom #TeamDuChene

Tears, Bedpans and Hearts of Gold – Montreal Canadian Half Marathon Championships – April 27, 2014
Wow…where do I start? As I lay in in my gown in bed at the Montreal General Hospital, with a plate and three screws in my leg, I can’t help but think it wasn’t the hardware I thought I’d take home. There have been lots of tears. But, you know me. God is good. The glass will always be half full. There’s way too much to be grateful for.
So here’s the shorter story: the hip that’s given me grief for a few years finally called it quits. After leading the entire Canadian half-marathon championships race as defending champion with great confidence and fitness, my bad leg started to tire with pain with only about 5k to go. I was able to quicken the pace to lengthen the gap ahead of Rachel Hannah a bit more, but like a bad dream — with the finish in sight — it was like I lost a limb. Game over. Done. Extreme pain. No use of the leg…at all.
The thought did not even occur to me to not finish. Crazy. So I hopped. It was the kind of pain one could not “work through” or “tough out”. I clearly remember someone shouting: “Crawl if you need to”…
You bet I will, I thought.
I still managed third and upon crossing the line, fell into the arms of the amazing Alan Brookes. Seriously, that man is so special, father-like to me. He, Charlotte and Inga with the Canada Running Series have hearts of gold. He whisked me away to the medical tent. I was assisted with great help from Predrag Mladenovic and others back to the much warmer elite room. I could not move. Emily Gillis, Eric’s wife, was there and the tears poured down as I glanced across at her sweet kids, not thinking, “When will I be able to run”, but rather, “How will I care for my own?” A lovely girl with the tender care and knowledge as a nurse, she came over to console me. Just something about another mom with me, really helped. Thanks, Emily and congrats on the win, Eric!
Behind the scenes, two other great people were discussing my situation; Hugh Cameron and Ron o’Hare suggested I be seen in Montreal, immediately. I believe Ron’s words were “Do not move.” Thanks, guys.
Fast forward several hours of waiting in the ER with family friends (who brought tissues and chocolate!) and Athletics Canada‘s Douglas Duncan (what a great guy), we finally had the diagnosis of an 80% non-displaced fracture requiring surgery. So, a mere 20% increase would have made for a complete displacement. Before the surgery, they sent me for a CT due to a history of irregular night sweats, menstrual cycles and lymph nodes, and the lingering hip bump with a history of cancer on both sides. It did not show any obvious lesions or tumours so after a quick pee in the bedpan to rule out the last possibility—pregnancy (!)—I was under the knife. For someone who refused a C-section for hours with her first baby, I was finally up for my first-ever surgery. Couldn’t be avoided now! Many thought my tears were anxiety. Nope, just sad. God can deal with the rest and keep me calm. And that he did. It was time to get it fixed.
Upon waking I was cold, groggy and numb as to be expected. It took a few hours for the spinal to wear off so it was about 3:00 am by the time I was rolled to my room. I couldn’t sleep with noisy roommates so basically waited until morning. Douglas returned shortly before my husband, Jonathan, arrived — then I started my road to recovery. Simply to pee in a bedpan was a tremendously tedious and painful task, never mind awkward and undignified. Definitely the low of my morning was peeing my bed because I missed the target, then later fainting after my first physio, which included an attempt at the commode with crutches. The sight of it even made the student light-headed. Oops. There are more significant “dramas” going on around me so I’m at the mercy of my roommates for napping and enjoying the occasional moment of silence (when they leave for tests). When you are in a room with others also recovering from surgery, you start to count your blessings for the basics of life. Milestones of eating and drinking, passing gas and voiding pee are big deals in this room shared by four. Thank goodness for curtains and earplugs.
I’ve just finished dinner and successfully used the commode followed by five, 8-foot “laps” with the crutches. No fainting!
Hopefully, I’ll continue to move forward and we will have a better idea as to when I can go home. Thankfully, Jonathan’s parents came to the rescue so he could be with me. What wonderful support!
I’ve already had many interviews and have basically explained that I see this as a break similar to pregnancy. It will be a year or more out of the game to recover only to come back even faster and stronger. Of course there’s no guarantee but like my disappointing experience at Worlds in Russia, I’ll be back! This story is not over.
I have received tremendous love and support. Thank you from the depths of my heart.
Links to stories/videos:
Athletics Illustrated.

Canada Running Series finishing video, longer.
iRun finishing video, shorter.

La Presse (French) 

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