10 Things I Have learned 1-Year Post Hamstring Surgery

It’s My One Year Hami-versery Y’all

I know – hard to believe but 1 year ago today I had hamstring surgery to repair my partially torn (and very scar tissue laden) right hamstring.

Although from the outside it might look like recovery has occurred without any blips – that was not the case. Recovery from hamstring surgery has been filled with highs and lows, with some days being much, much better than others. What I kept telling myself was that I just needed to stick to the plan (I love a good plan). After a couple of weeks I started stringing more good than bad days together and that kept my outlook upbeat.

My surgeon was very conservative and I did not even lace up my sneakers until Feb 2021. I tried to “beat” the time line but my surgeon held fast. I was lucky to be allowed to crutch around the neighborhood (what a workout) and finally start biking in December.

My first run I felt (and probably looked) like a Pheobe on Friends.

Return to Running (Thus Far)

Coach James took my “Return to Running” very conservatively. All of my first runs were intervals of more walking than running. I still felt at the end of those runs like I ran a marathon.

I got stronger, my runs got longer, and a bit by bit I have built my mileage back 40-45 miles a week. I do understand the significance of this and look back on the last 8ish months at where I was and where I am now.

Do I want to be faster – hell yes!!! But during a run last weekend I realized I need to give myself grace. I’ve come far and at this point I am exactly where I need to be in my running journey.

So – when I line up to run the Hartford Half Marathon next weekend – it won’t be a PR BUT it will be a PR of where I was last year and that was NOT running.

One of the things that’s been great over the past year is how many other people in similar situations have reached out to me. They wanted to thank me for my post hamstring surgery posts because (as I found out) there is not a lot of information on the interwebs. I did learn a lot from several Facebook Groups which got very dark as I was trying to recover. I ended up having to distance myself from them because it turned out that the majority of the posts were from individuals whose surgery did not go well.

So I wanted to end this post with an update on 10 things I learned while recovering from hamstring surgery. Hopefully some of these tips will help you on your recovery journey.

10 Things I Have Learned While Recovering From Hamstring Surgery (1 Year Later)

  • Recovery is not a straight line – be prepared to have bad days.
  • Bad days does not mean the surgery “did not work”. It just means you need to take it easy or scale back what you are doing.
  • Listen to your doctor – don’t try to beat the recovery time line.
  • There will be days 3,6,9 and even at 12 months where you are sore. Don’ freak out! Continue to stretch and back of of activity if you need to.
  • When you are cleared for exercises – DON”T try to do all the things. You will regret it the next day.
  • Invest in a good ice pack that you can sit on or wrap around your leg. I love this one.
  • When you are discharged from PT – CONTINUE TO DO THE BORING EXERCISES. There is a reason why you got stronger so don’t let these fall by the wayside.
  • When you start being active again – give yourself grace. You have been immobile and/or inactive for some period of time. Regardless of how fit you “were” – you need to get strong again.
  • Do not compare yourself to our “prior surgical self”. Remember this is major surgery and you (whether you like it or not) have changed – again give yourself grace.
  • And Finally – remember how far you have come and that every day (with everything you do) you are getting just a bit stronger!!!

The COVID-19 Vaccine, Ulcerative Colitis & Me

I have been hesitant to write this post because of how dividing getting the COVID-19 has become in recent months. The point of this post is not to talk about the pros and cons of getting getting the vaccine. There have been (and will continue to be) far better writers, who can write about the facts more eloquently then I could ever do.

No – the point of this point of this post is to give others with Ulcerative Colitis or another IBD some light on what they might experience and to let them know that they are not alone.

A Bit of Background

As someone living with Ulcerative Colitis, I had been doing relatively well since Jan 2021 when I was officially in remission. That was a far cry from where I was a year and a half prior. During that time I was in a pretty horrible “flare” as we in the IBD community like to call it. Basically the immune system of my intestines was fighting me and it took many months of being on high doses of Prednisone, a failed trial of ENTYVIO before Remicade turned the tide.

Being on Remicade allowed my intestines to heal and induced remission. I finally was able to slowly wean myself off Prednisone. When I was cleared to run in February 2021 I felt that 2021 was going to be great!

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

I am lucky that I do not have many of the negative effects of getting monthly infusions of Remicade. However, because Remicade is a biologic (made from parts of living organisms) I am more susceptible to get infections. Since Remicade is an immunosuppressant I knew that I was more susceptible to get COVID-19, and actually did. Luckily my symptoms were minimal. The only real “problems” were that I lost my sense of taste and smell couple of weeks.

I had done the research, and my own due diligence and knew that I wanted to get the vaccine. I had been hoping to be one of the first to get it, given my immunocompromised status, but that was not the case I ended up choosing a vaccination location that was giving out either Pfizer or Modera. The day I arrived they were “giving out” Moderna – so that is what I got.

The first Covid-19 vaccine shot went smoothly and I was hoping for the same after my second shot, but that was not the case. I did well for the first 24 hours but for the next 16 hours I felt like I had the flu. However, as many others have reported after that I felt fine. Running continued to go well and I felt confident that I had breezed through the vaccine with minimal problems.

The After Effects

Two weeks after I received my second shot my GI tract started gurgling (and not in a good way). It was a gurgling that I knew all too well. I thought I maybe ate a bad burrito. However, after a couple of running “incidents” , eating issues and ultimately blood/mucous – I reached out to my GI doctor.

Tests were run and stool samples (sorry for the TMI) were obtained but everything came back normal. It’s the worst thing when you know what is going on but the test result don’t support it. I (again) had to be more mindful of what I ate but that did not seem to do any good. Ultimately I increased the dosage of my medications, went back on a nightly foam enema (WHICH IS THE WORST), & had to re-start Prednisone. That sucked! The dosage started at 20mg but it was only when I went up to 40mg that I felt some relief. I also continued my Remicade infusions, hoping that the combo would ultimately “right the ship”.

Ultimately I finally was able to have a face to face with my GI doctor in July. By that time my all the medication that I was pumping into my body was having a positive effect. Runs were going somewhat better and I was able to keep food down. At that point I was in a flare for about 2 months, funny enough it was during this same time of year almost 2 years ago when my last flare started.

We discussed how I was feeling (slightly better) and I asked him his thoughts on IBD patients and the vaccines. He said that the vaccine research is still new but there is no correlation (now) between getting the vaccine and triggering a flare. What he said is that my symptoms might have been a temporary side effect rather than a flare. He did say that my symptoms were on the lower end of the spectrum of his patients that received a vaccine. Good to hear but did not make me feel any better at the time.

Even though I am in remission, my Ulcerative Colitis has not “disappeared”. There is always the chance for a flare-up. What I have to determine is whether the flare is a blip or if it keeps getting worse. At that point it might mean that Remicade is no longer effective). That was eye opening for me as I thought remission = forever. Apparently that is not the case.

What Now – A 3rd COVID-19 Vaccine Shot??

As I type out this post I am doing well. My symptoms (knock on wood) have subsided. I am tapering (again) off Prednisone and have stopped the “foam”. Running is going well and if it weren’t for the heat – it would be lovely.

A 3rd Moderna shot has made new recently, and honestly I am not sure if I would get it. I have worked hard to get “back to normal” that I am not sure I want to feel that shitty again. I might get my antibody levels tested since there is evidence that given my immunocompromised system I produced less antibodies.

So we’ll see – just know that if you are experiencing symptoms it’s possible its from the COVID-19 vaccine. OR it’s possible that you might have been under some stress to cause the flare up. Regardless know you are not alone!

Hop River 10k Recap- Make an Effort not an Excuse

The Warm Up

I did the math and it’s been about 20 months since my last race and recap. So bear with me as I document yesterday’s Hop River 5k/10k in Andover, CT.

Workouts have been going fairly well and my easy run pace has slowly been getting a bit faster. This I think is due in large part to my slow build back AND cross training with the Peloton. So when I broached the idea of a 10k with coach he was agreeable. It would be a good way to see where I was fitness wise AND remind me what it was like to participate in a race.

This was by no means to be an time trial as my quality sessions (IMO) did not put me in a position for that.

I should also point out that last week I started feeling “niggles” in my right hamstring. You know, the one I had surgery on last September. Since I have been more consistent with strength, a quick check of my shoes revealed the root cause of the niggles. As a heel striker I have to be more vigilant checking on the wear and tear of my shoes. Unfortunately I did not check them soon enough and was running on some pretty worn down shoes.

Running Wearhouse to the rescue! Their 2 day shipping is a god send!

On top of that, I have been running my quality session in my “everyday” running shoes. I just had not gotten around to buying a pair. So I did what you ARE NOT supposed to do – buy a pair of “racing” shoes the day before a race AND use them.

So with new shoes and a plan – I headed to Andover Saturday morning.

The Work Out

So here was the plan for the Hop River 10k- 2 mile warm up; 1.5m (8:15 speed limit); finish the race based on how I was feeling; 2 mile cool down. Seems simple enough – right?

First off I left the house for the race AND…forgot my watch and headphones. Rookie mistake. That put me in a panic but I made it to the race with time to spare. I picked up my bib and headed to the trail for my warm up. The route was shaded, which was great as the start time was 9am and the temp was in the mid 70s. For someone who gets up at the ass crack of dawn – this was not ideal.

The Hope River 10k route was also on a trail and although looked flat was what I call a “false flat”. Meaning it had an ever so slight incline for half of the route (which did I mention was out and back 2x).

Warm up complete I headed to the port o potty but realizing that the line was NOT moving – decided to head to the start.

Here’s where things went a bit (ok a lot) side ways. The “gun” went off and I headed out with the 10kers – we headed to the trail and then my GPS went wonky – I could not get an even pace. Per the watch – one minute I was running 9:00 and then it was between 8-8:30. It really messed with my head. In hindsight I really WAS running too fast and came through a blazing 7:57. Definitely NOT an 8:15 mile. 2nd mile was about 8:15 and 3rd mile was an 8:13 – so better.

BUT that’s when the heat and my mind started to get to me – to the point (I’m ashamed to admit) I walked for a bit to catch my breath and feel less panicked. Let’s just say that the back half of the race – was not my finest hour.

I ended up finishing (YEAH) and headed back out for a cool down ( I know who am I). I ended up doing a mile (instead of the 2 prescribed) because I was so done at that point. Luckily I did randomly see my friend Jessica W. on the path doing a “leisurely” 30 mile bike ride. She was definitely a boost of motivation!

The Cool Down

So – it was definitely not the outcome I was hoping for but as with any race there are always pros/cons/lessons learned.


  • I ran my first race in 20 months! That is a win. It’s been a lot of hard work to get to where I would even get to a start line (even as a workout) so I know I can improve from here.
  • The “new” racers actually did not cause me any problems. I know there is supposed to be “nothing new on race day” but as this was a workout – it felt good to wear something lighter and more responsive.
  • My stomach/GI cooperated! There is a future blog post coming on how the COVID Vaccine and my IBD have not been playing nice with each other, so to not have to find a tree on the course was a welcome treat.


  • I have to realize that I do not really perform well in hot weather regardless of how “shaded” it is and have to adapt a bit better. Again – I have been out of the Summer running game for a bit so this will take some practice.
  • I need to continue to work on my mental game – in the spring it was to stop “trotting” in between intervals. Now I need to work on quieting those voices that got very loud yesterday.
  • I need to keep calm when my GPS gets a bit wonky on me. To be honest I did feel that my effort was much faster than what my watch was showing me in the moment. By going out too fast – I think I dug myself a hole I could not get out of.

So What’s Next?

I’m not giving up by any stretch of the imagination.

I did make an effort out there yesterday but I also let my mind take over. It’s not an excuse of what happened. Maybe I am being too hard on myself BUT it’s something I need to continue to work on and realize that I’m not going to die and that being uncomfortable is not the end of the world.

Today’s a rest day BUT I will be back on the roads tomorrow.

I mean the Hartford Half Marathon in October isn’t going to run itself.

Zellee Organic – A Plant-Based Refueling Alternative For Athletes

Until last weekend I have been able to get away with not having to fuel my workouts. My daily runs quality workouts were such that I was out and back home in about an hour.

BUT that changed last weekend as I headed out for my longest quality workout since just before I tore and had surgery on my hamstring. In looking at the workout (2mi warm up; 4x1mi repeats; 2mi cool down) and weather (hello 70 degrees at 6am) I knew I would need more than just water to set me for success. I might not need something during the workout BUT as I was heading to the high school track I decided it would be a good idea to bring something with me “just in case”.

My gel stash was “expired” (To be honest I have not re-stocked my gels or chews in quite some time) and was a bit stressed on what I would bring with me. BUT luckily I had just received a package from Zelle Organic and decided to take them with me.

When I first started running – I was a very big fan of those uber sweet, almost frosting-like, gels. The problem was that many were hard to swallow while running and (for me) there was always the potential for choking if water was not around.

Zellee Organic – Review

As my stomach has become more sensitive, I have sought out less sweet alternatives. I read the back of Zellee Organic Sport Jels (filled with organic, plant-based ingredients and no gelatin) and decided to give it a whirl. I loved the the nutritional stats and that they contained electrolytes, since sweat a lot in the Summer.

Now full disclaimer – I did not carry these with me during my workout. I consumed the Jel my cool down so I cannot (yet) speak to how it would be to open and consume one on a run. What I can say that the pouch was easy to open, swallow, & tasted great! They are slightly lower in calories and carbs than your standard 100 calorie gel, so keep that in mind.

The hubs and I have some upcoming kayaking, biking and hiking adventures, and I will definitely be including these in our snack sack.

Use code AMCRUNS15 for 15% off your next purchase of Zellee Organic.

10 Months Post Op – Goals are Great but Consistency is Key

Update Time!

The dog days of Summer are upon us and unlike last year I am back in the trenches with my fellow runners. Slogging sweaty miles has become a norm as this humidity just won’t quit.

Grumbling at the weather is a common occurrence (we’ve gotten about 10 inches of rain thus far in July) but I suck it up, put on my lightest clothing, and hit the streets.

Admittedly I had grand plans this spring about a running a Fall Marathon and quickly getting my speed back. Suffice to say neither of those things are or have happened. I am slowly chipping away at my speed but a Fall Marathon is not in the cards for 2021.

My workout load have increased and I am finally putting in 40 mile weeks – a far cry from the 0.0 miles I was running last year.

So that being said I thought I would give 10 “Quick Spits” on I am faring 10 months post Hamstring surgery – both what is working and what I am working on (HELLO mental game).

So without further ado –

Quick Splits – 10 months post Hamstring Surgery

  • As I mentioned my speed has not come back as fast as I would have liked. I am trying to give myself “grace” and remind myself how long I was out of the running game. I’m also working to not compare myself (that much) to others as we are each on our own journey.
  • I’ve also removed myself from some “Hamstring Injury” . Although super helpful prior to and soon after my surgery, it became a dark rabbit hole. Heading over after “bad” day to commiserate with others was great, but I realized that I was starting to have a fatalist attitude on how successful my recovery “might be”. Not good for my mojo.
  • My incision site is still numb to a certain degree but it does not bother me much. I suspect that over time it will go away over a period of time
  • My Peloton has improved my endurance and strength but as my daily mileage has increased my riding has decreased. BUT I have made a point to use it daily for a quick strength or stretching workout.
  • On that same note – riding has helped me re-gain strength, but it’s not going to get me as strong as I need to pound the pavement. So I have been making a consistent effort to get at least 2-3 solid strength sessions a week. Shoutout again to Peloton Platform (I love the Strength for Runners classes) and my coach for some solid content.
  • Although a Fall Marathon is not in the cards – a half is! I have not pulled the trigger BUT I plan on running/racing the Hartford Half Marathon in October.
  • As for races, I don’t have any on the calendar yet. Still just working on time on feet, strengthening my body (and mind)
  • In speaking to the title of my blog post – its a phrase I have repeated a lot this Spring and Summer. I had grand goals in February BUT I know that the time, effort & sweat will be worth it come fall
  • It amazes me that last year at this time I could not even sit still to type out this post. As long as the recovery time was, the surgery was definitely worth it!
  • And last but not least – my mental game. I’m notorious for walking during a Quality workout and last week Coach called me out. The fact that the workout is not only the rep really resonated with me. It’s what I am currently working on re-framing in my mind.

So that’s it in a nutshell – still moving forward (which is better than not moving at all!)

Let’s hope by my next post – the sun will be shining because I’m really over these cloudy days.

How to Start Running After a Hiatus – 10 Tips

Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lines…or new beginnings

Amby Burfoot

Return to Running – 1 Month In

As the prophetic rapper Eminem said – “Guess who’s back. Back again.”

Yup – me!

Here’s to less layers as the weather warms up!

6 month’s post of from right hamstring surgery and a little over 1 month back to the hard hitting streets of Wethersfield, I’m back (sort of)!

My “Return to Running” journey started with walk/run intervals and has slowly increased my time on feet to the sweet spot (as Coach James likes to say) of about 35 minutes. Based on past experience, i suspect that I will be staying in this time frame for the next several weeks – which is fine with me.

Rehabbing by way of cross training (have you seen my Peloton recently) have been consistent as I work to re-build the muscle mass I lost after surgery.

Since this is not my first at returning to a more consistent running regime, I thought it would be a good idea to share some things I have learned (and taken to heart) over the years.

So without further ado, I present…

10 Tips To Transition Back to Running

Your first run (and really the first couple of runs) you will not be fast and you will feel awkward. Don’t beat yourself up! Only after running for a solid month have I started to get my (slow) groove back. Remember the muscle memory is there you just have to build it back up again.

Also – when you first remember start running again – it’s all about time on feet – NOT speed. 

Ditch the watch if you have to and just focus on how you feel during the run.  You will have enough time in the future to be focusing on your Garmin.

I’m still working on breaking up with my Garmin

For the first couple of weeks – focus on walk/run intervals where the walk is longer than the run because it’s all about building your endurance back.

Continue to DO the little things that got you back in your running shoes in the first place.  That means setting a side time for those boring PT exercises, cross training and REST.

Speaking of rest – it’s not a bad thing.  Your body is adjusting to an increased load.  Listen to it and take rest days as needed.

You are going to feel soreness as you increase your activity – DON”T FREAK OUT.  Again – listen to your body, stretch, foam roll and rest as needed.

I have a love/hate relationship with this recovery tool

Ice packs are your friends.  Continue to use them, as they make a world of difference.

Continue to cross train and strength train.  You might not be able to hit the pavement, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot do other low impact cardio activities such as biking, the elliptical, or even walking.

And last (BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST) buy yourself a pair of new running shoes. This should a priority because why return to running in a pair of shoes that have probably seen better days. There is no worse feeling then getting re-injured from trying to eek out another mile out of a pair of over worn shoes. AND please, for the love of all things, do not buy them at Kohl’s or on-line – do yourself a favor and get fitted. 
New Shoe Day is the BEST day!

I am sure there will be more “Return to Running” tips as I continue to increase my time on feet, and possibly get a bit faster.

If I’ve missed any – please reach out to me. I’m always looking to hear from others who have gone through similar experiences like myself.


Running After An Injury Quotes. QuotesGram

The Past 30 Days & My Top 5 Post-Op Essentials

Hip Labrum Post op

As you are reading this I am officially 30 days post-op. After my hip labrum repair, after 30 days I was told by my surgeon that I could cease using crutches and was able to start a course of PT where I not only worked on not only ROM but strengthening my hip.

Hip Labrum Repair

Recovery from Proximal Hamstring Surgery is a bit different. As I cross this 30 day mark I am still living the #crutchlife. On the positive side – I do not have to wear my brace at home and have started to sit in a regular chair and therefore transitioning back to the work bunker. On the negative side – I still have to wear the hip brace at night with a bent knee and dealt with swollen legs from the lack of movement.

With the exception of doctor appointments and an exciting trip to CVS and Starbucks this past weekend, I pretty much have been sequestered to the house. Mark still is the lifeblood of the household, a true Rockstar. I don’t know how recovery would be going if I had to do this alone or with an un-supportive spouse. Mark’s been able to work from home, but has transitioned back to 1/2 days in the office.

This past Friday was the first day that I was actually home alone for the ENTIRE DAY. He did leave me breakfast but it was up to me to make lunch. I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. Nothing fancy and it was easy enough to crutch my way back to the work bunker.

BUT it’s all about baby steps forward. It’s a sprint not a marathon, and I keep telling my self each morning when I wake up that I’m one day farther from my surgery and one day further in my recovery journey.

What’s Next On the Recovery Agenda

BUT -excitement abounds in the Ciccio household this week, however, as I get to start Physical Therapy on Monday! This means not only getting out of the house, but my surgeon wants my therapist to start weaning me off my crutches and brace! Unfortunately it does not mean strengthening until at least 8 weeks post-op. In all the reading I have done prior to my surgery, this is the standard protocol.

And in all honestly – I really need to work on just moving and massaging my right leg. My right leg has atrophied so any attempts at strengthening my hamstring would not be helpful.

To be honest I am excited and a bit nervous to start weaning off crutches at this point. I mean, I have not put any pressure on it in 30 days, so I know I am going to be pretty cautious for a while. As Mark said -I am going to have to re-learn to walk comfortably and will probably be tired as I start this new phase in my recovery.

BUT – I have followed my doctor’s instructions up until this point so now it’s time to start engaging those hamstring muscles and continue moving (literally) forward!

12 Things I Have Learned Thus Far

  • You will have to learn to rely on other people. This was (and still is) so hard for me. Your recovery depends a large part on not moving so that you can heal. Having a support system in place before surgery is imperative.
  • Remember recovery from hamstring surgery is long – it’s a marathon and not a sprint. DO NOT OVERDO IT! I cannot express this enough because remember – anything “extra” that “feels” good now MIGHT set you back more than you realize.
  • You won’t be hungry for the first couple of days BUT it’s important. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way after my last surgery, so Mark made sure I had food at all times.
  • Try and wean yourself off the narcotics as soon as you are able. Yes- you will be in pain/sore but I found that after the first couple of days I was able to wean myself off them, taking Tylenol as necessary. One caveat – if you are in pain – take the pain medication, that’s what it’s there fore but don’t use it as a crutch. You just had major surgery and it’s going to hurt!
  • There is no getting around it but sleeping will be uncomfortable. You just have to get used to it and learn to “love” sleeping on your back. I am a stomach sleeper so it has been quite a turn of events. Luckily I have eventually been able to lay on my side (with the brace still on) as long as I keep a pillow between my legs.
  • If you can – a hand held grabber is a game-changer. This really helped me because until you master the one-legged crane squat, picking up things you drop is hard.
  • Even with a brace, I highly recommend putting one or two pillows under your knee. This will ensure that it stays bent (thereby keeping your hamstring relaxed at all times) and helps with swelling.
  • Showering is a challenge – a hand held shower head was helpful as sitting was hard.
  • Related – showering everyday is probably not feasible because it takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. Invest in shower wipes (see below).
  • I’m not going to lie but using the toilet is also hard. I did start out using a raised toilet seat. This works for some, but for me it presented more problems. I learned through trial and error to “hover” and was eventually able to sit (not comfortably) “deadlegged” on the toilet.
  • Recovering from hamstring surgery will make you tired – naps are your friend!
  • And lastly – make sure you have some good books and movies to help you pass the time.

My Top 5 Post-Op Essentials

  • Extra Wide Adjustable Laptop Stand – I was lucky to be able to take 2 weeks off after my surgery. Unfortunately, when I returned to work, I was still unable to sit in a chair. This “desk” was a lifesaver!
  • Comfy Stretch Pants – Face it, you’re going to be lounging for the foreseeable future after surgery. They are stylish, stretchy enough to pull on and off (carefully) yourself, and will fit under the bulky brace. What more can you ask for.
  • Body Wipes – As mentioned above, it will initially be challenging to shower after hamstring surgery. These were great to help me feel (and be) fresh day in and day out.
  • Crutch Pads – Another little thing to make your life easier. You are going using crutches for a while, so why not make what limited mobility you have a bit easier.
  • An Elevated Toilet Seat – Although this did not work for me, I have seen many others rave about this product. If you can find out that fits to your toilet it can be a game changer.

And Two More (Just Because)

Recovering From A Proximal Hamstring Injury – Surgery Was The Easy Part

Promixal Hamstring Surgery – 1 Week Prior

In August I scheduled my surgery to repair my hamstring injury. I chose a date toward the end of September because 1) Mark had a pre-arranged golf trip in early September and 2) I wanted to enjoy as much time as I could outside before I was sequestered to my “recovery room”.

Being the Type A (and also wanting to be active in my recovery as much as I could be), I did a lot of internet searching on what to expect before, during and after hamstring surgery. I found a lot of good (but generic) information from the medical community (hospitals/orthopedics/surgical centers), I had a hard time finding any personal experiences on anyone who had recovered from proximal hamstring surgery.

I was lucky two have found two blogs which were a huge resource for me as the date of my surgery drew closer. Fueled and Focused, as well as this guide really helped me not only wrap my head around not only what to expect but also gave rough idea of how long it would be until I might be able to do X, Y or Z. I re-read blogs quite a lot and I have to say, up until this point, my recovery has been pretty similar.

Had my surgery not been scheduled during a Pandemic I would have spent my last week/weekend with friends and family BUT that was not the case. Instead, I had my brace fitting AND a COVID test. Then it was back home to self quarantine. Thankfully the test was negative or I would have been pissed.

I spent the weekend before deep cleaning the house, baking these, and making sure I had everything in my Recovery Room ready to go. I also purchased several items to make my post op life easier. Some of them were awesome (crutch pads for the win) and some were just a good idea in theory (tear away pants anyone??). I will write a separate post on these items soon.

Surgery Day

I was fortunate that I was Dr. Kuhn’s first surgery for the day BUT was not pleased that it would take place at 11:30am. SIGH! So that morning I did some puttering around the house until it was time to go.

In pre-COVID times, Mark would have been able to come into the surgery center and wait for me. Unfortunately, that was not the case. He dropped me off and was told that once I was “ready to go” (aka surgery was complete) he could swing back and collect me.

Pre-Op was pretty straight forward and what I remembered from my labrum repair 3 years ago. The only difference was more masks and hand washing. After I scrubbed my surgical area and they started an IV, things happened pretty fast.

Funny side story – when Mark dropped me off he asked of the brace box needed to come with me. I told him – no – what remained were “extra pieces”. Apparently I was wrong. The actual brace was actually in the box and Mark ended up taking it back home with him. After a mini melt down, I got a hold of Mark who rushed it back to the surgery center. In the meantime I walked down to the surgery room, where the last thing I remember is talking to the “team” about running.

Unlike my prior surgery, I did not have nerve block because of where the surgery was located (hello nerves) but they numbed it up good. The anesthesiologist also placed an anti-nausea patch behind my ear. The medication in it lasted 3 days and worked wonders. After my last surgery I had an adverse reaction, but luckily that was not the case this go around.

I woke up less then an hour later with the brace firmly attached and a slight cough/sore throat because I was intubated. Something about not eating for 14 hours made those post-op graham crackers and ginger ale delicious. Pretty soon, Mark picked me up, grabbed my prescriptions and a well-deserved Poke bowl and headed home.

I’m not sure how I did it but I made it upstairs where I have pretty much stayed thus far.

Hamstring Post Op – The 1st Two Weeks

For these first 2 weeks I have used my vacation time to take some time off. The first week I was in no condition to do anything, but last week I did do some work. I am glad I did – it will definitely keep my stress level in check. Mid day power naps have been glorious, especially as my sleep pattern has been inconsistent.

By the end of the first weekend, I weaned myself off the Oxycontin and now only take Tylenol as needed. I have had mostly soreness and discomfort at the incision area. I am not moving a lot (the brace definitely helps with that) and am very conscious of keeping my knee bent AT ALL TIMES. The one time that I did contract my hamstring (by accident) it hurt like hell.

The brace is defiantly doing it’s job of immobilizing me and needless to say it is cumbersome and uncomfortable. I cannot sit up straight in bed and sleeping has been a challenge as my knee has to remain bent. I am a huge stomach sleeper so its been a challenge to sleep on my back. The only times that I have felt comfortable taking it off is when I use my ice machine. My knee however is still in a bent position.

As for going to the bathroom – this might be a little TMI but the first week was a struggle. I was (and still am) numb in that area and could not (and honestly still cannot) sit on the toilet. I did try a raised toilet seat (FAIL) but at the end of the day just had to hover. It was only recently that I have been able to sit (with my right side being dead weight) somewhat. It’s also a pain because every time I go to the bathroom I have to take off the brace and then put it back on. Needless to say I am almost a pro at the one-legged Karate Kid crane.

The memory foam pads (linked above) for my crutches have been life savers as I think that I am going to be using them for the next 6 weeks.

As I mentioned I have pretty much stayed in the Recovery Room since my hamstring surgery. I kind of feel like Rapunzel. Luckily I can get in/out of the bed, maneuver to the bathroom when I want/need to, and should “make it work” working remotely. I cannot sit up (or in a chair for that matter) so it will be trial and error to get my Recovery Room turned into a comfortable work space.

Lastly – being pretty much immobile also means that I am highly (like 99.9% reliant) on Mark. He has been awesome, bringing me my meals as well as taking care of the house, working, and making sure Harley does not starve. It’s a big ask of him to do all this and he has (so far) had no complaints. I will keep you posted 😉

Tuesday – First Post Op Appointment

I’m pretty excited for Tuesday for two reasons. 1) I get to leave the house and go outside for the first time in 2 weeks! and 2) I have my first post op appointment!!!

To be honest I am not sure what to expect. I know that there might not be much that will change BUT I am hoping to maybe be able to start Physical Therapy (for stretching) and maybe he will change the position of my brace to give me a bit more “wiggle room” for sitting.

I will keep you posted!

Hamstring Surgery – Because There Are No Other Options Left

Plain and simple – I’m a gal that likes options.

Ask Mark. After being together from over 20 years, he can attest that something as simple as choosing a restaurant is hard. I usually want to try a new restaurant. He has certain “favorites”. This has led to some hungry/stressful decisions that have sometimes give us a meal we would rather forget.

Google led me to the following definition for CHOICE as I was creating this blog post –

Choice – an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

It might be hard to believe but, choice has been a big part of my life this Summer. Not in terms of many of my life choices (PSA – people please wear your masks and practice social distancing) but in terms of running.

Since May the hamstring strain was a tear. For years I have had right hamstring problems (thanks Instagram memories for reminding me). I think, however, that the full damage was done during my 2nd Mckirdy Mile time trial in May.

McKirdy Mile #2

The Tear & Treatment

Thinking I was only dealing with a strain I continued to hobble through my daily 6 mile run. After the MRI confirmed the tear I stopped running because 1) I wanted to try and “heal thy hamstring” 2) There were no races and 3) It hurt too dang much.

The Tear

My orthopedic gave me several options – all of which I tried.

First was physical therapy but after my tear diagnosis I knew that I could do my PT exercises at home.  Going to PT would help but not soon after I left to drive home my hamstring would seize up – not fun.

Biking has kept me sane this Summer.

Second I had a cortisone shot injected via fluoroscopic directly into my hamstring – it did not hurt but it did not help either.  I knew that the cortisone shot was more palliative than curative, but after two weeks of no relief I knew that it did not work. Exercise during this time consisted of core work, PT, and daily bike rides (which have saved my sanity this summer).

Making sure everything is injected correctly.

I went back after 3 weeks and my orthopedic said that giving me another shot would not help, so I made the decision to have a PRP (Platelet Right Plasma) injection. My health insurance did not cover this injectcion BUT I had read positive results about treatment of athletes with high (proximal) hamstring tendon injuries. By injecting your own platelets into the hamstring, an inflammation response is elicited to start the healing process. I was told to not exercise for 3 weeks but at this point i was willing to try anything

Hitting the sweet spot

Three weeks of no exercise was tough (I did a lot of gentle walking) but again after 3 weeks not a shred of relief.

Back to the orthopedic at the end of the month I went. He took one look at me and pretty much knew that I had made no improve.

What’s Next – Hamstring Surgery

So dear readers I was left with 2 options – live with the tear or have hamstring surgery,. For me it was not even an option because at this point my injury has affected my activities of daily living. I would love to run again (really that is my ultimate goal) BUT not even being able to sit down for short periods of time without being in pain is no way to live. As Mark said- do you really want to go through the rest of your life feeling like this.

Definitely Not!

I DO feel that my body has failed me. I have done everything that others have done to heal and have not gotten the same result. How I feel now is how I felt in May. BUT as my husband aka running czar has told me time and time again – I had to AT LEAST try every option available to me. I can at least take comfort in that going into surgery.

So yes I am having hamstring surgery – specifically I am having proxmimal hamstring surgery repair on September 29th. The surgeon who performed the labral repair on my left hamstring 3 years earlier will be (hopefully) fixing me again.

Recovery and Beyond

After surgery I will be in a hip immobilizer for 4-6 w. (Please send your reading and TV suggestions). Within that ti me period I will hopefully be able to start physical therapy.

I have read up on recovery times for this type of surgery and it is pretty lengthy but luckily I don’t have anything planned for the foreseeable future. I also know that my surgeon is very cautious, which I know will only with a successful recovery.

So until September 29th I have been trying to remain active and enjoy what remains of the Summer.

Summer Fun!

Some days I feel great, but those are then ones where I am not sitting for long periods of time. I think to myself that I have “healed thy hamstring” only to quickly change my mind after sitting for any length of time.

I would say that I am cautiously optimistic that surgery will help (and I really really hope it does) BUT I have been so let down this Summer that I think at this point I am going to hope for the best and see what happens.

Onward we go—to surgery!

Oops I Did It Again (or Why 2020 Continues To Be a Giant Dumpster Fire)

“There is an uphill for every downhill, and a downhill for every uphill.”

Turkish Proverb

Life Lately

Is it me or does it feel like 2020 is roaring past us at lightening speed and other days it feels like it’s moving at the pace of a sloth.

Since my last blog post things “life” wise have been pretty stable. Most days I work remotely with my trusty co-worker, and *knock on wood* my ulcerative colitis seems to be under control. So much so that I FINALLY tapered off prednisone for the 4th time in a little over a year. Yeah me!

Don’t get me wrong, being quarantined has had its daily/weekly/monthly ups and down ({People- it’s not hard people wear a mask in public!) but the one thing that, until recently, has kept my stress at bay was running and training for a Fall marathon.

Running Toward a Fall Marathon

With a dearth of Spring races, McKirdy Trained put on an awesome (and free) McKirdy Mile race series. Mark even signed up! I loved our treks to Old Wethersfield to run like hell for 7ish minutes knowing at the end of the workout our reward would be a well-deserved fresh pressed juice at Comstock Farre.

If you will recall during my 2nd McKirdy Mile (recap here), I had to run my timed mile a 2nd time as I did not hit “start” hard enough on my Garmin the first time. My time was respectable, but what I did not mention was about 2/3-3/4 of the way through, I felt a sharp pain shoot up my right leg into my butt.

I finished the mile but once I stopped everything, and I mean everything, on the right side cramped up. I believe I told Mark that I think I stepped wrong and brushed it off. However, during my next quality workout the pain continued to the point where my legs would not just turn over.

It wasn’t due to a lack of fitness, and then I reminded myself that I had been dealing with a right hamstring strain off and on from around September of last year. I also knew that as I was tapering off Prednisone it’s anti-inflammatory capabilities were also wearing off, meaning if the strain had not fully resolved, my body was now screaming this information to me.

Running Toward An Answer

So (freaking out as runners do) I researched my injury, but I also made an appointment with Dr. Kuhn (my “hip guy”). At the appointment I cut to the chase and told him what I needed – a referral for PT. The thought was that I PT would provide me with some relief and I would be back on the roads in no time. My therapist, thought that the pain was coming from my back (sciatica to be specific) but after 2 weeks I was still not getting any long term relief. Meaning I would get relief while in my PT session, but soon after I left (sitting in the car) I would be almost back to square one.

In addition, while sitting, I began to feel a constant burning/soreness (and sometimes shooting pain) at the hamstring insertion point. When I attempted to run that soreness turned to pain which eventually (depending on how long I could handle it) would “run” down the back of my leg to my knee. I could only make it a mile or 2 before I would have to hobble home defeated.

He agreed that I needed an MRI.

I tried to “read” the MRI but it was impossible, so until my follow up with Dr. Kuhn I continued to google my symptoms and go down the Web MD rabbit hole (which I do not recommend for any sane person). Thanks to technology logged onto Jefferson Radiology’s online portal and read my results which were

Abnormal findings in the right common hamstring tendon origin, from mild to moderate tendinosis and probably component of partial tearing

Jefferson Radiology – June 5, 2020

Within 2 minutes of reading the report, the running czar (aka Mark) told me I had to “shut it down” until I saw the doctor

Side Lined (& Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy – PRP)

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had already self diagnosed myself so the MRI result was the icing on the “injury” cake for me. Dr. Kuhn confirmed the results and pin pointed my tear within moments of pulling up the images.

My tear, he indicated, was “in the spectrum between a strain and a full tear”. Great! My options were – do nothing (aka no more running); have a cortisone injection; undergo a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy; or have surgery.

The cortisone injection is palliative in that it would “calm down” the inflamed area so that the body can start healing itself. PRP therapy has had some great results (yes I did my research). Basically the doctor takes a vial of your blood and spins it down separating the good (platelets) from the rest of the blood. Your platelets are then injected into the injured area and the hope is that the platelets break down and release growth factors to trigger your body’s healing process by helping the injured cells repair and renew. On the downside, I have to pay for this therapy out of pocket. The last, and most invasive option, is surgery. Recovery time is long and I would have to be on crutches AND an immobilizer for a considerable period of time.

I did undergo a cortisone injection but after 3 weeks of no relief I headed back to Dr.Kuhn. He agreed that if I did not feel any relief after 3 weeks, an additional injection would not be helpful. So, as I am really, really trying to avoid surgery, I decided to try PRP therapy.

Moving Forward…

As I write this blog post I have actually undergone my first PRP injection. I plan to document my progress since it was hard to find personal testimonies on how they fared.

So that’s it in a nutshell – I have not run in about 45 days and now that I have undergone my first PRP injection I have been told, with the exception of walking, there is to be NO EXERCISE for at least 3 weeks. UGH

BUT if PRP therapy it helps me heal my hamstring and therefore avoid surgery its a small price to pay.

Some well meaning people have told me that maybe I should find a new activity and that may be true but at this point I just want to sit down and run a couple of easy miles without any pain or discomfort.

Stay Tuned!