So Boston is known for a lot of things. Baked beans. A sitcom called Cheers. The Boston Marathon.
So this next hippie success story is about Jennifer. When I say success, I mean a physical success story coupled with the grit to keep moving forward even though there were continued hip struggles.
Jennifer was a competitive gymnast all the way into her late 20s/early 30s. She had an "ah ha" moment and realized that gymnastics could not be her favored "athletic outlet". It was not sustainable for her body.
In 2021 running became her movement of choice. In 2019 she qualified for the Boston Marathon not once, but twice! She had a date with destiny. But, as we all know, sometimes life does not go as planned.
In a lead up to the Boston Marathon, she competed in a half-marathon in Disney, but noticed some hip pain. As most athletes do, she just "shook it off." Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a labral tear and impingement, but kept pushing her body to the goal of the Boston Marathon. She was then scheduled for surgery in April 2020 as a way to get her pain free and able to achieve that goal, but Covid-19 entered the picture and changed the face of healthcare.
During that time when elective surgeries were limited, Jennifer continued PT religiously and, fortunately, her PT was a runner and hip patient who helped guide her with a program that would suit her body in building strength. She continued even though the pain was challenging through November and December of 2019. Persistence begin to pay off and her pain settled down a bit so as to allow her to increase her training for Boston. As part of that training, she managed to run an 8K and then things crashed.
The school that she taught out closed (due to Covid) and collectively accepted a new normal of online instruction. Boston also announced the marathon was going to be postponed until September. PT was on hold for a bit as was everything else. During that time, Jennifer began with 80 Day Obsession (from Beach Body) and she felt (and was) stronger than she had felt in a long time. Jennifer then started with trail running and her left hip began to slowly feel better. She decided to get a 2nd opinion as to whether she should still proceed with the surgery. And, then, things crashed again....literally.
She fell while running on a damp surface and came crashing down. Her right hip was twisted into a forced frog position and was painful. She recalls, "I stood up, stunned. My knee and shin were bruised and my whole leg hurt, but I was two miles from my car so I began the jog back to the parking lot." Her PT did not seem worried, so she continued running in preparation for the rescheduled Boston Marathon. She was not feeling any normalcy with her recently injured hip and went to see her second opinion doctor. He was actually pleased with the left hip, but the right hip was a concern. There was a possible labrum tear, but she was given permission to continue training for Boston. She was instructed to follow back in 8 weeks.
At her follow up appointment, she was sent for arthrogram (remember, long needle, fluid filling your hip joint, not fun). Jennifer was instructed to not complete any 20 mile runs until the results came in. To her shock, she was told she had a labral tear and a stress fracture. Double whammy. She followed the instructions she was given, had an x-ray at 3 weeks and the stress fracture had resolved. Jennifer was given permission to run that virtual Boston Marathon and she did! With a little help from her friends, she got through those miles with some groin and pelvic pain. She continued pushing forward and, again, baby steps were being had.
At her follow up appointment, she was sent for arthrogram (remember, long needle, fluid filling your hip joint, not fun). Jennifer was instructed to not complete any 20 mile runs until the results came in. To her shock, she was told she had a labral tear and a stress fracture. Double whammy. She followed the instructions she was given, had an x-ray at 3 weeks and the stress fracture had resolved. Jennifer was given permission to run that virtual Boston Marathon and she did! With a little help from her friends, she got through those miles with some groin and pelvic pain.
She continued with on and off again pain. She had a heart to heart convo with both her PT and surgeon. She was scheduled for a hip scope in March 2021. It was felt that the scope would provide the best opportunity for her to run the Boston Marathon in October 2021.
And, guess what? It is now October 24, 2021. Jennifer competed in the Boston Marathon, got the real deal experience and her medal!
When asked, what have been some of her biggest challenges in her journey, Jennifer, along with many hippies, I'm sure felt that the mental part of this game was the most challenging. The what ifs for the course of treatment. The what ifs as to whether she was making the right decisions. She shared that the time consuming part of mental energy output is draining! I hear ya, Jennifer!
But, on the opposite side, she was asked what her biggest successes were and those that she was most proud of? Of course, finishing the Boston Marathon has to be up there on anyone's biggest success after only 7 months post op - for those who love running. She also was able to requalify for the 2023 Boston Marathon.
Jennifer was also asked how she feels the psychology of a patient can impact their recovery. She said, "I did everything I could to stay optimistic. Whatever exercises I was given, I threw myself at them and gave 100%. To me, that was making sure I did everything right that I could and there would be no regrets. I had such a big goal of running the marathon 6.5 months out of surgery and the support of both my PT and my surgeon, as well as friends and family, so that kept me going."
As an inquiring mind kind of hopeful hippie, I asked her what social-emotional strategies she used for her recovery. We are both educators and the current buzzword in our circles is SEL (social emotional learning). So it had to be asked! Jennifer shared that she actually relied a lot on her social media friends and cheerleaders. She was able to "connect with people on the internet and share stories, frustrations, fears." She felt that the connections with people who have been there, done that was invaluable. When she was frustrated or discouraged, she utilized social media and also focused on things that she could do for herself - PT exercises and riding her bike. Like me, she often feels the need to keep doing something. It is that proactive nature, I suppose, that are inherent in our psyche.
Jennifer also feels that having "mini goals or milestones that [she] looked forward to. Like getting off of crutches by two weeks, getting to drive, getting to start new exercises as the weeks progressed, starting running on my Lever system at 8 weeks, [and progression to] full weight running. She also strongly feels that 'your body is going to respond to positivity or negativity. [She] tried to celebrate all positives and all improvements, no matter how small. These victories add up."
And this most recent victory? She has a Unicorn Medal, an ability to say she has ran the Boston Marathon twice and she has the ability to demonstrate resiliency through adversity. Let's give one more shout out to Jennifer for her successes in staying positive through her hip journey and the recent medal that she has added to her collection.