Recovery and Progress

Wow… so it’s been about four weeks since I wrote anything on this blog. That’s not so good. Today, I’m going to write a little bit about Matthew’s personal recovery and then about my increasing progress to get ready for our race.

If you’ve read this blog, or been anywhere around me for the past few weeks, you’ll know that Matthew had surgery in July on his left leg. He had broken his very crooked leg, and the surgeon felt the time was right to insert rods into his left femur and tibia. This put Matthew out of commission for a period of about 3 and a half weeks while he was in a spica cast. I’ve head doctors (orthopedists, even) refer to a spica cast as the last legal form of torture.

Matthew somehow seemed to take this in stride. He quickly learned how to roll over and then to crawl, all while wearing a cast that locked his entire leg in place, including keeping his hip locked into place. I have simply been amazed at his resilience; I cannot say I would take it very well if I was in that situation.

Well, that cast came off on Tuesday of this past week (Aug 10). It was a bit emotional for us, because it’s the first time we saw his leg straight! Since coming home, Matthew’s been regaining his strength and figuring out how to crawl all over the house again. As he gets stronger, I wouldn’t be surprised that he starts trying to pull up to stand and cruise again (which caused the femur fracture back in early July to begin with). I’m encouraged to watch him get around again.

Several people have asked me what the plan is for his right leg. The simple answer is we don’t quite know right now. Putting rods into that leg is also likely inevitable, but Mary and I have chosen to wait a little bit longer to allow Matthew some freedom and rehabilitation time. His right leg was/is not as bad as the left leg, and we would like to see him be a kid for a little while before subjecting him to that.

My wife Mary put together this thank you montage when my coworkers were kind enough to send Matthew a gift while in the hospital. but you can see before and after shots of his legs

“So, John,” you might say, “Matt’s recovering. Glad to hear it! How’s your training going?” Well, it’s improved, and continuing to improve. If you do not know, I am participating in a relay race this fall to raise some funds for the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (OIF). There are 12 of us running in a 200 mile relay race from western Maryland to the National Harbor just outside of DC in late September. Each of us will run three legs each, anywhere from 4-10 miles per leg. There’s probably an average of 12 hours in between each leg of the race, meaning that sleep is going to be a problem. The race will probably take about 30+ hours, starting on the morning of Friday Sept 24 and going until we’re done on Saturday the 25th.

My team mates include folks returning from last year: Jeff Kent, Chris Reinhardt, Jen DeLecce, Jen Siess, Al Waineo, and Dave Grossweiler. And new this year we have: Karena Swisher, Andy Gotchel, Brian Verhoven, Sandy Ambrose, and Todd Baker. The idea to participate in this relay was Todd’s. It was very unfortunate last year that after he went through the effort to drum interest in the team, Todd was called into active service in the US Navy. I say ‘unfortunate’ because Todd never got to witness the race; he went to Afghanistan for the past year. We’re looking forward to Todd’s imminent return from Afghanistan, and he’ll be participating in the race after being in the States for only three weeks! I for one have enjoyed reading Todd’s impressions of service and his obvious dedication to family and country. Maybe you will too

If you’ve known me for a long time, you know that running has never exactly been “my thing”. It’s only relatively recently that I started running, beginning with the Army 10-miler at the Pentagon back in 2006. Since Matthew’s surgery, I’ve been steadily increasing my weekly workouts to prep for this relay.

I took a week of leave from work to stay at home when Matthew first got out of surgery, and found myself only able to run once during that week, for a whopping four miles. It did not go particularly well.

Mary and I had originally planned on two weeks of vacation with our respective families at the end of July / beginning of August. Matthew’s surgery cut that a little short. We did go for one week, split between our families. Matthew really couldn’t enjoy the ocean the way a not-quite-two-year-old boy should, so we’ll take him to the ocean sometime again later. BUT I did manage to get two significant runs in while on vacation: a five miler and a 7 miler. The “problem” with running at the beach is how flat it is. The important thing was simply to get some running in.

I’ve done a handful of Saturday morning team runs that have included running the steep hill at Mary Washington Hospital with various degrees of success. I’m grateful that I’ve had team mates who have pushed me to improve myself.

This week, I’m proud to announce that I’ve run 23 miles. That is quite the improvement. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I ran 4 miles each with Alex and Dan at work; the humidity all but killed us. On Thursday, I ‘cheated’ and ran 7 miles on a treadmill. But at least I got a full hour of running in. Then on Saturday, I ran through battlefield park with Chris, Al, and Jen Siess from the team. We put in 9.5 miles, to include all the hilly wonderfulness of that park.

This was a serious mental hurdle for me to clear. This run was at least as hilly as any of my individual legs in the race itself, and longer than anything I’ll have to do that day. My longest leg is “only” 7.4 miles. Now that I know I can run further than that, I’m a lot more confident I can do this.

So as we’re just a little over a month away from the relay race, and my running ability has drastically improved over the last month or so, I’m once again asking my friends, family, and coworkers to pledge funds to the foundation as we get set to run. Take a look at the team site for a Bunch Of Nuts Exercising : and click on the “Support B.O.N.E.” link if you would like to donate to the cause.

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