May 03, 2012

The Mountains Are Calling - Thank You Orthofix

Back in December when I was just starting to dream about actually running again I hit up top notch ultra runner and physician's assistant Luke Nelson. Based out of Utah I had met him just four months prior at OR and within minutes there was that instant connection that ultra runners always seem to find.

"You like running. I like running. You like talking about gear. I like talking about gear. You like trash talking. I like trash talking. Let's be friends FOREVER! LIKE TOTALLY!"

Luke has insights into both the complexities of the jones fracture, and the stresses and strains both physical and mental, of attempting to be a competitve ultra runner.

Luke was kind enough to lay out a strategic plan of attack for my 2012 season that would ideally allow me to finally make that starting line at UTMB at the end of August. In line with that plan was a slow increase of mileage instead of the 0-60miles an hour, or better yet 0-100miles a week, that I incorporated into my training at this time last year. There was one additional stipulation however, NO MOUNTAINS. I know right, what's the point of running if there aren't mountains involved. Turns out that I guess there's something to that four or five times your body weight on descents that might stress a healing bone. Stupid physics.

MAY. That was what it all said. In MAY, assuming I'd had a successful build back at it through the first four months of the year, I could start in on some of those climbs and descents I used to live for. Yesterday was May 2nd and with a mix of slight trepidation and blatant excitement (not excrement, thankfully) I headed back into the mountains and onto one of my old favorites. A local trail called BCMC that's crazy technical and climbs 2700ft in well under 2miles. I had ZERO expectations but once I was out there I decided to see where my fitness lay compared to when I was last healthy. Apparently excitement carries with it adrenaline which is the perfect fuel to stoke an internally competitive fire. By the time I'd topped out I had to do a double take on my watch. I don't actually know my fastest time on this trail, but this was certainly right up there with them and significantly faster than I'd anticipated, in fact I had myself mentally prepared for a time nearly eight minutes slower, no really it went THAT well.

As I cruised back down the trail smiling from ear to ear I ran into Canada's top ultra runner Mr. Adam Campbell. After a five minute catch up I have to say that he's doing some pretty special things right now, not just in his racing but in his own training. His 100mile debut is coming in two weeks time and I'd have to say I believe he's poised to do something great over in Japan.

Back to the point. Last summer after snapping my 5th metatarsal for the second time in mere months I had a follow up xray six weeks out that could not have been any worse. Here's the evidence of just how bad that was. A month and a half after breaking my foot and it had actually gotten worse, not better.

Late June 11 - 6 weeks out
This brings me to my point...I had one for once. I had a life saving moment in which I got educated on, and into contact with a brand/device called the Orthofix Bone Stimulator. I had a non-union fracture and both sides of that fracture were still quite angry with each other. Neither side had apologized and both were still blaming the other for the second such break...when in fact it was pretty much all my minds fault for telling my foot it was healthy enough and had to do 100mile training weeks just a few months off crutches. See how I effectively removed the blame of myself and segmented it into parts of my own body. My hands are clean here.

"I hate you" says the medial side of the fracture,

"I hate you" says the lateral side of the fracture,

"This is YOUR fault"

"NO F-IN WAY DUDE. YOU f-ed up this time!"

"Screw you!"

"Screw ME? How bout SCREW YOU. It'll take a f-in screw before I ever consider talking to YOU again!"

"Bring on the hardware. Get bent"

Along came the Orthofix Bone Stimulator, effectively acting like a mediator

"What's up guys?" Probably best to add in an Ikea accent for effect here

"F#$K you asshole" Angry bones are angry bones, what can I say

"Ohh, that's not very nice" Ikea accent

"Seriously, who the f are you? We're waiting for surgery. One more bad x-ray and it's guaranteed. Coupla more weeks and we should be good to go here."

"Well I know you guys won't want to listen to anything I have to say about the possible complications with surgery and how many athletes have had to have the screws removed after the fact so how bout a little massage to ease you minds" Ikea accent

"Massage? Don't touch us ya creep. And what's with your funny accent?"

"It's okay, people really like me when they get to know me. My second job is building human mazes filled with furniture were whole families have been known to disappear for months on end."


"Just a wee little mass-age. What's the harm in that?"

"Get...oh that feels kinda nice. HEY, hands off, what did we just sayyyyy, that's fantastic. Do you work out? Your hands are so strong and yet supple. What did you say your name was?"


"Ohhhh, you're like a magician in there"

"Well I..."

"Ya know what, lateral side of non-union fracture"

"No what, medial side of non-union fracture?"

"I miss you"

"Ohh I MISS YOU TOO honey bunny"

"CENSORED" moans and growns

"My work here is done. I'll be back tomorrow for another three hour treatment" funny accent

That's the technical description of what happened. Here it is in laymen's terms:

The Physio-Stim Bone Growth Stimulator uses a very low-strength pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) to activate the body’s natural healing process.

Electrical currents have been used to heal broken bones since the mid 1800s. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that scientists made an important discovery. When human bone is bent or broken, it generates an electrical field. This low-level electrical field activates the body's internal repair mechanism, which in turn stimulates bone healing.

In some patients, this healing process is impaired or absent. The fracture fragments may not mend properly, and a nonunion results. The bone growth stimulation provided by Physio-Stim has proven very successful in treating fracture nonunions. In clinical studies, Physio-Stim helped 8 out of every 10 patients to heal.

This was followed by a daily treatment of three hours of bone stimulation. Non painful, and most nights I just slept with it on. Less than five weeks later and "the proof of the pudding was in the eating"

Late July 2011
Surgery, thankfully, was completely ruled out as it was evident that the Orthofix was doing it's job nicely and I was on the eventual road to recovery.

I had a safety follow up x-ray just last week and Luke's response summed it all up nicely,

"I'm super impressed by what your body has been able to do here. It looks fantastic."

Where would we all be without a little help from our friends? THANK YOU Orthofix for getting my body to  communicate with itself again. I can conclusively say that I would not be sitting here today (prepping to go on another mountain run) without a pin in my foot had it not been for your timely intervention.

(left image is late April 2012)
Two thumbs and one healed Jone's Fracture up from this kid. Now bring on the mountains already!!
I should also mention a huge thanks to my non-surgery surgeon Dr. Dory Boyer for always allowing me more of his time than he really had, supporting my every decision along the way, and getting me into contact with the crew over at Orthofix.I couldn't have done it without any/all of them.



and.e.aitch said...

Good news all over!
How's BCMC as far as snow/ice? Are plain shoes good enough or did you need some Microspikes type thing for the top?

FiveSix said...

Reading about your bones arguing with each other was very Fight Club-esque.

Keep healin'

garobbins said...

Hey Andy, BCMC has snow on the top 1/4 to 1/5. I was definitely slipping a bit up top but didn't have anything other than my Montrails on and was fine.

1st rule of Fight Club...

Hone said...

Nice! Glad to see you are back on it. Hopefully we can both line up at the HURT next year...healthy.

garobbins said...

HEALTHY? What a concept!
Best of luck in your own recovery and YES let's both be happy healthy little ultra runners in Hawaii together this Jan.