“Trust me, I do this day in, day out. You’ve got to take my word for it.”
A surgeon said that to me, nearly 4 years ago, shortly after I’d fucked-up my ankle.
“I can’t see anything wrong with the bones in your ankle, the problem is definitely in your calf muscle” he added, standing up from his desk and gesturing me towards the door. My allocated 10 minutes with him were up. “It’ll be a quick operation, we’ll cut some tissue away from your calf muscle, then, once you’ve recovered, you’ll hopefully be able to run properly again. Just let me know what you want to do.”
I eyed him warily, “I’ll be in touch”, I replied and politely shook his hand as I left his office.
I did not have that operation.
I knew that there was something wrong with a bone in my ankle, not my calf. I could feel it kind of jamming up against another bone each time I ran. It wasn’t painful as much as uncomfortable, but I knew it wasn’t supposed to feel that way.
A few more years passed. A merry-go-round of appointments with physiotherapists and manual therapists and doctors and experts even more x-rays prevailed. No-one could pin-point the exact problem in my ankle, even though I described in detail what I was feeling. I even showed a physiotherapist what I thought was happening, on a foot skeleton model in his office, and yet he just smiled at me and told me to do the exercises he’d set me.
I did them, diligently. He knew better than me, right?
Still, nothing changed.
Several weeks ago, growing tired of getting nowhere, and fast, I demanded another x-ray on my ankle, nearly 4 years to the date since my ankle injury. My doctor—an awesome guy who is also a runner, so he gets my frustration—referred me to the best foot and ankle specialist in the area.
“Here we go again”, I thought. “Another x-ray. Another office. Another conversation where I’m not listened to.”
And yet this time, it was different.
The x-ray showed exactly what I’ve been saying for years. A bone is out of place in my ankle, and it jams up against another bone. I could see it with my own eyes. And the specialist could also see it. She pointed it out to me.
I cried right there in the fancy office of the best foot and ankle specialist in the area.
I cried partly because I was relieved—I’d resigned myself to the fact that I’d probably never run a marathon ever again, and now? Maybe that’s not the case. But mostly, I cried because I was thankful. Thankful that I’d demanded and pushed relentlessly to get an answer, and that I’d trusted my own body—and my own mind—despite being told countlessly that I was wrong.
In January, I’m having an operation on my ankle. I met with the surgeon yesterday, and he said he’s 99% sure I’ll be able to run marathons again, which, if you know me, you’ll understand just how much this means to me.
In a world full of ‘expert’ advice, you don’t have to take someone else’s word for it, you know. You can trust your own.