It’s been a little over one year since I had the first surgery for popliteal artery entrapment syndrome. That was on October 13th, 2017 – I remember because it was on Friday the 13th. To me it was a lucky day, though, because it meant I could finally start on my road to recovery.
I specifically remember telling my mom after waking up from surgery, “This is the easy part.” To most people that probably sounds ridiculous, but I still stand by that. Even with all of the pain, nausea, shots of heparin, blood clots, hematoma, the incision ripping open, months of wound cleaning/healing, anemia, physical therapy, and having to go back for a second surgery it was STILL easier than what I went through before that.
Trying to search for answers when in a matter of a week I went from marathon training to not being able to run at all was so baffling and frustrating. Waiting for doctor’s appointments, referrals, and different tests was painfully slow. All the while I kept questioning myself as to whether or not this pain was real. It was so strange that the symptoms came on so suddenly, the compartment testing was normal, the MRI was normal, and how no amount of rest or massage could help my calves. I kept questioning whether or not I was making it all up.
Then 6 months later to finally find out that it was PAES was terrifying. Being told by my doctor that he didn’t know what to do because surgery didn’t seem like a possible option was even more devastating.
I’m so thankful to be where I am now. I’m not in chronic pain anymore doing simple everyday tasks. I can bike and hike and run (a little). I’m thankful to have found an answer and also have found amazing care at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I’m thankful to be able to be back studying physical therapy at a school that I love (UVM).
Today in class I heard the expression, “When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras.” In other words, when thinking about a possible diagnosis, think of the most common problems, not the rare diagnosis. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as my case is definitely a zebra, not a horse.
Thanks for following along on this bumpy journey! Below are some pictures from our recent trip to Alaska.