It all began almost two weeks ago when I went to the dermatologist to get an annual skin cancer screen. Out of all the sunspots, freckles, and moles that occupy my skin and make it that unique palette I can call my own, one little spot caught the attention of the good doctor. I am not quite sure what set this one spot apart from all the rest, but I can say it is the self same spot that had caught my attention as well and prompted me to schedule a skin screening in the first place. Unhappily, this spot was located squarely on top of my left foot.
Almost two weeks ago when I went in the dermatologist gave me the choice to let it go and we would check it again in a few months or to scrape it off and biopsy it to see if there was any concern. I opted for the latter, figuring that if there was anything to it better now than in a few months when I would - with any luck - be deep into 100-mile training. Well, it turns out there was something to it. The mole did not prove to be skin cancer, thankfully, but it was termed severely abnormal, meaning it could grow into something more sinister if left to its own devices. Because they couldn't be sure they had gotten everything with the initial removal, I was scheduled to go in yesterday and have the skin surrounding the newly formed scab more completely excised. This meant about a one-inch incision and a good chunk of skin removed. And, it meant about eight stitches in two layers. Sadly, it turns out, that eight stitches on the top of one's foot limits running ... indefinitely.
Okay, that sounded dramatic. Actually, by "indefinitely," I simply mean I am not sure when I will be able to start up again. In an ideal world, according to my surgical dermatologist, I would not strain the foot for the next six weeks. So, you can imagine his surprise (read: mild shock) when I said I actually had a marathon scheduled for four weeks hence and a long run for two weeks earlier. After raising his eyebrows and giving me a look that I can only describe as quietly assessing and mildly resigned, says my doc, well, since you are probably going to run anyway, you should invest in some kinesio tape and make sure to tape the skin on top of the foot together so as not to pull apart the stitches or newly formed scar tissue - when that time comes (which, according to him, will be no sooner than two weeks from yesterday). And, I need to exercise my common sense before starting any activity to assess whether said activity will cause too much tension in the upper foot.
So, there I have it. After yesterday's minor surgery, I left the office and came home to a driveway that needed to be shoveled, which I did. After that, I rested the foot as much as possible and made plans to do some rowing on the rowing machine today. As it turns out, I learned I should never make plans for exercise when, in fact, it turns out the foot has been pumped full of pain-reducing chemicals. Waking up in the night and discovering that
I suppose I could get all bent out of shape about this development, and I suppose I am a bit. It would be unrealistic to think this isn't going to impact the marathon next month or even the 50-miler after that in May. But, to be honest, I prefer to focus on what I am grateful for:
- If I am going to have something like this happen, then better now - when my 100-Miler is still six months out.
- I am grateful for the fact that this is "just" a skin issue. (It's not like I had surgery on the muscles, tendons, or bones of the foot, after all.)
- I am grateful I had one really good long run beforehand (I ran 15.5 miles Sunday and felt pretty darn fantastic throughout and after!!! Woot!!!)
- Given all the turbulence the past few weeks, I am guessing that with this enforced rest any remaining IT band, quad, calf, what-have-you issues should iron themselves out, so when I do resume running I am mildly optimistic that I will do so feeling pretty good.
- Finally, I am grateful that this was caught early enough that hopefully the extent of any intervention is limited to this minor surgical procedure.