Monday, May 12, 2008

Best Laid Plans, Ankle Woes

Following my trip to Vegas for Interop, I've spent a lot of the last week or so catching my breath and trying to get my bearings again. Doing lots of small post-show activities in the office, and capping my days at 8 hours so I can get home, spend a bit more time with my family, and start getting my non-work schedule back into something that works long-term. Work has been so all-encompassing for the past few months that I've been feeling that my home-life and Tang Soo Do training have been getting shoehorned in, and that's not a feeling I like very much. And my less-than-stellar performance at Master Riley's tournament did little to alleviate my concerns about lack of extra training time was having a detrimental effect on my technique, so I wanted to re-focus myself.

My goals include hitting 1 extra class per week, an afternoon class on Mondays with my wife. That would bring me to 4 total classes per week, which is definitely my comfort zone for training. The minimum of two just doesn't do it for me -- I mean, I can do the techniques, and two classes per week is certainly adequate for picking up knowledge, but I'm just not satisfied with training so infrequently. On top of that, I want to get back to the gym a couple of times per week, on my non-training days. And I'm trying to kick start my Sunday afternoon review sessions with other students again, both for their benefit as well as my own. We've got one student who is returning to training following a nasty knee injury who could really use the extra review time, and a couple of others who would just like the extra session to lock in curriculum like wrist grabs and one-steps which we may not be able to cover in class as often as they'd like. Plus, with my first gup test approaching, I want to have lots of practice time, just to get things locked in solid so nerves don't undermine my performance.

Needless to say, though, this hasn't been as successful as I'd hoped just yet. School activities with my kids got in the way of hitting my extra class last week, and Mother's Day activities prevented me from working out at the dojang yesterday. Add to this a general post-Vegas malaise and getting to the gym was a non-starter. Plus, I didn't even train in my usual Saturday morning class as my daughter was testing in Belton for 2nd gup and I attended the test to assist and proctor.

Proctoring was an interesting experience. Strictly speaking I should not have been proctoring at all, since there were several students testing who were my seniors (only by a few months, but still). But since there was only one other student at the test who could proctor Master Riley made an exception and allowed me to assist. Overall I think I did well -- made a couple of minor errors in calling kicking techniques, and didn't follow protocol precisely with bowing and saying some stuff in Korean once or twice, but mostly I was solid and clear. Far better than the proctoring was on my own 2nd gup test, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that the week I was planning really cracking down and starting to train harder I wound up only training twice. Heh. So much for plans.


One thing I did accomplish last week was finally catching up on lots of things I've been putting off for the past couple of months. Some of this is obvious, basic stuff. Got my hair cut. Finally got an eye exam and ordered new glasses and contacts. You know: maintenance. Still need to get to the dentist, but otherwise I'm fairly back on track.

One of the other things I was putting off was talking with Pieter, my friend and physical therapist, about the fairly significant pain I've been experiencing in my left ankle for the past few months. Achiness around my Achilles Tendon, lots of pain in the ball of my foot and the base of my toes, and occasional sharp pain on the interior side of my ankle when I do twisting movements. this has become more of an impediment in the past couple of months, as one of the movements in Chil Sung Sahm Rho (the hopping into a crane stance movements in the first third of the form) tends to really activate the injury and bring the pain when it's flaring up. I'd hoped this was just a minor injury that would clear up on its own, but after a few months of ignoring it I finally had to just find out what's happening here.

Unfortunately, the prognosis is not great. I mean, it's not a huge problem, but it's not a minor thing either. Pieter thinks I've got some sizable calcium deposits inside my ankle, residual garbage from my busted ankle 7 years back, that have popped loose and are irritating the interior of the joint. The irritation and swelling are restricting the movement of some bones in my ankle, which is causing me put way more of my weight on the ball of my foot than I should when I walk or run, thus causing the generalized and constant foot, toe, and Achilles pain. The intermittent sharp pain is probably being caused when the "floating bodies" directly get in the way of other bones.

The good news was that my ankle is solid and stable. But the bad news is that unless I get lucky -- sometimes, with rest and regular PT, your body will spontaneously break down the calcium deposits -- I will wind up needing surgery to fix this. And if I get the surgery, the recovery time is estimated at about 6 weeks.

So, that would suck. Six weeks without training sounds like an eternity to me. Luckily, there is no serious danger in not getting this fixed right away. The pain I'm feeling in my ankle is not indicative of additional damage being done to the joint, and the pain in my toes, foot, and Achilles are just inflammation from my gait being thrown off by the restricted movement. So, I can probably put this off for a few months, until after my 1st gup test in August. And then, hopefully it won't flare up just when I'm testing.

The main concern I have, though, is how this injury is messing up my technique. The achiness and pain in my foot I'm used to, and aside from just hurting a whole bunch it doesn't really have any impact on my performance. But when I have a bad week with the ankle itself, when one of those "floating bodies" wanders into the joint and causes those nice sharp pains, it really messes me up. I mean, obviously, it messes me up while the problem is happening. But worse, once the ankle stops hurting -- which it will do all of a sudden, once the deposit or bone chip or whatever it is shifts back into a less troubling location -- I find that my techniques are all screwed up for days afterward, because I anticipate the pain occurring anyhow. Very frustrating.

Anyway, I'm currently trying to adhere to Pieter's instructions to not put too much stress on the ankle for a few weeks. No jumping or jump/spinning kicks. Controlled activity only, with sparring allowed only if I approach it carefully and take it easy. He blasted me on Friday for engaging in jump spin kick training and then being surprised that my ankle hurt the next day. I told him I wanted to test the ankle to see what would happen. What can I say -- I'm dense. From now on, I'll be more careful.

Mood: Sleepy
Now Playing: Death Cab for Cutie, "Narrow Stairs"

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