OK, when I said I was going to do better, I did not mean almost a month between posts! I meant "better" better! Oh well, as Walt Disney said, "Keep moving forward". We will do a little reverse order on this one, just for the sake of mental gymnastics.
This weekend has beautiful weather, but it remains boring and depressing. Why? I cannot go out into the sun for a nice long walk. I have an injury to rest, and I have just reached the age that I accept the reality that my injury will heal faster if I let it rest. Seriously though, matters could have been worse. Details follow, in edited excerpts to family.
I suffered a little pain in my right shin muscle while running in Avignon (around the wall of the old city). There was a spot of very uneven ground, and though I did not twist an ankle, I felt a pull on the shin. It got tighter as the day went on, including yesterday. I massaged it a bit, noticed a little edema, reminded myself to hydrate better...
I ran just over 8 miles this past Tuesday, with mild discomfort from the same area -- to be expected from a strained muscle, but did not hurt enough to force me to alter my gait. It was a good run. When I showered, I noticed the area was red. This was not a strained muscle or tendon. I did some quick checking on the Internet, and determined it was either thrombosis or a bacterial infection under the skin. Both recommended immediate visit to the doctor.
I do have a doctor here, who signed for my medical approval to run the half-marathon in March. I had to wait four hours to get in, and the doctor determined it was mostly likely the bacterial infection. I am on an antibiotics regime for 14 days (currently on day 5), and getting 7 days of injections to thin the blood to prevent thrombosis from the clearing of the infection. Yes, the doctor thoroughly inspected the area for "access", inspecting my feet (I have not run fully barefoot in a few weeks), and she could find no source point -- my hygiene is good.
After only 3 days of antibiotics, the redness has reduced. The regime will continue, however.
We did an ultrasound on the affected area, and found no sign of abscess, but evidence of edema -- caused by the trauma of that one bad step I described at the beginning of the original e-mail.
The tendon itself is in tension, with the swelling around it forcing that state. You can actually feel the tendon vibrate a bit when extend my toes or pull them back. Running is out for awhile. It was not running too much, or the wrong way, but one bad step...
I had to, at doctor's orders ("I am your captain", she said. I then reminded her there is a song of similar name by Grand Funk Railroad), get blood tests done yesterday. The clinic for drawing the blood opens at 0800 on Saturdays, and it opened exactly on time. I was the first of about 20 to go in. They verified my information, and in two minutes I was in having blood drawn. Less than 10 minutes later, I was out the door. Did I mention my doctor is the only one of these people who speaks English? I had to do the ultrasound and blood test trips in French, and my French is not good. I simply ask, "Parlez-vous anglais?" (Do you speak English), and when they indicate they do not, I reply, "Je ne parle pas francais tres bien, patientez, s'il vous plait" (I do not speak French very well, be patient, please). We managed to get everything done.
The leg continues to improve with the rest, and it is very good news that it is not a bacterial issue, which would have been far more serious. I appreciate my doctor here, and the interest and concern and genuine care she has provided, including working me into her busy schedule, yet never making me feel she was hurried.
As I mentioned earlier, I went to Avignon last weekend. Avignon is a beautiful city, and the old part the city is surrounded by its medieval wall. Avignon is known as the city of the Popes. It is an old, beautiful, vibrant city. The old wall is still intact around the old part of the city, which made for a nice 5km run. I stayed in a hotel in the heart of the city, which had been renovated to modern rooms by replacing the wall which faced an old alley and blending the new section as part of a new garden area for relaxing and dining. You can see pictures of Avignon and the some of the hotel here.
I visited the surrounding areas (all part of the Rhone river valley -- the Rhone passes the old city of Avignon), including Chateauneuf-de-Pape (the world renowned wine region) and "Les Gorges de l'Ardeche" -- The Gorges of the Ardeche river. The vineyards were full and ready for harvest, backdropped by the Alps, and the gorges were rugged and beautiful, with the still, deep Ardeche adding a welcoming calm at each bend.
Two weekends before last, I traveled to Perpignan to witness the vendange -- the harvesting of the grapes. The regions around Perpignan, really, from the Spanish border to almost Nice, is simply full of vineyards. It reminds one of the vast agricultural region of the San Joaquin Valley in California. Much of it is harvested by hand, predominately local French of all ages, but mostly young, who avail themselves to a local labor cooperative, which in turn works out the scheduling of harvesting teams with the owners of the vineyards. The vendage is about a two month effort. Some vineyards have terrain which can accommodate machine harvesting, but the bulk of it is still done the old way. I was able to lend a hand in harvesting a 100 meters row of 65 year old Carignan vines. It is hard work, and everyone associated with the winery is involved in this "sweat equity" portion of the business. For my hard work (really, my contribution was nothing), I drove on down to Banyuls-sur-Mer for a lunch overlooking the Mediterranean. I really enjoy southern France, all of it, from Spain to the Rhone valley. It is the place of the sun for France, and the people are friendly, speak more slowly (which really helps me), and have a more easy-going view of life, not unlike the American South.
So this catches me up, and on Wednesday I fly to Texas for business, but of course I get to stay with the family at Chateau Puckett a rue Moulin de Hickory...