About four years ago it all started with a twinge of pain up high on my right hamstring. Four years, hundreds of doctors and physical therapy appointments, several MRI’s and a year of hardly running finally brought me here, to Turku Finland for hamstring surgery.
Hamstring surgery…it still sounds a bit surreal even as I lie here in bed, one day post-op, listening to the bells of the Turku Cathedral ring outside my window. A lot of people thought I was crazy when I first announced I wanted to fly half-way around the world to have my leg cut open by choice, but now that it’s done I couldn’t be happier and more content with my decision. After all, my surgeons Sakari Orava and Lasse Lempainen, have pioneered this unique surgery for chronic hamstring tendinopathy. Thanks to my PT back home, Simon Guiterrez, I was able to find out about this surgery. Compared to the much more invasive procedures offered in the U.S., this surgery for what they refer to as “hamstring syndrome” promises a much quicker recovery time–only a couple months before I can run, rather than an entire year. When it comes to four years of dealing with this pain, and the refusal to give up on a dream, I’m happy and hopeful to be one major step further on my road to recovery!
Surgery took place yesterday morning and included a partial tenotomy of my semimembranosis tendon, debridement and freeing of the sciatic nerve. In layman’s terms, they reduced tension in the hamstring tendon and removed the large amount of scar tissue that had developed from four years of dealing with HHT (High Hamstring Tendonopathy.)
I plan to write another blog to explain hamstring syndrome and the surgery in more detail, but for now I just wanted to share a bit about our trip to Finland…
Chris and I flew into Helsinki late Sunday and since this was our first time in Finland (or anywhere overseas) we wanted to squeeze in a little bit of sight-seeing before I ended up in the position I’m stuck in right now (laying in bed like a mummy, leg elevated, unable to sit, or walk much more than a few feet!)
Monday we visited the Turku Cathedral. The art history classes I took in college gave me a special appreciation for this 700-year-old church full of gothic-style pillars, stained glass windows, ancient tombs, and vaulted ceilings covered in romantic-style frescos. It was a peaceful place to spend some time before the operation, knowing that thousands of Christians before me have come through these giant wooden doors to worship the same God.
Beyond the typical European-touristy things like the cathedral, local coffee shops, and walking around town, Chris and I (being the track nerds that we are) had to visit to the Paavo Nurmi Stadium. Named after the great “Flying Finn” who won 9 Gold medals back in the 1920’s, this very track has seen 20 World Records go down, including those of John Landy, Emil Zapotec and Ron Clarke. Although it was covered in snow, it was still worth making our way over to the stadium and taking a moment to stare down the homestretch, imagining how great it will feel to be able to race again.
Later we took a walk along the icy river where boats covered in Christmas lights were harbored. I randomly picked a bridge to cross and noticed the rails were covered in padlocks just like the famous “love locks” that cover the rails of the Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris (although not quite as many!) Ironically, one of the last things I threw into my purse before we left for Finland was a padlock, just I case I needed it. And so, we joined in on the tradition as Chris and I attached our love lock. ♥️
While there are far too many people to name who have helped me with this injury over the last four years, there’s no one who’s been there more and given more than Chris. I’m so grateful we could take this trip together, and for him taking care of me, even now that I’m a mummy and all. 🙂