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Junque Miles:

By Mark Roberts

My Own Personal Syndrome

I am my own private medical running experiment. Or is that running medical experiment?

Like most runners, I occasionally suffer from minor injuries of various sorts. It's just that I get really weird ones that no one's ever heard of before. Since I live with a physician you might expect that I'd be really knowledgeable about this kind of thing. Sadly, that's not the case; since Lisa's gig is surgical pathology and cytopathology, her specialties involve making sure livers don't have cancer before they're transplanted into someone and reading pap smears. I'm not currently in need of a liver transplant and even less likely to require a pap smear. And she hasn't succeeded in teaching me much of the basics of medicine. In fact, the entire extent of the medical knowledge she's imparted me can be summed up in two facts:

1 - "Pus is never good"

2 - "There ain't no mucous glands in squamous mucosa"

The first is fairly obvious. I'm not sure what the second one even means, although it does come in handy for impressing nearby shoppers when I'm in the pharmacy section at the supermarket: "Well yes, this medication may contain the ingredient most recommended by doctors, but there ain't no mucous glands in squamous mucosa". (I've also devised a rule gleaned from my experience watching TV commercials for incontinence pads/undergarments, which is: "If you ever start secreting anything blue, screw the adult diapers--go see a doctor".)

One of my mysterious injuries is an occasional pain along the outside (lateral) edge of my left foot. I can't find any particular cause and it only happens once a year or so and it goes away after a few days of treatment with ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, but it is mysterious and annoying. Until recently I thought no one else ever had this particular kind of pain, but then my friend Greg Gray informed me that he sometimes gets the same symptoms. Now if there are two of us with this injury right around here, there could be countless others around the world. It could be a bona fide syndrome or something. Certainly worth a mention in someone's book of running injuries, but it doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere. Since I seem to have discovered it, I think I should get to name it. It ought top be some king of syndrome. Maybe even an actual "disease"(!)

I considered naming it after Greg Gray, since he was the one who confirmed the existence of this injury in someone other than myself. But Gray's Disease sounds like some kind of consumptive illness which people used to die from in the nineteenth century, albeit only after a long, gradual decline in health documented in at least 400 pages of a novel by someone with a Russian name. Gray's Syndrome on the other hand, sounds more modern, but rather like a mental disorder that makes you suddenly crash your car into a brick wall, thinking it's a drive-through ATM or possibly Oprah Winfrey.

So I don't think naming it after Greg Gray is going to work, however good a friend he may be (although that remains to be seen after he reads that last paragraph).

My other bizarre injury is patellar tendinitis that flares up every winter in my left knee. What's unusual about it is its cause, which I've just determined: It's caused by not riding a motorcycle. No kidding. During the summer I travel mostly by motorcycle because... well, because cars suck. (Sorry. I couldn't think of any polite way to put it.) Then, some time around November when Rochester's weather turns nasty, I switch over to my car. The problem is that getting a six-foot tall person into a little Subaru GL involves a little bit of contortion and I recently noticed that I was torquing my left knee every time I entered the vehicle. Now I make a conscious effort to avoid twisting my knee whenever I get in the car and lo and behold, after a couple of weeks the aggravating pain in my knee is almost gone.

Finally, I just got an injury which, although it might be exceedingly rare, is one you might want to be aware of. It happened on a Saturday morning run about a week ago. It seems that someone had recently driven along Turk Hill road and decided to dispose of a beer bottle by the expeditious means of tossing it out of their car window. (What kind of person does something like this? I don't know but I've got a name for them: "glassholes".) Although it smashed itself into many little bits, about an inch if the neck remained in one piece and, as luck would have it, came to rest with the mouth of the bottle on the road. This created a little turret of jagged glass just waiting for someone to come along and step on it and I was that lucky person. Fortunately, it was the thickest part of the heel of my shoe that landed on it and the glass barely penetrated deep enough to break the skin of my foot, but I didn't know that at the time (the heel of your own foot is a tricky area to examine yourself, especially when you're hopping up and down on the other foot in the middle of an intersection).

A kind runner named Jim Stevens drove me back to my car and provided bandages and antiseptic. The cut turned to be minor and doesn't even seem to be any damage to the gel pod or whatever in the heel of my shoe. The worst part may be having to throw away a bloody sock (insert your own O.J. Simpson joke here).

Just keep an eye out for this sort of thing when you're on the roads. And if you get any new and interesting injuries, feel free to name one after me.

Copyright © 1999 Mark Roberts

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