Warning: This page contains pictures of healing after surgical interventions. Viewer discretion is advised for those that are sensitive to blood.
This page is under construction and will be updated in the coming days and weeks. With this page, I want to prevent fellow runners of making the same mistakes as I did in the past, as I learnt the hard way how important it is to listen to your own body and learn to listen to your own body. Questions and remarks can be made using the contact page of this website.
Already in primary school, I enjoyed running. When I was around 10 years old, I would already run about 3 kilometers in the morning before going to school. In the first few years of high school, the love for running tempered a little, until I started training with my grandfather (also my godfather). The first few years, I had difficulties keeping up with Franske, because in his early 60’s he would still win the title of champion of Limburg in running. In the years that followed, I would improve substantially when I started to have 2 more extra trainings a week with a group of friends, next to my 2 weekly trainings with my grandfather. Quite soon, I became a better runner and one of the stronger in the amateur series on a local level. In my strongest period, I was training for a half marathon and hit weeks up to 120 km/week, training 6 days out of 7. In the end I missed my 1h24m target by 2 minutes. I believe I must have started off a little too fast, as the races afterwards proved that I was in my best shape ever. A few weeks later at Dwars Door Hasselt, I would run my personal best race ever, or at least, that’s how I feel about it. I finished on the 86th spot running 15 km in 56m57s, at an average pace of 15.80 km/h or 3m47s per kilometer. In the following months, I won quite a few local races, out of which the most beautiful one for me was a memorial race for Leon Schots, one of the great runners from my grandfather’s era. This one was so special for me as it was the last one my grandfather could see, while already being in a wheelchair. I ran off a local athlete on his own training track right in front of my proud grandfather. I finished the 5 kilometer race in 17m36s, which is an average pace of 17.05 km/h or 3m31s per kilometer. Unfortunately, the hunger for more and more training pushed me so far that I ended up injured.
A kind of stinging pain appeared in my lower left leg, of which the family GP told me that it was shin splints, and he recommended to take it easy for a while. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell me how hard it can be to recover from and never advised me to be extra careful. This resulted in me taking up training way too early, causing the pain levels to increase on and on. When I finally went to a specialist, he noticed on a scan that I already had a beginning stress fracture (onset of an actual fracture), and therefore, I had to wear plaster for a month. Afterwards, I lost so much muscles in my left leg, that I needed physiotherapy and plenty of cycling and swimming to get back on track. The pain never really disappeared, so I decided to change to an other specialist to see if he’d have more options for me. I ended up with professor Bellemans at the Pellenberg University hospital. He noticed that indeed the shin splints were gone, but that there was too much pressure build up in the muscle group in the lower leg. The layer surrounding those muscles (fascia) was too tight, resulting in pressure build up during workouts. Therefore, an open release was performed, making the fascia wider and leaving it open to slowly grow closed being more spacious. It looked like this a few days later.
After working from home (hotel mom) for about one month, I could return to my beloved Leuven and I could start revalidation by swimming and cycling on my home trainer. A few months later, I felt a slight irritation again, but this time right below my knee on the inside of the leg. Due to excessive bleeding, there had been some ossification, as can be seen in the next picture.
The extra chunk of bone shouldn’t be there, but measured about 9x2x1 cm. The growth had already stopped once the problem was noticed, so I was advised to not bother about it, unless it would induce pain. After a few months, the pain of the old injury started to act up again. Nothing could be seen on new scans, so it was decided to have an investigative surgical intervention in the day hospital, in order to try to pinpoint the problem. It turned out that one of the joints connecting the muscle to the bone was twisted en pushed on the muscle. Once this was fixed, I could feel straight away that the main culprit of my pain had been stopped. Two days later it looked like this:
Unfortunately, this was not yet the end of the story, as one year later, I started to feel pain due to the ossification below my knee and it was decided it had to be removed. The professor proposed local anaesthesia, but as he was going to hammer the chunk out, I decided to go for complete anaesthesia. This was the third surgical intervention on my inner leg, now touching on the lower side of the existing scar tissue from previous interventions.
This surgical intervention was the final part to a quite long suffering, but until this day, the pain is gone, as long as I take it easy and focus on physical activities that do not pressure the legs too much, such as swimming and cycling.