Run Salt Run: A Backstory

If you’ve ever seen the movie Forrest Gump, you may remember the scene where a young Forrest is hobbling with his heavy-duty, old fashioned leg braces, trying his hardest to run away from a group of mean-spirited boys on bikes while a young, super slow motion Jenny is screaming “RUN FORREST RUN!” Then Forrest breaks free from from his braces and takes off running and it’s all very poetic. That movie deserved every one of it’s 4 stars.

Forrest had the braces because his spine was  “crooked as a question mark”. My spine has never been as “crooked as a question mark” unless I’m in yoga class, but my legs were. I was born with a fairly common condition called a femoral anteversion. It happens in up to 10% of children.

This is how the John’s Hopkins Center for Orthopaedic Surgery describes a femoral anteversion:

The femur is the long bone that goes from the hip to the knee. “Anteversion” literally means “leaning forward.” Femoral Anteversion is therefore a condition in which the femoral neck leans forward with respect to the rest of the femur. This causes the lower extremity on the affected side to rotate internally (i.e. the knee and foot twists towards the midline of the body). Because some degree of rotation of the femur is always present as kids grow, it is considered abnormal only if it is significantly different from the average value of a patient of the same age.

forrest_gump_all_i_have_to_say

That part about it being considered an abnormality only if it differs significantly from the average value would describe me. I was an early walker and it was apparent right away that something was not right. I was fitted for special shoes that didn’t help. I wore a fun contraption that looked a little something like this for awhile:

straps

Random kid from the SureStep website.

They are called “twister straps”. Except this was the late 70’s/early 80’s and mine were less stretchy awesome comfort and more leather bondage. See where the Forrest Gump reference is coming from? That thing didn’t work either. Then it was more special shoes with orthotics built in. No dice.

So the other option is a surgery called a femoral derotation osteotomy, where a doctor will cut the femur, rotate it to a correct position and then pin it back together. It is generally not recommended to consider this until a child is older because in 99% of cases, femoral anteversions correct themselves. It is considered a developmental abnormality which means that this happened in the womb, but it is also thought that there is a genetic component. I come from a long, distinguished line of terrible foot/leg problems on both sides of my family…other femoral issues, club feet, etc. According to my pediatric orthopaedic doctor, the chances of my anteversion correcting itself were slim to none. My procedures would be bilateral – meaning they would happen on both legs – and the first one would occur when I was 3.

My earliest memories all involve hospitals, which sounds depressing, but it really isn’t. I don’t remember ever being sad. I remember going on the hospital tour with my parents before my surgery. I remember what the anethesia smelled like when they put the mask on my face and the dream I had while I was under – colorful balloons floating up and up and up. I remember waking up in recovery and not being able to move my legs and wanting my mom. Okay maybe that last part is depressing.

After that surgery I was in a behemoth of a cast for months. It went from my waist to my ankles on both legs with a bar in between and I had to use a wheelchair. Except that I couldn’t sit up because of the cast, so it was like a flat bed on wheels that I became extremely adept at moving around. I was in preschool at the time and had no troubles there. I remember celebrating my 4th birthday with my school friends and eating cake sprawled on my wheelbed. At night when it was time for sleep, my dad would carry me upstairs and my parents would try to maneuver around the house on it and took chips of paint out of the doorframes. I was a MUCH better driver than they were.

I have one ridiculous photo of me in my casts and I searched high and low for it before writing this post and unfortunately couldn’t find it to share. So here’s a picture of  me as a toddler instead. Check out how far those footsies turned in! Also check out how much Betty looks like me! Everyone always thinks she looks exactly like my husband until I show them baby pictures of myself.

littlesalt
I had a super fun time hanging out in mega-cast, but then it was time for surgery #2 to remove the pins that they had installed to help my femurs heal back together. And then…back in a cast. Though thankfully for not nearly as long this time. I remember the day when I finally got that cast off. I sat on a table while the doctor sawed through them with a little electric saw and plaster dust was kicking up and I was laughing. My skin felt warm from the friction. Then I thought I could just jump down off the table and run out the door. Not so much. After not using your legs at all for the better part of a year, there is a definite learning curve with the whole walking thing.

I had a few issues over the years. Every time I hit a major growth spurt, the pain in my hips and where my femurs connect with my pelvis was so tremendous that I wouldn’t be able to walk. Twice I was on crutches for 6 months. The doctors had no idea at the time why I was in such a world of hurt, but looking back it was probably due to the fact that I had the surgery at such a young age. I was decidedly non-athletic all through school. I didn’t play any sports. I ran a 16 minute mile. My legs were an excuse all the time.

I never in a million years thought I would be a runner. And now I am and I never want to stop. I was having a conversation with my mom recently and she’s kind of shocked at how far I’ve come in the past 9 months. She said that the doctors had told her that my legs would be extra strong after the surgery. I love that.

So that’s how my little corner of the Internet got it’s name. Who knows what my life would be like now if I hadn’t had my legs fixed. I still have a thick 4” raised scar on the outside of both my thighs. When I was little they took up pretty much my whole upper leg and I used to hate when people would ask me about them, but now I kind of love them. Scars can be cool. They tell neat stories sometimes.

Do you have any cool scars? What kind of shoes do you wear? Do you love Forrest Gump?

Also my RoadID Giveaway is in high gear and I just want to thank everyone so much for all the great comments I’ve received so far! You guys are amazing!! And if you haven’t entered yet and would like to, check out yesterday’s post!

~ Salt

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44 thoughts on “Run Salt Run: A Backstory

  1. txa1265 says:

    And THIS is why I love this community so much – thanks for sharing your awesome story! It is really interesting how everyone comes from all of these very different experiences and backgrounds.

    I think most runners have gotten the ‘run Forrest run’ line at some point (well, I didn’t at first, because the movie hadn’t been made 😉 ) so I assumed it was just based on that rather than the entire backstory.

    My most ‘interesting’ scars are stretch-marks from obesity (sorry about that image 😦 ), not much else serious other than that – pumpkin carving with Boy Scout knife scar, 2nd degree hot chocolate burn scars, but nothing else of note. Unlike my older son who has a huge scar where they had to completely re-plumb his kidney when he was 7!

    And I love the picture and see what you say about resemblance!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I agree and thank YOU for listening to me tell it! 🙂
      Wow that kidney scare sounds intense! I have lots of little ones like you do too. I have one on my thigh from where I got an exacto blade stuck in my leg while building a UFO out of bamboo skewers for a design class. Fun times.

  2. Theresa M. says:

    I still can’t get over that even with all the things we have in common, this was one of them – you are still the only other person I’ve actually met who has any idea what that experience is like. ❤

  3. afastpacedlife says:

    Scars are the road maps to the journey of our lives. I have tons of little scars, primarily because I’m clumsy and heal slowly. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I love learning about your past. You are even more amazing than I thought.

  4. littlegreenrunningshoes says:

    What an amazing story. I’m so glad I came across this piece of inspiration this morning! You have overcome so much and still have such a wonderful perspective on it all. Thank you so much for sharing. I have a scar on my right thigh just above my knee from falling through a trampoline. The spring made a nice little scar and is a great reminder of why I’m not a fan of trampolines. I typically wear a neutral shoe but I think I might be changing that soon.

    PS Forrest Gump is one of my all time favorites. Good choice.

  5. Megan Money-Wagner says:

    I had to wear corrective shoes as a little girl as well due to severe “pigeon toe”. I don’t think they worked too well. The only time I remember have normal “turnout” was when I danced in upper elementary and middle school. Then when I was not longer in dance everything went back. I still am “pigeon toed” but not enough to cause concern. I just look a little silly and scuff the toes of every pair of shoes I own.

  6. Kelly @ Turned up to Eleven says:

    I’ve always said B looks like you – that photo says it all!!!

    I love that you shared this story. I’ve always believed that scars are like tattoos but with better backstories and way more original. I am so proud of all your progress, I think it’s amazing.

    And we all know how much I LOVE FORREST GUMP!!!! Like, totally love – hell I moved to Alabama for cram sake! 😉

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you for being one of the only people who always thought that!
      And I actually had you on my mind while I was writing this post. I know how much you love that movie!

  7. Andrea says:

    Wow, it’s so amazing that you’ve become such a great runner. I would have never known that you had these type of challenges early in your life. It’s interesting that you remember how the anesthesia smelled. I had a few minor surgeries as a child and have vivid memories of the smell.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I’ve never mentioned the whole smell thing to anyone before today and it’s so interesting to hear that you had the same experience. It’s not something that I would think of as having a really recognizable odor, but I guess maybe it does!

  8. ambertherunner says:

    Wow, you went through so much – but it’s good to hear that being in a hospital so much didn’t upset you.
    Betty looks like your twin in that picture, my goodness!
    I love scars – there is always a story behind them, and I’m glad you embrace them now 🙂 The only one I have that’s not from the slip of a knife (I learned the hard way to separate frozen/defrosting food with a rubber spatula) or falling off a bike is on my index finger. I was trying to yank open the door to the shed in my parent’s back yard, but ended up snapping the handle in two, and slicing my finger open in the process. Oops.

    • runsaltrun says:

      A BIG thank you right now for suggesting the spatula thing. I always do that with knives and have had a few near misses, but never anything serious enough to warrant me trying another method. You might have just saved my life. 🙂

  9. piratebobcat says:

    Wow, I’m glad everything worked out! That must’ve been hard for your parents, I imagine. But yes, scars are cool!
    I’ve got one on my head from childhood. I was showing off on a swingset and long story short, cut my head open with a protruding screw. I also remember laying on the table before the stitching up and looking at balloons. My mom likes to say how they asked if I would be a good boy, and I said “No” so they literally strapped me to the table! Haha

    • runsaltrun says:

      It definitely was. Now that I have one of my own, I can’t imagine how my mom and dad must have been feeling watching me go through that.

      Holy head injury! I’m glad you’re okay!

  10. michelle k says:

    Those surgeries must have been so scary for you and your parents. I was impressed with your times before, but now. . .that’s crazy!

    I have a scar that runs diagonally across my cheek from having a birthmark removed in kindergarten. It sounds crazy but the birthmark kept getting bigger and bigger as I grew and kids teased me. They would say ‘Eww, what’s on your face?’ and I came home from school crying every day. The scar is completely smooth, but the color is pinker so that makes it noticeable. So then the question everyone asked became ‘What happened to your face?’ but I can’t remember that ever phasing me. I often forget it’s there, and only feel bad about it when someone treats it like and imperfection that should be corrected. Doctors have asked if I want laser treatments and our wedding photographer asked if I wanted him to photoshop it out. I said no to both.

    What a cute pic!

  11. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says:

    Wow…it’s my first time dropping by your blog and I have to say that it is amazing how much you have overcome as a little girl and now you’re a runner! It’s so funny how the meaning of scars evolve in our lives, from a source of embarrassment to a badge of honor. I have a scar just near my left eye where I hit a glass table after my brother chased me around the room when I was 3 or 4 lol.

  12. Jenni On The Run says:

    Wow, you have a truly inspirational history! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

    I had to wear some sort of corrective shoes when i was little for my pigeon toes, but I don’t remember anything about it. I’m still a bit pigeon toed now, but seem to keep them straight most of the time – it’s a mental workout. If I don’t focus on it when I run, I end up with soreness/tenderness in the tendons around my ankle.

    The coolest scar I have is one I get to see multiple times every day. It’s between my thumb and pointer finger on my right hand and came from a rodeo accident. I had a cow at the end of a rope in a team event and she drug us across the arena. My three teammates lost their grip, I was the only one still hanging on, and the cow was headed exactly where we needed to be. If I let go, we’d lose her. So, I hung on for dear life. I had forgotten my gloves back at the horse trailer, so the entire time she was dragging me, the rope was slicing my hand.

    Afterwards, I found my gloves, put em on my dirty hands and finished the day’s events (and ended up with a rib out of place when I got bucked off a horse, but that’s another story). Anymore, if I’m riding a horse or working cows, you can bank on it – I’M WEARING GLOVES.

  13. kristenk says:

    Wow girl! Thanks for sharing! I can’t imagine how much it must have sucked to be in and out of casts as a kid, but it’s so awesome how far you’ve come from that! I have one scar that I guess would be considered “cool” – I had my appendix out when I was 21 and have a huge long scar on my right abs. While I was very upset about it at the time, I don’t mind anymore. I’ve forgotten about it now so when people see me in a bikini they’re always like “What’s that?” and I get confused!

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