Lori's OrthoSouth Story with Dr. Tom Giel

"Just a perfect experience from start to finish."

Lori is an avid runner but a few years ago a knee injury interrupted her marathon plans. She took a few minutes to speak with us about running, her experience with Dr. Tom Giel, and the recovery process. Read on below: 

How long have you been running? About 11 years. 

What is your history? My husband became interested in triathlon and got us a family membership to the YMCA.  His coworker who had gotten him interested stressed the importance of testing yourself with racing.  I ran my first 5k about 6 months in and was hooked. 

What can you tell me about the sport?  It’s about so many things – pushing yourself, bettering yourself, knowing that your day will be better if you run, even if you don’t want to.  It’s all about the people – the ones you do fun runs with, the ones you compete with, the ones you can encourage. 

Why do you enjoy it?  I know that it makes me healthier and happier, and it’s all about sharing a common bond with all your running friends.  Plus, it’s a freedom to explore in ways you can’t in a car.   Trail running makes you feel extremely empowered to roam.

How did your injury occur?  About a year of overtraining.  I was feeling unstoppable and erroneously judged that I could run all of my training AND my husband’s Ironman training runs.  I’d also helped a friend train for Leadville 100, so I lost a whole season of shorter-distance training after a marathon.  October 2018, I felt a POP in my left knee about 9 miles into a 16-mile trail race.  All of a sudden, I couldn’t run downhill without wincing.  Good thing that race was mostly uphill.  I finished, but with a lot of walking, and the knowledge that I was not going to make it to St. Jude Marathon in less than 2 months. 

How did your injury affect your quality of life? I spent 2 weeks praying it was going to get better with rest.  If I sat for any length of time, I could hardly stand up.  Getting in and out of a car was a struggle.   I knew I had to seek professional help, and it scared me to death.  Nothing was getting better on its own.  Anything you couldn’t do?

Who did you see at OrthoSouth? I went in as a walk-in requesting whoever could see me first!   How did they make you feel?  Everyone was so nice from the front desk on throughout the whole morning.  I had x rays that day and met with Dr Giel who made me feel very comfortable.  He didn’t rush anything, but also didn’t leave me hanging.  The x rays looked good, but he trusted I knew my body as a runner, and that it was not getting better, so he ordered the MRI.

What procedure did you have done? The MRI showed that I had a bunch of cartilage garbage in the knee and he wanted me to get on with my running, so he planned and arthroscopic clean-up.  How did you feel before, during, and after?  I’d only had my wisdom teeth taken out at this point, so surgery had me pretty scared.  But at the same time, if he’d said he could have done it with his pocketknife right then and there, I would have jumped at the chance.  Had to wait a couple of weeks, but that got me through Thanksgiving, and I was still able to move pretty well to cook & clean.  But the Tuesday after, it was a go and I couldn’t have been any more ready.

What was key during the recovery process? Patience.  When he did the surgery, he found out I was a little worse than originally believed.  There was the beginning of an ACL tear, if I understood correctly in the recovery room.  Instead of the 4-6 weeks recovery, it was probably going to be twice that long.  My heart sank. But at least I was coming out on the right side now. Did you take any special measures?  I took advantage of every time I could get PT – I loved everyone there and followed their plans religiously.  They kept upping what I could do, and I loved it.  I kept feeling it was time to start running, but, with each checkup, Dr. Giel seemed to push me back another 2 to 4 weeks.  I thought that would never end!  But I trusted him, and the PT team trusted him, too.  I think my success was in that I didn’t trust myself and start against their wishes.  Once I got the green light to start walk/running, my husband got me a running coach.  She tempered me, too, and for that I’m forever grateful.

Since recovery, what have you been up too?  Surgery was November 2018.  Started running again April 2019.  Got my redemption in the trail race I was injured during in October of 2019.  Then Boston Qualified for the 1st time on my 7th attempt at St Jude Marathon in December of 2019.  Covid’s probably been a blessing in disguise this year by reining me in from racing too much, and who knows when, if ever, I’ll get to run Boston, but, regardless, I did it after getting knocked down.

What are a few words of encouragement you would share with current OrthoSouth patients?  They totally know what they’re talking about.  Take advantage of their knowledge, training, and experience.  Most of them are athletes, too – they know what you’re feeling, physically AND emotionally.  They want you to get better.  They want you recovered.  Let them take the wheel.  A few weeks or months off can do a world of good!

Lori's OrthoSouth Story with Dr. Tom Giel
2019 St. Jude Memphis Marathon at the Boston Qualifiers’ tent. On cloud 9!
2019 Big Hill Pond Walking Tall 25k – the redemption run. 3rd female
2019 Big Hill Pond Walking Tall 25k – the redemption run. 3rd female.