Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ready for a New Start!

Since August 22nd, I haven't been able to run. I've tried a few times, but always with bad results and feeling guilty for doing so. In my attempt to figure out what went wrong -- I was running really well with no pain or problems and then suddenly one day there was an intense pain shooting up into my butt/lower back on the right side -- I saw many, random doctors. It seems a bit funny - or maybe crazy - in retrospect!

First, I went to urgent care. I was in Janesville, WI visiting my stepmom the day after the pain initially started and I was certain I had some sort of fracture. The urgent care docs were worthless -- they didn't really listen to what I was telling them -- and sent me home with 30 days worth of 800mg Ibuprofen. Thanks.

That same afternoon, I went to a chiropractor. This was at the suggestion of a couple of running friends who said it sounded like I could use an adjustment. I got a local reference (in Janesville) and saw the doc. He took x-rays and couldn't see anything wrong there. We did do an adjustment but there wasn't a lot more he could do since I was going to be coming back to follow up. The next day I flew to DC to start my last year of law school.

It took me a while to figure out what to do once I got to DC. I really thought I'd just rest for a week and hope it calmed down. It didn't. So I went to another urgent care. Why? I don't know. I was in severe, constant pain with every step I took and the clinic at school hadn't opened yet. Getting into a specialist was going to take a few weeks. So I got an oral steroid from the urgent care doctor with the hopes of combating the inflammation and bringing down the pain level. It didn't.

So, next, I decided to see my pain doctor. I decided to skip the orthopedist because every time I go to an orthopedist they tell me my options are pain injections, physical therapy, or surgery. I figured I'd cut out the middle man and go straight to my pain doctor. I say "my" pain doctor because he treated me previously for a herniated disc in my neck. So I was a returning patient. He didn't want to do anything until he knew what we were dealing with, so he had me start physical therapy and get an MRI. I made an appointment to see him again in a week.

In the meantime, I started with a physical therapist. I wrote about that here. I have been seeing the physical therapist - and doing at home exercises - ever since. In the meantime, I have also gotten 2 pain injections into my SI joint. The injections decreased the pain significantly, which tells us that we are likely targeting the right spot. My physical therapist has spent time adjusting my sacrum - which she found to be out of whack - to get me centered again and to take the stress off my SI. It seems to be working.

Is my pain completely gone? No. But I'm not "in pain." And I rarely feel it. It is hard to know if what I do feel, when purposefully stressing the area, is just residual pain from the injections and all of the exercises I have been doing, or whether the injury is not quite healed. Whatever the case, it's time to move forward.

We did a lot more intense stuff in PT this week (plyometric type stuff) to test the area. It all went really well and today I was cleared to run! She said I should go for 20 minutes and run/walk. 2 minutes running, 30 seconds walking, etc. This is going to be torture for me. I don't run/walk. Ever. What I love about running -- and the thing about it that feels so amazing for me -- is getting into a rhythm; getting my HR up and going and having it stay there. But I'll follow the rules. I want to get back to high mileage as soon as possible and I know that that will take patience at this point in the game.

Thanks to all of my friends and family for their support and patience with my whining over the past month and a half. I have learned a lot about myself - and my love of running - through this process. It has really been eye-opening on levels I could have never predicted. I need to run. More than that, I truly love to run. It is a healing activity for me on so many levels: emotional, mental, and physical. If I have to come up with a reason for suffering from this quirky injury, I can definitely point to the soul-searching I've done and realizations I've come to about how important it is for me to run, to run consistently, to stay fit, and do everything I can to make sure I can do that for a long time. This will mean much more attention to my core and my body as a whole. More strength work, more stretching/foam-rolling, smart training, and, most importantly, a consistent effort.

Anyway, I see today as the beginning of a new journey. Soon, I hope, I will begin a new training cycle. I don't see this as the end of anything. I will still be in PT for at least another week - we will see how I progress and if all is well, next week will be my last week! And I hope to take all of the stuff I have learned with me and to not take my running, or my health overall, for granted. I've done that all too much in the past and it's too precious, for too many reasons, to lost sight of its importance.

And, as always, I am fundraising and would love your support! Click here! And thank you in advance for your generosity.