… over a year since i have written here and what a year it has been.
first a confession. i haven’t kept my blog up half as much as i would have liked to – and can realistically say at this point, i may be a little ways off from doing so regularly.
but i’m back on for now and i would like to share some of the interesting and eye-opening experiences that have taken place in the last year for anyone who may be interested in reading and/or learning from them.
the biggest life-changing occurrence has been a (still somewhat mysterious) injury that i sustained around may 2013. as a recreational runner for the previous five years or so, i had always been fairly weary of injuries. i made sure to stretch and cross train. knowing i wasn’t a natural runner (really had to work at form and endurance) i always did my best to be careful in how i pushed my physical strength to take on new goals.
in early 2013, i signed up with my first training group for the monument avenue 10k in richmond. i had run the race before, but thought i might meet some other runners and learn a few things from the training. i really enjoyed it! the coaches were helpful and encouraging, the mileage plan was nice to follow.
first lesson learned here though – that year i was running the race for fun, not gunning for any extreme goals. with that in mind, i wish i had signed up for the middle level running group instead of the most advanced. who knows if it would have made a difference related to my injury – but that group always seemed to be more relaxed and less competitive. i also got a bit hung up on mileage and pace more – than i needed to for this kind of race.
we trained from january or february through the 10k race in april – so had plenty of time to warm up and get strong. i had done the race before as well – so knew what to expect for the most part. during our training, i would feel little tweaks and soreness here and there, but never anything that made me feel like i couldn’t recover with a little ice and rest.
the morning of the race, i was very anxious. i’ve always been a nervous runner when it comes to big events. where would i park, would i miss my wave, what should i eat, what if i had to pee – the list goes on. so being very worked up that morning definitely did not help. i also made the mistake of starting with a friend whose pace was at least a minute ahead of mine if not more. so for the first mile i did my best to keep up with her rather than going at the pace i had been comfortably training at.
here is where i think the injury started. within mile two of six, i felt what seemed like a pop in my left groin area. it wasn’t really a tweak either – i literally limped/jogged/walked the rest of the race. if i could go back, i would likely have not pushed myself to finish the race and wear on what might have been a worse injury than i thought. but i kept going, finished way slower than i would have liked and went on to beat myself up the rest of the day.
after the race, the pain seemed to subside for the most part – but never fully went away. i kept jogging and going to the gym for exercise – but any time i did certain motions, i could tell something was wrong. if i would lift my left leg as if to put on pants, shooting pain would hit my hip and eventually i felt it every time i would walk, especially up steps.
big lesson learned here – i should have seen a doctor within the first two weeks of pain or sooner. i walked and worked out on this injury not knowing what is was for at least a month.
i forgot to mention that it had been a goal of mine to run my first half and/or full marathon in 2013. i had signed up for the rock and roll half in va beach in september and for the richmond full training team.
the marathon training team started the first weekend of june 2013 – and despite my pain – i went to run 4 miles. while there, i asked several coaches about the symptoms i was having, still in my left groin – but it had spread to my hip as well. they told me to see a sports doc immediately.
so in june i saw a doctor (who honestly didn’t give me the best vibe that he knew what to look for – so side lesson, if you immediately aren’t sure about a doctor – go see another one right away) that doctor gave me an xray that showed what he thought was a stress fracture but wasn’t sure and recommended an MRI. (important to note here, if anyone ever recommends that you get an MRI – ask whether cartilage needs to be checked related to your injury. an MRI alone will not show cartilage – so you need to request and MRI with contrast or dye (also called an Arthogram i believe). THIS IS CRUCIAL because I ended up having to have two MRIs and they are NOT cheap.
after the regular MRI – the doctor said he saw a stress fracture in my left pubic rami and a stress reaction in my right pubic rami (basically the bones at the base on your hips/pelvis) he recommended that i rest them completely and go “non-weight-baring” for the left side using crutches. ANOTHER LESSON – if any doc ever puts you on crutches for more than a short amount of time – get another opinion. i firmly believe that rest was necessary. i also believe that my crutches caused further injury to what had been somewhat incompletely-diagnosed (he didn’t know i had cartilage issues on top of the stress fractures)
after two weeks on crutches, i was still experiencing pretty bad pain. i called this doctor to ask his opinion and he recommended two more weeks of crutches! i said NO WAY and went to get a second opinion. the new doctor agreed we needed to come off the crutches so the muscles would not lose all strength and that they were causing my body to be pretty badly out of alignment – which was causing back and gluteal pain.
so in july 2013 i started physical therapy. they gave me heat, ice, stretches and exercises to treat my stress fracture and reaction. the PT seemed to be working for relieving the groin area pain and i started to get alignment and range of motion back. however – i was having terrible pain in my lower back and glutes – especially in my left hip area. side leg raises felt impossible. sitting, standing, lying down, walking – everything irritated it. and there was no stretching, icing or advil that could relieve the pain.
i stayed in physical therapy from july to about october 2013 – the whole time wondering and asking why i was still having this pain. no one could answer the question. and cartilage was still never brought up by anyone i had talked to. ANOTHER LESSON – i should have gone back to my doctor with a clear WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE OTHER THAN MUSCLE question. i finally saw him again in october and asked if he thought it was a joint or bone issue.
he recommended another MRI – this time with contrast to show cartilage issues – and there she blew. a labral tear in my left hip that could only be fixed with surgery. i was pretty irritated at this point. how had three doctors and almost six months of physical therapy not have caught this sooner? i did my research and explained my symptoms and still no one could have mentioned it?!
i stopped physical therapy until my surgery which was set for december 2013. the orthopedic surgeon did an arthroscopic repair (debridement) of my cartilage tear. i had three incisions with real black stitches that i was not expecting! the pain and recovery right after the surgery between crutches, physical wounds, not being able to shower, getting back into physical therapy and pain medication were all definitely a learning experience. it was a druggy, blurry christmas season that year!
in january i really started physical therapy again – working on range of motion and strengthening the muscles needed for walking, sitting and standing. we gradually progressed the intensity of PT and doctors and therapists warned me about a honeymoon stage where i would feel really good – maybe push it – and then find physical set backs. that definitely happened – so we did our best to move slowly with getting stronger.
now it’s july 2014 – seven months since surgery and over a year since i first noticed the injury. i’m not 100 percent pain free – but i’m loads better. still not jogging, but i can walk and work out as long as i keep form and care in mind.
this is a long detailed story – but with good reason.
first, who wouldn’t want to document a year of lessons that they may not have expected to deal with and learn.
second, maybe some stranger who is dealing with these issues will find this helpful – i hope so! and i hope they find it at first sign of injury.
and last – this year has changed me physically in a ton of ways (gained and lost 20 pounds, lost what felt like all my strength – i used to be able to run 5-6 miles without stopping easily and now i hurt a bit after walking an hour, and there are many more). and i can tell you that i do not take physical health for granted whatsoever, and i don’t think i ever will again if i did before.
but mentally i think this injury has changed me as a person. i have had to really ask for help, let things be done in a way that i might not do them, put myself and healing first, admit fault, control my temper, stay more positive. before my injury, i might have spent every weekend cleaning and working out. now, i don’t freak if we spend the weekend going out with a friend or just hanging around and enjoying downtime – even if things aren’t in “perfect order.”
another random lesson learned – at the beginning of the year, my husband recommended that we look into the paleo way of eating. we both needed to get healthy and lose some weight, neither of us really knew how to cook with real / non-boxed ingredients. so in february we started and it has been life-changing to live a style where instead of grabbing pre-packaged and frozen foods for many meals, we make mostly everything we eat. we have seen results with weight loss, better sleep and generally feeling better. i credit paleo with the concept – but really think it’s about eating a clean diet of fresh foods in moderation. we’re making staying active a priority too – even if it’s just a 20 minute stretch session before bed.
2013 was what i refer to as my most recent hell-year (though i fully understand it related to first- world problems) but i have learned more about myself, my marriage, my family and friends who were there (or weren’t really). yet another life hurdle that reminds me that things may not happen for a reason – but when unhappy things do happen – we have to take them as an opportunity to learn and try to grow as a person.
i admit, i’m still working on letting go of the frustration that the injury happened in the first place and that it has taken this amount of time to get to a manageable state – but that will come with time.
thanks for reading and hopefully there was a little something here that can help you in whatever hurdles you may be facing.
here’s to wrapping up another crazy year and facing the future with an open mind.