(Warning: this blog post exhibits a lot of negative emotions… some swearing might be involved)
It came to a point where I could no longer ignore it even if I wanted to. It is there and it sure as hell isn’t leaving. Not only is it a pain, but it is causing me to run slow and inhibiting me from running far. And that’s not all. After I finish running it punishes me with more pain and a hobbling walk.
So there I was sitting in the doctor’s office explaining the symptoms. I had basically diagnosed myself (which I know doctors just love) and emphasized how my sciatic nerve was causing so much pain in my leg. Well, I had experienced it during each pregnancy (same leg) so I was sure I knew what I was talking about. I explained how the pain had been coming back on and off over the past 6 months, but was barely noticeable and didn’t affect my ability to move. I just made sure I avoided mountain climbers during my boot camp class because that tended to produce an electric shock in my butt (a very bizarre sensation I must say). Then I continued to talk about how the pain just recently intensified after a normal Tuesday night bridge run. Nothing crazy happened that night. I just ran like I always ran. The only difference was that the next day I could barely walk because my left leg hurt so much.
Of course I basically told the doctor that I had to keep running. I think she was a little concerned and decided to move things along quickly. Next thing I know I was being told to go get an x-ray taken. They told me to hurry on over and that I would be fit in between appointments. It was actually a pretty smooth ordeal and I was back to my regular business (picking up my daughter at school) in no time. Then, a couple of hours later as I was helping my daughter at her Girl Scout cookie booth, I get a call from the nurse. I was kind of distracted and didn’t quite get all of the details. All I heard was “compression fraction” and “arthritis.” After I hung up I realized that I had no idea where the fracture was. Was it in my hip? Or in my leg? So I quickly called back to hear the nurse say “L5.” I do know a little something about human anatomy so I had a clear idea that she was referring to my lower back. A fracture in my lower back? You’ve got to be shitting me. I don’t even feel pain in my lower back! I do freakin’ weight training to keep my back stable and in good form. How in the hell did I fracture my back??
So, of course, as I was sitting there at the booth I started googling on my phone. What I basically found out from every single website I looked at was that a compression fracture in the lower lumbar is only caused by one of two things: trauma to the back or osteoporosis (when the back weakens it can be easily fractured). I sure as hell would remember if I was in a car accident or hit by a bus so it wasn’t the first option. As I continued to read, and re-read, I came to the understanding that compression fractures tend to occur in people over the age of 55. Do you realize that I am 33?
I tried to divert my mind, but I started thinking about my mother. That only pissed me off. You see, my mother had a degenerative bone disease of some sort (I sure as hell wasn’t smart enough to ask any questions before she left this world) and she basically endured about 20 surgeries and was even mostly bed-ridden during the last couple years of her life. Maybe I wasn’t so wise to become a runner like her. I am following in her footsteps in more ways than one.
Now I am sitting here feeling pity for myself. Not only pity for myself, but as I look at my three girls I feel pity for them too. I still really have no fucking clue what is going on yet, but I have a very bad gut feeling that it isn’t good. People are telling me that I will recover quickly and be back at it, but I am not so sure. If I am on the same path that my mom was, then I am not so sure anymore.
The doctor’s office called me a day later to say that they wanted to schedule a CT scan. I guess we have more to figure out. Not only that, but my first day of physical therapy begins on Monday. I know it is so hard for people to understand (especially my husband) but I will not stop doing what I love to do. Running and exercising and doing races is my livelihood! Besides my family and friends, there is nothing else that defines who I am! I have the ability to inspire my own children and maybe even my friends out there so I can’t stop now. I seriously wanted to scream at my husband yesterday when we were out touring D.C. via walking and he mentioned that we probably shouldn’t be because I was limping. I know he only said it out of concern, but to me it was mortifying to think that whatever this damn thing is that it might try to get the best of me. Fuck it! Whatever the hell it is I will fight it! Don’t try to stop me!
Heidi…Fight it fine…no one should try to stop you from fighting this…whatever this is! Regardless of the current process or outcome no one can define you, but you. You have so much to offer your daughters…don’t limit yourself to being a pained runner when you can be AWESOME at something else! Don’t block your creativity as to your potential by being angry and scared…I would be scared and angry, too…but fight this with a clear mind rather than a stubborn heart. Scream when you need to, but forewarn Ed and keep him in the rest of the conversation…this will be scary for him (and the girls) as well. I implore you to find and work your own myofacial trigger points as they will improve your pain management regardless of the base cause. We have an awesome manual and Pete has scanned it…I will email it to Ed…I don’t have your address.
Heidi, I am saddened to hear of your injury and admire your positive determination as to you want to keep doing what you love. I’m sure you have a great deal of concern considering what your mother had gone through but do know, this day and age, technology has advanced greatly. Keep with your PT but don’t over do it otherwise. A little break from running, for now, may help you go further in the long run…no pun intended! Although it is frustrating now, you will be back to running in no time–get this set back under control first. You will continue to inspire people! Keep us posted.