I haven’t had the energy to write posts. I didn’t feel like writing the same things over again, or writing about my weekends, or coming up with something fun to write about. So I just didn’t post for a long time. So, there’s that.
Now I have something to write about. Because my other form of stress and anxiety release is on hold until further notice, writing will have to do. So here I am, journal-ing out my thoughts. In today’s episode: the irony of my career and how I need to learn to look out for number one.
A back story: I have a few chronic injuries that sometimes creep back in to my life, but being a physical therapist and having a lot of physical therapist friends, I usually deal with it, fix it and move on with my life. For example – I run a lot so my calves get torn up pretty quick if I don’t care for them, or the fact that my shoulder has popped out three times and I have a lot of instability throughout my shoulder and neck. People weren’t allowed to touch my left shoulder or neck during PT school, because I would always leave class in pain. Enter neck issues.
Three weeks ago in my soccer game, I headed the ball. Mistake number one. I don’t typically head the ball because A) I like my brain, and B) Neck issues. I didn’t notice anything right away, but about five minutes later when I pushed someone off of me, bam. Immediate muscle spasms from my neck to my hand and shooting pains down my arm. F#@%. Long story short: I dealt with the pain and muscle spasms for a week, it eased up some so I went and ran 10 miles the Sunday after the game. Mistake number two. The neck pain came back, my motion was limited, I was walking around like a statue at work, and I could barely lift anything because of pain – and my job requires a lot of heavy lifting.
Now, the pain was manageable with a lot of Motrin. The range of motion was slowly coming back, even though I was still guarding my neck movements way too much. But my biggest issue was this weakness I was feeling in my hand. It’s hard to describe – almost like a clumsiness, like my hand wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. It felt tight when I went to grip things and just not normal. I chatted with one of the Physical Medicine doctors at work one day and she told me to come in and see her. Hello, eye opening assessment.
I was weak. When grading muscle strength, we grade on a scale of 0-5, five being the highest. A 3/5 would indicate that someone can use the muscle against gravity, but once resistance is applied, they cannot maintain the position. I had four scores in my left upper extremity turn out to be a 3+/5. She applied resistance and it’s like my hand/arm/wrist just flopped. I made her re-do it, multiple times, because I was shocked. Obviously there was something going on.
The plan: Steroids. MRI. Follow-up appointment in two weeks. So. Here we are.
I just finished my steroids 10-day taper. I had my MRI last week and it showed a mild disc bulge, just as we suspected because my symptoms were straight out of a textbook. Ugh.
No lifting. No working out. No running.
I mentally prepared myself for the MRI findings because it was really textbook symptoms. I’m staying positive and reminding myself everyday that I’m doing everything I need to be doing in order to get this better. The last thing I want is to make myself worse and end up tossing the “S” word around. (Surgery.)
For work, they are keeping me in the outpatient setting because I don’t have to lift as much and can avoid doing things that may irritate my neck. I’m more aware of my posture and when I’m treating I am making sure that I’m protecting myself from going in to awkward positions that could tweak things. I haven’t worked out in almost 3 weeks now. I come home from work and lay on the floor, because some days my head feels like its 50 pounds on my neck and laying down is the greatest relief.
I’m doing the right things. I’m being a good patient, for once in my life, because I have one thing on my brain…
I’m supposed to be running the Philadelphia Marathon in November.
I’m not concerned about this hiatus from running. I know my base was very solid and if anything, maybe it will be beneficial to my legs to rest a ton before starting training. What I am concerned about is, will I be able to run?
My doctor is telling me it may take up to 6 months for all symptoms to go away. I wanted to cry. I may have actually shed a few tears. My running is the best it has ever been and I felt like this is my year to run this race. But I also know that my symptoms aren’t something to just shake my head at and ignore. It’s something that needs to be addressed and taken care of before things get worse.
So that’s where I am now. Keeping positive thoughts, knowing to listen to my body, and praying that I can start running in July. But if that’s not in the cards, then there is always next year.