Let The Healing Begin

Today was my first day of physical therapy. I went to the Center for Pain Relief and Physical Therapy.

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The staff here, unlike the staff at the main office, were very friendly from the front office staff to everyone in the back. It makes a big difference. The interesting thing is I used to work in this building with the psychiatrist upstairs. When they set up this appointment and giving me directions, (it’s not the easiest place to find), I was like Oh! I used to work there! No problem! I know exactly where it is.

Anyway, my physical therapist’s name is Mindy. She was FABULOUS! She did a very thorough assessment and history. She listened to what I had to say and gave me feedback. She was just great. I have a great deal of weakness primarily on the left side as those of you who have been reading this blog already know.. After some testing, she told me there was also a weakness with my adductors (I had no idea about that until she demonstrated it…wow)…and there is just a little weakness on my right leg even though the right leg was stronger overall. My core needs work too. It’s amazing how quickly what you can lose in 6 months, but she told me it may not be too bad I would probably have muscle memory (I think that was the phrase). She could also notice my hips shift when I walked, I thought something like that was going on, it felt as if my gait was off like I was walking uneven or something.

Mindy “worked on” several different points on my hip and piriformis to loosen it up or release the tension. I had been hurting today, it wasn’t one of my better days. Then she had me do a few exercises like a press up. Me pushing up on my hands while laying on my stomach when I start to hurt. I’m to do that at least three times a day. Another is to lay on my back pulling my belly button to the floor working on my core, doing the kegel exercise for stabilization. Also doing this same exercise throughout the day when I’m sitting which helps to correct my posture. Amazing, I didn’t know how much I slouched until she showed me how to sit correctly by doing this exercise. I can do it anywhere, anytime. She also gave me a Lumber Roll for my chair which helps my posture and to do this exercise. I used it in the car on the way home I couldn’t believe the change in my posture. She also had me to squeeze a ball between my legs while doing that last exercise which also helps to strengthen my core as well my adductors, you should have seen my knees shaking trying to keep that ball in place. I can’t believe how weak my legs have gotten.

It’s going to take some time but at least I now know what needs to be done. She also said I could do some walking, no running, but I could walk as long as I wasn’t in pain and it was flat. That was cool. So I’m going to be seeing her weekly, hopefully, twice a week, my work schedule is causing some issues. I also have to be out of town the end of next week for school. But at least I have the exercises to do in between sessions. I’m feeling pretty good about this she was reassuring, it’s just going to take time and patience. When I left today the pain I was in going into the appointment was alleviated little. That was a hopeful sign.

Brand New Game Plan

After three doctors, two MRI’s, an EMT the verdict is still not very clear but the long and short of it all is I have a little arthritis in my spine and a pinched nerve. It could get worse, maybe not. That is was my neurologist told me on Friday. I wasn’t very happy with what he told me because he kept referencing my age, which I think is complete BS. He knows I want to be able to get back in the game and we both actually joked if someone else had heard this news, they would be off to the social security office to collect disability 🤣 it’s true! Anyway, the neurologist knew I was upset, he told me about some of his issues, and that he still runs but stops when it becomes uncomfortable. He also said to do what the pain doctor told me to do, the physical therapy and possibly pool exercise to build the muscle in my left leg. The injections have not been scheduled yet pending the approval from the insurance company.

So I had my moment about the news. In retrospect, compared to other people and other issues it’s not bad. I still had both legs, to stand on and use. People have overcome much worse than this and have done incredible things. Venus Willimas is playing in the French Open and had to sit out of tennis for a year because of an illness, now she is back getting some serious butt. So I can do this, I was being seriously impatient and frustrated, so I started doing my own research about running with a pinched nerve and arthritis in the spine. Physical therapy seems to work best for it. Once I start that I will see what other exercises I can do while I’m doing PT. I also looked at getting a bike, already picked one out but I’m going to ask the physical therapist if I can do this before I make that investment.

I also have to work on my diet vegetables are antiinflammatories but I’m picky about the ones I eat. So I’ll have to increase the ones I do like to be sure I’m getting enough. This can help to decrease the pain. From what I’ve been reading that’s why many who have back pain or chronic pain either go vegetarian or vegan it helps significantly decrease if not eliminate their pain.

That’s the new game plan with adjustments to be made as needed. My physical therapy starts June 1st. I guess I’ll need some new tunes for my playlist you know powerful yet motivational Rocky type stuff that will get me up those steps. Any suggestions are welcome.

Maybe Next Spring

It’s been an interesting week well actually it started last Friday after I took my grandmother to her doctors’ appointment which I mentioned in my last post. When I left off in my last post I was having difficulty moving that Saturday well that lasted the whole weekend. I could not move all weekend and even missed two days of work this week. I don’t remember when I ever been in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep in my bed so the recliner was where I tried to sleep. I tried my acupressure mat for relief, my heating pad, ice, it was so bad I finally said uncle and took some pain medicine I had here at the house; I just couldn’t take it anymore. That was the first time I had taken anything since all this started. I felt like I had been defeated. But taking the medicine did allow me to get some much needed sleep.

In the meantime, I had gotten the referral to the pain doctor, the appointment was scheduled for this past Wednesday at 8 am. By this time I was feeling a little better at least I was able to walk and be in the vertical position. YAY! I was still having some pain, however. Anyway, I get to the doctor’s office, and let me say this, his front line staff were not the friendliest of people, very robotic, no eye contact, it wasn’t very welcoming. Maybe they don’t realize how important their role is to patient care. But the staff in the back wasn’t any better. Eventually, the Dr comes in all smiles, the first person to smile during this whole experience, in his suit with a resident, also in a suit. Interestingly enough the doctor is also a runner, from what I hear a pretty competitive one. He’s run the New York City Marathon a few times. He told me he’s worked with many runners so he understood my desire to get back to it. He did his examination and reviewed my MRI. He agreed with the neurosurgeon, that surgery wasn’t needed. He did see some thickening of the spine, minor stenosis, for which he recommend two injections.

He was concerned about the weakness in my left leg; he said it was significant and ordered physical therapy for that and my core. He said if we don’t get that strengthened up it could be like a car that is out of alignment and the damage it can do to the tires except the damage would be to my back. So I asked the question…”when can I get back to running? To which he said to me “maybe by next spring“. I was like WHAT??!! I’ve got the Charleston Distance 5k in August and the Marshall University Half-Marathon in November that I’ve already registered for coming up (oh he’s running in the CDR 15 Miler and MU-Marathon). He just said yes, and maybe there is a possibility I could be ready in November but not to get my hopes up.

I went back to work after that appointment the first day this week I had been at work.  I was still having some pain too I took my heating pad to work with me. I was aggravated all day, I probably shouldn’t have gone in. I really couldn’t focus my mind was all over the place, as a therapist that’s not a good thing when my job is to listen to what people are saying. I think I’ve been doing my best to remain positive about this whole thing I had just had it. When I got to work someone asked me how it went and her response was “well you did turn 49 this year” and that sent me through the roof!! I’m like really!? My age doesn’t have a damn thing to do with this. Sometimes the State I live in drives me crazy. I’m a healthy, fit person, so keep your age stuff to yourself.

It’s been a tough week and I’ve been preoccupied with this all week. For some reason, I still don’t feel like there is a resolution. So I started looking up research regarding diet and chronic pain, stress, and chronic pain to find out if there could be a possible connection there as to cause and effect. I did get a call today to schedule physical therapy which the first session/assessment was set for June 1st. No word on when the injections will be done.

See you at the finish line…..maybe next spring….

Recovery is a Process

If you have read this blog then you know I am a substance abuse therapist. With the suspected diagnosis of compression fracture in my back I’m careful who I tell about it; for several reasons. One the OMG! response, which happened when I told the person who is now my in case of emergency contact. I changed this because the person I had has been acting like a bonehead I need a person who is reliable. So when I asked for permission to use her she obviously asked what was going on and up to this point I had not mentioned anything about it. The other response has been, “did you get that from running?” To which I will say no and say sitting all day is more harmful than running; that always leaves them scratching their heads! 😅

Yesterday I was looking for new end tables and a coffee table for my living room. Prior to that I had been to the grocery store for my grandmother and did a little cleaning for her. She turned 93 last month and it’s what I typically do on Saturdays. So I had lifted some heavy bags, cases of water, etc needless to say I was in a some pain before I left to do my errands. I was wearing a knee brace for support however. My grandmother’s other kids who live by and can help don’t (knuckleheads) so I’m the one who takes care of what she needs done no matter what. So I do what needs to be done for her because it has to be done. By the time I reached the furniture store I was hurting pretty good; the sales lady, Connie, could see it in my face, she was real nice. She explained she had also similar back issues at one time had a small surgery and other treatments and has been good ever since. The most positive response I have received. It was refreshing. She did say however, it took time and she had to be careful with what she did but she is good today. As we were picking out my tables she asked if I wanted to sit in this Zero Gravity Reclining Chair…okay, can I just say..OMG!! This was the best chair ever! First of all it was soft and comfortable that alone made it worth it. But then she said push the button on the side of the chair to recline it, I found my spot I felt the pain ease up…fabulous! Best chair ever! And it was on crazy sale! I didn’t buy it right then I called my grandmother to tell her about it and she asked me if I bought and that I should. That woman is funny. I had to come home to figure where I would put if I decided to get it; my living room isn’t that big. But I think I will get it.

On my way home I called a friend who had been asking what was going on so I told her, Dawn is always a positive person. While we were talking I told her I had to give in and no matter what is revealed by the MRI or x-ray I’m really going to have to let my body truly heal because recovery is process that takes time. I know I can be and have been hardheaded about this is mostly because I found something I like to do in running and I miss it a lot. In fact there is a group of Genesis Grads doing The Run The Bluegrass Half-Marathon in Kentucky this weekend and I’m totally jealous; but it’s not my time. I also have a business trip coming up at the end of the month in Sacramento, I’m not sure I will be able to sit for five hours on a plane even though by then we should have a better idea of what’s going on; that’s still a long time on a plane in an uncomfortable seat. Maybe I could Skype into it or something, we’ll see about that one.

I know I’m frustrated because my muscles have atrophied, I’m losing the fitness I’ve gained due to the inactivity and there has been a little bit of weight gain 🙁 So I’m wanting to rush getting better. However, recovery doesn’t work that way, it takes time and I’m going to have to be patient, learn the lessons I’m supposed to learn, do what I need to do, so I can heal, so I can be ready to get back out there and not re-injure myself…The same thing I tell my clients to do.  And as always do my best to keep it positive.

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Latest Diagnosis

Well gang I went to the doctor today to have my back checked as recommended my physical therapist. Actually I had my annual exam today to just took care of everything while I was there so it was a thorough check up! Anyway my doctor checked my legs, back and did an assessment of my muscles in my legs as well. She ordered and did a pre-authorization for both an x-ray and a MRI so we are waiting to see which one the insurance will approve. We are hoping the MRI is approved but just in case she has the order for the x-ray. She thinks I may have a compression fracture in my back. I didn’t know what to think when she told me; I know I have been in a lot of pain lately but I guess we will have to wait and see.

I haven’t told many people about what has been going on because the minute I do the first thing I hear is “did you get that from running?” To which I instantly reply “running is not bad for you!” Most of the people who ask that question don’t run of course. So I write about it here as many of the people who read this are runners or understand health and fitness. My doctor  and my uncle did ask me if I had fallen at any time and I haven’t; so if this is in fact a compression fracture I’m not sure how it happened. When I had time when I got to the office today I did search “Dr. Google” to find out what a compression fracture was and I didn’t like a lot of what I read; which is exactly why I don’t like going to good ole google and why I tell my clients not to do it either. Geeze!

So while I wait to have either the x-ray or the MRI done I’m still going to keep up the heat and ice. Also I got some information from a fellow blogger Saoirse (Dreamillblog) who told me about an oestemat or an acupressure mat. So I looked it up on Amazon and found one mine came in this week; I was waiting to see the Dr before I started using it. So thanks Saoirse! Much appreciated.

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This my new acupressure mat! 

That’s the latest; once I have either the x-ray or the MRI I will provide another update. Thanks for all the feedback and support. ✌

Tammi~~

A New Twist

I met with my physical therapist today the news wasn’t the best. I guess I need to start with yesterday to give the full picture. Yesterday was Substance Abuse Advocacy Day at our Capital, the Legislative Session is in process; so I was hanging out with the Gov of the State of WV yesterday (ha!). Anyway, our state capital is big there was a lot of walking and some of the chairs when I did sit weren’t very comfortable. So there were times I had to stand because I was uncomfortable because my left side was just hurting, from my lower back down my left leg. I was able to stay most of the day but to be honest I was not very comfortable at all. I was leaning against walls, chairs and bending over to alleviate the pain. About 2 or so I had to call it a day I had to get to an ice pack/heating pad or something. I left but I had to walk about a block to my car, interestingly enough it’s the route on the opposite side of the street that I typically run only this time I was walking and I had to stop and sit on edge of the capital steps due to the pain on my  left side. I remember thinking there is no way on earth I can even think about running anytime soon when walking hurts this much. When I got to my car I have a tennis ball in there and I put it right in the lower part of my back/hip and there was instant relief. I spent the rest of the day on a heating pad.

Fast forward to today. I was still in a little bit of pain; so I took the roller the physical therapist gave me to work with me to help smooth out sore spots. It helped I had some troubles today. I would have to sit and stand throughout the day, my clients thought was crazy. I met with Mark today, gave him a recap of yesterday. He said he thought there was a possibility there may be something else going on because I should have some improvements by now. Particularly given where the pain is located in my lower back. Instead of my L4 and L5 he thinks it could be maybe my L1. Now matter what, he said I should see my Dr and have an X-ray of my back. He thinks there may be some things that didn’t feel “right” as he examined my back and he didn’t want to waste any of my PT sessions. I was upset and he knew it; he explained the importance of being sure that what is being treated is what needs to be treated. He asked me if I was upset with him, of course I wasn’t I just didn’t like what I was hearing. I feel like I’m no closer to getting better or back to running. I had every intention of writing about a podcast I listened to today with Anna Foster, a trail runner, she was talking about not getting back into running until the body wants it. But visit to the physical therapist changed that. I have no idea now when that will happen. I really miss it. I was the best stress reliever I’ve ever used and it got to the point it was fun. I really could have used it yesterday too; I ran into a someone I had not talked to in a couple of years, that I’ve really missed. Even though he said we were okay, I don’t believe our friendship will be the same and I was sad about it. A good run would have been helpful to process it.

Anyway, the physical therapist is putting my sessions on hold, not closing my case until I have an x-ray done of my back. I was really disappointed, so much so when I got in my car to go home, I just started to cry. Mark said my left side is still not strong but everything is on hold until my back can be checked out. No idea when I will be able to run again. 🤕

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Me with Gov Justice after the group picture was taken. Our group had been discussing the concerns about substance abuse in WV. I was in a little it of pain in this picture.

The Long Road Back

My physical therapy continues Mark, my therapist told me I am making improvements but as far as running is concerned, well it’s going to be awhile before I will be able to do that again; then I’m going to have to take really slow, almost as if I were starting all over again. I have some problems with my L4 and L5 which is affecting my sciatica in addition to the other issues I mentioned in my previous posts 🤕. I have to be patient about the healing process. Mark told me today I was high strung HA!! And that was part of my problem the tension of being an overachieving, Type A personality means I tense up my body and my neck and back pay for it. Apparently when I was running I was tense, that pressure caused some bulging on a disk or two affecting my left side. Then I stopped putting any type of pressure on that side only worsening the problem. I had no idea this was going on. The therapy is helping but yesterday I was at work talking with a client and out of no where a sharp pain from my lower left part of back shot all the way down my leg. I couldn’t sit or stand or hide that fact that I was in pain from my client. She looked at me said I looked flushed. I told her I was okay so I could finish the session but as soon as she walked out the door I called Mike, he said it sounded like it was coming from my back and told me some quick stretches to do to ease the pain. I couldn’t wait to get home! I was toast I was in bed super early last night I was done.

I felt better today; Mark gave me a good work out today and massaged the left side of my back. It was really tight and putting pressure down my leg. It’s amazing how our body is connected and works together. Now its ice and heat for the rest of the evening, continue doing the stretches until my next appointment. I’m totally bummed it’s going to take longer than I originally thought to get back to running 😭  but it’s all for the best.