Category Archives: Rants

Next up… Ketosis!…or not…

I started “dieting” when I was 22 with calorie restriction. I successfully lost 50 pounds then and developed an eating disorder that would haunt me indefinitely. While my weight would only severely yo-yo due to creating tiny humans, in the following years, I have tried probably every diet out there.

I have done:

  • Calorie restriction
  • Caloric density
  • Intuitive eating
  • Inner clean/detox
  • Juicing/smoothies
  • Hormone balancing
  • Whole30
  • Low glycemic
  • Gluten free
  • Low carb
  • Low FODMAP
  • Metabolic profile
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Fast mimicking
  • Healthy/balanced eating

At the end of that all, I had seemed to settled happily on intermittent fasting. I was finally happy and stable for the first time since before I had started to think about these things. Then last year, something happened to my body amidst medication changes, and it never really came back to itself. So it was back to trying (and failing) at all the things.

Nothing has worked, which has left me with one final thing to try (at the direction of my doctor). One thing that I have avoided for all my years of dieting: ketosis.

I have avoided ketosis for multiple reasons. Yes, it is a strict eating regiment. I can do strict. The simplest excuse is that I love fruit, and after giving up so many different foods on so many different diets (cheese for fuck’s sake), I had no intention of relenting my last grip on fruit.

Also, everyone I have personally seen on ketosis does lose weight very well… then gains it right back. Over and over again. I do not need a temporary fix. I need the answer that intermittent fasting was before whatever the hell happened happened.

However, it is what the doctor recommended, so I went into it with the intention of giving it the full attempt for three months. And since I was going to be in it, I might as well report how it.

Month 1: Fuck This

With all the various diets and restrictions I have tried in the past year, so many of the foods included in keto have been off limits. I was excited to eat cheese and bacon and FAT again. This excitement lasted a day, maybe two. Until I actually ate all the fat.

While delicious to eat all the fat (and liberating to not count the calories or the portions), it made me feel gross, the way I might feel after days on a fast food bender. The “keto flu” came and went in the first week (or so I thought), but on the other side, I still felt nasty. I never crossed over into the promised land of when keto is supposed to feel awesome and energizing and clarifying. Instead, my stomach always felt heavy; my tongue always tasted sour; my muscles always were weak and shaky.

What I felt in my first month of keto was rage. So much rage. I was angry and bitchy and unhappy all the time. I wasn’t hungry, but I might as well have been hangry for how irritable I was. I also experienced weird tingling and numbness in my hands/fingers and feet/toes. ALL my workouts were absolute shit, especially my runs, like I was trying to run on an empty tank. After I was active, I would hit an impenetrable wall and be borderline nonfunctional. Most likely, all of this wonkiness and extended “keto flu” was due to an electrolyte imbalance that I could not seem to rectify.

I adapted, somewhat, in my first month. Getting used to the composition and rhythm of the food. The grossness dwindled after the first couple weeks, but I still didn’t feel awesome about the food. It often felt heavy, even nauseating in my stomach. In the second week, I attempted to reintroduce fasting but found it halted my weight loss and tried adding the third meal back in (though that didn’t help). It seemed counter intuitive to need to eat more of such rich, high calorie food.

I just went strict. I followed the meal plan. I spent my entire days on Sundays doing meal prep, cooking things in butter and frying bacon and mixing in heavy cream. I didn’t cheat. I went to Chipotle when I ate out so I could get a bowl with no rice or beans, just mean and cheese and guac. I didn’t deviate.

I committed, and I suffered. I am able to do that. It is moderation I cannot accomplish.

However, the first month was not terribly successful either. In the first two weeks, I lost 8 pounds. In the second two weeks, nothing happened. I didn’t change or eat carbs, so I don’t know why it did not work in the second half, but it was very frustrating to continue to be miserable for no results. What I thought this told me is that I lost water weight in the first two weeks but did not lose any actual weight in the entire first month.

At the end of the first month, what it really felt like what more of the same, just like all the other failed diets. A lot of hope fizzled out into physical discomfort without change.

Month 2: I Can’t Feel My Hands!

My negative keto symptoms seemed to reach their peak as I moved into the second month. The strongest, and most unsettling, reactions seemed to be from an electrolyte imbalance. The most notable and irritating was extremity numbness. At its worst, I would lose sensation in both hands and both feet, especially while running.

In response to all the tingling, I started drinking bullion, taking a magnesium supplement, and adding salt to everything. After about a week, I did start to feel better. Even more that the electrolyte symptoms, I started to feel better overall. It seemed like I might actually be seeing the other side of the keto flu. I might actually be adapting to keto itself. At the end of week 5, I finally went on a run that did not feel terrible. It was still atrociously slow, but it was not a miserable experience.

At the end of week 5, the Coronavirus pandemic panic also broke on the grocery stores. I had the strange anxiety of first worrying about being able to get food, and once I had the essentials, I worried that I would not be able to stay on keto with what I had in the house. There were bizarre tiers of stress in my eating. Thankfully, the stores restocked in the same weekend, and it became a nonissue, but it was a surreal experience briefly. Keto would have quickly died if I had to turn to boxes of ramen or cans of soup.

I messaged my doctor to tell her about my numbness and ask her how to proceed. She had me come in to see her. At this point, I had been on keto for six weeks pretty strictly. However, I had not lost any weight past the first two weeks, and I never started to feel good in any real way. I only experienced negative side effects. So she advised me to terminate the diet. Since I only went on it because she recommended trying it, I complied.

Part of me feels like I should finish the 12 weeks just to finish them, but why? How wrong does it have to be to be wrong? I think I am just frustrated to have the last option still not be the answer.

Another Failure

Instead of a month 3, keto ended at week 6 in another failure, in more negative results. To me, this leads me back to the conclusion that brought me to a medical professional for assistance: something is not right with my body. Something is not functioning how it should be. From what I have been told, strict keto works for almost everyone. The doctor had expected me to easily drop 20 pounds in the first couple months.

If I cannot lose weight, that’s fine. I can live with that. The problem is more that if I do not starve and work myself to death, I gain weight rapidly and my blood sugar climbs. That is not healthy. Or normal. That is what I am trying (and repeatedly) failing to figure out here.

So now I am to return to Whole30, which worked when I tried it before things got all wonky last year. I’ll be happy to eat produce again, not feel gross, and be able to feel my fingers and toes. Maybe I’ll have some fuel during my workouts. I’m also going to layer intermittent fasting back on, simply because I like it and it makes my body feel good.

Here we go again… We’ll see again… I’ll have another follow up with the doctor to reveal lack of progress yet again I’m sure.

 

Christina Bergling

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And I Run Alone

I started running over eight years ago. Though an individual sport, it has always been a group activity for me all these years. Running mates, run clubs, races. Running, for me, has always been decidedly social (perhaps because I am decidedly social).

Until now.

For the first time in all my running, I really only run alone, except for a few anomalies sprinkled here and there. Run club conflicts with my dance class, which I prioritize, and wanes in the dark winter evenings. My running mates continue to run and train for half marathons while I instead work short distances on speed work. And races only happen in the fall and winter, so that season has passed for now.

I have almost always run alone for some of my training, alternating them with social runs. I have done races by myself. I just have never only run alone. I appreciate the balance between being able to focus and dissolve into an audiobook and run only at my pace versus being distracted and encouraged while sharing with other people.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Life changes. Schedules shift. Things get in the way. I am complacent with these sorts of natural shifts and evolutions. And my relationship with running overall has changed since my hip injury and then again since my hip surgery and recovery. I don’t know if I feel any sort of way about it. I always enjoyed social running, but I am not angry or sad that those situations aren’t currently available. I don’t think they are gone forever, and I don’t think the lack right now prevents me from running.

I wonder if my running circumstances have changed because I have fallen out of love with running or if I have fallen out of love with running because my running circumstances have changed. Perhaps a little bit of both. Either way, it does not really matter.

It is definitely less motivating to run alone. I no longer have the accountability of meeting someone at a place and time, of keeping pace with another body or more, It’s just me, relying on me to get out there and to push myself.

I just wonder if running is my thing at all anymore, if I even love it as I once did. I fought so hard to get back to it after injury and surgery. Now that it has finally been the year and I am finally as recovered as I will probably ever be, I find that it’s not the same to me anymore. Maybe I was fighting for the idea, rather than the reality. The current reality is starkly disappointing.

Switching to running alone could have changed the dynamic. Moving toward working on speed (which I hate) could also have soured the experience. The fact that I have made zero progress in all directions for months is definitely not helping. Run as I might, alone or together, fast or wogging, I only seem to get slower; it only seems to be more of a struggle. And that may be what poisons my affections and infects my high.

If it’s not running anymore, then it just is what it is. Like a dead relationship, I don’t know that I can necessarily reconjure the magic. I can’t force myself back into love. I don’t want it to be the end, and I have no intention of giving up already, yet the thought is starting to blossom at the periphery of my mind, back in the darkness where the answers usually come from.

But if not running, what? I operate on a very simple but delicate balance. Two days or more without a heavy dose of endorphins and the house of cards comes tumbling down. Running has always been the highest and most reliable dose of those endorphins. Better than barre, dance, hiking, or any of the other fitness I do. So, what moves in to fill the void? What slides onto the scale to keep the balance?

I don’t really have any interest in seeking out new passions. I would rather find a way back to my old contentment. Maybe I need to abandon the speed work that has done literally nothing for my pace. It has only stunted my distance.

Right now, I am just coasting. Doing what I have done because it’s what I have done and because I don’t know what to do next.

 

Christina Bergling

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Approaching Surgery

Hip surgery is imminent. I went to my preop appointment yesterday in preparation for my hip labrum surgery the first week of December. I signed all the paperwork and went home with the brace I will live in for 2-3 weeks.

Now, it feels real. Part of me wants to just do it and get it over with, get into the pain so I can put it behind me and actually heal. The other part of me does not want to do it at all and is rationalizing how I can live with the pain as it is now.

But, where have I been since altitude sickness on my last 14er? What have I been doing on my way from summer to surgery?

The altitude sickness may have concluded my pursuit of 14er summits for the year; however, it did not end my hiking. Our little group decided to hike half of Pikes Peak in the beginning of October (as opposed to the full summit last year).

We had a magical, euphoric, perfect fall hike. A chilly fog clutched the trail on our ascent to Barr Camp. Then the sun ignited the autumn colors on our descent back down. It was the perfect weather, the perfect distance, the perfect company–simply the perfect hike.

This hike highlighted a very long and successful fitness run for me. I was running regularly, returning to my normal mile pace (slow though it always may be), building up my distances over 6 miles. I was taking multiple barre classes a month and seeing the results. I had returned fully to belly dance and even had begun performing again.

My fitness cadence was exactly as I wanted it. My routine was solid and balanced, and so my mind was solid and balanced in reaction. Honestly, I felt like myself. And I felt pretty fucking happy.

When I hit that blissful point, I knew it was transitory, as it always is. I knew the pendulum was reaching its full extension to one side and would instantly be arching in reverse. It always does. Every time I feel like I have achieved my goal or am where I want, the situation immediately changes. The rug is pulled out, and I fall directly on my ass to start over. That is my cycle; that is the pattern of my life.

In this case, I thought it was because surgery was coming and I would inevitably have to start over after recovery. I was wrong. A debilitating, month-long sinus infection took me entirely by surprise and derailed me just as effectively.

Of course, I tried to fast and run through it and failed exquisitely. The illness finally bent me to its mercy. After three different antibiotics, two different steroids, and so many weeks, I am finally, physically back to more normal. However, all that progress and euphoria and balance evaporated. To reclaim my motivation in the waning window before I go under the knife, I have had to just accept this limitation. I have had to just do what I can.

I did not do that well or gracefully, but I think I have largely made my peace and moved past my frustration. Though being knocked so completely off balance paired with being so annoyingly sick sent my bipolar cycles into overdrive. It had been a while, and I was woefully out of practice, so that was fun for all involved. But again, I think I have regained myself, or at least control of myself.

So, next up, surgery.

At this point, might as well. Maybe it’s easier to go under and jump into the limits of recovery when I’m already below my expectations. Maybe the fall won’t be as far. Or perhaps it’s worse to have squandered these last weeks before I don’t have a choice. Or maybe it sucks either way. I need to just embrace the suck. I need to just do this and get it over with.

I’m not necessarily nervous about the surgery itself. I might have been earlier, but my salpingectomy (Fallopian tube removal) surgery went so smoothly in January that it actually calmed me. I, of course, cried hysterically after anesthesia. I always do. However, that procedure was also laparoscopic, and I healed near effortlessly. I went on a real run in less than 48 hours. I appreciate that was a far more minor procedure and recovery time, but it still gives me somewhat of a preview to pacify my rampant brain.

I dread only the recovery. Not even the pain. I can deal with the pain. I have been for two and a half years for this injury; at least surgery recovery pain might lessen and lead to actual improvement. It is the physical limitation of the surgery. All the ways I went off the rails by having a sinus infection amplified, the removal of my balance and my therapy.

To combat this anxiety, I am proactively choosing to focus on other things. I have scheduled lazy time with several friends. I plan to fast hard on the couch, and I plan to pour all my time into my writing (which has unexpectedly been neglected for the fast two months).

Until then though… I’m capitalizing on not dying and not being cut open. All the running and all the barre classes. My daughter and I choreographed a horror heavy metal belly dance number I want to get recorded. I am back to cramming as many activities in as possible before spending my holidays relegated to the couch.

Wish me luck! (And expect more frequent posting.)

 

Christina Bergling

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Surgical Options

Now looks like a good time to start over. Again. It seems like I have done nothing but physically start over for the past four years, and (if I’m honest with myself) I think I’m having a small adult tantrum about it.

When I was violently ill through my entire pregnancy, I thought it would get better when it was over. When the birth was rough, I thought it would be fine after I recovered. When recovery stretched out into years, I thought it would normalize eventually. When I pulled my hip, I thought I could run through it and get better. When I tore my hamstring (and apparently my labrum), I thought I would suffer the couple months and be back to normal. When my hamstring finally healed after 18 months and two PRP injections, I thought it might finally be over.

Yet here we are.

Nothing has been debilitating or unbearable, just an endless string of discomfort and inconvenience, of tasting recovery or “normal” just to be shoved back to square one. And perhaps the root of my suffering is the resistance to the idea that this is my new normal, my foolish attachment to how I should be after all these changes.

Maybe this chapter of my life is about a series of physical recoveries, rather than the mental and emotional recoveries in the previous chapter. Maybe life is all just a series of events and recoveries.

Or maybe I’m just whining.

I went to my orthopedic for my steroid injection follow up today. At my previous appointment, they injected steroids into my hip joint to troubleshoot my continued pain. Though my hamstring showed healed, the pain continued as an unusual presentation for a labral tear. The shot helped. A lot. For about a week before its effectiveness started to fade.

Since the shot seemed to indicate the root of the pain, we discussed options. I could do nothing and live with the current discomfort level. I could do maintenance steroid injections until they lost effectiveness. I could do PRP or stem cells to stimulate healing, despite the lack of evidence that the labrum can heal itself. Or I could have laparoscopic surgery.

I found myself torn between the extremes, as always. Nothing or surgery.

Typing it out, my logic does not make any sense, but my instinct was to do nothing. To just continue to deal with it. It seems ridiculous after lamenting the issue for nearly the past two years. It seems like it should be an easy answer to finally fix it. Yet it was the idea of recovery that tempted me to stay with the pain. Though I am known to develop Stockholm Syndrome type attachment to my pain.

I didn’t want to face another lapse, another step back after it took this long to regain this ground, after how many times I already had to retread. Spoiled complaints of the mostly functional. Yet beneath that is the fear.

Exercise and endorphins are the foundation of my precarious little balance on life. It sounds silly to say that two weeks on crutches could be unbearable, but… I know that if I don’t exercise hard enough in 2-3 days, the depression starts to swell and my thoughts begin to twist and contort. I know that it’s just one step back towards that darkness. So the idea unnerves me, and my self-preserving instinct is to just not. To just run through it.

Truthfully, I still want to do that now. Just keep running and tell myself the nerves will give up.

More superficially, I am frustrated to release the progress I’ve made. I’m reluctant to go back to adding miles and shaving off seconds, to rebuilding the muscles and conditioning that abandon me so immediately. I finally got back to where I thought I left. I even just said, foolishly aloud, that I was finally almost there so it must be time for something to send me backward.

With this injury, the universe takes what I say way too fucking literally.

However, after being scolded by at least three people, I know that all of this is my stupid, irrational fear and obsessions clouding an easy and obvious decision.

So, next step, surgery…

 

Christina Bergling

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Doctor vs Doctor

It was been 19 months since I went into the splits and tore my hamstring. Yesterday, I went to a new orthopedic.

I began treatment with my first orthopedic about a year ago, last January. He gave me a steroid shot and sent me to physical therapy. After dry needling, massage, and strength training did nothing or potentially made it worse, he finally sent me for an MRI. He told me I had a minor tear with no details. He gave me a PRP injection then told me we were at the end of my treatment.

I had this initial PRP back in May. It cut my pain in half, so a vast improvement, but then it just plateaued. It was better but not recovered, improved but not healed. I was fine to deal with it. Besides, my doctor had given up on me and told me there was nothing more he could/would do for me. However, when the pain seemed to increase again and it was driving me from my bed at night, I decided it was time for an evaluation. If nothing else, to verify I wasn’t making it worse.

I understand that hamstring injuries are notoriously slow to heal. Yet the lack of any progress and appearance of regression concerned me. Also, my doctor’s treatment (or lack thereof) left me with so many questions. Was I doing something that could be making it worse? At what point should I be worried? I had to know, so I got the referral for a new doctor.

After just my one visit yesterday, I can say that my experience with this doctor is a night and day contrast to my previous orthopedic. I did not know the extent of my dissatisfaction with the first until receiving the superior treatment from the second. Allow me to compare the two experiences.

My first doctor and his nurse were very rushed and impersonal. They asked questions but did not seem to actually listen to the answers. I spent extended periods in the lobby and patient room, waiting. I told them in my first visit that I was there to resolve my pain. I then repeated this every visit, yet they never wanted to treat my pain. They only wanted to get me back to activity.

Conversely, this new doctor and his nurse were extremely friendly and attentive. At each stage, I waited for normal and reasonable amounts of time, yet they continually checked in on me to communicate a status update. They were so attentive that it was startling. They also both connected with me. They looked into my eyes when they spoke to me. They responded to the previous thing I said. They waited for me to speak as if they wanted my answers.

I felt so much more comfortable at the new office. I felt like I actually mattered instead of being dismissed and ignored.

When my first doctor got my MRI results, he told me I had a minor tear. That was it. Despite any queries, he only said that and also that the technician probably would have never seen something so insignificant had he not pointed it out. He and his nurse seemed to trivialize and minimize my injury at every appointment. Their dismissive demeanor made it feel like they either did not believe I was injured or doubted its severity.

I learned yesterday from my new doctor that this same MRI showed that I had a labural tear tear in the same hip. The outside of that hip also showed inflammation, most likely from the injury I had before the hamstring. He told me my hamstring had a partial tear, approximately 20%. However, he said, the tear was not on either edge, instead it was in the center of the hamstring, making it extra difficult to heal.

All information that would have been useful A YEAR AGO.

My first doctor told me I could have a steroid shot and gave me one. He told me I could have a PRP injection and gave me one. Then he terminated my treatment, deciding he was done and there was nothing else he could do for me (another indication to me that he did not consider me actually injured).

This new doctor explained my six different options and quoted me the out of pocket price for anything not billed to insurance. I could:

  1. Get a new MRI
  2. Get one or more PRP injections
  3. Get stems cells from a donor
  4. Get stems cells harvested from me without anesthesia
  5. Get stem cells harvested from me with anesthesia
  6. Have the reattachment surgery

Not only did he provide me these options with price tags, he then walked through the pros, cons, and his experience with each choice. He told me that surgery would be his last resort because, with my injury, it could potentially sacrifice the 80% healthy hamstring to repair the 20% damaged. He told me he would prefer the biologic options (PRP, stem cells), but PRP has the most data and evidence behind it. If he did stem cells, he would recommend harvesting my own to eliminate risk of cross-contamination or rejection.

Then he encouraged me to ask questions and share what I thought I would like to try first. I opted to start with another PRP injection, which he then provided me at this same appointment. Then he set a follow up appointment to check how the PRP took and determine next steps.

Yet, with all this, the most glaring and important distinction between the two doctors and my experiences with them was the administration of my PRP injections.

At my first PRP injection, the nurse took my blood and spun it down in the room with me. When the doctor came in, he had me bend over the examination table. This aggravated my injury and felt very awkward. The nurse jabbed the ultrasound into my butt while the doctor stabbed the needle into my tendon. Afterward, he informed me this was all he could do for me. When I told him I really needed something for the pain, that the constant pain was affecting the rest of my life and making me short with my children, he reacted as if I had never mentioned pain and was drug seeking. He gave me Tramadol. As if being unconscious would solve my problem.

Yesterday, the nurse took my blood. While she was waiting for it to spin down, she checked in on me and told me how much longer I would be waiting. She set me up laying on the exam table on my stomach with a pillow. When the doctor came in, he covered me (as much as he could) with a paper blanket. He informed me he was going to start the ultrasound and placed it gently against me. He told before he marked for the injection and inserted the needle. He communicated each step before taking it. After, he sat down with me, and we discussed recovery and expectations and follow up appointments. He shook my hand before leaving. Then the nurse came in and set up my appointment before walking me out.

The two experiences of the exact same procedure were so different, so polarized. After the first one, I felt very uncomfortable and unnerved, generally unhappy. Being bent over the table, stabbed, and then dismissed so impersonally made me feel violated somehow. It never sat right with me and doused any hope I had that the injury pain might actually subside.

In contrast, I left yesterday’s appointment feeling optimistic. I felt like the doctor had actually heard me and I once again had options. And even if my circumstances do not change and the injury does not heal, I at least feel like someone gave a shit and tried. It was simple subtleties and seemingly insignificant details that made me feel violated and dismissed versus cared for and treated. I don’t think anything unethical or inappropriate happened at my first shot and I don’t necessarily doubt my original doctor’s medical knowledge, but I do see now how wholly unsatisfied I was with the treatment I received from him.

These experiences reminded me how individual doctors are and how unique a medical experience can be. Getting an injection is not just getting an injection. The circumstances, environment, and care are crucial factors. I am hoping a more favorable experience cultivates more favorable results as well.

For now, I will be on the couch, willing my body to heal itself.

 

Christina Bergling

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On Recovery Running

Calm down.

You cannot sprint off into the pace and distances you left before the injury.

Calm down.

You cannot run like the past weeks, months, and pounds never happened.

Calm down.

It is OK to be winded and weak and dying. It is OK for the pain to still crawl up the back of your leg and nestle firmly in the root of your hamstring.

Calm down.

You are still recovering.

Calm down.

Do not make it worse.

Breathe. Just run. Gently. Just enjoying being able to run. A little.

You’ll get back, just like you have before. Running will still be there.

Calm down.

Baby steps. Baby little zombie turtle wogs.

Take what you can get. You will find the float again some day. You will sprint again some day.

Today, calm down.

 

***

 

I am trying to be good. I am trying SO HARD to be good. I am trying to run infrequently, short distances, and slowly. I am trying to modify barre classes to avoid the exercises that aggravate my hamstring. I am trying to not work out every day or twice a day.

I am trying to temper myself. So far, I think I am managing to tame my obsession, but I am struggling on the mental side of it.

I feel that itchy, uncomfortable anticipation experienced in the race chute all the time. Those terrible last seconds before the start gun. Those wretched little pregnant eternities. Yet I feel that all the time. Restrained, held back, contained. Like I’m coming out of my skin.

Getting back to some exercise has helped, but babying the leg still gives me this trapped feeling. The benefits I glean from exercise come from pushing myself to my brink, from making it hurt until the endorphins wash over my brain. I can’t do that yet, so I’m just left feeling perpetually unconsummated.

I’m trying to think of this as an investment in my body. I am trying to process it as purchasing health on the other side of this injury. Yet, with my mental balance in free fall, I am finding it challenging to sell these ideas to myself.

Patience. Breathe. Calm down.

 

Christina Bergling

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The Next Level of Failing Recovery

What I would not give to finally be able to write a damn post about running! For a running blog, this has been a sad string of whiny rants about not running for the better part of the last year.

And well, fuck. It’s only about to get worse.

The hamstring saga continues, unfortunately. I have failed spectacularly at physical therapy.

So injury in August. Initial doctor in January. My insurance company rejected the request for an MRI, so I was sent to the orthopedic in January. I almost immediately started physical therapy and went once or twice a week until the end of March, when my therapist and I agreed that I was making no progress if not deteriorating further. So I was sent back to the orthopedic who requested an MRI that my insurance company decided to bless this time.

Last week, I went for my first-ever MRI. Even as they were just imaging my hips and pelvis, leaving the crown of my head outside the torturous and constricting tube, it was a remarkably unpleasant experience. I do not like confined spaces, particularly those that restrict my arms. I would not call it claustrophobia. Perhaps a manageable discomfort. I also do not do super well holding still, much less utterly and completely still.

So I lay in the tiny tube, where it felt like I could headbutt the top of it. I breathed through my discomfort and the constricted feeling steadily climbing my limbs. As I held still longer and longer, I lost feeling in my hands. I had to peek through the bottom of my eyes to assure myself they remained folded on my chest. Yet even through the unrelenting slamming noise of the machine, I kept dozing off. Yet I could not be trusted to remain still while I slept, so I kept wrenching myself out of the twisted nightmares reaching up over me.

(not my MRI image)

The half hour dragged on in a shapeless and oppressive blur. Thankfully, my tech was very communicative. Between each set of images, he informed me of the duration of the next set and the total time remaining. That gave me landmarks back into reality. I held completely still, bobbed up and down on the sea of my subconscious, and made it.

The MRI revealed that I have a partial hamstring tear. (Pause for my complete and utter lack of surprise. Wait a moment for me to scream how I said this in August. And December. And January.) My doctor told me they would like to try plasma-rich platelet (PRP) injections as the course of treatment.

(definitely NOT my hamstring)

I had never heard of PRP (and my doctor and assistants are relatively terrible at communication), so I have done a fair amount of research online. To summarize, they will draw some of my blood, spin it down, and inject the platelet-rich layer directly into the hamstring injury. This should cause inflammation to go into overdrive and Wolverine up my body’s healing measures. It’s also supposed to hurt like holy hell for the first two weeks due to how inflamed it will be.

I read mixed reviews online. Studies that confirmed it accelerated healing and recovery effectiveness. Studies that claimed it does absolutely nothing compared to other therapies. People who swear by it and worship the results. People who scoff at or hate it. Thanks, Internet, for your reliable ambiguity.

Yet, at this point, I will try about anything. The pain is near constant and continues to interfere with my life, as simply as restricting activity and as grandly as influencing my behavior and personality. It has been almost 9 months with minimal improvement; I am over it. Depression is starting to creep in, flood and blur the edges, capitalize and take over. I feel it taking root in my brain, planting its awful seed in all the fissures the pain have created.

Besides, my doctor informs me the only other measure we can try involves completely severing the hamstring and reattaching it. I want no part of that very major surgery.

So the PRP injection is the next step. Once my insurance blesses it. Even if they do not, I may just pay for it. I need some sliver of hope.

What I have not been able to ascertain from my doctors or physical therapist are rules, boundaries, suggestions, advice, ANYTHING at all about what activities I should or should not be doing. The answer has been consistently vague.

“Don’t aggravate it.”

“Don’t do anything that hurts it.”

Aside from the fact that by personality defect alone I will push right through both aggravation and pain, activity has not hurt this entire time. It has felt fine to be active during the activity. If not much better than rest. Yet, clearly, that was not the case. I just want some definite answers. I get the liability portion; I get the variability between patients. But come on! Give me something.

So I stepped outside the therapeutic relationships and sought wisdom elsewhere.

Running has felt pretty good all along. No hamstring pain, no twinges, just perhaps extra pain after. Yet my logical brain has snagged on how it could be good or even ok for the injury. Besides, for all those months, I didn’t know what was really wrong. Yet now, running is off the table. NO RUNNING until it recovers.

I have trouble even typing that because I do not know how I am going to do it. It sounds silly to be so attached to an activity, but it has been my lifeline to sanity for so many years now. Even though my fitness has diversified over the past couple years, running has always been there; it has always been my guaranteed hit of endorphins.

No yoga either. The other activity I have used almost exclusively for the effects on the mind rather than the body.

SHIT. How am I going to hold my shit together?

I have been given permission to walk (in short strides) and dance (minus specific movements) and maybe barre (skipping key exercises). It is better than nothing, but I just do not know how I am going to maintain the balance I have cultivated through exercise when I am not allowed to push myself past my edge. My sanity is created by completely exerting myself, completely wasting myself in a workout to leave only the high.

I do not know how to moderate. In life.

I mean I’m grateful that it is not more restrictive or that my injury is not worse. Initially, I thought I would be 12 weeks with zero activity after the injection. That idea nearly sent me into a panic attack.

I am just trying to process how I am going to do this, what all it is going to mean. Ultimately, I will do just about anything to recover, to make the daily constant pain go away. Yet, a very nagging part of me is still lamenting what it is going to cost.

So expect even more posts not about running but more about not being able to run.

The saga continues…

Christina Bergling

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