The hamstring saga continues…
The last time I updated this topic, I had just come off Prednisone, and the pain was returning but manageable. Oh, how things have changed again.
This week, things culminated to a new peak of pain. The discomfort had steadily returned since the end of the anti-inflammatories. Then it started to get worse, hearkening back to the onset of the injury. Until one morning I could not walk, could not move on my own for an alarming amount of time.
My insurance denied the claim for the referral for the MRI in December, so I never did get scanned. Instead, they sent me to an orthopedic then physical therapy before they would entertain the idea of payment for scans.
So I went to the orthopedic. The visit was rushed and abbreviated. Both the doctor and his assistant asked a few questions and did not wait for an elaborations on the answers. I do not think I ever got to accurately articulate the full issue. Yet I was willing to trust. I was willing to try just about anything to change the situation and, especially, lessen the pain.
Then it was a steroid shot into my hamstring and a referral to physical therapy. I did not want to jump straight to a steroid shot, but again, I would take anything. I resolved to just go with it and give it a chance.
I had optimism in the shot, yet it did nothing. I know it could take weeks, but I guess I dreamed of the instant effect of the pills. Then things seemed to get worse. I doubt it was a result of the shot, but I do not know what changed. I did not notice any tweak that made it worse. I had not really changed my routine. Yet suddenly so much more pain. Like falling backward into the start of the injury.
The pain appeared more often and was called up by more movements and activities. Then that one morning where I could not walk.
Thankfully, so far, that degree of pain has only been reserved for that one instant and the first day of the injury. It really did reach levels that called up childbirth memories. Yet I now live in fear of it. Every catch and tweak, I wonder if it will fade. I worry I will be trapped like a whimpering turtle again. In that pain, I thought that was just how it was going to be, what my injury had become, and I think that hopelessness fueled the majority of my tears.
My orthopedic’s assistant did not seem at all concerned by my hellish morning, so I continued on to start physical therapy this week. Instead of mobility training or gentle exercises, I was there for one treatment: dry needling.
I had never heard of dry needling, definitely never experienced. In short, the practitioner takes an acupuncture needle and stabs the muscle in a trigger point until it hypercontracts. That contraction is meant to reset the muscle, work out the knots, encourage healing.
Despite my extensive tattooing, I was nervous. Something about the idea of a needle being plunged into the sweet meat of my inner thigh. Yet it was not as bad as I had feared. The initial pierce of the needle was barely noticeable, and the muscle stabbing was also relatively minute. The pain came from the muscle contractions. The harder and more effective the contraction, the more painful. The sensation paled in comparison to that of the actual injury, so I just breathed through it.
The physical therapy has at least given me hope. Mostly because I liked my therapist. There seems to be a minute improvement since the needling. The pain remains just as intense, but the frequency and duration have lightened a bit. It would make sense to be from the treatment. Or it could be from starting to sleep with it wrapped or from taking a couple rest days.
I hesitate to think it is getting better because, in the past months, every time I do, it immediately regresses and gets much worse. The injury reminds me that I am at its mercy; then I am just crushed by the defeat.
Even as things have improved physically, I find myself struggling mentally and emotionally this week. I can feel the pain changing me, affecting my personality and reactions, and I do not want it to. That terrible, immobile morning has shaken me. It has made me gun-shy and paranoid, and it has also deflated my hope. I find myself frustrated and bitter all over again, as if my leg owes me something, as if I’m promised permanent functionality.
Then, at some point in my pathetic wallowing and pointless bitching, I realized that the pain is not the root of my mental discontent; it’s the restriction. And I think it is less not being able to do the activities I want and more not being able to reap the benefits of doing them. The injury simultaneous puts me in this nagging pain then limits my coping mechanisms to deal with it (and all the normal things).
I use exercise to deal, to manage. I rely on endorphins to tame my bipolar. I leverage time spent exercising as alone time and time to mentally process. It is a huge part of my routine and my balance. Which is a large part of the reason I have been pushing through the injury to continue the activities.
An amplification in pain was more to deal with but also took away the crutch. Add to that the fact that I am doing the Whole30 diet, and I am also missing my beloved consolations of alcohol and food that I actually enjoy. Not to mention the void of those things alters the chemistry in my brain. I cannot even use my Monster energy drink hack.
Basically, I have stripped myself bare, removed all safety pads, and left myself alone with life in general and this injury in specific. I find that I am terribly weak solo, without all my tricks and tools. And I am getting my ass kicked. It is all sloppy and just sad. I feel like a mess.
The realization helps, tames the beast a bit. As always, I find the true break is in my mind. And I am the only one who can fix that.