Tag Archives: recover

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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Hot Chocolate 5K (+1)

I have been injured almost 8 weeks now. 8 weeks on Friday but who is counting? 8 long, never ending, torturous weeks.

My hamstring has improved, marginally. The pain used to be unbearable. It also used to extend the full length of the tendon. Now it has receded to the attachments and only whines at certain positions or movements. Yet, for the first 7 weeks, I could not run on it. At all.

I tried. Of course, I tried. I went to run club one night and could not even make it a block before the pain wrapped around my hip. Every time I fell into a stride, it only got worse. So I gave up and forced myself to remain patient, which is hardly my strong suit. I did not avoid activity. I could not foresake my addiction. So I poured myself more into barre (which is what caused this damn injury) and more into zumba and more into lifting. My body (aside from my hamstring) seems happy about it (and is changing), and my mind is pacified.

Yet, this weekend, I was able to run for the first time. Sort of. Kind of. A little bit.

We did the Hot Chocolate 5K in Denver, and I brought my 5 year old daughter.

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The Hot Chocolate Run is always a fun and easy run. Usually, it is nice and cold, though not at all this year. The course is flat through downtown Denver. And we’re really there for the chocolate not a PR. The only time I strove was doing the 15K last year (and I passed my goals!). But, especially with the kiddos, we were just there to be active and have fun.

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If you asked me at the end of the run how things went, I would say, great! However, if you asked me during, it would depend entirely on the mile.  We all started out strong. Happy kids. I was even able to run (after experimenting with a new KT approach). It was all smiles and jogging.

Then, around mile 1, my child lost it a bit. She hit her wall. Just like her momma, it came in the beginning of the run. There were tears and whining and bargaining, but somehow we managed to encourage her to the first chocolate station. After that, she was a delight.

Unfortunately, she tagged out her tiny bestie. My best friend’s daughter then hit her wall. Just like her own momma, she struggled to the end. More whining and crying and tears across the finish line.

However, all averaged out, it did actually go very well.

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Once again, my friend and I realized that oiur children are, in fact, us running without filters. My daughter had to overcome her wall in the opening miles, just like I do, convincing herself to go until it didn’t hurt anymore. All the things she whimpered definitely go through my head at that point in the run. I have just learned to talk myself out of them and push through. So I attempted to push through my irritation and be that voice for her.

While the girls did the 5K, my husband did the 15K. Without training for it at all. I envied him both because he was physically capable of running distance and that he could run said distance without working for it. I always kill myself for every mile, train relentlessly. The results rarely match the effort. Neither do his, apparently, but in the opposite direction. Yet I was also proud of him for accomplishing it. I hope his soreness leads to more of a fitness commitment.

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Then, of course, there was the chocolate and the sweet hoodie. Incentives I will always come back for. We have already registered for next year.

October is the start of my running season, which is making this injury all the more difficult to accommodate. I am missing my favorite run (Cripple Creek). I downgraded my registration for the Great Pumpkin from 10K to 5K (I adore the 10K of this race). The temperatures are dropping, and I can’t be out on the trail. Yet I can’t force the flesh. I do not want to make it worse. I just keep telling myself that there will be other falls. These weather conditions and these races are annual.

I can do this. I can recover.

On Saturday, I will be doing the Great Pumpkin 5K. I’m curious to see how much I am able to run. Or maybe how much I able to permit myself to not run.

 

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
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