Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Injured Runner

June 5, 2016, I woke up and decided to go on a 20 mile bike ride.  I had been nursing a sore knee for the last week and had eased off of running to let it heal.  I did my ride that morning.  Nothing unusual happened.  Speed was average.  I felt good.

June 6, 2016, I went to work and felt like I had a pulled muscle in the small of my back, on the left side.  By Monday night, I felt it in my left hip.  Still not feeling a whole lot of concern, I ran my Stick over it, put some heat on it, and went to bed.

June 7, 2016, I woke in the middle of the night and noticed that it hurt for me to lay on my left side.  Still in a semi-sleepy state, I just blew it off and rolled over.  At 4:30am that morning, I woke up for work.  When I went to get out of bed, I could barely walk.  Pain shot down the left side of my lower back and left leg, stopping at my knee.  Still not that concerned, I hobbled to the coffee pot to start my day.  I knocked something off of the counter and I tried to bend over to pick it up.  That is when I realized this was not a normal cramp or something I could just walk off.  Pain shot up and down my back and leg, more intensley this time.  I hobbled back to bed and told my wife that I didn't think I could go to work.  I planned to lay in bed a few more hours and then go see my chiropractor, thinking I had something out of allignment in my back.

By 6:30am, the pain had intensified to a level that I could no longer tolerate.  I told my wife that I felt it was time to go to the ER.  The pain was so intense, I was literally nauseaus, and had to drag myself to the bathroom and throw up several times from the pain.  Afterwards, I lay on the bathroom floor, feeling unable to get up.  I changed clothes on the floor, as best I could, and then took a tortorous ride to the ER.  The diagnosis............Sciatica.  A slightly bulged disc in my L5 and what I would learn later, my L4.  After many pain shots, steroids, anti-inflammitories, etc...I left the ER that afternoon a non-runner.  I was hobbled.  Although my pain had been reduced from a 10 to a 3 or 4, I was nowhere near back to normal.  I was confined to my bed and stayed on a steady flow of pain pills and muscle relaxers.  Even after all this, I still felt I would only be down a week or two and then return to my normal life.

As time went on, I began to realize that my normal life was on hold indefinitely.  I had gone back to work, but even that was a task.  My back pain had subsided, but I was still on pain pills, and although they helped to a degree, by the end of my work day, I was walking like I had a wooden leg.  My knee no longer bent.  I had to tolerate a constant barrage of shocks to the medial area of my knee, all day long.  My quad throbbed all day long, and my skin was so sensitive to the touch, that wearing pants all day long was literal torture.  I began to come to the realization that this was not normal injury, and it may be some time before I would resume normal life, if ever.  I began researching my injury online.  Sciatica didn't fit the bill for the sypmtoms I was having.  After a lot of research, I learned that the problem may have initially been Sciatica, but I was now having problems with my Femoral and Saphenous nerves.  These nerves run down the front of my quad and into the medial part of my knee, which was exactly where my pain was.  I was certain this was my problem.  (This was later be confirmed by a Neurologist, who noted a bulge in my L4).  Now what to do about it.

After researching a variety of therapies, I gave Active Release Techniques (ART) a try.  I had to drive 100 miles to get it, b/c there were no doctors in my area that were certified in these techniques.  Basically, ART is a series of complex stretches that are done, while the nerve is pressed on in certain areas during the stretch.  People with injuries similar to mine have had success with these techniques. My first session was brutally painful.  I had no flexibility in my joints.  He worked my nerves from my Sciatic, to my Femoral and Saphenous nerves.  With each session, I felt a reduction in pain and had more mobility.

July 23, 2016, I am still in recovery.  I no longer walk with a limp and my pain is near 0.  The shocks to my knee are mostly gone and my knee numbness is minimal.  I ran 1 mile three times this week.  Each time feeling stronger that the time before.  I am still a long way from running a half marathon, much less an ultra, but I am not ready to throw in the towel yet.  I will keep pushing forward and hopefully, I will be able to be a runner once again.