Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pain in the @$$



Okay, first off a quick summary since it's been so long since my last post.

It was a long road but finally, after months of nothing but aqua-jogging and a slow transition onto the stationary bike, I was cleared to start running again. Nothing to write home about at first, just increasing intervals of running interspersed with walking. At first it was only two minutes, repeated twice, then three times, and then I graduated up to three minutes, and so on…. When I finally reached four minutes I was allowed to run for fifteen minutes straight through, and after that add 20% per week until I got to 45 minutes, at which point I would be at my next appointment (if all went well).

Well. Let's just say this blog started out about my feet, but its subject area is slowly creeping upward…the title of this post says it all, I guess. About 2.5 weeks ago my young pony bucked me off and I landed hard on my back. Nothing I haven't done before (embarrassingly frequently, actually). You know the saying, you've got to get right back on the horse, so I did even though my back hurt a little bit (my finger was broken too, but honestly who cares, it's just a finger!) I took some ibuprofen that night and most of the next week and just went on with life. Even though it didn't seem to be improving, it wasn't debilitating and I tend to ignore pain unless it keeps me from normal daily functions.

Then the next Friday, exactly a week after the accident, I was out running and came off a downhill. I felt a slight shoot of pain as I leveled off but it disappeared for a minute or two, only to reappear when I was five minutes or so from the end. I came out of downtown, limped over the IST bridge, and promptly sat down on the curb outside the building I work in. I didn't know if I could get up and go back inside.

Incredibly, I took the stairs. (I hate elevators.) I was convinced I had severely pulled a muscle or something, but I could barely walk. The pain was so bad that my right leg almost didn't support me; I sort of had to hop. The first few steps after being still for a while were the worst; after a few either the pain really did go away, or I just got used to it and resigned myself to it. (I had this experience with my heels to; once I started walking, although it was painful, I could do it, but those first few steps nearly made me cry.)

Obviously riding after work was out of the question. So were crunches. I couldn't even dress myself without sitting down or using a handicapped bathroom stall with one of those metal bars to hang onto. I simply could not lift either leg up that high while bending over. Okay, actually I couldn't lift either leg that high, period. My whole butt hurt, from just above the hamstrings to about the waistline of my pants. The right side, just above the tailbone, was what hurt the most. Which made sense, seeing as that's where I had landed. But everywhere else just felt really, REALLY sore. As in, I biked to many miles or ran too far sore; a muscular sore. But there was still that sharp hitch whenever I moved my legs or back in a certain way.

Commence the frantic Googling. I found everything I could about herniated discs, pinched nerves, and the like. A lot of the symptoms matched, so I was convinced that's what I had. I was hoping a chiropractor or somebody could just help me get realigned and the pain would disappear. One of those amazing recovery things, you know?

Well, since it we Memorial Day weekend I made an appointment with my sports doctor for Tuesday. By then my butt was slightly less sore, but my lower-right back still made it hard to walk. She didn't even consider disc issues but sent me right to x-ray for some pelvic films, after a quick examination that ruled out anything to do with my hips.

Which got me thinking.

The most acute pain was when I had to lay on the hard x-ray table, on my back. And whenever they asked me to shift positions for a better picture. It was…deep pain. I knew that pain.

As I sat waiting for her to come back and tell me what the x-rays showed, I could feel it throbbing. And the certainty just built up inside me until I thought I was going to burst…Oh God, it's broken, of course it's broken. What else could it possibly be?

Well, nothing showed on those x-rays, but my doctor ordered a bone scan to confirm. As she wrote out the prescription she assured me that she didn't think it was broken, and I just nodded ("You're wrong, it has to be broken, there's no way it's not…"). In the meantime she gave me permission to do low-impact activities like recumbent stationary bike and aqua-jogging (although, once again, no "real" swimming).

So, bone scan on Friday and the images showed up on the computer monitor as they were taken. HUGE dark white spot on the right side of my pelvis. (One of these days I should ask for copies of all my films.) Of course I knew what that meant. At the follow-up appointment yesterday my doctor gave me the official diagnosis: sacral fracture. Both sides of the scan showed "increased activity consistent with post-traumatic fractures at the site." The right was, however, far worse than the left. But it would explain why my entire butt felt like it had been flattened by a locomotive.

So I'm a little over two weeks into a six-week no-running sentence. I'm not riding, either--my doctor was concerned about falling off again and doing further damage (I guess she has low confidence in my riding abilities). But beyond that, anything that uses my adductors too strenuously is painful. So that pretty much means I can't squeeze or kick. Someday I will have a non-lazy horse, one that I need to "whoa" on. And I'm sure about that time I'll break my arm, too.

At this point, I really don't care. It's already been almost a year since I landed in physical therapy, so what's another couple of weeks? Even though it sounds serious, this isn't nearly as bad as the heels. Since the sports doctor wasn't even all that worried about it, I'm not really either. If it heals, that's great. If not…I've proved I don't have to run. Unfortunately, I've also proved how much I want to. I still have yet to learn restraint.
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