Friday, July 30, 2010

Injured, Part 2: Why MRIs suck

In order to figure out my injury, I was sent for a MRI. Of course, to get it approved by insurance, I had to get x-rays first. I'm all for preventing unnecessary medical tests and procedures. But, at the same time, everyone knew the required x-rays would not show a stress fracture or any other soft tissue injury the were expecting. So useless!

I've never had a MRI before and I wouldn't wish one on anyone. I had no clue what to expect and found out about the test only 18 hours ahead of time, so wasn't able to research much. Anyway, I arrived and the techs tried to stuff me in a tight tube as soon as I walked in the door. I made them stop and explain everything to me. I don't think many people ask questions, so they were quick to answer. But I was persistent. You need to know what they are going to do, right?
Having a leg injury, I wanted to know they were taking images of the correct leg!!

Anyway, I had a scan if my pelvis and lower back area. I spent 30 minutes in the tube for the first scan. Not too bad - they gave me music, had my bad leg propped up, and I was positioned so my head was slightly out if the long tube. I definitely felt less claustrophobic that way.

They pulled me out to reposition me for the second scan. That was a disaster! I had a lot of pressure on my back, so it was sheer pain. I got very hot and I was having a hard time staying still. I started freaking out at the end. I was thankful to be pulled out, but learned I would have to go back in for a few more images! At that point I was in so much pain, I started tearing up. The tech put some props under me to take the pressure off my back. When it was over, I was covered in sweat and so happy to be done!

I was happy to get the test done to know exact what problems exist, but MRIs suck!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Truck!

Todd got a new truck...finally!  He's been talking about getting a truck for about two years now.  We finally pulled the trigger once we found out he got tenure.  It was like a little present to himself!  I don't mind at all because I love the new truck - a 2010 Honda Ridgeline.  The reason I love it so much is that the CR-V was so uncomfortable to ride in.  I got carsick every time we sent somewhere, and it wasn't only me.  Other passengers complained when riding in the car.  Also, with the truck, the dogs will be able to ride along with us without being physically in the car.  This means no dog stench or dog hair in the car.  I had to prep people for riding in the car.  It was not pretty, nor did it smell pretty.  The dogs will ride in dog boxes in the back of the truck.  That deserves a whole other post, but the dog boxes are popular among hunters as a way to haul dogs without having a truck topper.  Some people call the Ridgeline a girly truck because of how it looks.  All I know is that is rides awesome and I will take my heated leather seats in the girly truck over the uncomfortable bench seat of every other truck out there!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Heat Wave

It's hot. While I hate working in a job that keeps me inside all day everyday, this heat is too much. I'm thankful for AC.

When it's this hot we carefully watch the dogs to make sure they don't overheat. They are outside almost daily for a major part of the day, but on days like this, we let them come in and take a break from the heat. Also they have their own kiddie pool and about five water bowls. Oh, and a cool spot dug out in trench-like fashion under our back deck against the foundation of the house. Yes, that is not an approved method but what can you do? It gets dug out again as soon as we fill it in.

I was out in our front yard with the dogs and Lucy found a cool spot next to some new landscaping. Good thing I rank her as one of the best dogs ever because she should not be in the bushes. LOL

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Injured, Part 1: Why injuries suck...

So, long time no post.  This summer has been a little busier than I thought.  Unfortunately, I was hoping for a nice relaxing summer, but no such luck.  Between my more than full-time job, taking a grad class, and teaching an undergrad class, I spend about 18 hours per day in front of my computer.  It sucks.  My only relief from the glaring computer screen is running.  My one true passion, hobby, and stress reliever in life.  I am not super competitive, except against myself.  But, I like to think I am a decent runner.  Over the years I have been slowly chipping away at my race times and that makes me happy.  However, in the midst of my summer madness, my running has come to a complete halt and I am bummed more than words can express. 

After my crazy spring running adventures, I took a few weeks off from really running.  I ran a couple of short runs here and there, kept up my weight lifting routine, and generally took it easy the other days.  This worked out well as I was at the end of taking a grad class and needed to focus on the final project anyway.  After that ended, I started to ramp back up for the July half in California I had signed up for.  I was so excited about the Napa-to-Sonoma Half.  It was going to be my first destination race.  I was excited to see that part of the country.  Also, the hubby is a huge wine freak, so I thought this would be a great way for him to enjoy the trip, too.  A definite win-win for both of us.  Then, about a month before the race, I ran my worst 10-miler ever.  Seriously.  I cannot describe that run other than it was hot, I was dehydrated at the end despite water stops every 2 miles, and I was way off pace.  So far off I can't even look at my Nike+ stats for that day without gasping at the disaster that it was.  I chalked it up to a bad day.  It was the hottest run I've done in years and every runner has bad days.  However, the next day I woke up and could barely walk.  The shooting pain down the back of my leg was horrid.  I had never felt that much pain before.

I remember trying to get out of bed and wonder if I would be able to walk to the bathroom.  At first I thought I slept on it wrong, but as the day went on, I knew it was something more with my left leg.  I tried a short 3 mile run thinking it was just a tight muscle and circled back home after 2 miles.  I was in pain.  I got right in to see my favorite sports doc at Bloomington Sports and Wellness.  Seriously, Dr. M has healed my aches, pains, and knee ailments for years.  He knows I am a freak about running and always gets me back into shape quickly.  After I saw him one time, he restricted my running immediately.  Yep, injuried.  Definitely injured.  I saw him several more times each week still with no running.  After much rest and me going crazy, he finally said I could rest two more days and then go for a test run.  Nothing crazy, maybe a 5k, and let him know how it goes.  He had done ART on my for several sessions, I was having no pain, and I was hoping to get back out there and run!

To say it went bad is an understatement.  I left my house and actually felt pretty good for the first half mile.  Then it all hit at one.  Pain shooting down the back of my leg.  At this point, I was a week out from the half in California.  When I first went in for treatment, I still had a goal to run the race.  After a couple of sessions, I let myself think I would be able to run-walk the race since my training time had been cut short.  After this trial run, I came home in tears.  I cried all day as I realized I would not be able to do this race.  We had everything arranged, plane tickets, hotels in two cities, rental car, race day prep, and excursions all lined up.  We even knew another couple from Bloomington running the race and planned to meet up with them for dinner and winery tours post-race.  I was so excited for this break from life and a chance to do my first destination run.  We had decided to make a vacation out of the trip no matter what happened with my leg injury.  However, I immediately knew we would have to re-arrange our trip because I wasn't sure I could handle being near the race that I had registered for without being able to run.  I wanted to cheer on our friends, but at the same time I knew I would not be in a good state of mind.  I don't mind spectating races, but spectating a race you were prepared to run is a whole different story.

After much discussion and crunching of numbers, we decided it wouldn't be the fun trip we had hoped for and decided to cancel.  Why not save the money for something that would be a fun time.  We were able to cancel everything with no penalty, except for the plane tickets.  But, we have a year to use them after paying the change fee, so it isn't a total loss.  I was also able to sell my race registration to a pretty cool guy.  After I posted on the race Facebook page, I had like a dozen people email me about buying my entry.  I ended up selling it to a guy who was buying it for his wife to run.  They are both runners and are also opening up a winery.  They have the coolest business model in that all profits they make are donated to charity.  How amazing are they??  Anyway, we went back and forth several times even after we transferred the money/registration around.  He said I should stop in to them if we are out in the area soon.  So, my shameless plug for a super nice guy:  Be sure to check out the website and wine of Bruliam Wines.  Not only are they really cool people, but their website is awesome and I love their catch phrase.

Anyway, I digress.  After going back to the doc after the horrid run, he took one look at me and sent me to have a MRI done.  He wouldn't treat me and sat me down with the bad news, a possible stress fracture.  While I pray it is not this and not some other serious injury, I was not surprised to hear this.  I had done enough googling to know it was a definite possibility.  The doc, not meaning to be funny, mentioned that he knew my body and it was not responding to treatment.  It's true, though.  I've been seeing him for about 5 years and I trust what he is telling me about my injuries.  So, he arranged for an MRI of my sacrum, SI joint, and bottom discs of my spine.  Something is going on in that area of my body.  After the horrid trial run, my pain has been persistent and the shooting pains are happening more often.  So, he wanted to get a good look at the whole region.

So, after the short version of the long back story, I circle back to why injuries suck.  I run an average of 30 miles per week.  Lately, I've run 3 miles in 4 weeks.  Yep.  Let's just say I have been really down or really on edge.  Recall, this is my stress relief and my stress levels have been high this summer!  On top of that, I have missed all of the local 5ks in our race series, and instead of being in California to run  the half I have been looking forward to since I registered 9 months ago, I sit at home typing this blog waiting for the results of my MRI (blog on that to come later).  The other thing that really has me down is that all my friends are pretty much runners.  July 5th was the start of training for fall races for most everyone.  So, everyone is busy training, making running dates with friends, and blogging out how great their training is going.  I love hearing about all this and I love supporting them in their efforts, but not being able to participate really gets me down.  At this point, I still don't know what exactly is wrong or when I'll be able to run again, so I trying to stay upbeat is becoming more difficult.  I am hoping the tests will show something so that I can develop a treatment plan with the docs and move ahead.  That is the one thing that is helping me get through right now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

4th Fun

Somehow I took no pictures on July 4th. Probably because we celebrated on the 3rd. That was the night of our local fireworks, so we had some neighbors and friends over for a cookout. There were 15 of us, including 6 boys under age 5. It was hot out, so we actually spent more time inside than out. We hauled out the Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head and turned our Jinga game into building blocks. Yep, those are the only kid toys we own!

When it got dark, we headed out to catch the fireworks show. It was definitely not that great, especially compared to previous years. I'm assuming the budget was low this year, which is understandable.

In general it was a nice day to relax after the walk and parade in the morning. We didn't do anything on the 4th except finally mulch our flower beds, which badly needed to be done!! It was nice to have an extra day to catch up. Between working, teaching part time, and taking a class, it was much needed!!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

View from the back

Back of the pack, that is.  I haven't had much time to blog, but I also haven't been training much.  Much might actually be too generous.  I haven't been training at all.  An injury to my leg has totally sidelined me, two weeks before a major race.  Not only was I behind in training due to my schedule and the weather, this added a major wrinkle.  I haven't run at all and have been going to the sports doctor every few days to have it checked out and "worked" on.  He isn't sure exactly what the problem is and feels I have several contributing factors.  He suggested I not run, so I haven't even set my feet to the pavement for over a week now.  It has been hard for me to follow the doctor's orders, but I have been seeing him for years and he really knows best when it comes to telling me to stop, take it easy, or go full steam ahead.  So, instead of running, I have been doing some walking.

I had already signed up for a local 5k race over the 4th of July weekend.  In addition to no running, he suggested I not speed walk, swim, or pretty much do anything that would use my legs.  Since I pre-registered, I decided to go, take my dog, and walk at a very slow casual pace.  The morning was great - overcast and cooler.  Perfect for a summer run!  To say I was jealous of the runners is an understatement.  It took everything in my body to keep me from running.  A lot of runners got PRs as the course is one of the flatter ones in the area. 

I started at the back of the crowd with Lucy.  We took off rather slow and took our time on the course.  I think it took about 18 minutes to walk the first mile.  The whole time I kept thinking about what I would be doing if I were able to run.  To keep my mind from wandering to running, I started trying to talk to the walkers around me.  I definitely had some interesting observations from the morning:
  • Most of the walkers were new to walking a 5k.  I passed several discussing the actual mileage of a 5k.  I reminded one couple it equals 3.1 mile.
  • Many of the walkers were shocked to hear it took them 18 minutes to walk the first mile.  I guess they thought the race was about half over, and then they realized they still had several miles to go.
  • Most of the walkers go from conversation to conversation.  No one seems to care if you join in a conversation as you are passing by.  I talked to several different people for just a few minutes as I passed them or they passed me.  This is different than runners.  During a race, runners don't talk to each other.  Instead, runners focus on their race at hand and think about things like pace, hydration, strategy for getting a PR, etc.  There isn't a lot of back and forth with those around you.
  • Lots of walkers bring their kids.  This is totally cool and I would do the same thing, but if your kid isn't happy and you are walking, 3.1 miles is a long time!  There was one little girl who screamed for 2.5 miles.  It was loud, she was unhappy, and there was nothing her mom could do but keep going until the end.  It was funny because everyone kept commenting on how she was STILL crying as they passed her after the turn-around point.  I never understood why some events included a 1-mile family fun walk.  I now completely understand the need for this event category.
  • Walkers do not really cheer for runners.  I was yelling for a few of my friends as I watched them pass me.  Some were doing really well and I wanted to show my support.  The walkers around me looked at me like I was crazy when I called out to the runners.  I don't think they really know how to encourage the racers.
I noticed a few other things along the way.  In general, the race was good and I am glad I went.  It was a nice way to enjoy the morning and see some good friends.  However, I am hopeful the next time will be to run a running race (in the words of Sam Clarke).