Stuck in the Mud: The Injury Series 1.0
My First Big Sports InjuryHave you ever been injured? Me, too. Back in 6th Grade during gymnastics, one of my attempts at a full twist left me with a broken thumb after a bad landing. And it hurt.
With a cast and a promise of healing within six weeks (and learning to write left-handed in school), I discovered that I was ready to move on to other sports. Gymnastics was fun, but I wanted to do track and volleyball (which meant quitting gym), so the time of reflection helped firm up my decision. It's one I've never regretted.
I've had no major injuries since then. Little things here and there, but I've always bounced back pretty quickly. That time I ran into sliding glass door and most likely broke my nose stands out because it was really painful, and led to a lot of headaches afterward, but otherwise I've managed to avoid the need for hospital visits.
For about 14 years, I've considered myself a distance runner. Not a fast one, but a runner just the same. Four marathons, about a dozen halfs, and tons of 5Ks, 10Ks, and a few 15Ks later, no major injuries to report.
My Back and Heel Injuries
When I first had back pain, the heel pain vanished! It was a miracle! One that I welcomed. However, as time went on, and as my back improved, the heel pain returned. But then my back would revert, the pain would increase in my thoracic spine, and the heel pain would decrease.
This back and forth fight for pain dominance has been going on for about a month now.
I've been stuck in the mud for longer than I expected and I don't like it. Injury sucks. Physical therapy has become like a job now where I'm doing stretching and exercises morning and night just to survive. And I've simply wanted nothing more than to be done with it all.
Lessons in Patience
I also believe that God has allowed this pain in my life for a reason. I'm learning a lot about patience, about the ability to sit (or lay flat as the case may be) without distraction, devices, or even the ability to hold a book to read. Not because that's what I wanted to do, but that's what my injuries required.
Having this much down time has given me a fresh perspective on this fast-pace existence that I speed through without stopping to look around.
In this phase of learning to be more patient, I'm trying to be more attune to what other people deal with as well. Sharing my pain has led to others sharing their pain. And the pain that other people deal with puts my pain to shame.
For me, it's ONLY been a month.
That's not a very long time. But I didn't really have anyone explaining that to me. That, no, I shouldn't try to go back to my full normal activity right away, because that will cause a relapse. One step forward will become ten steps backwards.
My expectations have been extremely skewed. Only when I've commiserated with other people who also deal with back and/or heel pain have I understand that these things take TIME to heal. For some, several months. For others, years.
And for some of us, the damage is irreversible, so it will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
The MRI results have revealed bulging and protruding discs in my cervical spine (neck), which is referring pain to the thoracic area in my back.
At this point, I am improving on a very slow but steady incline of progress. Rather than two steps forward, five steps back (which has been the method of my progress until a few days ago), I'm actually taking baby steps forward without any noticeable back-peddling.
As a part-time employee at St. Pete Running Company, I've been striving to do my best while not overdoing it. At times, I need breaks, and thankfully I have very understanding employers.
I'm up to a 30-minute walk every other day with slow jogging for a few of those 30 minutes. It feels really good to get moving, even if it's nowhere near the half-marathon training plan that I would've been following had I been spared these injuries.
The truth is I MISS running.
And I'm hoping that soon, I'll be able to run for all of those 30 minutes again. For now, I'm hedging my expectations and putting everything into perspective as best as I can.
I'm able to walk, even jog slowly to an extent. That is a gift, and I won't take it for granted. My fight is not over, and I'll let you know how it's going.
*In general, I do not take medication for pain, unless the severity is great. This was one of those instances where the pain was bad enough to make me feel the need to take something.