At my three month doctor appointment, the PA told me that it was normal to plateau at this point, and she was most definitely right. Well, mostly definitely right. There was not much improvement between three and four months, but in the last two weeks things have really started to progress, especially once I had another injury diagnosed and fixed. I’d been having severe pain in my butt, hip, and hamstring during the majority of my rehab and it just didn’t seem like anything was making it better. The surgeon thought this seemed odd, so he sent me to a back and spine doctor. Turns out, I have this. So at some point in my life I had stress fractures in my L5 vertebrae that didn’t heal correctly (most likely middle school football or wrestling). In fact, I have a 9mm misalignment between L5 and my sacrum, which I’m told is “a significant amount.” Over time, this has caused my L5 vertebrae to sag, which causes the disc to bulge. If I had access to my MRI and X-rays, I’d love to include pictures of what my lower back looks like, ‘cause it ain’t pretty! Solutions: lots and lots of core work. Since I was already focusing on that for my hip, no big deal. Oh yeah, I also got a transferal epidural steroid injection last week, and it is my sincere pleasure to report that I am pain free for the first time in 3 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In fact, I'd say that I am basically healed right now for both my hip and my back. Well, at least 85%.
snap, crackle, pop!
Most mornings when I wake up, I can’t even walk the 10 yards to the bathroom standing up straight. The first thing I hear is my knee popping. I’ve never had a problem with this knee, and it doesn’t bother me now, but it makes this popping noise regularly in the morning. The next thing to pop is usually my left ankle, which had a catastrophic injury in 2011 and is full of scar tissue and one less muscle (I had to have part of my calf removed), so the popping on that is and has been a normal part of my life for the last 5 years. Moving up on my body, the next thing is sometimes in my hip. It could be the front, it could be the back—it all kind of depends on how I move. These usually feel, and sound, like if you stretched a rubber band and then plucked it with your finger, except the rubber band is actually some muscle in your hip/butt and the finger plucking it is your femur or hip socket. Of course, none of this helps me stand up straight, as I haven’t yet gotten to the real culprit. Usually before I make the 5 steps into the bathroom, I drop my chin to my chest, hang my arms down, and as slowly as possible drop my hands to my feet. My lower back will make a very disturbing sound (which feels as strange as it sounds) that I would say most closely resembles the noise you can make by closing your mouth and flicking your tongue against the roof of your mouth and teeth. That sound is not the sound that your lower back should make. Moving up the back to my thoracic spine, I typically have this immense pressure right in the middle of my back, just below my scapulas, and as I hang there for a moment, the pressure builds, builds, builds……and then POP! I ease my way back up and ta-da!!!!!! I’m standing up straight! Going down the stairs though, that’s another issue! This is not hyperbole by the way, this is an accurate portrayal of my daily morning routine. I am 34 years old.
Aside from all the noises that my body makes, I think physically I’m actually starting to really improve in most areas. With a strong emphasis on my physical therapy, targeting my core, getting my diet back into a reasonable-ish state, and getting back to being active six or seven days a week, my life feels like it’s returning to a fairly normal routine. I’m slowly starting to drop some weight, but also things are starting to shift around and re-arrange. After testing the limits of my wardrobe, I’ve got some wiggle room again, which is nice. I’ve progressed to 30 minute runs, and am able to swim 3000 yards without having to use the pull buoy due to hip discomfort. I can do a pigeon stretch on my bad hip, and my nightly pain sessions on the foam roller have finally loosened up my quad and IT Band. I’ve still been neglecting the bike, but that is for reasons not related to any of this. In addition to those reasons, I need to get a new fit as I’m highly susceptible to hamstring issues and with my back can’t afford to have an aggressive aero position, and bike fits aren’t cheap, especially since I just got one last year (then the store went out of business before I could get in my two follow up fits that I had already paid for). For now I just lowered the seat a bit and that seems to have helped. I’ll get to my prep phase training program in my next post. For now, let’s round up what’s good and what sucks regarding my hip surgery:
I have to get my butt back on the bike, literally, and continue working on my diet, but lookout 2017 Clydesdale National Championship, because I'm coming!
Cheers and keep grinding!