Returning to Fitness and shedding the fatness!
So right around the 5 month mark I was killing it! Swimming was improving rapidly, I was upping my minutes on the treadmill, hitting my rehab, and generally progressing nicely. Then I did what I always do and ignored my own limits. With my back feeling great from my last steroid injection, and the warm weather lasting well into November, I decided to run in my neighborhood on the pavement, which was the one thing my hip doctor, my PT, my back doctor, and my own brain told me to stop doing. I have a great neighborhood for running though, and it is just so convenient! Plus I had been feeling great on the treadmill. Well 3 5Ks on the pavement plus a couple of 18-hole rounds of golf and I was heading back to the operating room for another transferal epidural steroid injection, which was two weeks ago. Also, my hip flared up badly, SO NO MORE RUNNING ON PAVEMENT (except on race day). Treadmill, trails, and tracks for me from now on. Let's get to the update!
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%.
Wow, it's been a while since I last updated you on my recovery and return to athletics, and actually, it's been my return to athletics that's kept me from writing because I've actually been training again!!!! Or at least I was right up until Labor Day, when I had a wedding over the weekend followed by a grueling work schedule (60 hour week of night shifts (last week) followed by a 72 hour week/weekend of day and night shifts (this week), and then finishing up with a 44 hour week/weekend of day shifts (next week). Yikes! Oh yeah, I also re-herniated a disc in my back, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.
Permission to (butter)Fly!
Well I had a computer mishap that delayed last week's update, and since I was seeing the doctor soon I just pushed it off to today. So, today I had my first follow up appointment with my surgeon. After a near 45 minute wait followed by a three minute chat with the Doctor, my immediate prospects for returning to athletics have been given a huge boost! Over the last two weeks, my rehab sessions have been becoming more and more like a workout, complete with dripping sweat and me having to wipe down machines and tables (ALWAYS WIPE DOWN WHATEVER YOU SWEAT ON AT THE GYM). My brief foray into dieting was obliterated over a couple of beautiful weather weekends, and a general lack of self-control. I eat when I’m bored or frustrated, and I’m bored and frustrated all the time because I can’t exercise. Despite my best efforts, this has been my cycle for pretty much ever, and even though I’m testing the limits of my wardrobe, I’m tired of beating myself up over it. Let’s get to the good stuff!
a tough week
Last week’s post seemed to be almost too prescient, as I literally had my first and worst accident within an hour of writing it. The dog incident: Murphy was just being a dog, and I was feeling so good that I had basically just forgotten all about my injury, and I went from lying flat on my back to lunging forward, twisting, and reaching for him as he went lunging across me to attack the window and bark at the passersby. I was in agony almost instantly. This was really, really dumb, and I paid for it all night and into the morning (I actually had to take a pain pill so I could sleep). Last week, the theme was that I was in the danger zone, and boy was I right. In week 4, I had at least 5 incidents where I was just moving to normally, too fast, or too carelessly. I forgot to tell myself that I’m still hurt, and consequently had 3 pivoting issues, one misstep on some cobblestones, and the dog incident. I would classify this week as being a pretty severe setback as due to these events, I’ve needed to take a break from my rehab. If you’re recovering from this surgery….TAKE IT EASY!!!!! Be sure to remind those around you that you’re still injured and if you feel that you can’t do something, stand your ground. It’s not all doom and gloom though, let’s get to the goods!
Welcome back to the blog and thanks for reading! I am currently in week 4 and feel like right now I’m beginning to enter “The Danger Zone.” What I mean by this is that I’ve now returned to a pretty normal life and feel pretty good doing most things that I’m allowed to do, which is why it’s dangerous! I still can’t swim, or run, or walk around a lot, or sit in a chair normally, or drive long distances, or do any lower body work that isn’t rehab, or sleep well in my bed, or put socks on, or tie my shoes, or many of the things that I want to do…..BUT, I can do pretty much everything else (like drink beer, smash pizzas, binge watch, get fat, do my job, do some chores around the house, use the bathroom without help). The point is, I’m getting better, and as my discomfort decreases, my sub-conscious awareness of my injury and limitations also decreases, and that’s how I’ve hurt myself in the past week. Keep reading to find out this week’s revelations:
Wow, what a difference a week makes! I am frankly shocked at the progress I've made in just two weeks, and that's not to toot my own horn, but rather toot the horn of my surgeon, Dr. Peter Maiers at Methodist Sports Indianapolis, and his team, including my physical therapists Jimmy, Melissa, and Brad. They have all done a great job and I felt less pain and discomfort after this operation than just about all of the rest. As I've already established in previous posts, I am/have been injured a lot. This was my 7th surgery. One thing I've learned is that you need to follow the instructions from your doctors and PTs about as literal as possible. If they tell you to take it easy, sit your butt down in a chair and take it easy! The boredom and the lack of activity sucks, but if I'm bored out of my mind for two weeks (I was) and that gets me back sooner, or even on schedule, than that's what I'm doing. Pushing yourself after a major injury will undoubtedly lead to a repeat injury, or your body will adapt to your current limitations by overcompensating somewhere else, which can and probably will result in another injury. CASE IN POINT: I had a foot/ankle surgery in 2011, and I moved across the country about a month afterwords, didn't follow up with the surgeon or do any PT due to relocation, changed jobs that required me to be on my feet all day way before I should have been, and just grinded it out for a year. Without question, this is what pushed my hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quads out of whack, and eventually shredded my hip. So here's where I'm at:
It's been one full week since I had my hip surgery, and I am pleased to say that I'm feeling much better than anticipated. Here are the good things so far:
Here are the things that suck so far:
So what's next? I see the Doctor for the first time tomorrow and am excited to hear what he has to say, and then I hopefully begin physical therapy in earnest with the real stuff. I am off work for the remainder of the week and hope to return Monday, which will be nice to get back into a routine. I won't be able to drive though, and I'm still not sure about the sitting situation, so it's not ideal, but I need to get back so we'll see what I can manage.
Lots more observations to come. Thanks for reading! If you're out there and you're injured, stay positive, focus on the things you can focus on, and know that you'll get it back!
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The first time I went on crutches was 1997; I had broken my ankle in the middle of a wrestling match the day before leaving on a cruise for spring break (still won BTW). That was a very difficult place to be with a broken leg and on crutches, and I was ill-prepared. This was back with the old wooden ones that were fairly flimsy, and extremely uncomfortable. Being that I was young and stupid (as opposed to a little older and stupid now), I once walked over a mile and a half on them. That sucked.
The second time I went on crutches was in 2003 for just a few weeks when I had a partial tear in my MCL. I don't recall any long walks, but remember crutches being a real pain. The third time, in 2011, I made some discoveries in how to really maximize your self-sufficiency, safety, comfort, and sanity while being on these damn things! Now that I'm on my fourth go-round with crutches, I'm an old pro, and it's never been easier for me to get around with them.
Here's my list of the top 5 things you need to have when you're on crutches, from an expert:
Last night I was finally able to sleep for a solid 5 straight hours, popped my pills, and fell right back asleep for another 2 hours. This was quite the relief after not sleeping for more than one or two hours at a time for two-and-a-half days. I am also happy to report that despite many false alarms, I was finally able to complete yesterday's number one goal (read the post to find out). I was really expecting to have struggled more than I did yesterday but was actually quite comfortable, mostly thanks to the efforts of my support crew....my wife Logan and dog Murphy. My planned day of binge watching Netflix was interrupted quite nicely by some live sporting events, and Logan set up the Euro Cup 2016 on one screen and the US Open on the other, and even grilled me up one amazing steak! I am truly blessed to have such an amazing partner to spend my time with. If you're having a major health issue that limits you like this one, it's just so valuable and important to have someone around to help you, and I am truly thankful! I also have to give credit to the Chief Morale Officer, Murphy, for staying by my side day and night and letting me rub his head!
Physical Therapy Started today, and it was nice to get out of this recliner and move around a bit. Today's session was fairly basic and low intensity, but with being less than 72 hours post-op, things were pretty tight and tender. The main point today was just to focus on some very easy mobility exercises to keep things loose. In fact, most of what I did today is a lot of what you should be doing anyway in triathlon, running, cycling, etc. and reminded me of a great book that I've been reading. Power, Speed, Endurance has a great section on mobility (especially of the hips) that everyone should be doing. If you're having hip problems or want to prevent them, I'd recommend picking up that book. It was beneficial to me, especially to learn the "Pose Method" of running. This isn't a book review, but it's a solid book for any multisport athlete, or someone with mobility issues. After therapy, I was sore. I didn't do much other than squeeze my butt cheeks and straighten my leg a bunch, so it wasn't a significantly difficult session, but it was enough! Fortunately, I got to spend the last 15 minutes with probably the best thing I've ever worn: the Game Ready Cold Therapy Compression System. OH.MY.GOD! I imagine this is what it's like to be a pro athlete. I wanted to stay wrapped up in it forever. So cold, so tight, so much relief! If you're going through some serious PT, I hope you're doing it at a place with these things, they are so worth it. If not, I guess you'll just have to spend the $5,000 and buy one on Amazon right here LOL. Take a look at this website, gameready.com. Show it to your PT if necessary so they get one. I'm pretty excited now to spend my last 15 minutes of each session recovering with this wrapped around my hip! My doctor sent me home with something similar to that, which I'm wearing 24-7, but it's nowhere near that good, although it's still pretty nice (aside from having to be plugged in all the time).
Goals for day 3 through the weekend:
Mobility exercises 3x/day, start to reduce pain meds, and move around more throughout the day.
Also finish Bloodline season 2 and watch as much US Open and international soccer as possible. Thanks for reading, follow on instagram @kingofthelake and keep checking back for more. I'll be posting a great lifting program over the weekend.