I don't think it's a good sign when you check into your doctor's office and they hand you a form on a clipboard that's titled "What's New This Visit."
Ok so I've been to my ortho group at least 6 times in the past year for my knee, hip, and shoulder.
And to my internist for high blood pressure and bloody noses that might have been a side effect of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories I was taking for various aches and pains as a carry over from before I started exercising.
And to my dermatologist at least 3 times for a rash on my face that I just couldn’t get rid of until we made the connection between it and a handful of brazil nuts that I added to my diet as part of my fitness nutrition plan.
New This Visit was my back.
Thankfully I don't have back pain but my new physical therapist, with fresh eyes on my ever-present glute and hamstring issues, suggested I rule out anything bad going on with my back.
It only took 5 mins for Dr. Ira Fisch at Ortho Bethesda to look at my xrays and recommend an epidural block for minor grade 1 spondylolisthesis at the L4/L5 segment of my spine. And soon.
I looked it up at home. Spondy is where one bone slides over the bone below it. Dr. Fisch thinks that there’s inflammation at that spot that’s pressing on the nerve and causing my glute and hamstring pain on the left side and possibly the right side too.
So it occurs to me that my most recent spike in my glute pain was likely triggered by the two blissful yoga classes I took in Sag Harbor when I was on vacation. I probably hyperextended my spine quite often in those classes because it felt so good at the time.
As a former gymnast, I am very comfortable doing full bridges or full wheels, back bends, and at one time, even back handsprings. I regularly hold a headstand, and I’ve never paid attention to whether or not I am hyperextending my back because my back has always been flexible.
I gave a lot of thought to weighing the pros and cons of the epidural block because even though the procedure is routine, there are still risks to placing a needle in your spine. Risks like death and paralysis. I wondered if I could get my back to baseline if I simply stopped exercising.
Maybe but ultimately I think the block was the most obvious next step.
If you’ve ever had chronic pain you know that at some point you forget what it’s like to be pain free. I’ve had glute pain for so long that although I so wanted to be pain free I didn't know how to visualize it.
I had the procedure yesterday, and this morning I woke up without a trace of pain.
I’m sure I’ve never had a greater sense of euphoria.
No glute pain whatsoever.
My glutes feel so incredibly normal. It’s possible there is a trace of anesthesia that is a factor here, so we’ll see how I feel as the days progress.
I enjoyed a 2.5 mile walk at the zoo with a friend and work colleague this morning. In a few days, my plan in the gym is to strength train slowly and carefully and to do a lot of stretching. Kevin has already given me some helpful modifications for me to resist hyperextending my back, and I’ll start to work those into my training with Nancy at Equinox.
I just do not want to bring glute pain back into the mix. Now more than ever I’ve got to be smart and follow the advice of the experts I’ve surrounded myself with. Dr. Fisch says swimming is ok, so I’m looking forward to enjoying the Bethesda Outdoor Pool for the next two weeks.
So you know of course as soon as I heard no running for 1 to 2 weeks my brain went right to nutrition. Since I’m burning fewer calories I want to make sure I’m not gaining weight. If I’m cutting back my workouts by 20 percent, I need to cut back my calories by 20 percent.
This takes a lot of will power, and I’m definitely worried about it. Since I’ve been focusing on fueling my workouts, I haven’t experienced hunger and haven’t needed much will power to resist overeating or eating the wrong things. I’ve brought carbs into my diet to fuel my long runs but now I need to watch this.
Yesterday after the procedure I pretty much kept still for about 6 hours. I wasn't able to put weight on my left leg because it was numb, and I got a charlie horse on my right toe that took a bottle of tonic water to resolve. After I was able to hobble downstairs, I watched Meryl Streep kill it in August: Osage County but another highlight was the Kings of Leon's "Last Mile Home." I've been listening to it obsessively all day.
See you next time!