Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Hip Bone's Connected to the...

Early last week my back started bothering me. By Thursday it was really bothering me. I couldn't get comfortable sitting, standing or laying for any length of time. On Friday it was bloody worse. I couldn't move too quickly in any direction without it spasming. At best the discomfort was 4/10, which is tolerable but at worst it was 8/10, which was not ok and let me tell you I can take pain. I have grit my teeth, bit my lip and white knuckled through birthing two babies out my vagina (at separate times) without epidurals... Here I should add that even though I did this in no way am I a hero. I arrived at the hospital too late into the labor process to get an epidural before I shot the kids out (again, separate experiences). I know I am trying to prove how tough I am here but for full disclosure sake I should admit that while I was pregnant, had anyone told me that I would be pushing a watermelon sized kid out of my lady region without the assistance of being fully frozen in this same region, I would have said 'Whoa, whoa, whoa! Back this bus up! I am tapping out.' The plan was always to say 'yes" to the epidural but it didn't work out that way so truthfully since then, I fancy myself a bit of a bad ass in the pain tolerance department...now back to our original drama of back pain.
Sidelined with Back Pain

I coud no longer tolerate the blasted pain in the back so I mercifully and with some shame, washed up on my Chiropractor's doorstep. With shame? Yes with shame because I am a shoddy, inconsistent patient and over the years have fallen off routine visits and instead only show my face when something is wrong (my words, not his). This causes me shame because I know better. I know that by the time something is a problem and by the time there is pain, the problem is so much bigger...a problem that may have been avoided by routine maintenance. 
As I slumped my way into his treatment room I was greeted not with a lecture but with a warm, genuine hug and a 'What's up?', hardly the treatment I deserved but he is not the the type to cross his arms and say 'I told you so', lucky for me.

After a head to toe assessment (because it had been so long since my last visit), Dr. Whilidal was concerned. His concern was not as much for my back nor for the right hip pain that has plagued me but for my cervical spine. He opted not to make any adjustments at that visit, instead sending me for x-rays. When your healthcare practitioner looks at you with concern and backs away grimacing, you take notice. I didn't even want to ask him what he was thinking because I thought it was unfair to ask him to speculate. After agreeing to return on Monday, I took the requisition and headed to the clinic.

I spent most of the weekend in pain. The pain had me conjuring ideas of a tumour growing at the base of my skull placing pressure on my precious spinal nerves. I imagined going through radiation treatments to shrink the imagined tumour. You would think because I am a nurse I should know better than to develop such a story line spun from next to nothing but it's actually kind of the opposite. As a nurse, I know too much and have seen people's lives changed in an instant because they had some insignificant, seemingly unrelated complaint investigated that turned out to be serious. So you know, there's that kind of thing that gets the imagination going.

At the follow up visit yesterday I was relieved to learn that I was going to make it. There was no suspicious area found at the base of my skull that required further diagnostic imaging. There were no 'spots' or lesions that needed identifying. It seems though that the hip bone is in fact (indirectly) connected to the shoulder bone which is connected to a sore back. It's all connected and when one area is not functioning healthily, other areas pay the price.
No tumour but there is 'Trouble with the Curve' 

At this time, I am not sure which part of me is the original or primary fouled up area, I'm not a great listener at these appointments. My mind wanders away from what's being said as I am distracted by thoughts of 'I wonder how I did that, or how long has this felt like this, or when can I run again, or is this why I have gained 25 pounds, or do I need to pick up coffee on the way home, to finally, is that cat hair all over my pants.' What I think has happened, if I paid attention, is that my chronically tight hip flexor (left to be precise) has put enough tension over time on my pelvis that it has shifted causing a drop in my right hip (the bad, bloody painful hip) which has created a twist in my spine which has buggered my posture which has altered the way the cervical vertebrae sit which makes me a big lousy mess <takes deep breath>. It's a wonder I even get around, never mind run marathons and the like.
Sinking Starboard with No Lifeboat

With adjustment and rehabilitation (it sounds like prison) I will hopefully return to full, unimpeded functioning as there was little to no degeneration of bone noted on the films. Here is the lesson...When I began running again in 2011, I was a better patient than I have become. In the beginning, the strain on my body from running was new and I wanted to keep running so I made sure I did the maintenance. I went for routine chiropractic care and while I did have a couple hiccups as my body adapted to the stresses of running, as a whole I had less problems than I do now. What changed is I got stronger, my body adapted and for a period of time, not much bothered me physically and so I stopped going. I thought I was beyond needing chiropractic care. I was a fool. Over time little by little the small things weren't being taken care of at routine visits which would have kept them from becoming big things and so here I sit, lay and stand with a buggered back, a troublesome hip and curves in the wrong places which all have finally made me come crawling back.

Follow the Centre Line and You Will See
My body felt so 'off', so out of whack this year and now I am seeing why. After the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October I knew I would have to do things differently with my running. I withdrew from coaching and left Pace & Mind. I knew I couldn't continue to train like I had been with the way I felt. I decided that I would take it easy and keep my kilometres low and see if that helped to heal me. It didn't so I saw my Family Dr and we made a few changes, did some blood work and he wanted hip/pelvis X-rays. These were all good first steps and the results are pending. The fact that my back became an issue last week was just another piece of the puzzle. It's all connected.

That's as high as the left leg goes
Because of all this and in light of the fact that I don't have a life threatening lesion at the base of my brain I am starting today with a new focus and direction. I am stripping things right down. 2016 is going to be the year of the 're-build' and I am hoping that by October the product that comes out of the re-vamp is stronger and fitter. At this point, I don't even care about faster although I know that if I build it right, that will come. I am going to spend until June focussing on building strength and running lower kilometres, at which point I will begin to prepare for STWM in October by focussing on running more. I observe a (mostly) plant based diet but I am so addicted to sugar that I honestly would melt if I got rained on. I am going to break the chains and get rid of the poison in hopes to help reduce inflammation in my body. I feel torn down now, so why not look at this in a positive way by seeing it as a way to build up and be a better me and a better runner. Follow along and see what happens. I will also be sharing stories of other people who are re-building in 2016. At one time this would have had me in tears, not now though. I will continue to run and I will run strong again, it will just take a bit of work to get there. For now, the first step to the re-build is stretching the affected areas...so easy in principal.