Time for a Hail Mary!

I always knew that The Virgin Mary and I were kindred spirits. She had a baby without having sex and I had a spinal epidural without being pregnant! We also both find ourselves saying, “Be it Done According to Your Will” a whole lot these days. OK-OK–enough of the Virgin Mary comparisons. That’s pretty much where they end anyways. If I ever have a baby, I’m pretty sure he or she won’t be the Savior (according to my religion, Mary already took care of that one for us.) My image also probably won’t appear on the side of buildings, cinnamon rolls or toast. If it does, call the looney bin because I’m checking in.

I feel like I’ve been in a looney bin the last several months with my schizophrenic training abilities and pain manifestations. Some days are euphoric. I feel like I could run a marathon (albeit slow). Then there are days when I’m rendered useless after two miles or an hour on the bike. Some days, I get sharp stabbing pains in my groin (probably a result of my labral tear). Other days, the hip/groin feels great, but my right leg goes numb and burns. I lose power in that leg and it hurts down through the ankle as if lactic acid is filling the cavity.  I spend several minutes rolling out my piriformis muscle, sciatic nerve, IT band and quad. This past week in California, I found that 1 hour of running was my absolute limit before having to call it quits. So very frustrating…After several X-rays, MRIs, nerve conduction tests and what not, doctors were able to confirm the labral tear as well as a herniated disk in the lower back that may be putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.

In an attempt to begin ruling out the root causes and seeing if these two injuries are related or completely separate, I had a steroid injection into my L5/S1 this morning. What an interesting experience that was. The procedure itself only took a few minutes and was relatively painless. The only “stinging” part was when they injected the local anesthetic to numb the region. The actual spine injection was pain-free…thank goodness. I’ve heard horror stories of missing the epidural space and ending up with massive migraines due to the “wet tap.”

The nurse took my vital and my blood pressure was awesome. She then asked if I was a runner. “Why?” I asked.

“Because your resting heart rate is really low.”

“Yes, I am a runner, but I’m afraid that’s why I’m here having steroids pumped into my back.”

She, too, thought it a bit sad and ironic as she went over the potential side effects.
* Expect the meds to take 3-5 days to take full effect
* You may feel worse before you feel better
* No running for a few days

The Doc came and confirmed which leg was affected multiple times. He popped my naked back and exposed butt up on the screen and quickly went to work. I could see when the needle was injected and I could see when the steroids began rushing through the space. (see pic below of my sexy spine). All seemed to be going well and I was patched up in no time.

It was what came after that sorta knocked the breath out of me…Thankfully, they had a wheelchair on standby to roll me into recovery. He said that I have small fractures on both sides of my L4 (maybe L5), plus slight disc slippage in the L5/S1 region which would ideally explain the numbness. While minor fractures at this point, he said that this is a patient who shouldn’t be running marathons and long triathlons. He compared it to a house. “It’s like having small cracks in your house foundation. It may stay that way forever or one moment of instability (or heavy pounding) could wreck the entire house over time. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I have to present the information. Do with it what you will. Do all the cycling and swimming that you want, but take it easy on the running.”  With that, he wrote down the technical terms for the conditions (which I STILL can’t decipher) and sent me to recovery where they force-fed me saltines and a Welch’s Cranberry Juice Sugar Bomb. Seriously, this is how you promote health? They offered me a soda which I passed on since it was all of 9:00am.   

So, there you go. Phase one has begun. Right now, my leg is a bit sore (like when your arm gets sore after a shot). I’ll see how the next few days progress and go for a test jog or ride.

Now, I know that the Virgin Mary and I don’t have a ton of similarities, but I do have a ton of faith and I could really use some Divine Intervention!

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