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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Crying "Uncle" is not an option.

I am running once again. Real running.

My amazing fall down a steep, rocky hill, which managed to bloody nearly every part of my body and tear the cartilage from my hip, happened about three years ago. Following surgery and physical therapy, I attempted running again. Three months later I had tendonitis in my iliopsoas tendon. If you're not familiar with that anatomical part, it's the tendon that stretches through the abdomen and into the groin. It's used when the leg is lifted and turned sideways and when one walks or does any other movement. In short--it hurts like crazy most of the time.

This was complicated by my muscles going into severe spasms which would put stress on the inflamed tendon and on my knee. Translation: "hurts like crazy" became indescribable pain. Because I also have systemic hypermobility (which means my joints are more flexible than normal and it's not unusual for me to have a partial dislocation at the most inopportune times), my hips began to tilt, the ball moved out of the socket, and it was typical for me to be walking normally, only to start limping or even be unable to move with no warning. Needless to say, running was out of the question.

I continued elliptical training to maintain my cardiovascular fitness, but there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Sitting was painful. Standing was painful. Walking was painful. Sleeping was painful. I began to forget what it felt like to not be in pain. I still cannot remember because I'm still in pain much of the time.

Pain is an interesting phenomenon. Chronic pain is something one cannot understand without experiencing it. It gnaws and nags and wears one down until it seems to be the focus of every part of life. For me, it brings depression and robs me of my ability to successfully manage PTSD. I forget who I am. I can't remember how to interact with people and, more importantly, why I'm doing so in the first place. When the pain becomes unmanageable, I find myself emotionless and disinterested in anyone or anything.

A month ago I ceased all physical activity. Within three days my tendon was less inflamed. I felt a very low level of pain and was walking normally. This lasted a week. Then the tendon began to tighten. The strain on my knee became nauseating. My muscles began to knot and spasm again. My hip began popping and cracking whenever I tried to move or support any weight with it. Finally, last week, I made the decision to return to a workout regime and stick with it until it crippled me or until I regained the strength necessary to deal with the tendonitis.

So I'm currently in that process. I start with fifteen minutes of weight-lifting and strengthening exercises, then I move the a stationary bike for another 15-20 minutes, followed by a 10 minute run (yes, I'm seriously curtailing my desire to run more), and a 10 minute swim. I am NOT a good swimmer, but I'm starting to not hate it. I follow this with a soak in a jacuzzi where I try to work out knots and do some stretching.

I'm feeling the strength returning this week. Last week was horrible. I was exhausted and hurting and miserable. We'll see what next week brings.

This is my last-ditch effort to try to help my body work again. It's coupled with enormous amounts of water and anything with potassium. I have a potassium deficiency which is why my muscle spasms are sort of out of control. I take a supplement and drink coconut water and eat potassium rich foods which seems to make the spasms less severe. If this works, I'll be running as I used to by March 2014. If it doesn't, there is another surgery waiting for me. We might have to see how I weather a tendon release. I hope not, but I'm keeping it on my list of options, just in case.

In the meantime, if I seem moody or cranky or just plain obnoxious, I would ask you to reach into your groin, locate the large tendon that resides there, grab it and twist it for about five minutes--then monitor your behavior following that experience. It might help you understand where I'm coming from.

But the main point of this post is that I'm running. It's not easy, it doesn't feel great, but I'm doing it.