WOW. The body keeps the score.
So, I had my MRI followup today with the orthopedic dr. that
specializes in hips. Fun times. I
actually couldn’t wait to go in. First-
I couldn’t wait for last weeks “nap” in the MRI tube. Then today, I couldn’t wait to kind of hear
After my MRI, I received the report online and saw that it
wasn’t great. Gosh- there were tears in
all hamstring tendons, labral tears, bone marrow edema, the structure of my
actual bones in hip is not within the degrees it’s supposed to be sitting in,
blah blah blah. I was a little shocked,
but also not shocked at all- there was a reason I had gone in- there was bad
stuff going on- hip giving out and MASSIVE PAIN when it goes out. On top of this, although I can “run”
sometimes, my entire leg like doesn’t FIRE right- all the way through my
calf/shin/ankle/foot. It is just not
firing cohesively and it feels like my calf/shin/ankle are going to explode
with pressure. It’s just strange. I knew the MRI wasn’t good, but I got to this
odd place of almost kind of like laughing it off like “geez, everything is
torn, whoa”… knowing I had to wait until today to get more details anyway, so
why get too much in my own head about it.
Well, today happened.
When I arrived, I kind of made up a story to myself that maybe I was
reading the MRI wrong- that maybe the ortho wouldn’t really think these tears
were too bad.. or all the other things too troubling! And… off I could go, back to the open roads… Obviously, that was a story.
He walked in and just kind of looked at me, like whhhhhheeeew,
and said, well, “there’s a lot going on in your hip and back, isn’t there.” And so with that, I knew my fake story was
not going to hold.
So, we reviewed the tears, both hips now, (one hip full
thickness tear of the tendon), a bunch of other fun things, grade 3 arthritis
(over 50% cartilage gone), but he said my back is almost as troublesome as my
hips (not surprising to me, my back is my real fear in life because when that
goes out, I’ve never experienced greater pain). I have herniations L3 and below
down to S1 with the bottom one pressing on a nerve root (which I FEEL daily, so
again not a surprise to me, almost a nice confirmation). No surgery now because
we are going to prioritize problem solving and finding out what is causing
maybe the most pain. I’ll have an injection
in the hamstring tendon first. Then a
few weeks later, maybe one in the hip joint to see if that dissipates symptoms. Maybe one in back. It’s ok, we don’t need to solve it
today. He said what needed to be said-
that this isn’t surprising for someone as active as I am, but I am now at a
place that I need to make some decisions because I will not be able to continue
doing what I’m doing and he realizes it is also my profession/passion, and I
need to come to some thoughts on where I may be headed. (well, isn’t that an understatement, ahem).
Anyway, so I got a little dizzy and numb and spaced out (and
maybe some tears trying to contain in my eyes) and maybe for the first time
realized where I am in my life. I’m not
a spring chicken, even though I love to play one by day. My time is limited, my body only has so much
that it can hold up for, I am not superhuman.
And this is obviously a big deal to my heart. My life since I can remember it has been in
sports and active. I knew from when I was
so darn small that moving, pushing myself, playing physically, spoke to my
soul. I somehow get a RUSH from being
physical. Even now, when I hang on my
pullup bar to get some traction on my back, if it feels better, I start swinging,
and SWINGING reminds me of being a gymnast and somehow the joy of playful
moving just lights up my heart. I’ll be
the first to admit, most nights, either as I’m falling asleep or in the middle
of night if I’m trying to fall back asleep, I am visualizing myself doing bar
or beam routines (of course never vault!!).
I picture myself doing routines and movements I’ve never even done- way
above my level, but it is still just this weird OBSESSION. I often think there is something majorly
wrong with me that I am this old, still doing routines in my head, but other
times just am having fun with my fake routines in my head that I don’t mind! It is what I’ve always loved, who I am.
This past December, after I went surfing in Hawaii, I couldn’t
believe that for about 2 weeks after, my night time “visualization” routine
went to SURFING- was so odd- I just kept repeating this EXHILARATION feeling
that I got a few times when the speed of the wave caught me at just the right
time and there was this HUGE FORCE just pulling me on the board. It was this perfect mix of a bit scary and
just pure DELIGHT. This just reinforced
to me what I already know- MOVEMENT just speaks to me.
For whatever reason, the exhilaration of pushing, the
frustration of the struggles, the exhaustion of the grind, the perseverance in
the goal are in the fibers of my being, my true essence. I love racing, but it is the
daily/weekly/monthly training that gives me pure joy in the journey. I’ve literally never known life without this
daily chasing of a goal, and so there it is- I definitely feel this gut
punch. This reality of needing to set
some shift in priorities and long term thoughts, this recognition that my time
is limited to achieve some of my running and triathlon goals is not what I
wanted. But it is what it is, I’ve done
literally every single thing I could to stay healthy and strong, and this is
where the cards fell with my body.
Do I have a pang of pissed off ness? Yes. I
have a little pity party for myself thinking that my body has ALWAYS felt
against me, specifically of course when it mattered most when I was a young
gymnast. Now, I feel like I’m just in an
alternate fight against my insides which feel red, raw and occasionally now
give out on me. Frustrating.
But I also realize, I’ve sure had a really good run at all
this that I’ve loved. I’ve put on these
old bones thousands of miles. I’ve run
through desserts, along oceans, through mountains. I’ve connected with cities and towns that I’ve
traveled to for races by being literally IN THEM- in the streets. In grinding out the last 10K of marathon, I
always feel like you get “connected” to the earth you are in the midst of. I’ve seen sunrises, run in the dark, my first
marathon and Ironman were in the pouring rain. What a FULL RIDE it has
been. I’ve ran in Oregon, California,
Arizona, Vermont, Alabama, Wisconsin, and all over the east coast. I’ve run in closed off streets in DC (swam in
the filthy Potomac River), but just am thrilled to have had the capacity to do
all that I have done. It has been an honor
to get as far as I did: remember, I was
the girl who got mocked by her high school gym coach when I couldn’t finish the
mile without walking and she screamed across the track, “Sharon Anderson, the
GYMNAST- cannot run a mile”. (horrifying… but as always, don’t ever doubt
me). I began doing these races because I
wasn’t sure I could. I was running FROM
stuff, and ended up running into the dream of a lifetime.
I’m not done completely.
I am thinking, strategizing, prioritizing. I’ll have to be choosey with my training and
my goals. I’ve done Big Sur marathon,
which was a huge bucket list item. But I
do have more, and now I have to see how
I can manage to do what I can with whatever my cartilage/bones/tendons have
left. And who knows, I’ve committed to
myself that I WILL live in Hawaii someday, so maybe daily surfing is in my
future…. I mean…. Less stress on the joints, right?!
So there it is.
Thanks to so many of my friends for caring and knowing this is something
I’m really working to process and put together right now.