A Time to Heal; a Time to Break Down, and a Time to Build Up

My blog has been haunting me for weeks now.  I had every intention of writing a post every week to fill you all in on my recovery, physical therapy sessions, and getting my body back in shape, not only to hold me accountable, but to help any other women who might be suffering from the same issues.  Nothing has gone as I had planned, and I feel discouraged and haven’t had the nerve nor the motivation to get it out in writing.  So here I am with nothing but another boring update on my pelvis.  Brace yourselves.

I’ll start with that amazing appointment with the specialist I had waited months to see at the beginning of April.  Best.  Doctor.  Ever.  She is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist, also known as a Physiatrist, who specializes in non-surgical treatment.  If I had to describe her in one word, it would be, “thorough.”  She spent so much time with me (1.5 hours), asking every detail about my problems, performed a physical exam of my pelvis and back, answered all my questions, and came up with a specific plan of action.

In summary:

  1. She doesn’t think it’s a stress fracture but suggested an MRI or X-Ray to rule it out.  She totally understood my hesitation in doing so, due to my fear of damaging my eggs.  <– I know, seriously…but I don’t want to chance having mutant children.
  2. There doesn’t seem to be a significant amount of calcification around the joints that would lead her to believe I did permanent damage while trying to run through the pain during my pregnancy.
  3. SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) or Osteitis Pubis is very common in athletes, and it is caused by the Relaxin hormone during pregnancy, which doesn’t leave the body for 6-12 months postpartum.
  4. My treatment options are as follows:
  • If I do nothing at all for 6-12 months, she’s confident that I would see improvement.
  • We could try to speed up the recovery by doing 6 weeks of physical therapy.
  • If PT doesn’t help, the next move would be to try laser treatments or PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections <– this triggers a healing response in the body and has a very good success rate but is still considered ‘experimental,’ and is not covered by insurance, read I can’t afford it.
  • My last option would be to get an X-Ray to determine if I would need surgery to bring the pelvis back together.

So here I am, 6 weeks of PT later, and I haven’t experienced a shred of improvement.  I still can’t run for more than 30 seconds before my pubic bone starts to throb.  I’m over it.  I’m sick of talking about it.  I’m tired of complaining.  I’m just…done.

Things never seem to go according to plan, so I’m going to throw every notion that I had about my future out the window and take it one day at a time.  I’m a runner, and I will always be a runner.  I just can’t run at this moment, and I’m learning to accept that.

This experience has definitely thrown me for a loop.  I definitely feared something like this would happen when I decided to get pregnant, I just didn’t really believe it would happen to me.  Not being able to train for an indefinite amount of time really raises a lot of questions about my running career and future.  My eyes have been set on the 2016 Olympic Trials, but that dream is long gone and has forced me to significantly change some goals around.

It takes 6-8 years to really develop a runner and build a solid base to reach one’s full potential.  I only have 3.5 years of experience under my belt and have been set back quite a bit by this year and a half or so of time off.  Because I’m such a late bloomer, I truly believe that I can be competitive on the national level for another 10 years.  It’s so hard being a woman in this sport, because we don’t reach our peak in performance until our mid 30s, which happens to coincide with the time that we really should be having babies.  I am not interested in taking the next year or two to fully recover and get back in top shape just to compete for another year before it’s time to have another baby.  I cannot go through this recovery process twice.   _DSC0290

I’m not going to call it my plan…let’s just be safe and call it a goal.  I want to have another baby, like, yesterday.  I’ll be writing a post here shortly about some mommyhood stuff, but let me just say that I am truly, madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with my little girl, and I cannot wait to have another one!!!  All the fun baby stuff aside, I also really need to be done with pregnancy as soon as possible so I can focus on recovering and my running career.

Unfortunately, I can’t always get what I want.  In a perfect world, I would get pregnant tomorrow, my pelvis would magically fix itself, I’d run through my entire pregnancy, miraculously get back in shape in 2 months and qualify for the OTs in 2016.  Ha!  Instead, I’ve got to wait until I see improvement in my pelvis before I can even think about getting pregnant again.  My doctor says that if I get pregnant while I’m still having problems, I can risk permanent damage and an arthritic pelvis, and I’ll probably never run again.  Bummer.

So what’s a girl to do?  I’m just going to wait.  I wish I could cast out this demonic Relaxin hormone but will instead sit around and wait for it to leave my body in another 1-6 months.  The other sad thing is that if I do see improvement and am finally able to start running again, the doctor said I should not run at all during my next pregnancy, because the SPD will most likely be as bad, if not worse, the next time around.

I can’t help myself from running the numbers.  Let’s say it takes my body 9 months to get rid of that hormone, and I’m finally able to run pain-free in September.  I get preggo again in October, have another babe in July, and take a full year before I am able to really run again.  That’ll be July of 2016, and I’ll almost be 32 years old.  That will give me 4 years to train for the Trials in 2020!  Let’s do this!

I knew this post would be cathartic.  Seeing it all typed out gives me hope.  It really just boils down to one thing; the most important thing to me is my family.  I may whine and cry about not being able to compete, but I am the happiest I’ve ever been, and sometimes my eyes well up just thinking about how blessed I am.  Sure I will be sad if I’m not able to compete again, crushed even.  It would be even more devastating if I weren’t able to ever run again.  But in the grand scheme of things, I know I’ll be fine, because my little girl makes it all worth it, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

 

Here’s a little Memorial Day fun!  It was also Daisy’s 5 month birthday!  Yay!

 

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Patience, Hope, and the Long Road to Recovery

First, I have to say thank you to all of you who responded to my last post.  I was overwhelmed with an outpouring of support from old friends, new friends, and those I’ve never met.  Being a new mom, I have learned that a strong support network is crucial in order to keep your sanity.  It is beyond helpful to hear others’ experiences and know that you’re not alone, that other people understand what you’re going through and that they made it just fine.  Though I didn’t find the time to write responses to most of you, your words were so helpful, encouraging and so very much appreciated.  Thank you!DSC02834

With that said, I am the happiest I’ve ever been.  I am so madly in love with this little munchkin, and when I’m with her, nothing else in the world matters.  Words cannot describe the joy I feel when I hear the playful little noises coming from her room when she wakes up, and I peak my head over her crib to see the sweetest ear-to-ear grin.  Things have gotten easier, she’s sleeping longer through the night, and she’s gotten to the really fun stage where she smiles all the time and is communicating with us.  I could go on forever about Daisy’s milestones and share the thousands of pictures and videos that we’ve taken of her, but this is a blog about running, and I’m here to share with you my road to recovery or lack thereof.

Pregnancy is clearly very hard on the body.  The fact that we have to push a 7-8 lb, 20 in. long BABY out of a very small opening is a miracle in itself, but it’s the other things such as the weight gain, weakened muscles, and loose ligaments that have plagued me since giving birth.  The past few months have not been easy for me.  I’ve been in a huge slump both physically and mentally as far as fitness is concerned.  I tried running 2 or 3 times with no signs of  improvement with my pelvis.  Even going for a walk made it hurt.  I started working again twice a week, and those two nights leave my body feeling broken, like I’m a 90 year old woman.  My knees ache, my pelvis hurts even in my sleep, and I still get little twinges here and there from my long lost friend, the achilles.

So what exactly have I been doing these past 3 months?  Besides embracing all of the joys of motherhood, I have done absolutely nothing.  And I mean nothing.  I had given up.  I had lost all hope.  I’ve had to endure so many months of pain, I don’t even remember what it feels like to be normal.  I can count the number of times I’ve been to the gym on one hand.  The few times I’ve gone to try to do some cardio either left my pelvis aching or my achilles burning.  I’ve completely let myself go because of my “all or nothing” attitude.  If I can’t run, I don’t want to do anything.  Everything else is so excruciatingly boring or causes me pain.  Not being able to run has made me feel empty and broken, and there  has been no light at the end of the tunnel…_DSC0374

until yesterday.  Months ago, I made an appointment with a specialist who I feel will really be able to help me.  I anxiously waited for my appointment, which was supposed to be last week, but due to the nightmare with our healthcare system (thank you, Obama, for this “affordable” new health insurance that is almost twice as much as what we were paying before), we had to change our insurance (again) in order to see the doctors who I need to see.  So I had to push my appointment back another two weeks.   Having to wait so long to see this doctor is actually one of the reasons why I’ve put off all forms of exercise out of fear that I’ll do even more damage to my pelvis.  My appointment is on April 2nd, and I am really looking forward to getting some answers and really starting this recovery.

So back to yesterday….

Tad, Daisy and I went for a walk at the park yesterday, and I probably walked about a mile and didn’t feel any pain.  When we got to the car, I put the baby down (I was wearing her in my fabulous ergo baby carrier) and jogged (I hate that word) probably 400 meters with no pain.  This. is. HUGE!  Yes, things felt weird, my lower abdomen felt funky, and I felt like I had to pee, but I didn’t feel that horrible ache in my pelvis.  Progress!!!!DSC02866

It was kind of a wakeup call for me.  There is still hope, and I just can’t give up.  I have to snap out of this funk and stop feeling sorry for myself.  The longer it takes to heal the harder it’s going to be to come back, but there are little things I should be doing to make it easier for me like strengthening exercises for my achilles, weights, and I just have to grin and bear it and do some cardio in the gym.

I know it’s going to be a long road to recovery, and this whole process has even made me change some of my future plans (stay tuned).  I am so far behind my other friends and competitors my age, and every year that passes, I feel more and more anxious like time is running out for me.  But in the grand scheme of things, I’ve got fresh legs and another good 10 years of training ahead of me.  Deena Kastor is 41 years old and still winning races and making world teams.  Kara Goucher is 35 and still making changes in her career and has plenty of room for PRs.  The winner of the 2008 Olympic Marathon was 38 years old.  I have to remind myself that there is plenty of time, and I just have to be patient.  I know my time will come.2014 Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon