So my last report wasn’t… the best, happiest update. I was struggling with back pain, and right on the eve of the Boston Marathon, a race I’ve been dreaming about for SEVEN YEARS. Today I finally got the results of my MRI and confirmed the diagnosis…
Bulging disc! This was a little bit a surprise because pretty much everyone I saw before seeing the actual medical doctor (e.g., massage therapists, a PT, manual therapists, pilates instructors, etc.) said “oh, it sounds muscular, it sounds muscular”. Not one mentioned a disc issue as a possibility. They told me “just stretch your tight hip flexors” or “it’s like tendonitis in your butt” or “you might need a pelvic adjustment.” Generously, let’s say maybe those things have truth in them, but they aren’t the immediate cause of my pain. No, the cause is a sad-looking, dried up disc that is pressed up against my spine, radiating pain down the nerves of the top half of my right leg (photo below). I will give credit where credit is due: 50 in 50 Marathon Quest guessed that it might be a disc issue and wisely suggested that I see a real doctor. The doctor recognized my issue pretty much right away, which made it all the more annoying that I’d spent nearly a month spinning my wheels with other therapists while continuing to aggressively run and ski (so many moguls!) and forward bend (bad!) on what was a very injured back. Ugh. But here we are.
At my first appointment, after taking some X-rays and doing a quick exam, my sports medicine doctor put me on some anti-inflammatories and some muscle relaxers to take at night. The muscles of my back were so seized up that my spine was curved to the right in my x-ray, as if I had scoliosis. So we needed everything to chill out a bit. She also prescribed physical therapy to work on back extension movements, a few stretches, and some pelvic floor strengtheners. As she was about to send me on my way, I told her, “Well there is one more little thing I need to tell you.” Pause. “I’m running the Boston Marathon in 11 days.”
She didn’t gasp or flinch or wince or roll her eyes or shake her head. She said, “OK, then I think we should get an MRI and I want to see you again next week to figure out the plan to get you through the race.”
Huge shoutout to the CU Sports Medicine team, who was fantastic at squeezing me in for three precious PT appointments before my race. One appointment was an intake evaluation and the other two were mostly focused on releasing tension and reducing inflammation — lots of e-stim, ice, and ultrasound treatment. I got my MRI earlier this week — not as stressful as I thought it might be in the little noise-making tube. Here’s a picture of the results:
I saw the doctor again today for my follow-up. We decided that I’ll do more PT after the race and we’ll meet again to assess next steps (including whether I should run my 50 miler in a month).
Otherwise, I’ve really been trying to take things easy and have been binge-watching a trashy Everest show on Amazon Prime. I did go to my horse riding lesson this week but was swiftly punished with a super tight back the following day. Ooops! I thought about going swimming, but well, that didn’t happen. I did walk the dog and gently climbed at the bouldering gym, and I’ve been standing a lot at work because sitting makes me super stiff and it hurts to stand up after I’ve been sitting. I also got a second acupuncture treatment at Boulder Acusport and I’ve felt really immediate relief in my stiffness today. Slightly obsessed with the needles now! Ginna also hooked me up with these ear seed things that she placed on key spots of my ears that are mapped to my back. I’ll try anything!
Tomorrow we leave for cold, rainy Boston, armed with ALL THE CARBS and my trusty Athlettuce tank top. And I’m so excited to purchase that horribly pretentious Boston Marathon jacket that I’m never taking off!
See y’all on the flip side!