About Me

My photo
Austin, Texas, United States
I'll make you laugh, or break my neck trying. This is usually accomplished with daily bouts of swimming, biking and running. A former "chub-a-holic," I got fit and healthy the good old fashioned way and went from a mid-pack athlete to top age group runner and triathlete. I'm a Writer and USAT Level 1 Certified Triathlon Coach. I guess that makes me part Tina Fey and part Jillian Michaels. Visit my coaching site at www.fomotraining.com

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Doctors and Patience

I'm becoming an X-RAY/MRI whore!!

I have enough radiation in my body lately to light up a small town these days. Seriously, if you see a glow from Central Austin, it might be me (if we were ever in Austin long enough!) We've been out of town so much lately, but it seems every hour I'm in Austin is spent in a drafty gown that opens in the back. In the last month, I've had a back MRI, standing back x-rays, consultations with two surgeons and a wonderful appointment with a spine doctor who performed a nerve conduction study on my lower extremities. I can't even begin to describe how discomforting both phases of those tests can be. In the first phase, he wired electrical patches on various muscles and then shot electrical currents into my leg multiple times to see how my nerves responded to the shocks. Jealous yet?? I'm sure you are...Essentially, I felt like a human bug zapper! Phase two involved sticking needles into my muscles to test nerve sensation. Needless to say, my nerves are all working properly judging by my reactions! They did this because of the numbness I feel in my leg and glutes after riding or running. Just making sure a nerve isn't pinched. Fortunately (or unfortunately), those tests came back relatively normal.

The nerve conduction study did NOT turn me into an ape. Clearly, this is not my leg. If it was, you would now know why I'm so slow in the water! Lots of drag!!!

All of this has been done to try to determine a course of action for my back pain and
hip pain. This we know:

1.) The labral tear in the hip does cause a certain level of discomfort that has limited repetitive use (i.e. cycling and running). It doesn't debilitate my daily activities, but I definitely always have a pain or burn in the hip/groin region, especially after a run or a ride.  Anti-inflammatories help, but the pain is always there.

2.) The back MRI and xrays show a herniated L4/L5 disk in my lower back the appears to be putting some pressure on my sciatic nerve causing leg numbness and pain from my butt to my foot.

Prognosis: I'm a friggin' mess...for the time being.

Are they related injuries? Did the instability in my hip cause the back injury? Is karma kicking my ass for killing someone in a former life? Is it coincidence or just bad luck? Is it someone's way of forcing a break in my training regime to let my husband catch up? (and now pass me!!) Is this the end of my endurance sport career? Will I ever get my speed and endurance back? Should I just forget about running and learn to become a swimmer? (That fate would be more painful than going through the nerve test again!). Needless to say, these and many other questions fill my little pea-brain at a moment's notice. As I've said ad nauseum, I want to rule out every possible issue before jumping into an arthroscopic hip surgery that has about an 80% success rate. It may be my best option at some point in the not-so-distant future, but until then, I (along with the surgeon), have laid out a course of action in the meantime:

1) Epidural spine injection--who knew that I would ever have an epidural and NOT be pregnant! My husband gives epidurals by the dozens, but for some reason, I'm glad he's not the one administering this one. At least I won't be in labor pains!! This is common with bulging or herniated disks. We'll see if this alleviates the back pain and leg weakness. The best case is that the hip pain goes away too!

2) Cortisone injection in the hip if hip pain persists.

3) Continue training to my abilities. Keep Oceanside 70.3 and Ironman St. George on the calendar. I need them mentally if nothing else.

4) Practice patience, positivity, persistence and prayer (ok--that was my addition to the protocol).

It's definitely easy to feel jealous, self-defeated, angry and down right depressed when you can't run out and do the things you love wholeheartedly. At the same time, I also count my blessings daily for the goodness and joy I receive every second of the day just by breathing a healthy breath.

So, there is the latest on Hip Crisis 2009!!

I suppose it could be worse:  I don't have hundreds of nails stuck in my skull!!


Anonymous said...

Yay for multiple injections! Hang in there Carrie. You're doing just what you should. Hopefully soon you will be home longer and spend less time in a gown and more time enjoying the after-effects of the injections! -Leslie

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...


I had 4 rounds of epidural injections in my C spine. I was having pain/numbness and loss of strength from my neck down through my arms to my fingers. I'm happy to say the epidurals WORKED! GOOD LUCK :-)

greyhound said...

I never had an epidural, but when my C5-c6 was all f'd up, I started to see improvement and resolution as soon as I got proper pain management. Shawn could probably elucidate this much better, but my perception was that the muscles were finally able to stop their spasms, and physical therapy/massage were able to start rebuilding things over a month or more. I think the disc is essentially gone at that joint, but it isn't impinging and does not hurt any more.

greyhound said...

OH, and nice Spaldings. I had no idea you had such HUGE . . . tracts of land.

amybee said...


Cathy said...

hey, that injection stuff can really work, I'm proof! I blew two discs, cervical, during PP training in 2005, the pain radiated down the arms and shoulders...taking a deep breath was terrible..two x-ray guided cortisone injections into the nerve endings worked. Wishing you the best! Cathy Bridge
PS - wine helps a lot ;)