I hurt myself a year ago. Well, it might’ve been before that and I just didn’t know it.
Sometime in my life, somehow, I injured my back. I herniated a disc. The lowest one. And last year, this month, it returned with a vengeance.
The strange thing is, I remember the very first time I felt the shooting pain starting just above the left side of my rearend and spiking down my leg and into my toes. I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom of the studio apartment me and my boyfriend (aka Mr. T) shared. He stood next to me, toothbrush in hand.
I leaned forward and spit paste into the sink. “Ouch. What is that?” I stood up, rubbing my bum. “I guess I pulled a muscle.” I played on an indoor soccer team at the time, but I was out of shape. Out of college for less than a year and working long days in a newsroom, eating poorly and sitting a lot. So, I very well could have injured the disc playing soccer then.
Or, as my chiropractor would later tell me, it could have been when I was extremely active in high school sports. When I was running a cross country race and then playing a full soccer game in one day.
And, it didn’t help that I put stress on it in December 2007. I was about 5 months pregnant and decorating the Christmas tree. Bending over and leaning to reach the low, far branches. The next day, I bent down for any number of reasons and a lightning bolt of pain zapped my lower back, down my left leg andinto my foot.
It hurt to stand, sit, walk, lay down. If I bent over, I couldn’t get back to a full and upright position. Sometimes, I walked hunched over. Sometimes, I gritted my teeth and forced myself through a brief moment of excruciating pain so that I could be upright. One night, I simply rolled out of bed and landed on my hands and knees to crawl to the bathroom. I pushed myself to a stand using the side of our soaking tub.
But it gradually got better and better. Then, I had T Junior and forgot about it. A quiet pain hovered in my lower back and leg, but I had other things to deal with.
In March 2009, I was picking up my 10-month-old son when the pain stabbed me and shot down my leg into my toes…again. This time, it never went away. I hobbled around in constant discomfort. I was cranky, sad and probably a little depressed. I was also overweight and sedentary.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore and put out a call for help on my mom blog (here) and Facebook in May. A chiropractor (or several, actually) were suggested and I made an appointment with one. I learned a lot of things: stretches, icing and what the maximum amount of Ibuprofin was that I could take. But I was also told to move. You know, off the couch.
But it hurts too much, I told myself and left it at that.
Then, in early June, the pain worsened. I cried about it a lot. The chiropractor ordered an MRI and then he told me surgery might be the best option.
I limped into the surgeon’s office with T Junior in front of me in an umbrella stroller. The doctor talked in a hushed voice. I could barely hear him over the plastic container filled with Cheeries being shaken by my child. I made out about every other word. Essentially, he told me that surgery would be the absolute last option and that the disc might, in fact, heal itself if I could be patient.
First, a cortisone shot. Oh, the happy day I got that needle in my a$$ cheek! I felt great! I could move again. But I knew the novocaine would wear off and then I would truly find out if the cortisone worked, which it didn’t.
Or did it? Because a couple weeks after I got the shot, I felt good enough to take T Junior for a walk around the neighborhood in his red plastic car. I favored my right leg in my flip-flops, but I went. And then we went the next day. And, guess what?
My chiropractor was right, of course. I needed to move! After a few days of walking, I wondered about running. Could I? Would it hurt?
In July, I jogged a few feet in my rubber flip flops as I pushed my son in his car. Hey! That wasn’t bad! That didn’t hurt much at all! I only felt the same dull pain I already had.
The next day, I pulled a dingy pair of white-and-pink New Balances out of a dark corner in my closet. I don’t remember when or why I bought them, but it wasn’t for running. I decided they would have to work. I strapped T Junior in the jogging stroller and we went down to the dirt trail by my house.
I alternated walking and running for as long as I could: 20 minutes. Twenty minutes!
Sweaty and proud, I came home, put my son down for his nap and started this blog, which has had such a positive impact on my life. My original goal was to run a half marathon by next summer — the summer of 2010. How could I have known I would have finished two by then and be all signed up for a full marathon in June 2010?!
With exercise, the pain got quieter and quieter until it was basically gone early last fall.
On Sunday, at the Mercer Island Half, I let gravity pull me down an intense hill. I got a little out of control, to be perfectly honest, and had to yell ahead to warn runners I was going to pass them. It was a bad idea.
At the bottom of the hill, Zoë said something about how I was hauling. But I wasn’t proud of myself because I could feel something shocking me in my lower back. I knew I hurt myself again.
Tuesday night, I went for a 6-miler. My body seemed relaxed during the run, but when I stopped, I could feel it stabbing me. At home, I iced my back and my right shin, which has been tight for a couple of weeks. I went to bed and expected any back pain to be gone in the morning.
to be continued…
3/23/10 – 6.06 Miles – 1:05:18
Average pace: 10:46
Mile 1: 10:15
Mile 2: 10:42
Mile 3: 10:38
Mile 4: 10:49
Mile 5: 11:13
Mile 6: 11:00
Ugh. Back issues suck. My mom had a herniated disc and tried everything and eventually had surgery. She still has discomfort but she is 75 and not very active so what can she expect?I hope you heal soon and don't have any lingering problems. Take care!
Kerrie, I have loved reading your blog and look forward to each of your entries. You remind me that running is not easy: whether physically, mentally, or fitting it into the day. And yet, the rewards are so worth it. It's a constant struggle for me. It motivates me to keep fighting forward when I see you struggling like the rest of us, and winning! I hope that the issues that you're having with your back will not set you back too much. (excuse the pun 🙂 )
Good Luck Kerrie! My mom sneezed, and didn't have a chance to brace herself, and herniated the disk between her L4 and L5. She went to the Chiropractor three times a week for two years, and it slowly tapered. She wasn't active when I was in HS and college, but once she retired, she started working out. She now is at the gym daily, has a trainer, and ran her first half marathon on 3/14. I truly believe that exercise is good for you! However, you may need to look at strength training exercises for your abs and back muscles (for the secret gym). You may need to do more than you are currently doing! Hold off on surgery as long as possible (I have had two on my ankle)! Good luck!
Good luck to you! Dad Wonder has back troubles and has already had one surgery and he is not even close to 40. I hope that you are okay!
That sounds really frustrating 🙁 I really hope it gets better.
Sorry to hear your back is bothering you again. Great post though, as someone who found you just before your first 1/2 it was great to read some background info on how you got started.
Thank you all for your wonderful words — brings tears to my eyes.
I hope this isn't going to be an ongoing issue… good luck, Kerrie! You've come a LONG way this year!!
You have come so far! Congrats!I suffered from some disc issues that took me out of the gym for a long time. The Dr. strongly advised me against lifting any weights heavier than 10lbs. I used running to get my healthy lifestyle back. I try to listen to my body very carefully now. Sounds like you are doing the same. Make sure you take the rest you need!!
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I hope you are ok?! And a cliffhanger? Not nice! If it makes you feel any better I ran really fast down that hill too, BAD idea all around. Take it easy and rest, you have time to heal and still stay on track for your full!!!
I'm sorry to here about your back. It makes life tough when you're hurting. That pic is funny. He's pinching your face and it doesn't look like you've noticed.
Once in a long while I get this pain in the same exact spot of my lower neck, upper back, left side and I've yet to figure out what it is, I just hope that it will go away. It always does eventually but back pain absolutely sucks. I'm so proud of you for one day getting off the couch b/c look where you are now. You're amazing and such an inspiration!
I love hearing this back story (no pun intended). Hope your back isn't too bad! That picture cracked me up … T Junior is too cute!
Oh dear…it doesn't sound good. I really really hope the story ends well. Don't keep us hanging too long.
I hope this story has a good ending! I'm so incredibly proud of you, Kerrie. Even though I've only known you a few months, you have come so far and it's amazing to see you progress into an amazing runner. Rock on!