Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Up in the Air.

I promised myself I wouldn't do this.  Really, I did.  No formative blogging about my meeting with Therbo.  Just one big, summative post at the end of this whole robotic endeavor (I really hope someone Googles 'robotic endeavor,' btw, and comes across this blog)....capturing, pithily, the whole thing.  It will give me time to process and to reflect before documenting the experience.  But, I've been telling myself over the past few minutes, if you don't blog now, then you may not remember the whole experience.  You might leave out REALLY important nuances.  You might not capture it all.  Plus, your plane has WiFi, and you have nothing (that you want) to do for the next two hours.  So, here I am, blogging in the air.  This is a first for me, but it sure beats looking at the Sky Mall booklet more than once.

I woke up today with a sort of uneasy anticipation about going to Florida.  I've felt it before, but I can't exactly pinpoint when.  The emotion is not really anxiety, but I don't know what to call it.  Maybe I'll figure it out by the end of this post.  Have to keep you reading somehow.  Anyway--I got up much later than I should have, which is my usual (mis)behavior.  I had 20 minutes to get myself ready, Amelia ready/fed, Rowan up, car packed, eat breakfast myself, and get out the door.  I really wanted to spend more time with Tim and the kids this morning, but I slept too long.  I was able to cuddle them all, and it made me incredibly sad.  Amelia probably won't even notice I'm gone, as she's very busy and into her own stuff.  I know Tim will miss me, but he'll be okay.  I'll probably miss him more.  Rowan?  I'm not sure.  We're together all the time, so I know he'll recognize my absence.  In truth, he'll probably go on playing, eating, sputtering, and pooping just as though I'd never left.  But it was definitely hard to leave them all knowing I wouldn't see them again until Sunday.

I taught this morning, and I was on edge.  Again, I don't really know why.  It was nothing my students did.  They were all there and all very attentive.  I also don't think they were aware that anything was going on with me (I wonder if any of them have caught wind of this blog?).  I gave them a quiz and then lectured.  We actually finished early, and I headed up to the airport with plenty of time. 

Apparently, a lot of people are still on spring break.  Because they're all parked at the airport.  Once I finally got a parking spot, I made my way to this little shelter where the bus comes and picks you up to take you to the front of the airport.  There's a little button that says "Push for Heat."  It was snowing (yes, snowing) and windy, and as I'm not taking a warm jacket to Florida, I was cold.  I pushed the button.  It didn't work.  I pushed it again.  And again.  It still wouldn't work.  I became angry at this button.  WHY would there be a sign saying "Push for Heat" if there IS NO HEAT?  I felt myself about to cry.  I was devastated that the friggin' button would not work.  Seriously, Wendy, over this?  I tell you this anecdote not because I think it's overly interesting.  Frankly, it's embarrassing.  I report it here because it illustrates what this whole ordeal has done to me emotionally.  This may be the first time I've cried over a dysfunctional airport shuttle shelter button, but it's not the first time (since all this started) that I've nearly lost it over something utterly trivial.  I am emotionally drained.  My mind has been in overdrive trying to figure out how to get myself fixed for many months.  I have put considerable work/labor into this process, and I'm exhausted.

So, with my little outburst out of the way, I continued on.  Made it through security, etc. and sat at my gate.  I still felt uneasy.  I know--I felt guilty.  I felt, sitting there, as though I was doing something I shouldn't.  Like I'm in the midst of executing some form of betrayal.  I felt almost ashamed.  I still cannot wrap my head around this emotion.  I mean I acknowledge that I'm sad about leaving my family for a few days, but I don't feel (consciously) guilty about it.  I don't know what it is, but that's how I felt.

As I was waiting, an older man sat next to me.  He was very talkative.  He asked me why I was traveling to Florida.  Okay, so how do I answer that a) with any brevity and b) without sounding insane?  How do you explain that you're going to see a robot who can help you run? "I, uh, well, I'm getting some treatment done.  Some medical treatment."  "Oh, I'm sorry you're sick, that's awful."  "Well, no, I'm not really sick, I'm..." "Oh, you mean mental health treatment."  "No, no.  I don't need mental health treatment (actually that's not a bad idea at this point), but I have a condition, a thing with my abdomen."   "Well I hope you get it worked out."  I could tell he wasn't really satisfied with my answer, and that he wanted to know more but didn't want to seem rude.  I ended up telling him the whole story.  He was fascinated.  He (of course) has never heard of such a thing.  He remarked about how cruel it was.  I gave him my blog address so that he can follow up.  So, hello nice-man-from-the-airport if you're reading.

I finally got on the plane, and as I buckled my seat belt I felt a wave of alarm.  What are you doing?  What the HELL are you doing?  You're spending a bunch of money to go to Florida BY YOURSELF to meet with some guy so that he can put you under a robot for 16 hours so that you can MAYBE run pain free?  What if it doesn't work?  Then what?  THEN WHAT?  And my mind went on and on like that.  Okay, if this doesn't work, what's the next step?  Where do we go next?  I wanted to call Wes or Tim, but I couldn't.  I worked out that most of my alarm was due to the latter part of my thought process up there.  What if this doesn't work?  What other option do I possibly have?  I thought about when I had compartment syndrome, and when I went in for the surgery.  We definitely knew what I had, and the surgery for it is 99% effective.  In other words, it required surgery, but we knew it was going to work.  With this?  No one can say "Oh, yeah, that's what that is and here's how we fix it."  That, my friends, drives me insane. 

I have my first treatment day tomorrow beginning at 8 am.  I'll be with Therbo until 5 pm, at which point I'm going for a 10 mile run.  I'm hoping for tears of joy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blah.

After Sunday's 21, I was pretty wrecked.  Not injured, but my legs, and especially my left groin, were really sore and really tired.  I had no desire to run yesterday, and I didn't.  I didn't do much of anything that didn't involve being seated. 

As the day wore on, I started to have anxious thoughts about the marathon.  Not the race itself, but that I won't make it.  I've never made it this far into a training cycle, and so my mind is going crazy.  It's just waiting for something bad to happen.  As if something bad hasn't already happened...but I suppose my brain is throwing around the idea of something that completely prevents me from running is on the brink.  I actually succeeded in getting myself pretty worked up.  That, at least, kept me from obsessing about my pain.

Today I set out to run anywhere from 10-13 miles.  The schedule said 10, but I had a 13 scheduled for Thursday.  Since I'll be in Florida that day, I wanted to switch them so that I was doing more running here, and less running there (it's 85 there during the day).  But, with how tired my legs were after Sunday, I figured I might only make it 10.  In the end, I went 13.  My legs felt fine (mostly due to the fact that I took it VERY easy), but my abdominal pain was a major issue once again--much more than Sunday.

Surprisingly, it was pretty much only on the left side.  I kept pressing on the spot where it has been hurting, and I could tell I wasn't getting it.  I moved my hand down, more toward my navel, and there it was.  Know what spot that is?  That's the spot that was injected, initially, with cortisone 3 weeks ago.  Apparently, that shot is beginning to wear off.  However, the portions of the muscle that were injected last week remain in pretty good shape.  Do you have any idea how maddening that is?  You'd think cortisone injections would be simple.  In my case, they aren't.  The pain was pretty bad, and I was discouraged.  It didn't help that I had a 14 mph wind in my face half the time, either.  It was just a blah run.

So it seems like, next time I get cortisone, I need him to inject the muscle belly, as well as the ridges that I feel.  I'm getting really worn out with trying to figure out exactly where the needles should go.  Sunday was so much better that I expected a good run today.  Didn't happen, but my legs felt good and I got the miles done.

I head to St. Pete Beach tomorrow.  I will be home Sunday afternoon.  I do not believe I have Internet access where I am staying, so you may all be on pins and needles while I'm gone.  If not, you can surely pretend to be. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Longest Run EVER!

Not that it felt that way.  I've had 10-milers feel three times as long.  But today, with Tim and Bill as my witnesses, I ran farther than I ever have before.  21.10 miles, to be exact.  That's right--for those of you who don't know it, I've never actually completed a marathon.  I've trained for several, but always get hurt.  In fact, this is the furthest into a marathon training cycle I've ever made it.  I'm usually hurt (severely) by now.  So I'm in all new territory and approaching the gates of Taper Town.  Go ahead and brace yourself for that.

It was a small group today.  Kathy's son was home for his birthday, so she was doing family stuff.  Wes and Magnus were on trails.  Scott was MIA (on a trail somewhere?), Emily is sick, and dad is tapering for his half next week.  That left me, Tim, and Bill.  Two Millers and one Deckard.  One fine group.

The plan was 21 miles.  I was not sure how to dress.  It snowed, yes, snowed overnight.  The temperature was 32 with a stiff wind.  I couldn't bear to wear tights.  But it sounded so cold, and looked so cold with all the snow on the ground.  I settled on pants, but not tights.  And a medium-thickness long sleeve shirt, gloves, and ear wrap.  I took the TENS, hoping I wouldn't need it.  Tim and Bill were dressed similarly.  Well, neither of them had a TENS unit, but you get the idea.

As we headed out toward I Street, we all remarked how warm it felt.  We weren't feeling the alleged wind, and the sun was shining brightly.  I realized, a quarter mile in, that I had overdressed.  The only thing saving me was that my shirt had a half zip front.  Oh, well.  Too late now.  We were moving at a decent clip.  Very comfortable, but quite a bit faster than our usual Sunday pace.  The sun was very bright, and I was kicking myself for wearing long pants.  During the first mile, my right-sided pain was there, and definitely more pronounced than yesterday.  I was bracing myself for a really painful run, and I kept toying with the idea of strapping on the TENS unit.  I told myself I'd make it to the first bathroom stop (6.2 miles in) and then reconsider it.

At the top of the I-Street hill, I had stashed some Gatorade.  So we stopped, tanked up, and were off again.  Same quickish, but comfortable, pace.  Miles 2.5-6 were the worst in terms of my abdominal pain.  I have no idea why.  However, at the first pee stop, I again talked myself out of the TENS.  I really wanted to see how the pain was and if the cortisone had made any difference.  I vowed to make it to the next place I had stashed water, which was around 11 miles in.

We headed toward Buddha, and toward one of the worst hills in the WORLD.  Well, maybe it only feels that way to me, and maybe only today, but it's a bad hill.  It just goes and goes and goes.  And it comes right when you're starting to feel the effects of the run.  I decided, especially with the faster pace, that I wasn't going to try to power or push up hills today.  My goal was to keep my effort even.  Tim hung back with me initially, but we couldn't let a Deckard be the first to the top, could we?  Tim ended up taking off and, I think, passed Bill.  They waited for me at the top.  I hate to make them wait, but, unless I just kill myself, I can't keep up with them on climbs.  I'm fine and very comfortable on flat stuff and rollers, but on those huge, long climbs I fall way off.  That irritates me.  I run hills, big hills, ALL the time.  I think I am strong on hills, despite not doing hill repeats.  But I can't hang with them on the big ones.  Bill assures me I would do just fine on a hilly marathon course, though.

After that awful hill, we then descended down a huge hill.  This was more painful than the uphill!  My knees, quads, everything just didn't like the impact.  We stopped for water, and I again decided not to wear the TENS.  I was doing okay.  The right-sided pain was there, but manageable.  I wanted to see what would happen.  We took off again, and this is when the wind showed up.  It was stiff and cold.  Tim and Bill took turns blocking the wind (I'm too short to do that job effectively for them).  This part of the run was the most unpleasant, simply because it was a lot of work to run through that wind. 

The miles just seemed to click by, and my abdominal pain never got worse.  It wasn't until Slaughter House Hill (about 19 miles in) that I started to have to work a little bit to keep up.  I hate that hill.  I do, I do, I do, and I ALWAYS will.  The only thing good about it is that it tells me I'm almost home.  We finished the last two miles at an even pace and I finished my longest run ever.  I'm really pleased with how strong I felt, especially since this is my highest mileage week.  We averaged 7:59/mile, even with the major climbs.  Anything starting with a 7 is moving out there.  Also--I made it that far and never needed my TENS unit.

Then it was time for the real torture:  the ice bath.  Boy, I needed one, as did Tim.  But our ice bath is actually a kiddie pool in the back yard, which had frozen over last night.  It was a literal ice bath.  We had to break the ice on top to even get in it.  I put one foot in and announced I couldn't do it.  Too frigid.  And it was.  No human in his/her right mind would have gotten into that pool.  Tim said that if I couldn't do it, how could he be expected to?  Okay, fine.  I'll do it.  He got in first, and I got in right after.  Talk about pain.  It was awful.  The most uncomfortable I've been in a long time (and that's saying something).  He was talking, but I couldn't.  I was shivering badly, and my toes were killing me from being so cold.  I've taken a lot of ice baths, but I've never had such an unpleasant one.  I only lasted 10 minutes.  That was enough for me.  When I took a shower afterward, my toes ached badly when the hot water hit them.  It was almost as if I was on the verge of frost bite.  I hate ice baths.

Rest day tomorrow, and I'm sure I'm going to need it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy Trails.

Lately, Saturday has meant trail run day.  Today was no different.  12 miles of fun to be had on the High King/Tecumseh trails in Brown County.  Who was coming?  Well, initially we thought it would be me, Tim, Wes, dad, and Scott.  Bill stopped by our house to deliver some Carb Boom gels I'd ordered, and we bullied him into considering joining the trail run.  I explained to him that it would be a moderate run--I had already told Wes I didn't want anything crazy.  I'm getting too close to my peak week of training to go and do something stupid.  Bill told us he really wanted to...but, but, but.......he only needed 4 miles, he was close to peak, too, etc.  When he left, Tim and I both commented that we'd probably be seeing him in the morning.

And we did!  He showed up and we headed to Bloomington.  Our group expanded.  We picked up Magnus (who is, unfortunately, returning to Europe in 40 days!), Wes, and dad, and Emily, Scott, and Emily's brother met us out on the trail.  I've never run this trail.  Well, that's not totally true--I've run parts of Tecumseh.  But never High King.  All I was told was that there was one really big hill early on, and the rest was pretty moderate.

It was a little chilly, but otherwise nice.  That one big hill came quick.  Oh, within about a minute and a half of even starting to run.  Big, long, and steep.  I went very slowly on it.  I didn't want to push, as I was worried that Wes' idea of moderate was different than mine, and that perhaps the rest of the run would be just as hilly.  I couldn't blow it all on the first hill.  Plus, I have a 21 miler tomorrow.  Anyway--we all survived the hill.  From that point, the course was much easier.  Lots of roots and rocks, but no major climbs.  Just a beautiful place to run.

Unfortunately, Emily was feeling sick and decided to stop (a good decision) at 5 miles.  Scott and her brother went with her, so Wes, dad, Tim, Magnus, Bill, and I continued on to complete the remaining 7 miles.  The first 5 miles, my abdominal pain was there, but I couldn't deny it was better.  I had worn the TENS unit in a little pouch thing, but never had to put it on.  My legs felt good.  We headed out on the Tecumseh trail, the guys joked about being "chicked" (i.e. passed by a FAR SUPERIOR female athlete), which ruffled my feathers a bit and made the pace tick up a bit.

We turned around at about 8.5 miles.  Wes told me to lead.  Me?  I don't even know where I'm going.  I just watch their feet and try not to fall.  He told me just to follow the white marks on the trees.  I figured I'd be too slow for them, but they all said that was fine, so I just ran a comfortable pace.  I really do like to run trails.  It's not until I'm out there that I really enjoy it, though.  I just hate driving there.  I'm actually a pretty good trail runner, but it takes a lot of effort to get me there (find a baby sitter, drive, etc.).  Anyway--as I led, my legs felt fantastic.  My turnover was easy, as was my breathing.  From about 10 on, I could feel the pain in my ribs the most.  Sort of like someone is poking you between the ribs.  It's not severe pain, but it's pretty darn uncomfortable.  We finished up and I felt very strong.

The only really bad part of this run was that, within about 3 miles, both my feet were soaked.  Oh, well, that's trail running.  Again, I can't deny that my pain was better.  It's still not good, but I think I've built up quite a tolerance to it.  You'd never know it was bad unless it got to about a 9/10.  7/10 or less and I can pretty well hide it.  I'm not proud of that--I just think it shows how long I've been dealing with it.

I was pleased with how my legs felt.  This is a big week for me--61 miles.  That's the highest since August of 2009.  While I did feel awful on Tuesday, Thursday's run and today's were much better.  Now, we'll see how that plays out during the 21-miler tomorrow.  All I know is...I'm winning the points game!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Be a Bull Dog.

That's what my mom says.  You want something?  Go after it.  Don't stop until you're satisfied, even if that means working yourself to the nubs, pushing people's buttons, nagging them, and acting impulsively.  Just sink your teeth in and don't let go.  My mother is incredibly good at getting things done.  Ask my brother (or Brad Burton)--if you're ever in a pinch, and need something out of the ordinary taken care of, call Vicki.  She takes utter delight in getting the difficult/near impossible accomplished.  I hereby announce that, regarding this abdominal pain, I have, indeed, become a Vickiesque bull dog.

A couple of months ago, when I was crying in despair over my plight, Tim said to me "You have to relax.  Let the doctors figure it out.  Your job is to show up for the tests and let them figure it out."  Well, I'm incapable of doing that.  Not only do I have a predilection for life-long learning, but I get some kind of solace in becoming completely obsessed over and absorbed in something, even if my efforts are futile.  I want to know and understand what is happening to my body.  I am also a critical care nurse.  If you know any of those, you know they like to figure things out. 

I have a very large base knowledge of general anatomy and physiology, but I have endeavored, throughout this ordeal, to learn all about my muscles, how they work, how they cause pain, and, basically, what is happening to me.  I have had to get down to the cellular level of how my body works.  I have learned a lot.  I have Googled, joined message boards, read other blogs, and emailed countless "experts" in search for answers of what is wrong with me and what can be done.  I am incapable sitting idly by.  And, you know what?  It's paid off.  Let's take a trip down memory lane (if you've been reading religiously, you can probably skip the next section):

October, 2010:  Abdominal pain begins. Convinced it's just my body getting back to normal after having a baby.

January 2011:  Okay, by this point, my quality of life has been severely diminished.  Finally saw GP for the pain, Gallbladder stones suspected.  Ultrasound and HIDA scan were negative, though, so I was referred to a GI specialist.

February 2011:  While waiting to see the GI specialist, I went to see my sports medicine doctor, Dr. Weidenbener.  He sent me to Kent, who does Visceral Manipulation therapy.  At this point, I was beginning to believe this somehow involved soft tissues.

Mid-February 2011:  Saw Dr. Spier, GI specialist, and it was suspected that I might have exercise-induced ischemic colitis.  I questioned this, given I had no other GI symptoms and I am thoroughly convinced it was pregnancy-related.  How could pregnancy cause ischemic colitis?  Anyway--submitted to a colonoscopy which, though not totally normal, didn't reveal much in terms of my pain.  I did get him to refer me to a pain management specialist, however, but had to wait until March to be seen.

Late February 2011:  I heard, from my friend Pete, about Dr. Kaeser in Chicago.  I went to Chicago to see him and was FINALLY correctly diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome.

Early March 2011:  Continuing to communicate with Dr. Kaeser twice a week, and looking for chiropractors in Bloomington.  Found some good ones:  Dr. Russel and Dr. Houze.  They (actually, Dr. Russell) took over my care and continued working on my trigger points/diaphragm.  Before that, though, I had some cortisone injections from Dr. S.  Dr. S told me I'll never get rid of this condition.  That was a bad day.  I also had him inject the wrong spots, as I couldn't pinpoint the pain.  Back to the chiros--Dr. Russell figured out that my psoas was a huge problem and pretty much eradicated my back pain.  I can't say enough about Dr. Russell--he is the first to give me actual results.  If you live in the Bloomington area, and you need a chiropractor, go to Bloomington Chiropractic Center.  Okay, free advertising over.

Mid March 2011:  I got slightly better--for three days.  Then the pain returned to its usual level.  Okay, I'm going to start searching for other options.  I want to try more cortisone (in the correct spots), and I want to keep working with Dr. Russell.  We know what the problem is, but what we're doing is not fixing it.  I started reading, every night, message boards created by those with MPS.  I found out that trigger point injections help a lot of people, but the results are temporary.  I started to see some things about robotic therapy mentioned.  I bookmarked those pages and continued with my course:  seeing Dr. Russell and getting the injections.

Late March 2011:  Oh, I love my TENS unit!  I began running in my TENS unit, which makes running bearable.  However, I cannot do that forever.  I continued seeing Dr. Russell, got more injections, and contacted the robot people.  The PT from Michigan who does the robot stuff called me yesterday.

And that brings us to today.  I saw Dr. Russell and Dr. Houze today.  Dr. Houze just chatted with us a bit (that man likes to TALK), as he'll be taking care of me when Dr. Russell is on vacation next week in Oregon.  Then I got ART treatment from Dr. Russell.  He reeeaaallly stretched the abs this time, and I could feel it.  It feels good.  I asked him if he'd ever heard of the robot therapy.  He hadn't.  I explained it to him and that I was thinking of trying it.  You know, at this point, I think Dr. Russell may think I'm crazy.  She runs a 20 with a TENS unit attached.  She's talking about robots now.  But I also think he REALLY wants to help me.  And he does!  He got rid of that horrible back pain.  And I think he could get rid of the rest of it, but it will take a long time.  I told him that the robot could do what he does, but in a constant way and with much more pressure.  He said he'd look up the robo thing.  Maybe I can bring the robo technology to the mid-West.  Anyway--I'll miss Dr. Russell, and it makes me nervous to switch to someone new (Dr. Houze), though I know he's very capable.

So.  Being the bull dog...I decided to get the robotic treatment.  I am incapable of waiting for all these other things to work.  First, I made an appointment in Michigan.  Then, as I was reading more about it, I found the corporate headquarters website in Florida.  On the message boards, everyone talked about "Al."  I didn't know who Al was.  Well, Al is the doctor who invented Therbo (pictured below).  So, wait...you can go to Florida and have the doctor who invented the technology work with you?  It said that the tough cases usually go to corporate headquarters.  Automatically assuming I'll qualify as a tough case, I contacted corporate headquarters.  Not to be outdone, I sent an email and then called them immediately.  Al, himself, called me back within a few hours.

 I briefly explained to him my symptoms, and also that I'd already made an appointment in Michigan.  I asked him if he thought I would be okay starting at one of their satellite offices in Michigan, or should I come straight to him.  He asked me a few more questions, and said "I think you need to come here."  "Here" just happens to be in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Though it's a lot warmer than Michigan, it would also require a plane ticket.  I asked him how much the treatment (two 8 hour days) would cost, and it's actually quite reasonable (less than a tri bike!).  If I could find a cheap flight and cheapish lodging, I could do it.  What are savings accounts for?  Well, they're for kids' college and financial emergencies.  But Tim and I don't spend a lot of money.  We spend a bit on racing and racing gear, but we don't take lavish vacations.  We don't have nice cars.  We don't eat out at fancy places.  We don't even use credit cards.  We can do this.  I talked to Al a little while longer and told him that I'd have to talk to my husband and get back to him.

I said to Tim:  "I have to go to St. Petersburg.  Do you want to come and bring Rowan or is it best if you stay home with Rowan?"  We determined that it'd be best for him to stay home--if he went it would mean another plane ticket, more money spent on meals, and it might be hard on Rowan.  Plus, I'm going to be in therapy for 16 hours.  So I called Al back.  I told him I was coming.  It was just a matter of when.  We decided that the sooner, the better.  I'm flying down next Wednesday evening, seeing him (and his PTs) all day Thursday and Friday, and again Saturday, when I'll be trained to use a home unit.  I'm flying home Sunday morning.  As for lodging--Al has a friend, an elderly lady, who rents out little cottages on St. Pete beach.  She also has a suite/apartment that she rents out.  She's letting me stay for $65/night.  The other hotels in the area are at LEAST $500/night...and he knew that, if I had to pay that, I couldn't come.  So he called her (while on the phone with me) and got it arranged.

So what will the robot do?  It will lengthen my muscles.  It will do what Dr. Russell is trying to do, but will do it for 16 hours.  For the first time, I feel the end of this madness is near.  We know what we're dealing with.  Let's bull dog it--with a robot.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chill.

As in, it got cold out again!  After several days of 70 degree weather, today's high is a whopping 40 with quite a bit of wind.  For me, after Tuesday's run, it was a welcome change.  The plan was 14 miles with my friend Kathy.  My belly was very sore last night.  It was so bad that I was having difficulty lifting Rowan.  Tim finally convinced me that I should take some pain medicine.  So I did...some leftover Lortab from when he had his wisdom teeth removed.  It helped, but I ended up taking two.  And that really helped.

This morning, when I woke up, I was still pretty sore.  But not as bad as last night.  The pain this time is a lot worse than last time since I had more injections.  It almost feels like I've had surgery.  But it's getting better.  It can take up to 7 days for the cortisone to work, so I won't really know anything until at least Sunday or early next week.

I was getting dressed to run with Kathy, when my phone range.  It was an area code I didn't recognize.  Out of curiosity, I answered it.  It was a PT from Michigan.  You might think, based on this and previous entries, that it's a normal thing for chiropractors or PTs to just call me up.  Well, it hasn't been until now.  So how did the PT from Michigan know about me?  Well, throughout this whole process, I've been continuously googling and joining MPS message boards.  I am not content to receive a treatment and wait for it to work.  I'm always on the lookout for other options.  A few days ago, I came across a message board post from a runner (finally!) with MPS who had tried something called robotic muscular therapy.  You can watch videos of it here.  But, basically, it's a treatment given by a PT but via a robot.  It is not like massage--it is so powerful it actually lengthens the muscles.  No medication is involved.  So, when I read about it, I was struck by how many people said things like "You HAVE to try it!  It saved me from bi-weekly cortisone injections!" and they were tossing the words "pain free" around--very uncommon for MPS sufferers.   Then I watched the videos.  And I became interested.

So, could I get this done in Indiana?  Not likely...but it can be done in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York.  It was between Michigan and Pennsylvania as far as which clinic would be closer.  Ended up being Michigan.  So I called them and left a message.  The PT who called me today was returning my call.  He asked me a lot of questions...most I have answered before.  After I answered them all, he said "It seems like the core issue may be in your hip flexor, and possibly your right psoas."  I explained to him that Dr. Russell picked up on the psoas, did quite a bit of ART on it, and I have pretty much had no back pain as a result of his treatments.  He told me he was sure they could get me pain free.  I had to ask.  "Well, so many doctors (chiropractors excluded) have told me, and I keep reading, that there is no cure for MPS.  Once you have it, you have it...so if you can make me pain free, is this something I'm going to have to do on a regular basis."  "No, you won't have to do it on a regular basis.  MPS is curable unless it coexists with fibromyalgia.  MPS is caused by trauma.  The muscles respond to the trauma by shortening.  Shortened muscles spasm and cause pain.  And that starts the pain cycle.  Spasm leads to pain, pain leads to spasm."  "Okay, so how do you fix it?"  "You have to find the sweet spot.  You have one, maybe two, muscles that are at the root cause of this.  I think they may be in your hip flexors.  But we have people come in here with unrelenting shin pain.  We fix a muscle in their back, and their shins never bother them again.  When you have muscles which shorten, other muscles have to take over for them.  Then THEY shorten, and on and on.  We have to find your sweet spot."

He is the first person who hasn't used the word "interesting" about my case.  He acted as though it all made sense to him.  You were pregnant, you ran that way, your muscles (hip flexors and abs) were, in a way, traumatized and they shortened.  They must be lengthened.  No one can lengthen them with his/her hands, but this robot can.  It will hurt, of course, but I don't even care.  I'm thinking of trying it.  It would involve a 4+ hour drive to Michigan, but that's worth it to me.  He said three treatments maximum, and they could have me fixed.  I'm skeptical, of course.  Who wouldn't be after what I've gone through?  However, it does make sense to me.  It's what all the chiropractors have been trying to do...but with the help of a robot who can REALLY push on the affected areas.  And a PT who can, apparently, find my weakness...my sweet spot.

I'm guessing that robotic therapy is not covered by insurance.  So I have to find out how much it's going to cost.  But, if I had to guess, I'd say you'll be reading about my experience with robotic massage sooner than later.

As for today's run--much better than Tuesday.  Kathy and I headed out at a nice, easy pace.  We had tons of water and Gatorade stashed for us, thanks to Tim.  So there was no risk of dehydration.  We talked the whole time, and the miles just clicked by.  As far as my pain...until mile 7 it was just overwhelming soreness.  When we stopped to drink at mile 6.5, and then restarted, I noticed it was getting a little sharp.  It was quite sharp for about a mile, between miles 7 and 8, then settled back down.  Then we stopped to drink again, and I had the same thing.  I'm wondering if it had to do with taking in a large amount of fluid all at once.  I don't know, but, on the whole, I was in much less pain.  The soreness it sort of like that that you'd expect 4-5 days after having surgery.  It just hurts all over, but it's manageable.

The one thing that happened on this run is that we picked up a dog.  Or, rather, he picked up us.  About 9 miles into the run, we saw this dog racing toward the road.  We run this route all the time, and we'd never seen him.  I was terrified, but Kathy didn't seem too worried.  Until he barked at her and showed a LOT of teeth.  We stopped for a second and told him to stay.  He just ran circles around us.  He had on a collar, and attached to it was some kind of cord.  It was clear that he had been tied up but somehow got free.  We began running again, and he followed us.  He was right behind Kathy, on her right heel, and making me nervous.  He wasn't barking, just right on her.  Then he began darting back and forth across the road.  We determined that, if annoying, he wasn't dangerous.  We stopped about a half mile up so that Kathy could call her son to wish him a happy birthday--right at the exact moment he was born.  While she did that, I looked for tags on the dog.  There were none.  We decided the best thing to do would be to tie him up loosely.  That way, we could get away, and when he got loose he could head home.  So we did that and took off again.

Wasn't five minutes, he was back.  And he's not a smart dog.  I can't believe he actually found us.  He followed us all the way up Slaughter House Hill and into town.  We kept tripping over him and his cord.  He had horrible running etiquette--he darted between us, ran around us, etc.  As we neared town, Kathy said we had to find something to do with him, as he was going to get hit by a car.  But we didn't know what to do.  We couldn't just tie him up, and he wouldn't quit following us.  We had to add a couple of miles on on Washington Avenue.  When we hadn't been on there for more than a half mile, the dog raced across the road to bark at some dogs who were fenced in.  When he turned around and came back on the road, he ran right out in front of a car.  The car slammed on the breaks, making them screech, and that dog was maybe 2 inches from being hit.  That really shook us.  We ended up taking him to the house of someone Kathy knows...someone who works with the humane society.  They let us put him in the kennel and Kathy was going to go back to get him after the run.  She was going to try to deliver him back to where we think he came from, but she was also talking about maybe keeping him.  She was also going to feed him, as he looked skinny.  She was definitely more the dog lover between the two of us.

I finished the run feeling sore in my abs, but everything else felt great.  Pace was easy, hills were easy, and I would have had no problem running 6+ more miles.  Much different than Tuesday, thank goodness.  Seeing Dr. Houze and Dr. Russell tomorrow.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More cortisone, please.

You know things aren't going well when you count the days or hours until the next time you can get a 14 gauge needled shoved into your abdominal muscles.  Well, ever since I had my first round of injections 2.5 weeks ago, that's what I've been doing.  To refresh your memory--2.5 weeks ago I had three injections.  Two in the middle of my right rectus abdominis muscle, and one in the middle of my left.  When I had those done, he asked me to point to the most painful spots.  It is VERY difficult for me to pinpoint the pain.  It hurts all over my abdomen.  So I had him inject right in the middle of the muscles.  Those injections helped, but they also made me realize that the majority of my pain was actually coming from the border of the rectus muscles...not the middle of them.

So, today, I was bound and determined to have him inject the correct areas.  And that's why I ran without the TENS yesterday.  So I was ready today when he asked me where to go with the needle.  The ridges...you can feel them.  They feel like really thick guitar strings that you can almost pluck.  It's the lateral side of my rectus muscles.  So, again, he had me rate the most painful spots.  Only this time we'd do 6 injections instead of 3...allowing us to cover a larger area.  So I pointed to them.  The worst spot is mid-way down on the right side.  The second worst is just above that, very close to my ribs.  Third is mid-way on the left, and fourth is the lower right side.  The last two were on the left.  He marked me all up.  I pretty much had mirror images on both sides.  We had to be careful (or, rather, HE had to be careful) with the high ones, as a slip of the needle could cause a pneumothorax (collapsed lung).  He promised that wouldn't happen.  But you never know with me.

He had me sit up this time.  The nurse sprayed the completely ineffective cold spray on the first spot.  I don't know why they even do that.  Part of the ritual, I guess...but it does NOT work.  Then he stabbed the first part with the needle, and moved it around in the usual fashion.  That actually felt kind of good.  I think maybe the mechanical disruption of the muscle with the needle gives me some relief.  Anyway--he moved on to spot number two, three, and so on.  The pain did not bother me too much...except for in those two up by the ribs.  OUCH.  Those killed.  But, alas, I made it through all six.  Tim even took pictures.  What a guy.

He actually injects me with cortisone AND lidocaine.  The lidocaine numbs me temporarily (less than four hours), and the cortisone should decrease the inflammation (though this can take up to 7 days).  So, as soon as we were done...I strummed those guitar strings and it didn't hurt.  Totally numb.  Oh, that's another thing--he thinks I need to stop poking myself.  Whenever they hurt, I just automatically press on them.  He thinks this is keeping them aggravated.  So I have to consciously not press on them.

So, as soon as he finished, I felt a lot better.  But I could tell something else was still hurting a little.  Sort of on my right side, and sort of below the injections on both sides.  I can't pinpoint it exactly, but there's still something there.  I think it may actually be from the TENS unit (it can make your muscles sore), but I'm not sure.  That's frustrating on one hand, but I'm learning to expect it.  It's trial and error.  I'm only aware of the parts which hurt the MOST...until those are numb.  Then all the surrounding "hurts" begin to show up.  If only I could have more cortisone...then I'd just have him inject EVERYTHING.  Alas, that's not the deal.

So I go back in two weeks, and then again April 20.  Those are my last two injections prior to May 1st (marathon day).  Hopefully I'll have sustained relief by that day.  I'm hopeful, but I'm also realistic.  The last time I was injected, I was hoping to be completely pain free.  It didn't happen.  I don't want to disappoint myself again.  My condition is very complex, and thus so is the treatment.  Most of the time, people have two or three trigger points that give them grief.  The doctor injects them, and they're pain free.  But my abdominals are full of them.  He even described the right side of my abdomen as being "one big trigger point."  It may take a few more visits with Dr. L to find ALL the spots.

The numbness is beginning to wear off already.  And, from last time, I know that I'm going to be EXTREMELY sore tomorrow and probably into Friday.  I have 14 on the schedule tomorrow.  Kathy's joining me and I have every intention of finishing the run.  I might strap the TENS on but leave the power off.  That way I have it just in case.  I know one thing:  I'm taking a gel with me!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I want my mommy.

Yes, it was one of those kinds of runs.  So, if you don't want to be depressed, read no further.  However, it might be entertaining to some of you.  I'll go ahead and answer the question that got 99% of you here in the first place:  Tim is okay.  He has an appointment at Bloomington Bone and Joint Clinic in the morning.  He ran a 5 mile tempo tonight and it didn't hurt while he ran.  That is huge.  At least he can run!  That's all it would take to keep me happy.  And he ran well...negative split the course with a nice 5:57 for the last mile.

Okay, for the four of you who are left...my run today was BAD.  AWFUL.  One of the worst EVER.  Well, that may be being a bit hyperbolic, but, trust me, it was a whopper.  14 miles on the schedule.  Last week, my legs felt really dead on my Tuesday run, and I figured it was a result of not recovering from Sunday's long run.  I ran 20 this past Sunday, and tried to do damage control with an ice bath.  And I didn't do anything yesterday.  So I was hoping for some fresher legs, at least.

I wanted to wear the TENS unit, as it provides so much relief while I run.  However, I'm getting injections tomorrow, and I need to be able to tell him exactly where the pain is.  That meant I needed to feel it today.  Bummer, but it was the right thing to do.  So I went sans TENS, but I did take water.  I didn't want a repeat of last Thursday, and it was 72 degrees out.  That may seem nice (and it is), but I'm just not used to it yet.  The only thing good about this run is I was able to wear a sports bra and shorts.  The thing I hate most about winter running is the garb that must be worn to survive it.

So I set off for 14 miles--water in tow, dressed appropriately, and without my TENS.  I felt good for about a quarter of a mile.  Then things started to go downhill.  Yes, that quickly.  My abdominal pain was there, on both sides, and it was severe quite quickly.  Usually, it's more gradual--the right side starts, then the left side slowly joins in.  Not this time.  It was like a lightning bolt on both sides.  So, before I even made it past 16th street, I was bracing for a painful run.  Let me take you through it mile by mile.

Miles 1-3:  Bad abdominal pain, and somewhere in here I realized I had some really tired legs.
Miles 3-4:  All of the above plus some profuse sweating and beginning to feel overheated.  By the end of mile 4, I wanted to stop.  Uh oh.
Miles 4-5:  Okay, I don't know if I can finish this.  It feels like something is eating through my abdominal muscles from the inside, I'm burning up, and my legs to don't want to go.
Miles 5-8:  This is when the bottom began to fall out.  I was talking myself through every quarter mile due to the ab pain, and began having cramps in my right calf.  I've never had this happen during a run.  A mile or so later, I was having the same thing in my lower back.  Bad, bad cramps.  I was drinking water this whole time.  I decided that, if I made it to mile 8, I could stop if I wanted.
Miles 8-10:  Well, I made it to mile 8, and realized that I'd set up a stupid reward system...as I was still miles from home.  I had to either knock on a door to call Tim or make it home.  I kept running, and I couldn't believe how badly I felt.  I actually was starting to get a little confused.  Was I running 10 miles?  No, 13.  Wait, no, it's 14.  I honestly began to feel sleepy.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I looked at my watch and saw something like 8.6 miles, and was very confused by that.  I thought I had already run 10.  I was clearly hypoglycemic.
Miles 10-12:  The abdominal pain let up a little bit here, but everything else in my body was in alarm mode.  Legs were screaming, I was pouring sweat, extremely thirsty (and drinking the whole time), and I began to cry.  Yes, cry.  I surprised myself with that.  It's like it happened without me realizing it.  My calf continued to cramp.  I just wanted to stop.  What is this, a marathon?  Toward the end of mile 12, the ab pain got very bad again.  I began to ask God to have mercy on me.  To please, please make this pain stop.  I can't take it anymore.  I just...can't.  You really, really need to make this go away.  It didn't.  It actually got worse.  And I was still crying.  But, I was also still running.  In my head, I kept hearing this voice...actually the voice of my mother.  Who is very much alive.  But it had a spiritual quality to it.  "You will be strong" she said over and over.  My mind was very fuzzy at this point, but I kept hearing her say it.  And so I took that as a sign that I should keep going.
Miles 12-14:  The first mile of these two was pretty bad, but the last mile home was just plain awful.  A mile is an extraordinarily long way when you're in pain, dehydrated, hypoglycemic, and overheating.  I kept closing my eyes while I ran, then opening them to see how much further I'd made it.  That makes no sense, of course, and is a little dangerous...but that's what I did.  I kept myself going by telling myself that Tim would, any minute, be coming out to look for me (I had no idea of my pace, as I didn't have the energy to look, but it felt like I was crawling).  I made it to 13.75 and had to force every step from there to 14.  My Garmin clicked over to 14 about 100 meters from my house.  Usually, I'd just run the extra.  Not today.  I heard that beep and stopped dead in my tracks.  I shuffled into my house, and I was done.

I was greeted by Amelia, who said, stunned, "Mom, what happened to you?!"  I could hardy respond, and she went back to playing Wii.  I uttered to Tim that I'd had an awful time, and he recommended an ice bath.  Before I did that, I weighed myself.  I knew I had been sweating a lot, but the number would tell.  I was down six pounds...SIX POUNDS...compared to pre-run.  And that was taking in fluids the whole time.  So I took an ice bath while I gulped a Gatorade.  After that, I came in and immediately ate an ice cream sandwich.  Then a bowl of mac and cheese...and I finally felt human.

So what happened?  Well, we know why the belly hurt...but all the rest?  I started to worry maybe I was overtrained or on the verge of injury.  I had eaten well that morning, as well as hydrated before I left.  How did I get so dehydrated?  Then I remembered something:  I've been having night sweats.  They occur as a result of a mediation I take.  And the last week, and particularly the last three nights, I've had some really severe ones.  The kind that completely soak the sheets.  So I think that played a huge part in me being so dehydrated (as well as the higher temperature).  I should have taken a gel with me, too.  My miles are higher than they have been in a long time, and my glycogen stores are just depleted.  So, I managed to bring together dehydration and hypoglycemia on the same day.  Put that with stabbing abdominal pain, and you've got a crying-for-your-mommy type of run.

Tomorrow is a rest day, and even if it weren't, you couldn't pay me to run.  I'm happy to report that, after that run, I am ACUTELY AWARE of where the abdominal pain is, so I should be able to guide Dr. S during the injections quite well.  Trying to stay strong.  This, too, shall pass.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tim is injured.

Did that get your attention?  Thought it might.  First of all, he's okay.  But he is hurt.  It's a slow news day on my front, so I might as well report on him.  Tim has, I'm 99% sure, a broken right wrist.  If you remember, he spun yesterday morning, ran 20, and then went out for a 30 mile ride with Bill.  Right before he left, I went out to take his picture on his bike (because I have so few of these).  I walked inside right as he was heading around to the garage to grab his helmet.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

About 15 minutes later, he came back onto the porch and into the front door.  I wasn't sure what happened.  My first thought was a flat, but then he said that he was just stopping to get more Gatorade, as he and Bill had decided to go further than he initially planned.  He said, sort of on the side, "Oh, I fell about 10 seconds after you took my picture."  I don't know exactly what happened, but it wasn't a crash--it was a bike fall.  Bike falls can be nasty if you are clipped in.  He somehow got caught up in his shoe (wasn't clipped in yet), and the bike toppled over.  He broke the fall, naturally, by extending his right arm, landing on his wrist.  He sort of pointed to his right wrist, but didn't seem too concerned.

He made it through the ride fine, saying the wrist was just sore.  However, as the evening progressed, he began to have quite a bit of pain.  Any kind of movement of that hand/forearm/wrist, and he was wincing.  It was slightly swollen.  We were hoping it was just sprained.  He iced it a lot and took some ibuprofen.  This morning, though, it was much worse.   It was noticeably swollen, and he couldn't bear to move it.  He headed to Walgreen's to get a brace for it.  It was at that point I figured it was probably broken.

He refuses to go get it x-rayed.  He is just assuming (and likely correctly) that it is broken.  The treatment for a broken wrist pretty much involves a cast, which he believes he has achieved using his Walgreen's brace.  Of course, if it is fractured AND dislocated, the fracture will heal incorrectly.  And, of course, you'd need a physician or advanced practice nurse (well, not this one...I'm a CNS, not an NP) to reset the fracture if it's dislocated.  But he's having none of it.  You want to know why?  I know why.  He doesn't want someone to tell him not to ride or run.  He's more like I am than people realize.  He can ride in aero position, or sitting upright on his bike on the trainer, but he cannot grip the handle bars.

What about running?  I don't know--can you run with a broken wrist?  Probably.  I don't think he'll hurt it worse, but it could be really painful.  That's a lot of impact, and you don't realize that your entire body is affected by it until something like, say, your abs or your ribs, are hurt and painful.  He's running a tempo tomorrow, so that should tell.  I hope he can do it.  Again, not much to be done for a fractured wrist.  It's pretty much immobilization for 4-6 weeks.  But I do wish he'd go to have it looked at.  But we've already been through that 20 times today, and, so far, he's not budging.  I bet Bill could convince him in five minutes, though.  The most important limitation this wrist injury has imposed, however, is Tim's inability to chop vegetables and meats.  This is serious, folks.  If I have to do the cooking around here, we might starve.

As for me--I saw Dr. Russell this morning.  I've been working it over in my head how I was going to break it to him that I ran a total of 30 miles in my TENS unit.  He asked me how things were going, and I just blurted it out.  "I ran 10 miles Saturday and 20 yesterday with the TENS on."  "Oh, you put the TENS on after?"  "No, I wore it the whole time I was running."  "Attached to you?"  "Yeah."  "O.......kay."  I told him that I knew it sounded crazy, but it really worked.  He started smiling.  "Yeah, actually, that would work.  I just never thought of it."  He pointed out that wearing it would, of course, never fix my problem, but if it helped me get through my runs, there was certainly no harm in it.  Though he was amazed that I could tolerate the TENS pain while running.  I think that gave him a new appreciation for the other pain.  I describe it as the difference between being punched in the gut or stabbed in the gut.  I much prefer the punching, and that's what the TENS feels like.  Literally--when it is turned up to the maximum setting, it's like a punch.  Beats a stab any day.

I had the usual treatment, and we've determined that my right psoas is much improved.  We're still dealing with the right and left rectus "ridges," though.  I get injections on Wednesday (Hallelujah!) and then I get to see Dr. Russell and Dr. Houze at the same time on Friday.  Dr. Russell said that Dr. Houze has a very big bag of tricks (good thing, he'll need 'em).  Dr. Russell is then going on vacation, and I'll be in Dr. Houze's hands for a while.

That's pretty much it.  14 miles tomorrow, and Kathy may join.  Now it's back to taking care of my husband and, possibly, dinner.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another run done.

It's Sunday.  And, during marathon training season, that can only mean one thing:  long run!  I was looking forward to it because I knew the weather was supposed to be nice, and I was happy with my TENS experiment yesterday.  So I was hopeful I'd have a good run.

I was confused when, around 9:30, I saw Tim hop on his bike on the trainer.  He rode for an hour.  When I asked him why he was doing that, he explained that he's training for a Half Ironman, which involves biking before running.  Oh, okay.  So that made sense.  Mental note never to train for a Half Ironman.  When it was time to run we had most of our usual group members:  me, Tim, Kathy, Bill, and Wes even showed up (he couldn't find anyone to run trails with him).  Dad had decided to come, too.  But half way here he realized he had forgotten to take his supplements.  He took that as a sign he shouldn't be running and turned around and headed home.  So, there were five.  I knew my legs were tired, Tim's had to be, and Kathy raced yesterday.  I was hoping for a nice, slow run.

Before we headed out, I explained to Kathy about the TENS unit.  She saw me taping it up.  Tim affixed it to a fuel belt, and this worked quite well.  I was able to adjust the intensity whenever I wanted.  And it didn't bounce.  Other than the constant shocks being delivered to my abdomen, I didn't even notice it.  Wes had already seen me run in it, as had Tim, but I didn't get a chance to explain it all to Bill before we left.

We headed out (all of us, Bill excluded, wearing blue) on our Buddha route.  I really love this route.  It's almost exactly 19 miles, and that is what was on my schedule for the day.  My legs felt tired, but not horrible.  I felt good enough to play the waving game.  However, I've never played this game while Wes was on a run.  He simply dominated.  Something in the way he waves, I guess...but people couldn't resist waving back.  Even Bill couldn't compete with him (though he has an idea up his sleeve that will render him unbeatable).

As we were ascending I Street, I noticed that my pain was breaking through on the right.  Crap.  Then I noticed that I couldn't really feel the TENS unit working over there.  We stopped at the top (at my request), and I realized I didn't have the mHz up high enough.  I cranked it to 120 and was good to go.  It was at that point, I think, that Bill asked "So you're actually having electro-stimulation done on your abs while you run?"  "Yep."  That's right folks, while I run.  It's crazy, and a wee bit desperate, but it makes it so that I can get through the run with much less pain.

I really love Sunday county runs with the group.  It's like an adventure--setting out with a group of people deep into the country.  Today, we even had little treasures waiting for us at miles 5, 10, and 15.  Kathy had stashed Gatorade and water for us.  This meant I didn't have to carry any fluids with me.  THANK YOU, KATHY!  Tim and I will have to pay her back by doing that for us next week.  It was so wonderful to have water just waiting on us.

Somewhere around the 12 mile mark, Wes asked how far everyone was going.  I said 19.  And, a few seconds later, I said "You know, if I'm going to go 19, I might as well go 20."  Bill agreed with me on that.  Unless I was feeling awful at 19, I should just do 20.  Especially since the "19" was actually more like 19.25.  Now, you can get into trouble playing that game.  "If I'm doing 15 I might as well do 17.  Heck, 17 is almost 18, and we all know that 18 is almost the same as 20."  But I don't think I hurt anything adding 3/4 of a mile to my run.

It was a good run.  My pain was tolerable, and my legs were okay.  I will admit that I really struggled on the hills.  I was keeping up with the boys on most of the run, but would fall off on the major climbs.  And it just wasn't worth pushing it.  Our average pace was right around 8 minutes/mile.  And that is not shabby at all for the mountains we were climbing.  Most importantly, from a running standpoint, I felt very comfortable.  I was not at all taxed (other than on the three biggest climbs).  That means I'm pretty fit.

Now the goal shifts to maintaining that fitness while not getting hurt before Eugene.  Oh, and taking care of the beastly abdominal pain.  I have more injections on Wednesday.  I really think I will see a big difference after these, as I'm going to have him go right to the "ropey" parts in my abdomen.  Those seem to be the pain generators.  If not, I'll be wearing my TENS unit for 26.2.

Bill and Tim went out and rode 30 miles after the run, giving Tim 5.5 hours of training today.  Wow.  Our grocery bill is going to drastically increase if he keeps this up.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Who knows? It just might help.

As you know (if you read this blog at all), I've been trying a lot of things to manage my abdominal pain caused by MPS.  Massage, injections, adjustments, a trigger point ball, rides on the TENS machine and, as of yesterday, Thumper.  I have neglected to mention that, last week, I bought a pocket TENS unit from my chiropractor.  It's basically a mini version of the big dog they hook me up to in the office.  It involves having four electrodes hooked up to you (see picture below), and the machine delivers electronic "stimulation" (that word should be shocks, if you ask me).

It really kind of hurts while you have it done, especially the first time.  When it gets really going, it feels like you're being kicked.  But, I'll tell you, never do I have my "usual" pain when I'm on the TENS machine.  For that reason, I like it.  And that's why I spent the $100 and bought a home unit.  Tim has been using it as well--on his sore calves, back, and foot.  I've been using it on my back and abdomen sporadically throughout the day.

Last night, I had a thought.  What if I wore it while I ran?  It is pocket-sized, and the package instructions talk about how portable it is.  It even has a little clip on the back of it.  Perhaps it was even made for runners?  I asked Tim what he thought.  "Who knows?  It just might help."  Then he told me I should put it on and run around the block.  I did so.  It's hard to tell much in that short of a run, but I knew that the stimulation from the TENS certainly covered up the usual pain.  I was sold.

So today was a trail run with Wes, dad, and Tim.  We were going to run 10 miles on the trail that I know as the "Run with the Foxes Trail."  That's not the name of it, and I can't remember the real name, but there is a trail half that is run there every spring, and that's the name of the race.  It's a pretty challenging route in terms of hills, and a lot of the footing is quite technical.  It may be a beautiful place to run, but it's not an easy place to run.  I was excited to try my new New Balance Minimus trail shoes, and even more curious to see how the TENS unit would perform.  Now, Tim and I had devised a way for me to carry it.  It's pretty small (see picture below), but the main consideration were the wires that connect it to the electrodes on my belly.  We decided to put the unit in my Camelbak, and Tim would tape the wires up so they wouldn't bounce.

We got to the trail and we were all preparing to head out.  I had not told dad or Wes that I would be wearing the TENS.  Tim was getting me set up--applying the electrodes, taping them on, etc. and Wes said "What the hell are you doing?"  I looked like some kind of science experiment.  I explained what I was doing and acknowledged that it seemed crazy.  He, of course, understood.  I wasn't sure of what intensity I should have Tim set the unit, so we started pretty low.  I could feel it twitching pretty well, so I assumed that would be strong enough.  So, there I was.  Four electrodes attached to my abdomen.  A pocket TENS unit in my Camelbak.  My torso slightly gyrating due to the electricity.  Okay, let's run.

We set out.  I definitely felt the TENS unit, and it definitely covered up the other pain.  I have to admit that it feels strange to be having electrical stimulation performed on your abdomen while running.  It felt absolutely weird.  But I didn't care.  It was covering up my other pain.  My legs were feeling a lot better than on Thursday, and I had fluids with me this time.  The trail was beautiful.  The hills were quite tough, but I didn't mind.

Want to know why?  Because, though I sort of felt the sensation of being kicked in the gut by a child, I didn't have any stabbing pain.  Around the 3 mile mark, I felt the usual pain start to "break through."  I had Tim increase the intensity.  That took care of it.  I had him increase the intensity twice more during the run.  By 6 miles, it was only two "notches" away from maximum stimulation.  When we stopped to use the bathroom, they could see my whole upper half shaking.  How could we not laugh at this situation?  I mean...really?  What on Earth is wrong with me?  What do you think Dr. Russell is going to say when I tell him I did this?  All I know is that, though I acknowledge it was weird, it helped a lot.  So I was happy.

There was genuine concern that I would be electrocuted during a creek crossing (and, to be honest, it felt more intense when I did so in a very deep crossing--but nothing close to electrocution).  We were trying to come up with ways I could carry the unit during a race.  We also realized that I need to be able to adjust the intensity myself.  Several times I felt the usual pain start to come in.  And I wanted to punch it into submission by increasing the intensity, but I couldn't because the unit was in my Camelbak.

We finished the run and, all in all, I really enjoyed it.  Don't get me wrong--I do not desire to wear that torture device during my runs forever.  But if it can get me through for now?  I sure will.  Just takes a lot of tape, batteries, and a little explaining to fellow runners.  I fully intend to wear it on tomorrow's 19 miler.  It will be interesting to see if the stimulation keeps the pain at bay on a run that long.  I told you I was willing to try anything.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Thumper.

Okay, okay.  So, in retrospect, the misery I experienced on yesterday's run was about 75% self-induced.  Pick the hottest day of the year so far, head out on extremely tired legs, on a very hilly route, and don't take a drop of water.  I've done stuff like that before, of course.  I'll never forget, in the summer of 2009, a 13 mile run that I did on Highway 37.  It was hot.  I was overtrained.  And I ran out of water.  Shudder.  That was nothing, though, compared to yesterday's adventure.  I should know better--I'm already dealing with a lot of pain.  No reason to make it even worse on myself.  I tried to wash away my sorrows by taking an ice bath.  Hopefully that helped my legs.

I saw Dr. Russell today.  Turns out, Dr. Kaeser had called him this morning (I had relayed to Dr. Kaeser the results of the MRI which were, basically, normal) to discuss my case.  I think Dr. Kaeser had been trying to wait until Dr. Houze got back, but he couldn't help himself.  He had discussed with Dr. Russell the treatments he had done on my back (as I have a couple of pinched nerves there that radiate around my back).  I expressed to Dr. Russell that, though I had a couple of good runs on Sunday and Tuesday, Thursday was much worse.  He asked me about Tuesday's run, if there was anything different.  I explained that I did a tempo and that I did, during the last half mile, have a marked increase in pain.  And then I remembered something:  when that happened during the tempo, I remember holding my breath temporarily to see if that would help.  I'm not sure why--but sometimes my body tells me to do things with this pain.  Some kind of innate response.  Anyway, holding my breath helped.  It's exceedingly difficult to run while holding one's breath, though, so this is not a strategy I can use.  Just as I was remembering that, he said he guessed that the increased depth and frequency of respiration probably caused it.  Why?  Because, as so many of them have told me, the diaphragm is at the crux of this whole issue.  I've also noticed, in the past, that the pain gets much worse if I try to charge up a hill.  Of course, when I do so, I breathe faster and more deeply.

So, FOR NOW, I need to moderate my effort.  That is really irritating to me because I want to work some speed work into my training.  I also was hoping to race a 15K in a few weeks.  I guess the latter is still possible, but I'm just not there yet.  Next, I had another ride on the TENS unit (happy to report I set a new record level--made it to 30 and the max stimulation is 40) and got to meet a new tool--Thumper.  That's really its name.  Its job is to thump the daylights out of your back.  So, that's what Dr. Russell did to me with it.  It hurt, but it felt like he was really getting some key areas.

Before I left, he told me that I should schedule an appointment with the massage therapist who works there so that she could work on my rectus muscles.  I asked him, pointing to the ridge in my abdomen "Is this normal?  This thing here...does everyone have this?"  Dr. Russell is so nice.  He sort of sheepishly said "Well, no, not usually, no."  You know he was thinking "Are you INSANE?  No, it is not normal to have your muscles feel like knotted ropes!"  I mean I sort of knew they weren't normal, but when I'm stressed about something it helps me to ask questions to which I already know the answer.  I am pretty sure that habit drives my husband crazy.  Anyway--Mary, the massage therapist, is on vacation until next week.  So--more waiting.  But I'm excited to have an appointment with her, as I really think I can benefit.

Trail run tomorrow with Wes and Tim.  I am happy to report that I'm the owner of a new pair of New Balance Minimus trail shoes.  I picked them up at Indiana Running Company on the way home (impulse buy).  I can't wait to try them out tomorrow.  19 miles Sunday, then just one more run until I get more injections.  I can't wait...bring on that needle!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Triple Whammy.

It is a beautiful (St. Patrick's) day today.  60 degrees and sunny.  As most who run with me know, I much prefer to run in warm weather than cold weather.  I'd gladly take a humid, 85-degree day over anything below 20 degrees.  It is the one way in which I am completely the opposite of my father.  So it's just now beginning to be my kind of running weather.

13 miles were on the schedule.  Actually, a double run of 7 in the morning and 6 in the evening is what was scheduled way back in November when Tim created my training plan.  However, as I began to struggle with what we didn't know at the time was MPS, we found that I was better off running all those miles at once from the standpoint of my abdominal pain.  When I would break the run in two, the second run was always substantially more painful.  So I've just gotten in the habit of doing one longer run on Thursdays.

If you've been reading here lately, you know that I've had a couple of really good runs.  Sunday was great--20 miles of very manageable pain.  Tuesday was even better, and I even did a tempo.  I was hopeful that today would follow that same trend.  I decided I'd run out in the county, which is really hilly.  But it's a beautiful day and a beautiful course.  Tim told me I should take some water, but I absolutely hate carrying it, and so I decided not to.  That, my friends, was a mistake.

I knew my legs still hadn't recovered from Sunday and Tuesday, so I was planning to go very, very slowly.  As soon as I headed out toward I Street, I knew it was going to be a long day.  My quads ached.  My legs felt like they weighed 100 pounds each.  With each step, it was like a rod was being driven into my thighs.  If you run, you know that feeling.  It's kind of a bad sign to have that as soon as you start running.  Then, a half mile in, my right-sided pain was very noticeable.  Within a mile, it was on both sides.  Great.  I tried to ignore it.  But I couldn't.  I wanted to stop.  My legs hurt, my sides were killing me, and I was pissed.   I really wanted to stop.

But I didn't.  I reverted back to survival mode.  It's hard for me to admit how deeply I had to dig to finish this run.  Not only were my legs trashed and my sides really hurting, but I started to get extremely thirsty.  By 6 miles, I was in great need of water.  I was actually overheating.  I played with the notion that surely Tim would drive out and bring me some water, as he undoubtedly knew how badly I must need it.  After all, he had warned me how careless it was to go without anything to drink.  Every time I heard a car up, I'd hope it was him.  He has brought me water many times, but not today (and he had a very good excuse--he was working!).  I've just been so spoiled, and I was so thirsty.  I began to look for people out on their porches.  I was ready to beg for a sip out of their garden hoses.  But I didn't see a single person.

By about 7.5 miles, I was in pretty pitiful shape.  My quads were throbbing, I had stabbing pains in both sides, and I would have paid an absurd amount of money for a bottle of water.  I had to start talking myself into finishing the next half mile.  "Go a half mile, then you can stop and rest."  I actually only stopped once, at the 9 mile mark, to use the bathroom.  But I played mind games the whole time.  I ascended Slaughter House Hill at a speed so glacial I'm not sure it could even be considered running.  I didn't walk, mind you, but no matter what I did I could just hardly move.  I continued to picture Tim driving up with an ice-cold Gatorade.  Didn't happen.

By 11 miles, I was honestly in trouble.  I was dehydrated, and I wondered if I'd have to walk home.  My abdominal pain continued to get worse.  I was being bombarded with unpleasant sensations:  extreme thirst, sharp abdominal/back pain, and throbbing/extremely fatigued quads.  But I kept running.  To my surprise, my pace was decent (8:20ish average, though I slowed down drastically over the last three miles), but it felt like I was going through sludge.

Finally, I was almost home.  I saw Tim standing on the porch holding a Gatorade.  What a tease! But I still had to run around the block to get 13.  Scarcely have I been so glad to stop running as I was when my Garmin beeped 13.  I hobbled to the front porch and gulped down the Gatorade.  Then I had to break it to Tim what an awful run I had.  I wasn't at all concerned about the quad issues or the thirst--those are expected, transient, and partially due to my own stupidity.  But the MPS pain was back and much worse.  I was so frustrated.  I sat on the steps and cried.  As I did so, I was simultaneously aware of the weather--the sun shining on my face and the breeze in my hair.  This is my weather.  And look at me--sitting on my porch...a broken runner.

Tim tried his best to comfort me--but what can even be said at this point?  I wish we could have sat there and laughed at what an idiot I was for not taking water, or made fun of the way I had to climb the porch steps sideways because my legs are so sore.  But, the truth is, I (and, to be fair, we...because Tim and I are so close) am still in limbo.  I had just been talking to Tim about racing an upcoming 15K.  We were trying to figure out what pace I should target.  And this run was a big reminder that I can't even consider racing yet.  I want to more than anything, but I'm just not there yet.  I could in no way race through this pain.

So what happened?  Why was Sunday so good, Tuesday even better, and now this?  I don't know.  I thought the cortisone had kicked in.  I did see Dr. Russell yesterday and had a treatment, but nothing I haven't had before.  My condition is complex, and it's clearly resistant to treatment.  I told Tim (during my break down on the porch), "They've just got to help me.  Why won't they help me?"  Even though I know I have a lot of people who want to help me, when I have a run like that, I feel abandoned.  I feel like I want to scream.  I feel, right now, like I want to give up. 

I have to survive three more runs before I see Dr. L next week for more injections.  I honestly feel like, at this point, we need to pull out all the stops.  Whatever can be done for me...please do it.  Until then, I rely on the following:

"When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation--some fact of my life--unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Testing.

I woke up yesterday morning to some very sore calves and quads.  That 20 miler had its effect and I was glad for a rest day.  Except, I had to spend almost 3 hours in an MRI machine.  Not as restful as you might think.

Dr. Russell ordered two scans--an MRI of the abdomen and also one of the lumbar spine.  He also ordered them with and without contrast dye.  His orders were appropriate given my symptoms, but it also meant I had to have four scans.  I knew it would take a while, but I wasn't quite prepared to be in there for almost 3 hours.

Normally, I wouldn't mind being in an MRI machine for that long.  I'm not particularly claustrophobic, and I can usually sleep through all the noise.  However, I have a bad cold.  I'm sneezing a lot, and lying flat on my back makes it much worse.  In case you've never had an MRI, let me tell you that they want you to hold almost perfectly still.  Well, I kept sneezing.  And coughing.  And sputtering in general.  So it took much longer.  Another thing they have you do, for the abdominal portion, is hold your breath for several portions of the scan.  I was amazed how long I was expected to do this.  By the time he told me to breathe again, I'm sure I was turning cyanotic.  A couple of times I didn't even manage to hold it as long as they requested.  Anyway, it's done.  I got a CD of the scan, which Tim and I looked at, but I have no earthly idea how to interpret it.  I am decent at CT scans (but mostly just of the brain--I can spot a bleed), but I have no experience with MRIs.  The images are impressive in their clarity, especially the spinal ones, but I can't tell you much else about them.  No matter, some guy is getting paid $1 million a year to interpret it from his beach house wearing his slippers.  I have already strongly encouraged both of my children to be radiologists.

I should get the results of the test tomorrow when I see Dr. Russell.  I also saw him yesterday morning prior to the MRI, and he did more work on my psoas and rectus abdominis.  Oh, and I got another ride on the TENS machine.

My schedule called for 13 miles today.  Usually, I'd do this at lunch.  However, I had arranged to pick Amelia up from school to take her out to lunch today.  I've never done that before and have always wanted to.  Tim had the day off, too, so we could all go.  We went to Casa Brava (her choice).  Probably not the best pre-run meal choice, but it was her day to choose.  And it was good.  Tim and I were trying to figure out our runs.  It's Tuesday, which means he was going to attend Tempo Tuesday with some local runners.  I've never been.  Tim mentioned that maybe I should go.  But what about Rowan?  He said he'd push him in the stroller.  Okay, well, what about Amelia?  Luckily, her dad was available so she could come over during the tempo run.

So it was decided I would run with the group, but would I tempo?  I was very undecided.  First, it would of course depend on the status of my abdominal pain.  If it was bad, no way could I tempo.  Second, I have not done anything resembling speed work since 2009.  Third, the focus of this training cycle is on building base, not speed.  That said, I decided I needed some kind of read on my fitness.  We decided we'd run 5 miles before the tempo started (we had to add miles to get the 13 anyway).  If I felt good (pain-wise) during that, I'd do a relaxed tempo.  By that, I mean that I was planning on pushing it a bit, but staying well within my comfort zone.

So, Tim, Rowan, and I set out for the 5 miles.  The weather was not pleasant.  But I didn't care one bit, as my pain was just as it was on Sunday--there but manageable.  That is very encouraging.  However, my legs were talking to me from the very first step.  They are still not recovered from Sunday's 20.  After the 5, I told Tim I'd try to tempo, but not to expect much out of me based on how trashed my legs were.  We met with the group (Bill, Dan, Kathy, John, and Jessie) and did another 2 miles worth of warm up.  We did strides throughout these two miles, and my legs felt awful.  I was wondering if it was even worth trying to tempo at all.  We finally got to the starting point of the tempo.  By this time, Tim and I had already run 7.25 miles.  Probably not the best plan, but it's how it worked out.

I stated that I was going to try to run 3 6:45s.  I got some looks--most of them questioning if I would really run that slowly.  What they didn't realize is that I was worried, based on the previous 7+ miles, about holding that for one mile.  Especially on this course, which has some hills.  It was time to start.  I decided not to even monitor my pace.  The goal was to keep it, as my dad says, "comfortably hard."  And I wanted to stay on the more comfortable end of that since it had been so long since I'd done anything like this.

So we were off.  I started my watch at the wrong place (rookie mistake...I'll know next time).  But I settled into a nice pace.  John was right with me for a while, so I figured we were going around 6:45 (since he was planning to run around that).  But I still didn't look at my Garmin.  I was very comfortable.  My ab pain didn't change, either.  I noticed I was opening up a bit on John, but I wasn't sure if I sped up or he slowed down.  I hit the mile mark and looked at my watch:  6:28.  I didn't panic, because it honestly was very comfortable.

Mile two passed much the same way.  I stayed very relaxed and comfortable, not looking at my watch.  Second mile was in 6:27.  I was surprised by that one, and figured I'd really fall off on the third mile.  I kept running by effort, and was shocked to finish the final (uphill) mile in 6:20.  I wanted to go another mile, if that tells you anything.  But I didn't.  Best not push my luck. 

Tim still finished ahead of me, even with the stroller.  Everyone had great runs, and Kathy (I think) set a personal best.  It was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again soon.  I have to admit that my abdominal pain did get worse during the last half mile, but had settled down again by the time I finished the 13 miles.  I think we're moving in the right direction. And I'm happy to see that, even without any speedwork and very moderate mileage, I'm decently fit.  Another rest day tomorrow--my legs are ready for it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just what I needed...just when I needed it.

I haven't had anything I'd call a "good" run since, oh, early November.  Last Saturday I ran fast-ish, but I was still in quite a bit of pain.  If you've been reading along here, you know that the underlying theme has been simple:  survival.  I set out today for 20 miles with pretty much the same mindset.  Just get through it.  Help is on the way if you can just survive.

It was me, Tim, Bill, and Kathy.  The weather was very nice.  Shorts and a t-shirt for me.  Started with gloves and arm warmers, but quickly peeled them.  The run started out pretty much as usual, with a slight amount of pain on the right, sort of up under my ribs.  It usually gets worse around 12 miles, and by 16 I'm usually in really bad shape.  With each mile beeping off on my Garmin, I always am waiting for the pain to kick in to its very high level. 

Except--it never did.  It was there the whole time, for sure, but it never got worse.  I can say that I actually enjoyed every step of this run.  I could engage in conversation freely.  I felt great.  I wanted to run hard.  I wanted to go 22 miles instead of 20 (hubby coach nixed that, though, and he's probably right).

I did occasionally press on my sides and my lower ribs, but I wasn't gripping them in agony.  I was able to push it up the hills a bit (something that I've not done in a long time since the extra effort usually magnifies the pain).  I didn't even mind the hills.  I loved them.

I was needing a run like this.  A person can only take so much before he or she begins to genuinely lose hope.  I have to admit that I was.  I was reaching a low point with all of this.  And then came today's 20.  Today I was convinced that, even though I am not totally better, it is still possible for me to run the way I used to.  That is huge.  HUGE.  I chatted with Kathy about running races that I've run before, races I've won before, and could genuinely picture myself racing them again.  I haven't raced since August of 2009.  With all this going on, I haven't even allowed myself to think about racing.  Now, I'm hungry for it again.

Now, as I acknowledged above, I'm not cured yet.  And I may have a horrendous run on Tuesday.  But today was enough to keep the flame inside me going a little longer.  I absolutely, unabashedly, and, to use a Bedford saying, T-totally love to run.  It's a big part of who I am.  And I'm glad I'm still fighting for it.

So, what caused the improvement?  The cortisone kicked in?  The trails yesterday?  Dr. Russell?  Just a fluke?  I don't know.  And, for now, I'm not even going to think about it.  I'll worry about that tomorrow.  Right now I just want to feel good.

Dr. Russell and an MRI tomorrow.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

(P)so, what?

Another day, another doctor appointment.  I was excited that I was able to get in to see Dr. Russell this weekend.  We ended up dropping Rowan off at my mom's and then headed there.  More papers to fill out.  I can't tell you how many times I've had to explain my symptoms on an intake form.  "When did your pain start?"  Sometime after my son was born.  "What caused it?"  We still don't know.  "How would you rate your level of pain?"  Depends on the moment.  "Where is your pain?"  It moves.  I honestly have difficulty answering these questions on a standardized form.  Alas, I did it, though.  I feel for the person whose job it is to interpret it.

It wasn't long before we were called back.  Dr. R's assistant weighed me on the oldest looking scale I've ever seen.  That didn't really surprise me, as I noticed a bona fide type writer in the office when I was there for my consultation.  Hey, whatever works.  Dr. R came in and introduced himself.  He looked young.  He is young.  In fact, he's younger than I am.   He asked that open-ended question of "So what's going on?  Tell me about your pain."  Well, first of all, Dr. R., it's interesting.  Actually, I didn't say that.  I explained, as best I could, the whole sordid tale.  He had already been briefed by Dr. Houze and I believe had some communication with Dr. Kaeser's office.  But he was very thorough in assessing my pain.  He was so thorough he reminded me of one of some of my nursing students.  They often go in to do their first head-to-toe assessment of a patient and they are so thorough.  They don't want to miss a thing.  He was just like that, and I appreciated it.  I'm sure he'd been warned about the complexity of the case and perhaps even my persistence in wanting to find a cure.

He did the usual chiropractic assessment.  It's strange to type that, as before all this started I had never really had any chiropractic care.  And if you haven't, you're probably missing out.  Anyway, the drill is basically that they check your spine, your neck, and then they zero in on the problem.  They test the strength of your legs, and they ask if anything makes the pain worse.  Some things did, on the right side.  Certain ways he was stretching my leg back.  He silently made notes, and then told me about the course of treatment he recommended.  We would try some TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulator) treatments, adjustments, and ART (Active Release Therapy).  He's kind of a quiet one.  I asked him about what he thought was going on--where's all the pain coming from, and what about all that rib pain I have?  And why am I pretty much no better after the cortisone shots?  He actually explained it really well.  I have always referred to it as "ab" pain, and I had my injections done in the main ab muscle, the rectus abdominis.  His assessment of me, though, revealed that my psoas is quite weak on the right, and there's a trigger point there.  I had sort of thought something was up with my psoas through reading about trigger points, but was just so locked in on this being an abdominal muscle problem.  I pointed to this hard ridge on the right side, where it hurts so much.  "What is that?"  I asked.  "That's your psoas."  Well, let me tell you, THAT'S where the problem is. 

When he did passive stretching of it with his hand on it, it hurt like a mother deep in my abdomen.  He explained that the psoas attaches to the ribs and the rectus abdominis.  If in spasm, it pulls on them and causes pain there.  The nerves between the ribs get involved, and the pain just spreads anywhere it can, including to the left side and up into my shoulders.  As you can see in the picture below, the psoas is a thin muscle which runs sort of behind the rectus abdominis--it's a deep muscle that can be felt in the back and the abdomen--right where I have pain. 

My right psoas is rock hard.  I am not exaggerating.  It's stiff as a board and it hurts when there's pressure applied directly to it.  I know this because Dr. R did some ART on it.  OUCH.  But he was right on it.  You know what this means, right?  I need my psoas injected with cortisone, and not my abs.  The psoas is in a serious state of spasm and inflammation.  It's pulling on everything.  But I can't have anymore injections until March 23.  For now, I have to do my own trigger point therapy on it and see Drs. Houze and Russell a LOT.  Even though I'm frustrated that I'm still hurting, I keep making baby steps forward.  We've gone from having no idea what I have, knowing it's some kind of MPS, thinking it was purely abdominal MPS, to now knowing that it's likely quite isolated to the psoas.  I can't wait to tell Dr. L so he can stick me with a bunch of 14 gauge needles there.

I've never had TENS therapy before.  Dr. R hooked me up, turned up the juice, and told me to tell him when I could handle no more intensity. Well, I never got to that point (I'm used to this part of my body hurting all the time).  He finally made the call to not increase the intensity anymore.  He left the room and set the timer for 10 minutes.  It was mild at first, kind of like tingles.  Then, oh my word, it felt (and looked) like someone was kicking me in the side.  It was unbelievable.  I loved it.  Beat that pain right out of me!

He also ordered an MRI, which I'm having on Monday.  I can't wait to see the results of that.  I don't see how it could be normal.  After Dr. R was finished with me, we stopped by Indiana Running Company and Tim picked up the new NB Minimus trail shoes.  Then we headed to the trail for 12 miles with dad, Wes, Scott, and Emily.  Beautiful day for a trail run, and the trail was perfect--soft enough to feel great on your legs, but not so soft that you had to work too much harder.  I didn't mind the hills.  The county runs I've been doing are really paying off in that regard.

It still hurt.  Especially in my ribs.  It worsened in the last few miles, but even I couldn't help but enjoy myself.  20 tomorrow with Tim, Bill, and Kathy.




Friday, March 11, 2011

Sick.

I am, that is.  And not in the good, cool kids kinda way.  I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and a fever.  It got worse overnight and I pretty much felt awful all day today.  No more fever, but a stuffy/runny nose and a headache.  I think I got it from Rowan.

No running today, so I don't have anything to report there.  The most interesting thing I have to say is that I've consumed an embarrassingly excessive number of Tim's homemade chocolate chip cookies since last night.  I was feeling bad after my run didn't go well yesterday evening, so he made them.  I'm sick today, so he made them again.  They are my emotional crutch, apparently.

I can say that my belly pain is slightly better today, and definitely different.  It is much more focused in my lower back/ribs.  I still feel it in my belly, but I'm a lot more aware of it near my lower ribs and in my back.  I guess that's good.  I see Dr. Russell tomorrow and am hoping for an MRI to be ordered.  I'm going to point blank ask for one, so Lord help him if he doesn't want me to have one.  I know that MRIs are expensive.  I know insurance companies hate them.  But, in some cases, they're needed.  All the doctors agree that I have a soft tissue problem going on.  The CT and other tests ruled out anything structural or functional (as far as organs go).  All the doctors agree that it's very complicated (and interesting).  Some have conceded that it seems resistant to treatment (I emphatically concur).  An MRI is a scan that can show very detailed images of soft tissue like the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even the visceral covering of organs.  In other words, all the things we're dealing with here.  It picks up inflammation, tissue strain, adhesions, among other things.  They usually cannot show trigger points (which is not necessary in my case, as we can feel them), but will often pick up the inflammation caused by them.  Hello...I want one! 

I want one for two reasons.  Wait, no, three reasons.  1.  It's pretty much the only thing we haven't done.  Might as well go all the way.  2.  I know that I have a diagnosis of MPS, but I am not fully convinced that that is the only thing causing my pain.  Seriously, something is very wrong with my body right now.  I want to rule out anything else (such as actual organ-organ or organ-muscle adhesions that would need to be lysed surgically).  3.  We need a road map.  For the injections and the therapy I'll be getting at the chiro, it would be nice to have some guidance.  I have a really hard time locating precisely where the pain is, especially when I'm not running.  Not only is it diffuse, but it moves.  This movement indicates that a lot of it has to be referred pain.  Injecting/treating the referred pain areas will do nothing in terms of clearing up the problem.  We have to find the source of all the trouble.  MRIs are exceptionally good at this.  When I had my groin strain back in 2009, after not making much progress with treatments, Dr. Murer ordered an MRI.  That let him see exactly where the strain was.  It turned out not to be my adductor at all, but rather a tiny muscle known as the obturator internus.  Completely changed my course of treatment and prognosis (that's a hard one to heal).

Tim is going with me to the chiropractor.  I'm now to the point that I have to have someone (Tim, my mom, or my brother) go with me to these appointments.  I'm friggin' fragile.  I simply cannot and will not go alone.  Someone has to be there just in case they don't believe me.  Of course they all do at this point, but this has been so traumatic and drawn out that if someone even hinted that I wasn't believed or that there's no hope for me, I might lose it.  Tim is also very aware of where the pain shows up, how it shows up, etc. (poor guy).  He can find the spots with his hands.  I need him to do this to show them where they are.  Did I mention I also made him draw all over me with a Sharpie?  Immediately after my run last night, I quickly found all the areas that were hurting or that I could remember hurting badly during it.  I made him draw X's there.  Amelia watched all this and didn't even flinch.  She took a picture for me in case the Sharpie wore off.  You can see that issue has penetrated and affected my entire family.  "It's going to hurt if they poke you in all those places, mom."  "Yeah, I know."  "But it would be worth it."  Love that girl.

After the chiro appointment, I'm going to do something I haven't done in a REALLY long time.  I'm going trail running.  Wes, dad, Tim, Scott, Emily (I think), and maybe some others are going out to Morgan Monroe for 12 or 13 miles.  I'll probably have my butt handed to me, as they are pretty technical trails.  It's okay, though...I could use the distraction.  20 on tap for Sunday.