I’m currently feeling like I’ve taken 1,000 steps forward and maybe 992 steps back. (Exaggeration alert!) Running post-surgery has been going quite well, and my hips usually feel good minus going back and forth between which hip wants to try to fake me out. Except, of course, until my hips don’t seem to actually be faking me out and they actually kind of hurt. A few days ago, I noticed that my hips seemed to start aching a bit. I got nervous that it was the tear pain again, but it doesn’t hurt in the same spots as where the labral tears hurt, and instead feel like hip flexors gone wild.
At the same time, my right calf is still aching. You may remember that I had some calf trouble as I trained for the 2015 NYC Marathon. It came back in early 2016, and I saw a PA about it at the same time that I saw someone for my left hip (well, it was the same initial PA as I saw for my hip). The problem with having more than one body part hurt is that people seem to only want to treat one body part at a time. The physical therapist I saw had a student with her, so they would do a little double work on me, but the main focus was on the hip. Once I got the decision to have hip surgery, the calf kind of went on the back burner. I also figured that perhaps taking an extended break would fix the calf. It mostly feels like there’s a giant knot in my calf, and it gets really tight and painful when I run, making me feel like I lose the bounce in my step. I’ve stretched, massaged on a lacrosse ball (because a foam roller doesn’t touch it), gotten a couple deep tissues massages, and obviously taken extended time off because of my hip surgery.
I made an appointment to see the same PA as last year, mostly so I can be like, “Well, it’s still here, what’s next?” She was a little surprised to see me back again, but happy to hear that overall my hip surgery went well. (Mostly because, as she put it……surgery doesn’t always go well.) I explained how my calf pain seems about the same as it did when I saw her a year ago, and neither the physical therapy nor super extended time off thanks to hip surgery really seemed to help. As I’ve built my running, my right calf gets really tight and I feel a huge knot in the upper area. So she did a physical exam and all that. Whenever I point/flex my feet, she always asks if I was dancer – oh no no no, haha. I suppose I have dancer feet, which I’ll take as a compliment. So she ordered an MRI to make sure there’s nothing crazy going on, although she hopes it’s negative. (And probably should be, I’m convinced it’s just a giant knot.) Then she mentioned something about maybe getting an ultrasound and eventually doing trigger point injections if that ends up to the case. Luckily she didn’t send me back to physical therapy since I already did the route and it didn’t seem to help. (I also asked about exercise induced compartment syndrome because I had been reading about it, but she said that was highly unlikely – thank goodness because treatment for that is a fasciotomy, and we used to do those on the burn unit – no thank you!!)
To be honest, this all makes me very, very sad. I know I’m lucky that I overall had a pretty good outcome with my hips, but the fact that my hip flexors are really bothering me doesn’t make me very happy. Hip flexor tendonitis is a complication of this surgery, which is why I really wasn’t allowed to active them for weeks after surgery…….but we’re nearly 24 weeks out so it seems odd that it would flare now. I feel like I took everything pretty easy and built my running very safely. I did go back to Refine Method, but all of the exercises there felt good and were kind of similar to what I was doing in physical therapy anyway. So it’s pretty disheartening, although I guess it’s good I made it so long without any problems. I’m currently on self-imposed full rest from everything and trying to roll out my hips/butt/legs, so hopefully that will help.
Another part that is weighing on me is that fact that since I quit my job last month, I had to switch my health insurance. Luckily I was able to go on Eric’s insurance, so I guess that’s a plus, but it’s not nearly as good as the insurance I had through my job. With my old insurance, I never paid more than a co-pay for anything. On the new insurance, the co-pay is even higher, plus I had to meet a deductible and pay co-insurance. I’m sure this is the norm for many people, but after having such good insurance, I cried when they told me how much the MRI will cost. (In other news, I met my deductible after being on the insurance for less than a month! Great!) I’ve always been very financially responsible, so it makes me a little nervous to be without an income even though I know it’s an important investment to be making. (Also, I mean, I live in a lovely apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, so it’s not like I’m in crisis over here. Just trying to be smart.)
It does make me wonder if running is getting a little too expensive to keep up with or if all these injuries are really worth it. I’ve been dealing with this hip problem for almost two years, and I feel like I’m over the major hump (thanks, surgery), but I hope these little bumps don’t roll for too long. Running while injured, while trying to figure out what is wrong, while waiting for surgery, while coming back from surgery – I’ll admit it’s really not that fun. I can wax poetic about how much I love to run, but it’s been a long time since I’ve really felt that way. I really do love to run, but it’s been so hard lately. I knew I wouldn’t be fast when I came back from surgery, and I did have a few fast runs, but others I could barely run 9 minute miles. One of my running friends used to call me the “7:40 Queen” because I could run 7:40 miles like clockwork – not anymore. I also got on the scale for the first time since surgery and burst into tears with that. (I expected some weight gain from being so limited, but….the number still really hurt to see.) I really had such an identity as a runner, and I feel really far away from that right now. I had such high hopes of getting it back after surgery, but more setbacks are really weighing me down (both physically and mentally, ha).
I try to stay positive because I really have very little to complain about in my life, but dealing with an injury for nearly two years can slowly break you down. I’d really just like to be pain-free…..and run again.
So for now, I’m laying low (and studying, of course!), and appreciating the airline miles I’ll get for paying for this MRI (which is on Tuesday). The bright side, right?