Why I'm not running

Friday, May 20th 
noon : yoga, I tweaked my back while twisting, enough that it hurt to go into a headstand.

Saturday, May 21st 
7am - noon : We ran ~23 miles, my lower back did hurt when I started running but it didn't feel any worse when I was done. 

Sunday, May 22nd 
7am : It was hard to bend forward and my back didn't feel great so I decided to skip going to yoga, since I didn't want to make it worse because we were going to run 30 miles in the Gorge on Tuesday. I instead drove an hour to my mom's house. 

11am - 4pm : At my mom's my left leg felt sore, but after lunch I had a noticeable pain going down my leg, I wasn't sure what was going on. 

4pm - 5:30pm : Driving home the pain in my left leg just kept getting worse, I kept rubbing on it hoping that would help, but it didn't. 

5:30pm - midnight : When I got home I could barely walk from one room to another without stopping to lay down. I WAS IN SO MUCH PAIN. It felt like my leg muscles were spasming, I had never felt anything like it before. I eventually made it to the couch, where laying flat on my back seem to relieve most of the pain. I had no idea what was going on, but was hopeful that a good night's sleep would help. The whole evening I was texting my husband, John, who was in Copenhagen for work, about all the pain I was in. I am pretty sure at that point he thought I was being melodramatic. I took an extra sleeping pill to make sure I slept through the night. 

Monday, May 23rd
2am : I woke up a few times in pain but I was able to get back to sleep, but finally at 2am I woke up with my left leg in so much pain that I was crying and screaming. Trying to walk to the bathroom was so difficult that I didn't want to get out of bed again to try and find painkillers. I was home alone and didn't know what to do, the pain wasn't going away and nothing I did made it any better. My husband told me to call an ambulance and go to the ER, but I was afraid of how much it would cost, even though I had insurance. I thought if I could just wait it out until 5am, then I could call a friend to come and take me to the ER. 

3am : I couldn't take the pain any longer, I tried calling my friend Chris but he didn't pick-up, I then called Susan who picked up on the 2nd ring and she said she would be over in 15 minutes. 

3:30am - 6:30am : The ER - It really was a blur, I was in so much pain. They gave me a cocktail of pain meds along with a shot of morphine, and finally the pain started to subside. They suspected I had sciatica, even though the pain was on the side of my left leg and not down the back of it. The x-ray showed a narrowed space between L4-5, which was probably causing the pain. The ER doctor suggested I contact my primary care doctor to get an MRI. I do remember Susan telling the nurse or doctor that we were running a 100k in 2 weeks, I don't remember them responding to her. I also felt very lucky that I had Susan there taking care of everything.  

7am : Back home. Susan got me situated on the couch with everything I needed to be comfortable. We called my moms, who could come over and take care of me so Susan could get back to her family. I texted with my primary care doctor and he was able to fit me in at 2:30pm. 

2:30pm : more pain pills... I was at Dr. Shay's office trying to coherently tell him the events of the last 72 hours. He didn't think it was sciatica, since the pain wasn't going down the back of my legs, he thought I might just be experiencing severe muscle spams but wanted to check with a specialist to make sure it wasn't a bulging disc. 

Tuesday, May 24th - Friday, May 27th : The next few days were a real haze of pain, pills and doctor's appointments. I ended up going to an Orthopedist who recommended me getting an MRI. I went to PT twice and had a few strength exercises to do. By Thursday, I was standing without any pain and was able to go on an hour walk, which was a huge improvement over the previous days where I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without being in pain. I still had some numbness on the inside of my lower left leg, which caused it to be heavy and weak. My PT, Ariel, said it was fine to do hour long walks as long as I wasn't in pain, but no yoga, spin, or RUNNING. UGH. And the Orthopedist never called back with the MRI results, so I went into the long holiday weekend wondering....

THE LONGGGGGGGGGGG WEEKEND (May 27th - 30th) : I made the mistake of Googling "running with a bulging disc L4-5", after that it was a downward spiral. I got really depressed thinking I was never going to run again, I only got out of bed to go on my hour walks and then it was even a struggle. I hit rock bottom Sunday night, but that is a story left for another time. 

Tuesday, May 31st : The Ortho's PA finally called me back with the MRI results and said I did have a bulging disc between L4-5, I tried to write down everything he said, but he seemed rushed and I didn't get it all down. He did suggest I get an injection, which seemed strange to me since I hadn't had any pain for almost a week. 

Luckily I had a PT appointment that afternoon and I could ask Ariel all the questions I didn't get to ask the PA. I have been seeing Ariel since February, when I started having knee and back issues, and she has always been able to set my mind at ease when I mentally start to freakout about something at doctor tells me, and this time was no different. She called and got a copy of the MRI report and we went over it with me. She suggested I talk to my Dr again about the injection, since I wasn't in pain. 

I got ahold of the PA and he said if I wasn't experiencing pain that I probably didn't need the injection. (Only if he listened to me the first time!!!!) He also said it would probably be 2 months before I could run, but yoga and spin class were ok. Ariel advised me against yoga and spin class because of the forward folding. I was quickly losing trust in the PA, but I scheduled a follow-up appointment for 2 weeks out.

Wednesday, June 1st - Monday June 6th : I have been walking/hiking in Forest Park every day and even hiked 10 miles on the Salmon River trail over the weekend. I ended up with 43 miles for the week, not bad for being injured. I am diligent about doing all of my PT exercises and going to see Ariel twice a week.

I got a referral from Ariel for another doctor to get a second opinion. The new doctor, Dr. Tatsumi got me in right away and spent 30 minutes going over my MRI and answering my questions. He said I had a large bulge that I could have removed with surgery, which only took and hour but would have me at home for a few weeks and recovering for at least a month. Or I could see if the bulge reduces or gets resorbed, he said larger bulges are more likely to do so. He said since I wasn't experiencing any pain I could try running again and see what happens. Which at first I was excited to hear, but as I thought about it more I got scared, I don't want to go through the pain again.

I am conflicted about what to do, luckily I have a PT appointment tomorrow can talk to Ariel about the options. I debated canceling my follow-up appointment next week with the first doctor, but for now I am going to keep it to see what he thinks. 

This is not the way I wanted to spend the summer, but I have very thankful I am not in pain and I am able to hike and hopefully (slowly) add some more activities back, so I can stay in shape. I am trying to stay optimistic, which isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially when I start Googling about running and bulging discs. I am very luckily to have found a great PT and have a VERY supportive family, husband and bff/running partner. I know I will get back to running, but I just have to be patient, which I am not good at.   

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