Thursday, June 20, 2013

Starting Over

Having sports hernia plus a 'pre' stress fractrue for an injury has really been very frustrating. It took a little while to figure out what exactly was wrong with me, because for the longest time I thought it was just a groin/adductor strain. After about a month of the pain getting worse and worse - I knew it was something other than just a strain. An MRI revealed that I had a tear in my abdominal wall. As a result of trying to train through this hernia, I put too much stress on my pelvis, so that created a stress reaction in my bone as well. I want to write a little bit about my experience with sports hernia though, because as far as I can tell, it is a very uncommon injury especially among female athletes.

So the symptoms included pain in my groin area mostly, but some pain and tightness into my adductor and up through my lower left abdomen. From what I understand, this injury is most prevalent in hockey players and football players and people that move aggressively from side to side. My injury presented itself when I was doing flip turns off of the wall while swimming and using a pull buoy at the same time. I guess I can see how this may have happened. My pain did progress up to my abdominal area especially one night in the middle of my sleep, I awoke with dull achy pain in my lower left abdominal. This was scary because it hurt so bad for a few days until I could get in to see a specialist. I walked with a big limp. Also, it terribly hurt to cough, sneeze, laugh, and cry, and that made me cry even more. This was the absolute worse pain that I have experienced compared to any other injury that I have had in the past. (Clavicle break/tendonitis/ITBand/etc.) During this time, I did a lot of crying, because it would hurt every time I would try to move. I felt like I couldn't escape pain for a good month of time. You don't realize how much you use your abdominal muscles in everything you do until you have a tear in them, and it hurts every time you move. When I did get in to see the doctor, he gave me a nerve block that helped almost immediately and got even better over a few days.  At this time, the Doctor told me that these injuries rarely heal on their own, so I decided that surgery would be my only option. For the first time in about 6 weeks, I felt like I could finally get over this injury now that I knew exactly what I had to do. I had laprascopic surgery to repair my tear on Monday and the doctor said the tear was actually a lot bigger than he expected to see. The surgeon inserted mesh into my lower abdomen/groin area under my lowest layer of transverse abdominal muscle layer. A few days post surgery my lower abdominal/groin area is swollen and it hurts a little more than I expected, but I am just happy that I am moving forward hopefully.
Definitely bloated and swollen - Looking like a marshmallow.

So now I am at the point where I am starting over completely. At this point, I think I have lost all of my fitness, strength, durability, everything fitness wise. I was really sad and very frustrated for a little while during this whole ordeal, but I finally got to a point where I accepted this injury and put everything into perspective that this injury is not that bad. I would read articles about the Boston Bombing Survivors and how they plan to move on. These people inspired me more than they will ever know. I was touched deeply with their perseverance and determination to get better. I can't even imagine being in that situation and then rebounding with the positive mind set that they have. But each and everyone of those survivors serve as inspiration to stay positive and take challenges and face them head on, and that is what I plan to do.

So now while I am healing and recovering, I have taken up knitting, painting our whole house, and spending lots of time with family and friends. I am lucky to have great support and a plan to get moving again. I have my heart set on doing a race late fall, but I have to listen to my body. Until then, I might become a pro-knitter (just kidding - I am pretty awful!)

 
Not very good knitter! Xtra skinny scarf maybe?




Jeremy starting our painting/laying down floor project that we have been putting off for 3 years!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Acceptance

The last 6 weeks have been a little bit of a rough ride for me dealing with this injury. My emotions would range from irritated to hopeful to depressed to optimistic to bitchy to determined to frustrated until finally I accepted that I have to deal with this injury head on. So it turns out that this groin/adductor issue that I have taken so much time off is actually a couple of different things. The most serious is a stress reaction of my pelvis. This means that it is not quite a stress fracture, but it is trying to be. The only cure for it is total rest. I also have a boatload of inflammation, tightness, and muscular imbalance in my core area causing all sorts of problems. And finally I have sports hernia (tears in my abdominal wall). When my doctor read my MRI results to me, my immediate reaction was to start crying, because it sounded like there was a lot going on in my pelvic region that I just wasn't expecting.  But after thinking about all of my symptoms (pain while sneezing/unable to sit on saddle or run for even a minute/pain while sleeping and walking up steps) the diagnosis made total sense.

I am not really sure how this injury started. I tend to think it is because I got tired and sloppy.  A typical day for me is a morning swim, work on my feet all day, bike, run, sleep. I think I just got exhausted and let my posture slip during the workday and came home and worked out on tired muscles with bad form. Plus I would fake my functional strength workouts, by not concentrating on using proper form. Strength training was a total afterthought, usually fit in between eating dinner, packing lunch, brushing my teeth, and showering. I definitely did not make core work/strength training a priority when I should have. Who knows if this would have happened anyways? But the one thing that I do know is that I need to figure out what to do now...

I went to ART therapy for the first 3 weeks of this injury, which usually helps with all of my soft tissue tightness, but it was not working for this. Then the past 3 weeks, I have been going to PT almost every day with deep tissue massage weekly and it still hasn't improved. My strength and mobility is great, but I just can't seem to get rid of this pain in my groin area. I plan to continue down the road of more PT, but I am afraid that the sports hernia could simply not heal and that scares the crap out of me. Surgery is another option at some point, but if I decide that surgery is the road that I need to take - I am scared that my pelvic bone issues might not heal all the way. I know I just need to have patience, but it is so much easier said than done.

This is not really the way I had envisioned my first pro season. I get pretty upset when I think of all of the freezing mornings that I woke up at 5a.m. to swim by myself, and all of the hours I put on the trainer after work with t-runs in the snow late at night. I have been looking forward to summer training for a long time, and now that it is here, it is driving me bananas to not be out there! I feel like I was on the road to a fun season, and I really didn't get anything out of all of those sacrifices. It honestly has been a struggle to stay positive sometimes, but I just have to remember that I can't always plan life, and I need to roll with the punches. In my heart, I do know that I will recover and be back out there, sometimes it is just a tough pill to swallow when you are going through it.

I am really trying to focus on the positives that I have in my life and keep an honest perspective of what is truly important. I have been spending lots of time with my family. I am grateful to have really good insurance in a time when many people do not. I know that my health will come around (even though I don't feel very healthy now). Finally I am incredibly grateful to have such wonderful support. I have Dr. Davenport that has been so helpful in helping me figure all of this out. Aimee, the absolute best PT that I can imagine. Coach Jesse, that has been a rock for me, keeping me positive even during my dark days of wanting to eat only brownies. And finally Jeremy - who I am honestly surprised that he has not asked for a divorce after all of my mood swings!!

Hopefully sooner than later, I will be out there enjoying what I love to do...Until then, I will be doing LOTS and LOTS of core work...and trying to stay sane!!!