How did I feel after the first half of May?
I had a follow up appointment with Christine in early May. She thought that my numbers looked really good; that I had made remarkable progress. And, I felt that way too. I had a lot of days that were a "James Brown Day". So, we talked about what to do next.
"What do you think? What's on your mind?" asked Christine.
"Well, I would like to press things a little. Increase my work loads, add more sitting time, handle dinner a few nights a week, maybe help with house work. Seem reasonable?" I replied.
"Yeah, yeah, it does. That's a lot of stuff though; a lot of change. Maybe think about making changes in one area at a time and then gradually adding things back in," said the wise Christine.
That's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to run; just let things really go. Take my new found freedom out for spin and see what she could really do on the open road. Run the engine all the way to the red-line and then some. See if the frame would hold together or just come shattering apart blown to pieces skipping through the sky like leaves on a light breeze.
Of course, I never said any of this. In fact, when C reads this she's probably going to be surprised. But, instead, I followed the rules.
Sort of. I'm not very good with rules.
I added in more sitting. I had a lot of meetings, driving to do and although I would love to drive in a prone position, and maybe I'll invent such a car, right now, I have to sit. So my sitting time per day and days per week started climbing. Then, I upped the pace on the treadmill, still unloaded but moving faster and up a steeper incline. Then, I added in a set of drills I call a matrix. This is a series of drills that are all focused on one major movement pattern like push-pull or squat-lift. I ran all this by Christine first and she signed off on it although in retrospect, I think what I saw flash across her face was, "Hmmm....I'm not so sure about this but you taught me, know more than I do, have more experience than I do, but maybe I should say something...no, it's probably just fine...no, it's not fine...yes, it is...." and what she said was, "Well....yeah, I think that will be ok but pay really close attention to your form and any symptoms."
Armed with my new plan, off I went to crash and burn.
It wasn't long after I added all of this stuff back into my life that I had the return of the Painster. In the middle of the night trying to sneak back into my life, there was the old familiar imprint of hip and leg pain. I woke up wrapped in Regret and soaked in Discouragement. I spent the whole day fighting this mental - emotional straight jacket. I just needed to find a place to dump it but it stuck to me like fly paper. It was like UPS showed up on my front door, rang the bell, and when I answered, I suddenly owned a whole ton of crap; emotional crap.
The Painster slinked away to be replaced by Bitching. My term for burning and itching. My legs, both, sometimes in the lower part, sometimes in the upper, sometimes in my ankles, burned and itched. It felt like twenty generations of ants, all on fire, were marching up and down my legs. It didn't hurt. It was just completely, totally annoying and distracting. I found myself wondering again, "Is this good or bad? Does this lead to surgery or injection or both? Is this normal or do I have something else wrong with me? Is this even real? Am I just imagining this?"
Other than the Bitching, I felt quite good (and that probably sounds like, "Well, other than the stick in my eye, I see pretty well"). I slept fairly well most nights. I could play my guitar again. I could sit through dinner. if I could just get the Bitching under control, I'd be set.
I went back to see Dr. White who suggested an anti-inflammatory. His thought was that a specific part of my nerve was irritated - reason for the Bitching and why I felt it in both legs. He felt I may need an epidural injection of steroids. Yikes. Big needle plunging toward my spinal cord. Not my first choice. Or, second, third, or fourth for that matter. I went to see Trish. She thought the symptoms could be a healing response; kind of like when a wound is healing and it itches.
The Bitching continued through the end of May and moved into full steam ahead BITCHING on Memorial Day. At this point, I took a pain pill - Ultram. Bam! And, two hours later the BITCHING was more like, "Where are you?" I can see why people take drugs. But, it's not the answer. I know that. I just couldn't take the flaming ants marching up and down my legs any longer so I pointed a huge fire hose and blasted the whole lot of them away.
I finally figured out that the culprit, once again, was gravity. If I lived on the moon, I would be just fine. But, until my disc heals, whenever it's exposed to too much force (like sitting too long, or bending, twisting, sweeping), the Bitch, Bitch, Bitch, the Bitch is Ba-a-a-ack! I can sit about 3-4 hours every other day and the Bitching is no where to be found. If go over 4 or do too many days in a row, whoosh! Gates open, ants march!
So, now what? Trish feels my alignment is good and she has decreased my visits, really check-ups, to once a month. I can control the Bitching by controlling my sitting. Dr. White thinks I may need an injection which we'll discuss near the end of June. So, in the meantime, I have to keep the Bitching to a minimum (so, read "Don't sit so much") and to help my spine heal, increase the aerobic exercise component. But, walking isn't hard enough anymore. I can walk a long ways, feel fine and sing the whole way so it's not hard enough. But, if I run, perish the thought, not only will my wife divorce me and Christine shoot me, I suspect my disc would crumble like a stale cracker.
How do I get my heart rate up to flood my spine with oxygen without pummeling my spine? And, can I get my self back into pre-skiing shape? Will my spine hold up?