Ah memories. One year ago today I herniated the disk in my back.
The really annoying part? I didn’t do anything out of the norm to cause it. I basically turned to look behind me while I was propping up a bench with my hands in front of me. That was all it took. (point learned – always, always, always bring your arms in the direction your are turning your body).
It was kind of odd, because the injury hurt at first, but didn’t feel bad for a couple hours. Then by the end of the day I could barely move and was crying from the intensity of the pain that went in the distribution of that red line in the photo above. I didn’t come downstairs for 2 full days.
What I didn’t realize that day was exactly what it was. At first, we thought it was a pulled muscle and that was the first diagnosis by the doctor, but then as the pain progressed and I began to get sciatica symptoms (aka agony), it was then found out to be a herniated disk. I ended up with quadriceps atrophy and my left thigh shrank to a full inch smaller than my right thigh – and I could not stop it from happening! The problem with nerve injuries is that you can physically move the limb around, but without the firing of the nerves themselves, the muscle fibers really aren’t active and will shrink from lack of use.
I panicked a little bit at the thought of gaining weight, but that did not happen. I actually lost a little weight during the first part of being injured. Interesting, eh?
It was a long recovery, and honestly I never quite got back to normal. That was something I was afraid of and it actually happened. I think I recovered very well, though. The key was trying to move as much as I could as soon as I could rather than sitting around. I went back to gentle lifting after 2 weeks. The only exercises I couldn’t do were squats, anything that was a split leg move, and anything that required bodyweight support like planks and pushups. So I modified.
I could barely walk, but I was able to get back on the bike in a few weeks, albeit slower than before. Running took months before it began to feel more normal, but I never got my pre-injury speed back. I also began feeling more pain again with running since January or so and have since stopped running as of March.
What am I left with a year later? I get an achy back sometimes, especially after running, walking for a long time, or really long periods of biking. The skin over the inside of my knee and a little of my calf is numb/alternating with hypersensitivity. (yeah – that is fun and weird). My left leg is also just a bit weaker than the right, which I notice when doing single-leg exercises.
Something I am also left with? Fear of another injury. Having never really had something like this happen before, I didn’t understand chronic pain or lengthy recuperation. Now I do – and I know how easy it is for something like that to happen. I am so careful now about how I turn and move with my back, like reaching into the back seat of the car or looking behind me.
I am just very thankful I can bike as much as I want. I am not sure if running is out of my life completely, but it is on hiatus for now. I am pretty okay with that as long as I can bike.
Speaking of biking – guess who had their bikes outside today!!!
It was in the 50s this afternoon, so we headed out for a coffee break!
The happy bikers:
A nice 12.5 mile ride. It was on the roads because the path was mushy and had some icy spots, but a ride nevertheless! Yippee!!