Earlier this week, I went and got x-rays taken of my spine and hips, hoping to eliminate “stress fracture” as a possible cause for my sciatica. When I woke up this morning, I was greeted with an email message from my doctor with the results and it was worse than what I had imagined: I have degenerative disc disease/arthritis in my lower back. The pain isn’t going to go away. I’m not rehabbing an injury, I’m dealing with a permanent condition. There’s even a class I’m supposed to take (gotta love Kaiser and their classes) to help me manage it.
The first handful of websites I went to for information tossed around phrases like “chronic lower back pain,” “common in people over 50,” “low-impact aerobic activity” and “pain management techniques.”
I was already planning on going to the gym this morning for a swim, but I got there a little later than usual (what with the crying and all) and the lanes were starting to fill up. I shared a lane with a frog-kicking girl for a little bit, but honestly my head was such a mess that I bailed out on the workout after just a few laps.
When I got home, I put on my running shoes and hit the pavement. I know this doesn’t sound like a smart thing to do, but it had to be done. I had too many thoughts swirling around in my head to process them all, and running is the only way I can sort this kind of stuff out.
I spent the first half of my run feeling sorry for myself and pondering the what-ifs:
What if I can’t even make it to the starting line of my Half-Iron?
What if I never run another marathon?
What if I never run another race again…ever?
That last one nearly brought me to my knees. I know I’m not fast and it’s not like I’m competing for prizes or even a spot on the podium, but being a competitive athlete is WHO I AM. Who will I be if I’m not a runner?
By the time I turned around and headed for home, I was getting mad. F#ck you stupid back pain. F#ck you knee pain and waking up achy and never feeling completely comfortable. F#ck you “pain management” and “chronic condition.” I am running, do you hear me?!? I don’t care if it hurts, I. AM. RUNNING!
The thing is, I am a glass-half-full kind of girl, so I need to find the positives in this situation. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far and I feel certain that I’ll be adding to the list soon:
- It could be one bajillion times worse. I will be alive to raise my kids and love my husband for many, many years, even if my stupid back hurts.
- IronHubs and I have been kicking around the idea of getting a Tempurpedic bed, now I have a real reason!
- I am REALLY going to kick ass in the pool now that it is my primary sport. No more holding back and thinking “I’m working on my swimming (until I get back to running).”
- I’ve come across several websites that suggest I will be able to bike again, which is awesome.
Thank you in advance for all the nice comments and positive thoughts. You guys are the best! I would also be happy to hear any “My cousin’s brother’s wife’s friend had this and she made a miraculous recovery by following these specific steps”-type stories!