Back In The Saddle

Well…..s’been a while, eh?

So the sciatica thing sucked real hard, and it’s still not entirely over.  Parts of my foot and ankle are still surface-numb, I still haven’t got full strength and balance back in my leg, and if I overdo it, I certainly know about it.  I’ve been trying to be very mindful of what’s happening in my body, without being fearful… so that I don’t push myself too hard, or wimp out too early.

As detailed in the previous post, the downhill path started in July, and honestly, it wasn’t until about mid November that I started to feel like I had some control again.  It was a long, frustrating time, and I found myself stripped of my greatest tool for handling angsty feelings: running.  I hadn’t even realized until I wasn’t able to, that I had been using my runs as a way to blow off steam/frustration/fight-or-flight/anxiety/etc.  Not being able to do it also sucked real hard.

But, I’m running again, which is great.  Not long, and not fast, but enough that I get the good-feels that I want to get out of it, and I feel like I’m making progress.  Still haven’t cracked 5km, which is disappointing, as I was up to 10km a year ago – but I’ll get there.

I feel like I have a bit of a road ahead now, not just to continue rehabilitating my hip, but also my internal equilibrium, as all of this has created a prolonged feeling of being lowdown and sluggish.  I need to jumpstart my engine!

Admittedly, I’ve been starting slow and being careful, but it’s time to start re-training myself.  Been going out for more runs, stretching, setting time aside to sit quietly, eating less junk, drinking less booze, making myself get up at a decent time despite being off work, no mid-day naps, taking vitamins, drinking lots of water, and all that good stuff.  Once my habits are back on track, I will look at weight training again.

And, it does suck a bit to run in the winter, but I think I can hack it.  By springtime, I hope to be up to 10k again, and might sign myself up for the Sun Run or something.

Sciatica

Well.  This is no fun.

So that hip thing?  It escalated.

In July, I overdid it and my body complained.  My hips have always been tight, and for a belly dancer, I have shockingly limited mobility.  In mid July, I was working on an art project that required me to be seated on the floor to work, and I worked on it, multiple days in a row.  My hips complained, and I didn’t listen, because I was hell-bent on finishing the project.

The rest of July, all of August, and into September, I was still trying to recover from screwing myself up.  Despite being in varying amounts of discomfort, I managed to keep all my commitments at Burning Man, including approx 24 hours Rangering (including a 6-hour bike shift), 3 hours at Arctica, something like 6+ hours for Conclave rehearsal & performance, at least two nights of exploration & dancing, plus camp set up, tear down, approx 4 days sitting in the car for travel each way.  Yeah… that’s a LOT of activity for a person with a buggered hip.

When I got home from the desert, I was in pretty rough shape, as the last big of road trip was a real killer for my hip.  I stacked a few massage & chiro appointments, to try to get it under control, and was diligent in stretching multiple times a day to manage pain and mobility.

On Sunday the 15th, while I was stretching, my right glute went into spasm.  I popped some muscle relaxants and tried to rest as best I could until morning.  I saw Jeff the next day, and he was able to provide some relief.  I could at least rest somewhat comfortably, but I was unable to put pressure on that glute without pain, which limited my ability to stretch it.  It felt like there was a spiky ball in the core of my right buttock, with a too-tight elastic band stretched over it.  (An elastic band full of nerves, mind you.)  In addition, my right hamstring and other neighbouring muscles had this constant pre-cramp feeling… like that feeling you get right before a charley horse.  After three days when it didn’t improve, I began to wonder if I’d really done something terrible to it, so I scheduled an appointment with my GP on Thursday the 19th & asked for a referral to someone Jeff suggested, and got a prescription for naproxen.

By Saturday the 21st, I was going stir crazy.  I’d been largely housebound and horizontal for over a week and needed some air.  Frank suggested that instead of getting groceries for me, that he take me to Safeway, and let me shuffle around gently, while he went to pick up our friend Terri.  Great.  Let’s do that.

I shuffled around gently, not once considering that carrying a basket might not be a good idea.  As I was shopping, I could feel my right glute and hamstring getting tighter and tighter.  Ok, gotta go soon.  Tighter, and painful.  Ok hurry!  TIGHTER.
And then the three smallest toes on my right foot went numb.  And then my ankle.

And then FIRE!  ELECTRICITY!  Agonizing pain flooded down my leg from my right glute.

I could barely get myself out of the store.  I limped outside, waiting for Frank, whimpering, trying to breathe, and trying not to scream.  When Frank & Terri pulled up, all I could say was “please take me to the hospital”, and suffer while they tried to belt my twisted body into my seat.  I’ve been through a lot of pain in my life, and honestly – this was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I broke into a cold sweat immediately and could barely speak recognizable words.

The folks at the hospital were amazing.  They must have an eye for who is faking and who is for real, because I was seen immediately and they smacked my pain down hard and fast.  They checked me out, called it sciatic pain, established that it probably wasn’t a disc issue, based on where my pain was originating, sent me home with some pain killers, told me not to lift anything, that moving around gently was better than 24/7 bedrest, and recommended that I see my GP the following week, after the pain subsided, and get a referral for physio.

The pain killers they gave me in the hospital were heavy, so I slept very well that night… best sleep I’d had in over a week.  When I woke up the next day, the spikey ball of pain in my glute was gone, but everything felt cramped, and had a lot of pain in my sacrum/SI joints.  The numbness that had come on the night before was still there.

So, here we are on Thursday the 26th, 5 days after the episode.
Parts of my foot & lower leg are still numb, everything still feels cramped, sacrum/SI joints are still painful, but, the pain is somewhat tolerable. I’m off the muscle relaxants & don’t feel I need the breakthrough painkillers that the hospital sent me home with, so am just doing 400 ibuprofen & 500 acetaminophen every 6 hours.

I tend to shift a lot… nothing is comfy for very long. I can stand or sit for about 10 minutes at a time, so I switch between those often. Lying down with some supporting pillows is very good, and is more sustainable than sitting.  Heat sometimes helps.  I have almost no forward flexibility in my right leg, and only marginally more with my left, and certainly can’t bend enough to touch my feet.  I shuffle around the house with small steps, grunting with any movement that causes pain, which is most movement.

It’s incredibly frustrating to be dependent on Frank for every little thing.  I need help to put socks on, or to get in & out of the bath.  I can’t bend to pick up a laundry basket off the floor, or load/unload the bottom rack of the dishwasher.  I feed the cat by leaning over as much as I can, supporting myself on the wall, and then dumping her scoop of food into her dish from about 2 feet up and try to ignore the bits of kibble that don’t make it into the bowl.

This is certainly a lesson in asking for, and receiving help… two things that I really, really suck at.

I’m seeing a friend that does acupuncture tomorrow… lots of friends who’ve had sciatica tell me that acupuncture helped them, so I’m going to give it a shot.  I’ll see my GP on Friday for the physio referral.

Wish me luck.

Struggling

It’s time to admit that I’m struggling.

I’m overwhelmed by my life.  I’ve previously admitted to Must Sickness (must do this, must do that), but beyond my own self-imposed musts, there is a lot of real musts on my plate. Musts that seriously affect me & Frank personally/financially, and musts that I volunteered for, but are real commitments and can’t be blown off.

Added on top of this is my hip.  My right hip is in rough shape, and I’m so angry about it that I wanted to say it’s being a bitch, but that’s not fair.  It’s my own fault… it’s a result of pushing myself too hard and not listening to my body’s signals.  But here I am, with my right hip so buggered that I am practically never comfortable unless I’m flat on my back, bending/squatting, standing/walking for longer than 15 minutes is painful, and I can’t easily reach either of my feet (which is hugely frustrating in the summer when my feet are constantly grubby).

Yes, I have fabulous bodyworkers who are helping me get back to normal, and I’m doing all my stretches, but it’s expensive and is taking longer than I have patience for.  This constant low-grade discomfort, peppered with pain and impediment is driving me crazy.

These two things – the overwhelm and the hip – makes perfect conditions for anxiety and depression.

I haven’t been able to do any activity that would take me closer to my Get Ripped mountain.  No running, walking, or dancing on a buggered hip, and the negative impact of overwhelm on my time and my emotional state makes it very friggen difficult to make good food choices.  Not that it’s an excuse, but when standing at the counter to chop vegetables is painful, I find myself reaching instead for the pre-made, the easy, and the fast.

So, I’m struggling all over.

Day 4

Today’s only a partial fail.

Food-wise, it’s been lame again, due to 100% focus on the art project, but this evening I’m heading out to fire rehearsal, which is always a good workout.

Day 3

Bah, today was a bit of a fail.

I’ve been tunnel-visioned on an art project and I barely came up for air all day.
No exercise, and eating whatever was easy/fast in the fridge, or handed to me by Frank.
I’ll need a serious stretch though… art project had me sitting on the floor most of the day, which killed my hips & lower back.

Day 2

Ok, full disclosure:

My fancy pants scale says I’m 196 lbs, and 35% body fat.

Although, admittedly – I don’t much care.  I know muscle is heavier than fat, and I intend to build a lot more muscle than I have now – so I’m not bothered by pounds.  The body fat % bugs me a bit, but it pleases me to see that it’s down from a previous test shortly after the miscarriage, which showed me at 40%.  I’d like to see it down around the 25-30% range to start.

Breakfast this morning was Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola, three spoons of vanilla yogurt, and a handful of fresh blueberries.  And a cup of honey-lemon-ginseng tea.

day02-breakfast

Lunch was toast, hummus, cheese, cucumber, a couple of olives and a cup of tea.
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I scarfed a some potato salad, deli turkey, and a couple of pickles before a meeting this evening, to tide me over until a very late dinner: bbq steak & zucchini medallions, 1/2 portions each of rice & corn.

And now staying up too late, drinking coffee, and working on the Portal of Rebirth.

Day 1

After months of no deliberate exercise, Frank & I went out for a run/walk today.  Mostly walk, but some run, we did about 4km in 40 minutes.  We aimed ourselves at the Farmer’s Market and bought some fresh produce:  Beets, radishes, carrots, salad greens, kale, blueberries, raspberries, and cheese.

I made us lunch when we got home.  A large fresh salad with a few leftover chicken wings.

Frank had made “Hong Kong Honey-Glazed” chicken wings the night before, with a recipe from The BBQ Bible, with ginger and soy sauce.

The salad had the greens, kale, and radishes from our market adventure, as well as some cucumber, and I made the “Fabulous French Dressing” from How It All Vegan.

day1-lunch

 

We nibbled a bit at a birthday party (half a grilled cheese sandwich, some olives, a few tortilla chips with seven layer dip, some bits of chicken), and drank a lovely ginger/lemongrass iced tea.  So delicious, that I made a batch when I got home!

Dinner was more of the salad I made for lunch, with two sole fillets with lemon & parsley butter, that Frank planked on the bbq, using a recipe off the package.

I was exhausted from the day, and headed to bed around 11pm… way earlier than I normally would, but I thought it better to take the sleep if my body was asking for it.

About Get Ripped

Featured

This section of my site is (for the moment anyway), intended to be a personal tool for tracking and motivating myself on a personal goal.

As a person who believes in the body-positive movement, and does not at all believe that a woman should be measured by appearance, I struggle a bit with my own desire to look like an Amazon.  I already feel like a warrior on the inside, and I have shockingly hard muscles under my curves.  But I want the outside to match the inside, and to stop feeling like an Amazon in fat suit.  I want to be ripped.

I decided months ago that I wanted to do this, but it’s been difficult.  One of the most unexpectedly difficult things has been a fear of judgment about my wanting.  Months have gone by, and I haven’t acted on my desire to be incredibly fit and strong because I was afraid that desire might be misinterpreted as a self-esteem issue, or as a message that bodies that are not fit and strong are inadequate, or that I was somehow letting down the body-positive movement.

And, this morning as I was pinning images of hard-bodied women to my secret Pinterest board, I realized that I was hiding what I wanted to do to my body, (which has been seriously impeding my progress) because I was afraid of judgment.  I don’t believe my fat is shameful, but somehow, my desire to get ripped IS?  That’s kinda messed up, right?

After that little epiphany, I decided do whatever I needed to do, to get myself on the path to the body that I want, and that I wasn’t going to hide anymore.  So I made my secret board public, and I went out for a run with Frank, to the Farmer’s Market, and bought fresh produce for a delicious lunch.

My intention is to do a daily post in this “get ripped” category, and track my physical activity, intake, progress, etc.  The first goals are small: just stretching & running for the next two weeks, drink more water, eat more greens.

So there.  Now you know.