Thursday, September 8, 2016

If you're Googling: "Stress Reaction Femur"

It's been almost a month since I've written here. I'd thought about writing, but really I'm not sure anyone would have wanted to read all the thoughts in my head this past month. Mostly b/c I've been pretty obsessed with this hip pain I've been feeling. I didn't know what it was, and my theory about what it was changed every day, so posting day after day about that would have just made your eyes roll. I do feel like maybe I want to document it though b/c one thing I've actually found to be super helpful is reading stories from other runners who have been through something similar. So. Here we go.

The week before Vineman I made a note in my log that my hip flexor felt tight. It was after a run and I remember being able to run ok but it was not without pain. I ran a few more times over the next several days, but just like 4-5 miles and each time the tightness was there for the first 1-2 miles then it would sort of disappear and I'd think everything was fine. Then it would come back after I was done running.

Race week I limped while walking every day. It made me nervous but I couldn't see how I had developed a serious injury in the week leading up to a race when I wasn't even doing much training so I figured it was phantom taper pains. Or something like that. Just in my head. Everything would be fine. Race week I ran once for 3 miles and limped through that then tried to block that experience out of my head.

Race morning I woke up and had ZERO pain. I'm not normally a believer in 'race day magic' but looking back, I'd say this was an amazing mental feat by my brain! I wouldn't say I had any specific hip pain during the race, but I did feel like my muscles weren't working properly. Cramping in races is nothing new to me though so I just sort of chalked it up to that again like, I don't know... My muscles just don't work when I do Ironmans??

After that race I was insanely sore. Like insanely sore. I'd done 15 ironmans previously but had never had soreness like that. I thought it was weird like every muscle around my left hip was completely seized up and no matter what, would just NOT release. That week I did a bit of walking (with a limp) but figured I just needed some time to recover then it would be fine.

In the next 4 weeks I was home and saw 3 different chiropractors (several times each... seeing doctors was beginning to feel like a part time job) who adjusted me, did ART and acupuncture, and every time I thought maybe I'd solved the problem, I'd wake up the next morning and all those muscles were completely seized up again. It was incredibly frustrating.

Looking back I can see how *smart* our bodies/brains are. At some level my brain was simply protecting me, I think, from continuing to do any further damage to that stressed out femur bone. That's what caused me to make an appt with my sports med doc. I like to truly understand injuries and it made sense that if acupuncture was making my muscles relax, but then within hours they'd go right back into spasm again without me doing anything to cause that, then they must be protecting something? An unstable joint maybe? That's what I thought. I read about labral tears and feared I would end up having surgery at some point... A stress fx still hadn't crossed my mind.

Anyway, I could tell that my sports med doc was thinking along the lines of stress fracture. She ordered an MRI but I had to wait a week to get in and have it done. In that week I googled anything and everything about stress fractures and based on what I was feeling and what other runners had written about how they felt when they had one, I basically diagnosed myself. The two biggest factors were that I failed the hop test (no can hop!) and the sharp pain I felt after 'unweighting' that leg after standing on it was what others noted as well. So really I just didn't know if it was femur or femoral neck, and I didn't know if it was a stress fracture or stress reaction, but I figured something along those lines...

Email from doc came today and she said it was a stress reaction of the femur. I didn't cry when I read her email, because I'd already mentally accepted that this would be the diagnosis. Honestly, I'm relieved to hear t's just a "reaction" vs full fracture and I'll attribute the fact that it didn't progress to the fact that I didn't attempt to run through it (ok, well, after I did Vineman I didn't attempt to further run through it!). I did walk a lot, and I have been swimming and riding my bike. It actually feels like it's improved since a week ago (I can mostly walk without a limp now, nearly 6 weeks post Vineman). I have no pain with swimming or riding or water running (which I've been doing in the ocean!)

So. Going forward I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be able to do? I'll have a call with my doctor tomorrow to learn what she has to say about what she recommends I should and should not do for the next (I'm guessing) 4-6 weeks. Part of me thinks 4-6 weeks feels like FOREVER but then I know that it'll fly by in a flash if I have the right mindset about it.

I had to tell my Ragnar Hawaii friends/teammates to find a replacement runner for me for that relay run in October b/c obviously I won't be able to do that. That's really there only thing that made me cry (that was last week). That would have been super fun and that weekend I'll be bummed for sure when I'm home and they are running all over the big island...

I won't document this day by day (b/c OMG can you say boring??) but because there will probably be someone I don't know who will google "stress reaction femur" and will want to know what to expect, I'll write maybe once/week with my progress and what I'm feeling and doing...

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