Wednesday, August 27, 2014

spoke too soon re: back injury [but foot is improving!]

It turns out I should've waited another week or so before posting the update to my back injury.  Unfortunately, Dr. Anna just didn't work out.  When I first visited with her, we discussed my issue and her treatment plan.  I did a combination of heat, electrical stimulation and traction therapy before Dr. Anna performed some back adjustments.  My back felt better and I was optimistic that this would help. 

Unfortunately, on my 3rd or 4th visit, Dr. Anna decided to adjust my entire body, which was previously not discussed.  I asked her to please not touch my right foot, as I am in physical therapy post-surgery and it was still very sore and tender.  What did Dr. Anna do?  Grab my foot very hard, causing extreme pain.  She proceeded to yank my legs so hard that it jolted my back, causing more pain then I'd had in over a month.  I basically had to hobble out of the office, and I knew that I would not return.  It really just did not sit well with me at all that she didn't listen to me.
Seriously, is there a color-scheme prerequisite for
sports medicine / physical therapy / chiropractic practices??
Early on, Deb had recommended that I check out Capital Rehab as she has had such positive experience with them.  Unfortunately, they are located in Arlington, and with all the running around I feel I have been doing lately, I just couldn't see how I was going to be able to squeeze in a drive up that way multiple times a week.  But it got me thinking... rehab.  Maybe that is the key.  So, I did a little research and stumbled upon Sport & Spine Rehab in Fairfax.

Dr. Sevel is pretty awesome.  She reviewed my MRI and did a thorough exam and measured my range of motion, something that neither my previous PT nor chiropractor did.  In fact, she spent a lot of time with me, watching my movements, taking measurements and evaluating me. Her conclusion is that yes, I do have the disc issues, and that accounts for the "some days is definitely worse than others" or the more acute times that I physically can't move... BUT... for the more consistent pain I've been having, she believes I have a dysfunctional SI joint. She thinks I've probably had both all along, but once people saw the disc issues on the MRI, they focused on that. OK, I'll buy that.. and glad I didn't pursue another ESI unnecessarily.
My disc issues are in L4/L5 (the disc above the 5th lumbar vertebra)
which appears close to the Sacroiliac (SI) joint.
The treatment plan started out with three times per week of physical therapy, adjustment (and sometimes a grafting tool when my back feels tight), ice and electrical stimulation.  I will say that the physical therapy associated with the rehab is a little tedious, if not annoying at times, but at least the exercises they give me seem to work my back (as opposed to the joke of physical therapy I experienced before).  The most obnoxious part is that the "rehab specialists" just stand over you and babysit you while you are going through the exercises.  Watch me, sure, and make sure my form is correct, but please give me some personal space!  Then, with the adjustments, and after the jolting that I experienced with my previous adjustments, it initially seemed that Dr. Sevel was barely doing anything, so light to the touch.  But.. I *have* been feeling better after my visits [and doing foam roller, biofreeze, etc at home], and Dr. Sevel thinks I can start reducing my frequency to twice per week.
You can tell the difference between left [good] and right [bad] feet.
For once, you actually WANT to see wrinkles in the foot as it bends...
Still, the fact that I can go up on my toes AT ALL is a good thing!
Meanwhile, I am thrilled to say that my foot is improving!  Definitely not 100% yet, but Amy did a new set of measurements and my foot has gone from angles of 15/32 (down to up motion) up to 23/58.  This is compared with my left foot's measurements of 38/85.  I'm not going to lie, the physical therapy has hurt.. a lot.. but I know that it's helping.  In fact, Amy has told me that I only need to go back three more times before she sets me free.  I will need to continue working with my foot on my own and doing the exercises.  I am headed in the right direction!!  Finally, physical therapy has actually worked for me!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Luray Triathlon and farewell Jeep

The hard top hasn't been on the jeep since the day I drove it home back in 2008!
Thanks to Jon and Sweeney for helping me with this task :-)
I packed up the Jeep for one last road trip together and set out for Luray on Friday afternoon.  I arrived at the site and set up the tent with no issues, but then I could not open my cot!  The cot was a requirement thanks to my back issues and knowing that the small camping mattress I have wouldn't have worked.  Sadly, I noticed that one of the bars of the cot was bent and it was indeed broken and unusable.  Uh oh.  The tent was set up on grass so I was hoping that it would be OK, but no such luck...back hurt.  On top of that, the temperatures dipped into the 40's that night and I was woefully unprepared, especially since I was sleeping directly on the ground which made it even colder.  By morning, I was a frozen brick that couldn't move and made the decision to head home that day and forgo the pint glass that I would've gotten for completing both races of the weekend.
Thanks Sweeney for letting me borrow the tent!!
I was lying there trying to decide whether or not I was going to push myself to do the Olympic race anyway when I realized that I'd forgotten to pack a sports bra.  Seriously?!  Who forgets that?!! At that point, it was obvious that running, and probably biking, were out of the question.  Then, I stepped out of the tent and realized it was only 50 degrees.  Everyone knows that three makes a fact, and the chilly air temperature sealed the deal that I was not going to race.  I made the decision to do the swim, and then join my mom in the Team Z tents to cheer on the other racers.

I enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Team Z tents and took my time putting on my wetsuit and heading down to the lake.  The water initially felt cold, but I quickly adjusted to it.  It was a weird pac-man shaped course and we literally swam the entire perimeter of the lake and then a smaller inside triangle.  The waves were started only 2 minutes apart and I never really got any separation from anyone.  Other than the constant swimming on top of people (and being swum over), I felt pretty strong on the swim.  It was easy to push it a little when I knew I wasn't going to have to get on a bike afterward. 
When I stood up on the beach and ran over what I thought was the timing mat, I stopped my watch at 34:55 and started walking.  But then I crossed over another timing mat, and wasn't sure which one was officially the swim finish, so my time might be a few seconds more than that.  I checked the official results, but they don't have me listed anywhere.  Oh well. I wasn't sure if I should go into transition or not, but there really wasn't any kind of escape route.  There was this weird staircase with the tiniest stairs I've ever seen, and I ran up those and into transition area.  As I stopped and talked to the volunteer about what to do with my timing chip, I found myself wheezing.. and I remember that this happened after the Lake Anna relay when I just did the swim.  I wonder if I pushed myself to the point that I really should've used my inhaler first?  Normally I only have breathing issues on the bike, but it must be that I pace myself different when it's just the swim? Though I didn't have any issues in the Save the Bay swim.  I dunno, maybe next time I'll try using my inhaler before the race. 
I didn't take any people pictures, so I'm doing this throwback style from the camping trip to
Niagra Falls that Allison, Mom and I took the summer before my senior year of high school
I got my wetsuit off and sat down to catch my breath.  Then it was time for a hot shower. Finally, warmth. The air temperature was still super cold and I was more than relieved that I was not jumping on a bike to face the wind. That and the fact that I had been super nervous about the hilly bike course and was happy I didn't have to face that either. Next year.  After I was warm and dry, I made my way over to the Team Z tents for lunch, beverages and to spend time with my mom, cheering on the other racers.  I am so consistently at the end of the pack that it's always a nice change when I am able to watch and cheer others along.  One nice surprise was seeing Allison Medina, one of my best friends growing up who had just driven down to watch some friends and was doing the sprint race on Sunday.  Part of me wished I was staying and could race with her, but I knew it was best for me to head home.
One last drive on the open roads in the Jeep
It shouldn't be too shocking that I ended up with a bad cold for the rest of the weekend.  Luckily, since I was supposed to be at Luray, I didn't have any other plans and was able to spend a day and a half on the couch in my sweats with NyQuil and ice cream.  The only thing I had to do was drive out to Carmax to say goodbye to the Jeep. Time for the next vehicle chapter...