Don't give up.
Waking up every morning in a state of chronic pain is debilitating. In the beginning, there is a naive sense of familiarity once the pain becomes ordinary. A denial that stitches itself into nearly every stream of consciousness. It becomes a new normal. It’s a constant, recurring nag that does not yield under any circumstance. For me the pain was in my right hip, for others in a multitude of other locations. Knee pain, back pain, plantar fasciitis. So, what happens when you wake up one morning and you just can’t face it anymore?
I got angry. I got mean, frustrated, emotional, and vulnerable. After a year of hopscotching from one doctor to another, each diagnosing me with something different, I sat in my orthopedic surgeon’s office and broke down. I kept repeating over and over again that, something is just not right. And that was a terrifying prospect to come to terms with. Admitting you’re in pain, welcoming the idea that what you love may be taken away, and vowing to take the right steps to correct it.
A takeaway from finally being diagnosed was a knowledge that there is no one else who will advocate for you. When you’re in such a degree of pain, you're the only one who knows how badly it hurts. Others will attempt to see it from your point of view, but no one will fully understand how incessant the discomfort is.
So what’s my best advice? Don’t give up. Being injured requires just as much diligence as a training block. It demands you stand up for yourself. It demands that you not quit when the guidance you’re receiving is incorrect and that above all you trust your instinct. A plethora of accupunturists, chiropractors, spinal surgeons, physical therapists and doctors alike each gave me a different prognosis. My favorite was the doctor who said that pain was inflammation because I wasn’t getting enough turmeric in my diet….Both of the physical therapists I saw told me I wasn’t firing my glute muscles correctly, and both chiropractors said it was only scar tissue build up. It’s not to say these doctors weren’t nice or good at what they do, they were just wrong.
On December 29th I underwent hip surgery to sew my labrum back together, and shave down two bulges that had formed on my hip as a result of my body overcompensating for the tear. And while the anesthesia is still prevalent in my blood stream (so it seems as I can’t keep my eyeballs open for longer than 15 minutes without getting groggy), I feel incredibly relieved.
Though I cannot run, I’m focusing all my energy into recovery. Injuries are the most difficult scenarios for any runner or athlete to overcome. Watching your training partners, friends and family continuing to be active and chipping away at their goals is tormenting in a way that any competitive athlete will understand. I had set enormous goals for myself for this coming spring and summer; knowing they may not happen can become all too consuming. Looking at my training document and seeing I would have had a 20-25 mile run scheduled and not being able to do it is hard. And while I wish I could come up with a more descriptive word than hard, that’s simply what it is. It's very, very hard. Coming off of winning my first 100 mile race with a torn labrum is still a feat I'm not sure how I conquered. And the irony is that the same pain I'm currently in post-operation feels eerily similar to the pain I experienced the day after my 100.
Aside from my injury, surgery and lack of ability to even get up and go to the bathroom on my own, I am profoundly grateful for my friends and family watching over me. To me, their support is indefatigable. It’s what keeps me motivated to recover, and higher still, to recovery patiently. Life will continue, and sometimes taking a step away from something that makes you the best version of yourself will only cultivate a deeper love for it. I am unbelievably excited to get back to running, but this time I'm doing it right. I will practice as much patience and diligence as I can, and make a return to running stronger than I've ever been.
Happi trails! Run all the miles for me!
Run Hapi and Healthy,