Thank you for your words of support about my hip after I posted Part 1 of this two-part series: My Hip Injury – Part 1.
So, where did we leave off? Ah yes — I realized I had to stop taking Core Fusion.
Like I said, that one was mentally hard to deal with. I love Core Fusion. I lived for Core Fusion! Part of the reason I was even in this situation to begin with is because I didn’t want to STOP taking Core Fusion even though I felt pain. I worked so hard for the last year taking class 4-5 times a week and was terrified of losing everything I worked so hard to achieve.
It is very strange to go from being extremely unhappy with your body to being amazed by the drastic changes that come from hard work to being terrified it could all disappear just like that.
The bad news was that I could not take Core Fusion. But the good news was that I could still exercise.
The following classes did NOT cause pain (as long as I modified certain moves): Refine Method, Core Fusion Cardio, Core Fusion Sport and, as I very recently discovered, Core Fusion Yoga. So while I still held onto my fear of losing everything (Core Fusion was my basis for everything, and the class I took most) I did feel better knowing I had options.
At Refine, Brynn helped me learn exercises that would strengthen the muscles surrounding my hips. She often tailored the class to my needs, and when there were exercises I could not do, she always had a modification for me. In Core Fusion Cardio, Kate gave me advice on what to do instead of mountain climbers (of which we do hundreds!) and always watched out for me during any knee lifts, which I always modified. I am fortunate to have such amazing teachers who look out for my best interests.
In early December, with a month to go until I could visit a doctor because health insurance in this country is terrible, Brynn recommended her sports massage therapist Danielle DeMaio. I never had a true sports massage before and it was certainly an experience — one I would strongly recommend to all athletes, runners or people who exercise with any regularity. The massage was not relaxing or peaceful. For most of the time, it hurt, but in that good way where you know you will feel a thousand times better afterwards. Danielle would have me do certain movements, like having me press my ankle against her hand, and ask if made my hip hurt, to try and gauge where my pain was coming from and what made it worse. She was so helpful and knowledgeable, and explained so much about my muscles while she worked. I hoped that my hip pain was just a result of extremely tight muscles (and they were all extremely tight) and I would feel better the next day.
While I woke up the following day feeling like I had new legs (after a year of intense exercise, I had forgotten what it was like to not be sore!) but my hip felt just as badly as the day before.
I continued to do those activities that did not hurt me. I began taking Refine a lote more often. And the more I went to Refine, the more I fell in love. Brynn and her other teachers were so helpful and so wonderful, and I was getting some phenomenal workouts. Refine worked my muscles in an entirely different way than I was used to. Rather than isolate one muscle and work it to exhaustion, we work muscles in combination with each other, complementing each other, causing so many more small muscles that I normally ignore to wake up. I was so lucky to have this option and keep exercising, because as I explained in my Mojo post, I can’t imagine NOT exercising. It is such an important part of my life, a priority, something I need.
January finally arrived and I had an appointment at an orthopedist who specializes in hips. At the doctor, I explained my symptoms and limitations — any exercise or stretch where I turn my knee out or lift my knee up hurts, some glutes exercises hurt, sitting for a long time hurts (once I stand – ouch). I was able to pinpoint the exact spot of pain. And, most importantly, the fact that for two months I discontinued doing the exercises that hurt me, iced and took Naproxen but failed to get any better led the doctor to the conclusion that I likely had a labral tear.
This was exactly the news I was hoping not to hear.
“Could it be anything else?” I asked him. “No,” the doctor told me. “All your symptoms pretty much point to a tear. Anything else would have healed by now.”
The next step was to get an MRI to confirm this. I asked the doctor if a period of total rest would help; no exercise at all. By this point, I was willing to do anything it took to get better; I had a marathon to run in less than a year. The doctor told me that total rest would be pointless and is not a sustainable way to live. He told me to keep doing any exercises that did not hurt, just as I have been. It was then that I officially kissed the half marathon I signed up for in April goodbye — although I already unofficially kissed it goodbye. Kissing has never been less fun.
And then I registered for the 2011 ING NYC Marathon.
I had to register because I spent time and money qualifying through the 9+1 Guaranteed Entry Program in 2010, and I clearly would not be running nine races again this year. Once you register, you have the ability to defer your entry to the following year — for a large fee, and then you have to pay the entry fee again as well — but it is a really great option to have.
So I went and had the most relaxing MRI of my life (this was my fifth — how is this my life!). The results confirmed the tear in my labrum (and no, Erica Sara, I did NOT tear my labia.)
You know I was still hoping for something less serious, so I felt absolutely shattered when I received the results. The doctor discussed the next steps with me at his office. First on the list was physical therapy and a cortisone injection. If in a month I was not doing better, we would discuss surgery. The surgery would entail cutting the torn area out of my hip. I do not want surgery. I couldn’t believe it even got this bad.
I found a physical therapist who takes my insurance and emphasizes core work and is located a few blocks from me. I am now going there two times a week and getting ultrasound on the area, massaged, stretched, strengthened on a Pilates reformer, electric stim (LOVE — feels like a massage) and iced. There are worse ways to spend an hour. I especially like how many of the exercises we do that I also get at Refine, such as dead lifts and squats. It makes me even more confident that the work I am doing at Refine is helping me get stronger and recover.
As for the cortisone, I had one big concern that I discussed with my doctor. The injection would NOT heal my injury, it would just mask the discomfort. I asked, “If I get this injection and I can’t feel the pain, can I make my injury worse by inadvertently doing things that are hurting me?”
He said that this is a valid question, but he is not worried. By now I know what to avoid, and he felt that the benefits of the injection would outweigh the risks.
And then my big question: “Will I be able to run the marathon?”
He does not know.
I got the cortisone shot two weeks ago. A couple of years ago I had cortisone in my shoulder and I don’t remember it being particularly painful at all, so I went in expecting the same. WRONG. I have been through so much medically and I am not afraid of needles (although I can’t look at them), and I have never cried from pain during any procedure. From humiliation and discomfort, yes, but never from pain. Until this injection. That freaking hurt. The needle was in my body for what seemed like eternity. The tears streamed. And for the rest of the day, I limped. I couldn’t exercise for three days!
A few days later I was fine, but my hip still felt off and I was just as swollen as always. I kept living life as I had been. Fred DeVito, co-founder of Core Fusion, gave me a Thai Therapy treatment which was absolutely wonderful. I will describe this in greater detail in its own post, but, along with the sports massage, this is something every runner needs to experience. Nothing else will loosen you up and refresh your muscles like this.
As soon as I left, I was shocked at what it feels like to not be sore anywhere. After the sports massage, my legs felt new. After the Thai massage, my entire body felt new. I exercise so much I seem to be in a constant state of soreness, so this was a very nice reprieve. And this week, I will get my first acupuncture treatment at exhale spa. I am very excited to share this experience with you in the coming weeks; I will have about four treatments in total. As you can see, I am determined to do whatever it takes to get better.
Physical therapy is going well. I might not enjoy the thousands of leg presses, but that electric stim sure feels nice. As of last week, the swelling in my hip has finally gone down. I don’t know what exactly that means, but I know it is a good sign.
I miss running. Specifically, I miss racing and creating playlists. I miss sharing my race experiences and playlists with you. I was really looking forward to running the Brooklyn Half Marathon for the first time, but that is out of the question. There will be absolutely no running for me while I heal. For me to do the full marathon, I would need to be better by June so I could start training.
June feels so close. At the time I drafted this post, I wrote that June feels too close. But now? Now I am finally starting to feel better. I am really beginning to feel like this marathon just might happen.
I originally planned on running the NYC Marathon for charity, with Team For Kids. Part of the reason was because it is a wonderful charity, but the other aspect was the training they provide. If I trained with them, I would get coached runs three times a week, forcing me to train smartly in ways I wouldn’t know how to on my own, particularly in terms of pacing, hill and speed work, and most importantly, preventing injury. There’s the added benefit of always having other people to run with, and meeting new people.
My charity auction for the NYC Half Marathon last year raised so much money for Think Pink Rocks, I knew that with a lot more time (assuming I started fundraising this past January for my November race) I would be able to get some really amazing products and services from various companies and hold an even better auction, plus fundraise in other ways. But I can’t ask you to donate your money for a race I can’t commit to run.
If, in June, I believe I am truly well enough to train for a marathon — and this will be after extensive physical therapy, more doctor visits, second and maybe third opinions — I will reconsider Team for Kids and determine if I think I can raise $2,100 in a much shorter time period than I planned. And even if I decide not to go the charity route, I will still train for the marathon if I am sure I am better. I have so many friends running this year which is partly why I have been so excited about this marathon. I will definitely have more than enough support to train either way.
If I am not 100% better by June, I will give myself one more month, until July 1 — the absolute final day I would be able to start training -- before officially deferring the race.
And what about Core Fusion? I’m just taking it day by day with that one. Right now I am really loving Refine as my base and Core Fusion Cardio and Core Fusion Yoga as supplements. After giving Sport three more chances, I decided I still don’t love it . And if there is anything you might have learned about me through this blog, it is that I only do workouts that I love.
Were my fears right? Did I lose anything from not doing Core Fusion for so long? The only difference I can really tell is that I lost some flexibility. I especially noticed it in CF Yoga the other day. I plan to take that class once a week now that I know it doesn’t bother my hip, and I hope that helps my flexibility. Otherwise, Refine has definitely helped me maintain the strength and endurance I accomplished last year — and I even noticed some additional improvements in my butt and shoulders.
I still can’t let go of my fears though and I do hope to be able to add Core Fusion back into my life again. While I am afraid of not taking Core Fusion, I am more afraid of making my injury worse. When I am ready to get back into it, Fred DeVito will meet with me and show me modifications and offer advice on how to avoid hurting myself again (seriously, the people in my life are awesome) so I know I will be OK.
But right now, my goal is to run this marathon. I will avoid everything that bothered my hip at all because I simply won’t risk hurting myself again. It is so important to me to run this race, this year, with some of my closest friends. If that means giving up the classes I love, if that is what it takes, I will do it. And the amazing thing is that this experience opened me up to new classes I also love. I might not have been nearly as receptive to this before. I learned so much more about how exercise and muscle groups work, and I learn even more from the Refine blog. I am taking my new knowledge that I learn from Brynn and using it to help me heal. I am learning that challenging my body in different ways with different types of workouts will help avoid injury from always doing the same thing and using the same muscles. I have been introduced to new experiences (acupuncture! thai massage!) that I might not have gotten to try. This is all amazing.
So while my injury sucks and I can’t help but blame myself for ignoring the pain before it got worse, I believe that in the long run this could be a blessing in disguise. I now know how to exercise smarter and decrease my chance of injury again.
I just want to run this marathon. If I’m not better in time, I won’t. But I believe I will be.