Archive of ‘Medical’ category

On Not Being Able to Speak Up

Something about me: I find it really, really difficult to speak up in certain situations. It gets to the point where I feel paralyzed; I know what I should say and when I should say it, but I just can’t. People who know me, like my husband, will urge me to simply not be afraid to speak up. But it isn’t about being afraid. I can’t explain exactly what force is preventing me from using words to convey my thought in certain situations. I just know that there is something clamping down on my mouth and I feel basically incapable of doing anything. I am paralyzed.

I’m writing about this now because I’ve been struggling with a recurrence of my neck injury. I got a massage last weekend, then an email from Coach Abby (who’s already proved how much I need her — more on her another time) saying ‘Whatever you do don’t get a massage until the pain goes away. Only e-stim and acupuncture is totally fine. But no massage.”

CRAP. Not only was I too late to heed her advice, but my pain did get significantly worse following the massage, which I didn’t connect until her email. So I committed to healing. I started using my e-stim machine every day. In fact, I’m using it right now as I type this.

Dori's e-stim

E-stimming at work

Committed to recovery,  I rested; no Refine, no running. I made an appointment for acupuncture and when the day of my appointment arrived — this past Sunday — I was already feeling so much better. No pain at all, just a feeling of the right side of my neck and shoulder being different, slightly heavier and stiffer. But the pain was gone and I felt certain I’d be running in a few days time.

So on Sunday as I lay on the acupuncture table, I showed the doctor where my pain was and told her I’m already doing much better than I was. She put the needles in, turned on a machine that I think was also e-stim but it felt more like poking (in a good way – got right to the muscle), and pointed that amazing heat lamp on me.

I felt really good. I didn’t feel pain, I enjoyed the poking sensation into my crazy tight muscle, and I knew that the acupuncture would only push me further towards recovery.

When timer went off and the doctor came back into the room, she took the needles out and started pressing into my muscles. Hard. Starting from the origin of pain (between my neck and shoulder) and up into the side of my neck. It hurt. A LOT. In a way that I knew was wrong.

And I let it happen.

The whole thing lasted no more than 60 seconds, but I knew I should have said something. I knew I should have stopped her. I knew she was taking something that was pretty much better and making it much, much worse. It hurt too much for what it was. I’d been to her for acupuncture before, the last time I had this injury, and the massage felt nice then. It didn’t feel like torture.

But this time it did. Why didn’t I stop her right away? Why didn’t I say “no massage?” Part of the reason was a slight language barrier, but that’s a poor excuse. While Chinese is obviously her first language, she does speak English just fine. Was I worried about offending her? About insinuating I knew more than she does?

Honestly, I can’t answer that. I really don’t know why I didn’t speak up, especially since I knew she might have been setting me back in my recovery.  All I can say is that it didn’t even feel like a choice. It wasn’t like “should I say something?” Rather, it was like, “I should say something I should say something I should say something speak speak use words make sounds” — but I was immobile. I couldn’t.

And the thing is — this happens all the time. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. I can’t just say what I want when I want. Whatever held me back on Sunday — and believe me, it felt 100% out of my control even though I know it isn’t — holds me back in countless situations.

The difference is that most other situations aren’t going to physically harm me. This one did. But I felt paralyzed. I wanted to talk and I couldn’t. Is it just my personality? Or is it an emotional problem? Am I scared? Am I just shy?

It is beyond frustrating and the worst part of this particular situation is it did cause damage. I could tell that day, but it wasn’t until Monday morning when I woke up in a whole lot of pain with the heavy head feeling back that I knew I was starting over with my recovery. The run I knew I’d be able to do this week won’t happen. The Refine class I figured I’d try next week probably won’t either. I’m going to Florida on Friday and have been looking forward so much to running in a tank top and shorts there. On Sunday morning I was certain I’d be able to run in Florida. Now, I have no idea. My neck does feel much better today than it did yesterday, so I guess TWT (time will tell).

It’s not even about a need to exercise. I don’t mind taking time off to rest and recover; I usually enjoy it. What this is about is the time crunch I feel. The pressure. I want so much to train hard and run a strong race and I feel like my window is shrinking. I want to train correctly and without injury. I just want a few months to give this my all.

I’m running a marathon on July 27. I need to start building my base. I don’t have time to fuck around and keep re-injuring the same fucking body part. (On that note, I am going to a highly recommended physical therapist tomorrow so hopefully I can find out why this keeps happening).

I also need to continue taking Refine so I can be strong so I don’t re-injure my knee while running.  Plus, running and Refine are my outlets for stress. I love these activities. I want to do them all the time. They help me cope with everything else going on in my life. They keep me grounded and sane.

I feel like in my inability to speak up, I did this to myself. I wanted to recover, I was smart about recovering and then right when I was on the verge of being better, I did this thing and ruined it.

But is it my fault if I feel paralyzed? Can I  force myself to escape that immobility and say the things I need to say?

I get that injuries happen and you never know and it sucks and all that. I know it and I accept it. But what I can’t accept is that I did everything “right” — rest, e-stim, acupuncture —  and then my own inability to speak up erased ALL THE GOOD in a matter of 60 seconds. I did this.

And that is what I can’t accept.

Workout Plan: Week of April 21, 2013 + Neck Injury

How’d you like my disappearing act?

I last shared my weekly workout schedule the week of March 31. At the time I was battling some upper back pain and taking it easy. I went on an easy 3-mile run on a gorgeous spring morning that Tuesday and as I sat at my desk later on, my neck blew up. The right side was incredibly swollen and it hurt and I freaked out. I made an appointment with a doctor for that same day because I needed to know what the hell was going on.

As it turns out, my neck is the cause of my back pain. It also was last year, which the doctor I went to totally missed. I remember her trying to figure out where on my back the pain was originating from, and she never even considered to check my neck. But that is exactly what it is.

All those right-side neck pains I get while running finally make sense. I used to dismiss them as just some random pain, but as it turns out I have stage 1 spinal degeneration. My diagnosis is a cervical strain and myofascial pain syndrome.

Stages of spinal degeneration
[Source]

What does that mean? Normally, your spine at your neck is slightly curved to support the weight of your head. My spine, however, is straight. Stage 1 is fixable, it’s when you get to stage 2 that you’ve got a permanent problem. I am in physical therapy three days a week and the pain has gotten much better.

After a two-week break from Refine, I went back last week. I’m taking it really easy. I can’t do any exercises with impact – it was that seemingly innocent 3-miler that caused my neck to blow up in the first place. I also keep the weights light and am very cognizant of my form because if my neck is straining at all, I feel it.

I also took off teaching for a week which meant canceling both my classes plus the three I was supposed to sub. Spinning is a terrible position for your neck as it turns out, so now that I am back at it I am trying to be careful and not strain. I’m trying to spend more time off the bike but it is very tough for me. I am not ready to take spin classes yet. I even had to miss the free Revolve RIP Ride that I hosted last week!

The best part of my rest was that I finally caught up on months worth of sleep. I had to take a muscle relaxer at night and I was able to sleep until normal human hours in the morning (ie, not 5 am). During the day I take a prescription strength anti-inflammatory.

dori larry sleep in bed far

The plus side of being injured and on drugs

This week at PT, I will ask when they think I might be able to run again. Now that the weather is starting to get nice I am itching to be outside. Also, with just over a month until my wedding, I’d REALLY like to get in quality workouts. I didn’t post for a couple of weeks because I was so down about not being about to exercise. I didn’t feel like myself. I enjoyed my couch time too much – I knew if I didn’t get back on my feet soon I was in danger of never getting back to it!

When I did get back to Refine, like I said I  took it easy – but my legs were so sore that I could barely walk for two days! Just from doing some squats and lunges with an 8kg kettlebell! I’m used to doing squats with 24kg and not being sore, so this was quite a shock. But not in a bad way, I’m happy that I can move again.

While I am doing much better than I was, I’m not near 100%. I’m still scared and concerned. I am getting another sports massage with my amazing massage therapist Danielle on Thursday because the knots (that’s the myofascial pain part of this) are out of control.

I sit with a lumbar support pillow at work now. I sleep with a special pillow that offers neck support and try to avoid sleeping on my right side (the bad side). I put a big magazine under my laptop so I am not looking quite as down at my computer (we use laptops at work – it’s on a riser but it’s not enough). I use a backpack when I have a lot to carry now.

Stress makes it worse, and I’ve been extremely stressed with work, wedding stuff and of course, not working out.

I also hope I can heal soon so I can start marathon training this summer.  I want to RUN! I’m signed up for a 10K in a couple weeks that runs directly in front of my apartment. I’ve been looking forward to it — and was planning to try and PR — but now running it at all doesn’t seem likely.

More importantly, I hope I can get back into top shape for my wedding. I’m overdue on my Refine Resolution Challenge recap – -partly because I took a photo of my new abs that the challenge gave me and now that they’re gone I feel sad and partly because I’ve been busy with wedding stuff and partly because I’ve been feeling lazy and unmotivated to do much of anything — because I am way too into my head about working out for my wedding.

At the same time, I feel silly for being so upset about this when Boston happened and people are suffering much worse than I am.

Enough rambling and whining. Here’s my workout plan for this week:

  • Sunday – Refine Method (1 hr)
  • Monday – Teach spin (55 min)
  • Tuesday – Rest
  • Wednesday – Refine Method (1 hr)
  • Thursday –  Refine Method (1 hr)
  • Friday – Rest
  • SaturdayTeach spin (50 min) and Refine Method (1 hr)

 Have you ever had a neck injury? How’d you get past it? How are your workouts going now that we are pretty far into 2013?

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