IT Band

MRI

My body was telling me to give it a rest last week. I felt like the walking dead by the end of the week because of stress and as a result, I think it started to manifest as physical symptoms  As you saw in yesterday’s post, I’d been dealing with another knee flare-up that had me in tears most days, and last Thursday night I managed to burn the INSIDE of my arm on the cookie sheet while I was making dinner (no I wasn’t having cookies for dinner). It was extremely painful and I had a blister on it the next day. Sheesh! What a week! By Friday I was ready to throw in the towel on everything.

Instead, I skipped the pool and went to yoga instead. I thought I might be able to relax, relieve stress and maybe help my knees a bit with a yoga session. I had about 20 minutes or so before the class started so I spent that time doing my PT exercises and stretching.

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Even though I’m not really a fan of yoga, I quite enjoyed going to the class on Friday night. It really did help me relax and de-stress. I also did a lot of new poses I’ve never done before. The instructor asked at the start of class what everyone wanted to focus on. Some guy said shoulders and I said hips and knees. She worked both and I felt pretty good!

Since Michael was spending the entire weekend parked in front of his new 60″ TV watching the Masters (his old TV broke and he PANICKED that he would miss his beloved show) I made a bunch of weekend plans for myself. There was my second workout from Suzanne (finishing up week 4):

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There was a pedicure with my friend Robyn and then we went to a Vietnamese/French restaurant for some tea. Robyn got the Thai iced tea and I got regular iced tea:

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Sunday I had sushi with my cousin Anna for lunch:

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We met at Sushi Ohana–delicious! Sundays was happy hour and all plates were $1.75. I ate too much sushi and then afterward I stopped at another friend’s house to meet her new baby. He’s 11 days old and too cute for words.

And the most abnormal weekend event: I had an MRI on my knees Saturday afternoon. My sports medicine doctor decided it was time to see what was going on. The most recent flare-up prompted this. I felt both relief and anxiety with this. I wondered, would I prefer that the MRI find an injury? That means I have an ANSWER and a possible solution (i.e. most likely surgery). Or would I prefer no injury, which would be GOOD but would still leave me wondering what is wrong with me and when I’m going to get better.

Sigh.

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I’ve never had an MRI before. Everyone in my life that has had one weighed in and told me how horrible it was. I’m not really a claustrophobic person–the only time I feel like that is either on a bus or elevator that has too many people on it or if I’m underground in some way (for example, cave exploring). Even though that comic is making a joke, you really do feel like you are being buried alive in that machine.

I was hoping I could take my headphones in and listen to podcasts but that wasn’t allowed. I had to remove everything (even my earrings–thank god I didn’t see this video BEFORE my mri) and couldn’t take my phone in there. The machine was huge and while I wasn’t feeling nervous or claustrophobic, the second I SAW the MRI machine, I did. It is really scary looking. It’s the size of a small coffin. Seriously. Thankfully they were only scanning my lower body and I didn’t have to have my whole body in there because I would have freaked out!

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I was put in the machine up to my collarbone. You would think not having my head in there would be ok and not scary but it’s still scary. If my whole body had been in the machine I think there would be half an inch between my face and the top. SCARY. Too small. Too close. No thank you. Not only is it very uncomfortable, it’s extremely loud. If you want to hear what an MRI sounds like for an hour long session, check out this video. If you skip every 30-40 seconds you can hear the range of sounds. I heard all of them. For an hour.

Despite how loud and jarring it was, it wasn’t totally terrible. I had to keep absolutely still and it took about an hour to do both knees. I started to drift off into that half sleep state that I go into when I have acupuncture. But I tell you, I was glad it was over with. I felt a little shaken up afterward but I was glad I did it. I hope that I find out what’s going on. Now I just have to wait to hear from my doctor…

Monday I had a follow-up appointment with my physical therapist. It had been about a month since I saw him last. He tested my legs for their strength again and I’VE IMPROVED. I blame it entirely on Suzanne’s program. He said my glutes are much stronger and he had a hard time pressing my legs down. I’M STRONG. And despite the flare-up I’d been dealing with last week, my knees have been pretty good for a few days. Progress. Every little bit counts. Still no results from the test though. Maybe next week?

QUESTION: Have you ever had an MRI?

How I’m Making it Work

Just like with my last running injury (IT Band overuse), I went through a period of anger and depression and “why is this happening to me?” feelings. Last time, I quickly got over it and decided to start weight lifting a few times a week. Swimming and weight lifting was really the only thing I could do back then. Within 1 month, I’d become stronger, healthier, much happier, and 5 pounds lighter.

This time around, I experienced the same exact feelings: the anger, the frustration, the depression. This time was most definitely worse because I couldn’t even do my walks that I enjoy so much. My knees hurt too much to walk. It sucked. Then I’d have a good day with no knee pain and feel like maybe I was over the worst of it–and of course, try to do too much and then hurt again.

Just like last time, I realized that I had to figure this shit out and focus on something else: focus on something I COULD do. What could I do? I could swim (no breaststroke) and I could lift weights and I could use the bike at the gym at short intervals with minimal resistance. Even though I’m not quite out of the “I feel depressed and angry about my injury” stage, I am slowly starting to focus on these other things and feel a little bit better. I am determined to be positive and not let this get me down. 

I basically took this summer off from weight lifting. I was focused on getting my mileage up in preparation for the Century ride. I just couldn’t fit in all the things I wanted to do. I dropped one swim session and 2 weight lifting sessions. I rode my bike to work 3 days a week on average, swam one day a week and that left 1 day to run and lift weights. I saw the downward slide coming. I ignored a lot of the aches and pains I felt because my body was becoming imbalanced. I guess I just didn’t realize how imbalanced it had become. I’d almost completely stopped all the REALLY good weight stuff I was doing: the lunges and squats and crossfit type full body exercises that I’d been doing all winter long. 2 years ago when I hurt my IT Band I was doing ZERO weight lifting, running ALL THE TIME and pushing myself too much.

Lesson learned.

Twice.

I recently wrote about how injuries cause that old fear of gaining all the weight back to rear it’s ugly head. I’m not perfect. But I am determined NOT to gain the weight back.

How I’m Making it Work: Fitness

I still do my 5 workouts a week with two rest days. I’m more diligent about making sure I only do 3 workout days in a row and that 4th day is a rest day (my body needs it by then). Right now, I swim 3 days a week. Those swim sessions vary. Sometimes I feel well enough to swim normally (minus the breaststroke) and sometimes my knees let me know they are angry and I use my buoy for most of the session.

The other two workout days have been weight lifting. After my physical therapist gave me the green light to carefully attempt some cycling, I’ve been doing 15-25 minutes of the exercise bike at the gym. I listen to my body and stop if/when the knees start hurting. Then I focus on the weights.

I wrote about some of the exercises I do here. I start with lots of ab work with the medicine ball, push-ups, triceps dips, kettlebell swings, and incorporate the physical therapy exercises I have to do. Then I go and work on the various machines.

As you can see from the most recent weight workout, I am still getting a pretty good sweat in. After only a month of increased weight lifting, I already feel stronger, have to increase the amount of weight I use and I recover faster. That makes me happy! It encourages me and makes me feel like less of a basket case who is focusing on the things she can’t do.

How I’m Making it Work: Food

My food hasn’t been perfect. I do admit to doing some emotional eating…mostly shitty candy at work! Stress eating and me go way way back. I’m trying my best to avoid it. I remind myself of this every single day I feel tempted to binge on sugar: YOU DON’T REALLY WANT THAT CANDY. YOU JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER. And really, candy will NOT make me feel better. Especially not right now.

I’m still counting my calories and doing my very best to continue to eat healthy meals and snacks just like always. For example, my dinner last night was delicious, healthy and under 500 calories. I baked salmon with salt, pepper, minced garlic, fresh parsley and basil and tomato slices. Michael sauteed some Brussels sprouts with 2 pieces of bacon in it.

I weighed myself for the first time since I got back from Hawaii and was very, very happy to see that I’d lost 1.5 pounds! Apparently not being to run, walk or bike means weight loss!

How I’m Making it Work: Physical Therapy

I made some nifty little flashcards for all the physical therapy exercises I have to do and I take them with me to work to do the exercises on my break, and then I take it to the gym and work them into my exercise routine.

I already feel stronger!

I wanted to pass on a very important message. I recently saw a sports medicine specialist. I questioned how I would have weakness or imbalance in my legs considering all the running, biking, swimming, hiking, squats, lunges and walking I do. She explained it this way: All of those activities have front to back movements and not side to side so the sides of my legs are weak thus my knees hurt. Her suggestion was side planks and other exercises that will strengthen the sides of my legs. FYI! Take note and start doing that now instead of when you are injured like me!

QUESTION: What components are helping you stay on track?