Change in Philosophy. . . Maybe

I have been at this stage before, many times in fact but usually am able to move on and keep pressing.  The stage I refer to is having to recover from a relatively short stressor to my back, neck etc and wondering if I am going about it the right way.  The stressor was a short trip to New Orleans for 2 days of the Jazz and Heritage Festival (4 days total).  We did this 3 years ago with friends and the traveling was not miserable.  This year unfortunately it was.

Sitting too long, standing too long and not being able to lie down when my neck starts to warn me of an impending migraine is generally a bad idea.  I did get a few moderate headaches but the main issue was near debilitating pain in the low back and upper mid back after the 2nd Festival day.  I am nursing some type of tendonitis in my foot I presume from running so I have not been able to run or keep my body loose with exercise so I believe this to be part of the problem.  We ate and drank too much as we expected but after a long night’s sleep and a nap my body is trying to tell me that I have to change some things.  I was fully expecting to be able to ride, lift or do something active today and I have only been able to lie around.  I am not used to it and really have to wait until tomorrow when I go back to work to see what I am going to get.

Rest, more recovery and not stressing about the inevitable weight gain is going to have to be something I am more OK with than I have in the past.  . . maybe.   My goal for the rest of the day is to not fret or beat myself up over it and make sure I also get sleep tonight so I can be sharp for work tomorrow.

On a brighter note before we left for the trip I did have a patient of mine who was 3 months post hip replacement.  He also has pretty significant lower back arthritis and pain and I was worried about how he would be doing.  He told me that he was motivated by my story and decided that he was not going to let pain ruin his life.   He has a new relationship with it and had a completely different attitude about what it meant for him and about how he would deal with bad days.  #littlevictories

 

42.5

I look at my age and two things enter my mind.  1.  I have been blessed enough to experience a lot both good and bad.  Four decades plus is a lot of time to make mistakes, learn from them and hopefully learn also how to enjoy the life one has.  2.  42 is really not that old.  While I say away from ‘why me?’ type thinking as it relates to the chronic pain more time is spent wondering how long it can be kept up.  It does get difficult to make many long term plans when the struggle really requires literally ‘one day at a time’. . .some days a few hours at a time.

Due to the severity of the migraines I had to reduce my work hours.  I am somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 time I would say seeing patients in my practice.  While it will lead to a big hit in the budget I am able to survive the days with more ease.  I am able to manage migraines without feeling the pressure of falling further behind and also I am feeling less dread about the pain and headaches that are sure to come.  Only this year have I realized how much torment the anticipation of feeling horrible later in the day was causing.

Thankfully the lovely wife has taken it upon herself to go back to work full time.  Her benefits situation is GREAT compared to my own I just found out about it so that is also a stress reliever.  Adjusting to having her around less to handle all that needs to be handled with Metal Parts Life and our doggies hasn’t been miserable.   Gotta roll with the changes.

As for racing. . . has been a great year though this past weekend I got lost on a trail race.  I fell (per usual due to drop foot) and scraped myself up pretty good and strained the hardware in the low back.  Trail running due to the dust (asthma and chronic allergies) the terrain and frequent falls my NOT be in my best interests.  It is tough because I love trail running more than I think everything else other than basketball. . . 42.5 is great but I have to be smarter still.

Migraines

2016 has been thus far ROUGH.  A cold sandwiched between horrible headaches from my neck arthritis problem has made it a challenge just to function.  Exercise, running, athletics have been de prioritized by necessity.  Per usual the less I move the more the Spinal Fusion and back pain problem becomes.  Nothing new for day to day, week to week life but headaches of this nature present a completely unique set of challenges.   Since 2014 and 2015 were filled with migraine days this is also not new.  However (unlike my spinal pain issues) migraines are not something I am finding one can get used to and deal with as effectively.

Having said that I still was able to press to get in (in the month of January) 88 bike miles, 34 run miles, some weight lifting and even an hour long heavily taped and protected half court basketball session.  The latter felt amazing but the adrenaline high was too short lived and tweaked other joints that have been conditioned for straight line movement of triathlon for a few years.  February has arrived and it is time to survive and plan for another month.  I just realized that a month’s worth of planning is better than day to day or week to week as it FEELS less about survival and more about management without the guilt of looking too far ahead. . . I am going with this and suddenly FEEL energized about having a better less painful and higher functioning month than I just had.

Dewit.  #injuredathletes #olderathletes #migraines #spinalfusion

2015, where did you go?

As I sit here 3 weeks after Ironman Arizona dealing with the injuries, pain and fallout I realize it is well into December.  If we’re lucky we’ll make it to the end of the year to take stock of how it went.  I won’t commit to a full assessment yet but I will say that like most others being alive, being active and managing my pain while being able to work and take care of my responsibilities is something to be grateful for.   As cliché as it sounds (it is) I really don’t want to lose my sense of gratitude.

I see my Orthopedic today since my ‘good’ ankle is not really improving at the rate I am accustomed to.  Is it the sheer wear from the distance?  Is it that I am 42 and I better just get used to healing slower?  Is it because I am pushing a bit too hard because it was I am used to from dealing with my back pain and fusion issues?  Probably some of each.  I went into IMAZ knowing that there would be fallout and I HOPE that nothing is permanent.  We’ll see. . .

Everyone out there getting older but still needing to move you have to listen to your body, learn how your body is changing and know the difference between simple pain from life VS pain from an injury.

IRONMAN ARIZONA!!

Long story short, we did it.  After 13 hours, 6 plus minutes of survival/racing I can call myself an Ironman.  The weeks leading up to the event were a mixed bag of all kinds of feelings and circumstances.  I was grateful that the migraines were under decent  control. I was worried that 3 weeks of relative rest and making sure I wasn’t hurt going into the event would not lead to being unprepared.  A friend who I had just ridden with on my 1st ever century ride ended up having a massive stroke later that week and is in a brand new race to recover strength and speech.  Another acquaintance from my running group died from cancer.  Our best couple friends got a divorce. . . lots of stuff.  Thankfully  I was able to also feel optimism that after a full year of waiting and training that the opportunity was present to complete a once in a lifetime accomplishment.

The previous weekend I spent with at the time relative strangers camping and participating in my 1st Ragnar Trail Run.  What a great experience it was and despite knowing now that it sapped much needed strength from my legs from Ironman I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  I had agreed to do the trail race when I was very much struggling with my back and migraines and I figured that Ironman was really not possible.  I somehow did both and I really cannot explain it other than I am blessed with rapid healing and know that God watches over me more than I deserve.

Several other friends also completed Ironman and MANY friends actually came out to cheer on a cold, rainy day which made the race even tougher.  Thoughts of them and my other friends and family supporting online was integral to keep pushing this beat up, reconstructed body to finish.  Despite cancelling our trip to Vegas to nurse to my wounds and staycation at home I am feeling settled and  satisfied.  I can’t however say that I feel accomplished or that I did anything ‘special’ and I cannot really explain that.  My best guess is that I generally have to set expectations for myself that are beyond what my pain levels and injuries would otherwise allow or else I stagnate and end up feeling MORE tired, have MORE pain and start to feel unproductive.  Fourteen years after my spine saving 1st fusion and 12 years on my 2nd and hopefully last set of fusion hardware it is working.  It won’t last so I will try to enjoy and appreciate the now.

Survived a MAJOR weekend

2 or so weeks ago I committed to a mindset of no negativity as it related to my pain, the training and the work that had to be done to get my battered reconstructed body ready for a full Ironman.  It has helped me embrace a new level of discomfort which I think will help me if I make it into my 50s, 60s etc.  I have several patients who I understand a little better after realizing how LONG they have been dealing with pain issues that I have only had to deal with a relatively short time (as long as lifespan is concerned).   Anyhoo. . .

I was able to get through my longest ever swim during the week,  my 1st Century bike ride (100miles) and then run 4 miles right after on Saturday, then a Personal Record 18.25 miles run on Sunday.  . . Monday (today) sucks major arse but I have committed to just lay around, doing some light honeydoos while Mrs Metal Parts works all day and of course work remotely from home.  I hope tomorrow will be a little better as I have to get back to my busy clinic.  There are less than 3 weeks to go to a true test and hopefully a successful attempt at this 140.6 mile Ironman Arizona.   Wish me luck ya’ll and support friends and family who are battling their own obstacles but want to be more active.

Fall musings

What a great time of the year.  Though I miss the hot heat already I don’t mind a lot about what the weather becomes like in the ‘fall’ in Arizona.

I sit here less than 4 weeks from Ironman Arizona and since my last post I have quit on my goal at least 3 times.  Migraines, training failures and back flair ups WITH left leg sciatica have made it quite easy to give up on this race since it has seemed like the smartest thing to do.  However I was able to find an interesting and simple Kinesiotape strategy for my migraines from Instagram of all places.  Criss crossing tape from the base of the skull down the neck to the upper back in an X formation has reduced my migraine frequency and intensity at least 50%.  Whuttt?  Not having these debilitating headaches have allowed me to only worry about all the other issues I have.  It’s a good and doable thing.

It is a mixed blessing to have all of these pain problems because on the one hand in trying not to let it bury me I pretend to be and feel as normal possible.  I think most folks that I talk to about it know I have major problems but then easily forget because I am trying not to dwell on it.  Conversely if I really need to vent or allow myself to feel crappy there is really no one who would understand why I keep pressing on in work, athletics and triathlon if I hurt so much.   Truth is I hurt regardless so why not press?   It can be a lonely place because understandably people who I want to be around (athletes and achievers) don’t want to be brought down. . . totally get it.  Thus I will try to press on and hope/pray that I don’t really hurt myself doing what I believe has kept me going far longer than perhaps I could have ever expected.

4 weeks left to ‘cram’ for this race and then take a week long vacation.  If the migraines stay chill I have a chance.  Well wishes to anyone out there in a similar situation.

#Spinal fusion #Chronicpain #Fibromyalgia #Injuredathletes #Whyquitnow

Crossroads

How is it the end of September already?  It seems as if this year is flying by faster that the last.  I always took that as a sign that we were busy enough, active enough and not leaving anything ‘on the table’ in terms of what we wanted to do and get done. . . elements to a fulfilling life I suppose.

Mrs Metal Parts and I took a trip last weekend to see friends in Lake Tahoe/Reno.  There was an Ironman 70.3 event that I knew I would not be able to participate in but that I was feeling energized about.  The reunion was amazing but my hopes of putting in some training for Ironman Arizona in November took yet another hit.  I squeezed in a single run and really was not able physically (somewhat due to the circumstances) to do more.  The work week that followed was short but yet another miserable exercise in suffering with migraines and pain.  Long story short my Physical Medicine doctor set up for an MRI for my neck and head and I am waiting to head to that appointment this afternoon.  The prospect of getting an answer to my worsening migraines is complicated by my fear that either something else is horribly wrong or that I HAVE to stop the training I have been doing for good.  We’ll see. . .

Thankfully this past weekend I was able to participate in my favorite running race, a 5.2 mile technical trail run that I was able to both PR and get 2nd overall in, a blessing for sure.  As of today I can confidently say that my plans to try to race Ironman Arizona are pretty done.  While I don’t feel amazing taking a full week off of training has led to some improvements in my pain and I have to honor that.  Surviving the changes going on in my professional/work field will be enough of a challenge for the rest of 2015.  I just don’t want to FEEL like I am quitting as I currently do feel that I am surviving.

Breaking Point

took a break, busy with life but way too busy I think.

Migraines and neck pain/arthritis are taking a toll.  I have been at least able to build on my IMAZ training but I cannot tell if it causing the neck and head to complain.  Either way and possibly non coincidentally after my biggest training distance weekend including a run distance PR (14 miles) I had my worst pain and headache day of the year.  It was different than my last few horrible migraines in that it actually brought me to tears.  I just barely made it home after a busy clinic and I am done for the evening. . .

I strongly have been considering and have to consider shutting down the training and giving up on the goal of doing a full distance Ironman.  We have a scheduled vacation to Tahoe to see great friends and the plan was to train while there including testing the wetsuit in the lake.  Nope.  I am in too much pain to feel down about this possibility so I am going to try to get through the clinic day tomorrow, prepare for our mini vacation/reunion and see what happens next week.  I do have an appointment with my Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor who I hope with inject the crap out of the neck and back to relieve the intense spasm but we’ll see.

Happy week ya’ll

Make or break week over. . .

I mean which week isn’t make or break when you are dealing with chronic pain and injury?  Having said that this past week including the weekend was one for me. . .

1) Survival:  Easily the worst combined migraine/Insomnia week of my life.  Work/financial stress, long conference the previous weekend sitting and driving to/from Oceanside. . . etc,  it was awful.  I did a lot of the usual therapy, chiropractic and more than usual exercise but I could not get a handle on it.  I missed a gathering early AM Saturday with friends but since I was up again until 230a wide awake the night before I opted to try to sleep.  14 hours of total sleep in 4 days is not enough even for someone battling insomnia for years.  The neck pain and migraines almost kept me out of work which is pretty bad.  Thankfully I rarely get vomity from my migraines, not thankfully I did with these.  Threw up twice during the work week which actually does help reduce the headache intensity!

Shoulder injury – this is a bridge topic because even though I suffered a new for me injury in Left shoulder bursitis which really is bothersome I got it training during my make or break training week. . .

2) Thriving: I re realized a few things.  One was that I cannot follow any type of scheduled workout or training plan because my work and health issues tell me (mostly) when I can participate. Two I need to take impromptu rest days when my body absolutely tells me to which is hard to do for me since I am in pain all the time.  Three is that having my wife’s support is crucial to my competitive success and always has been.  She is my rock and also a great home chef!

I got through the majority of the workouts and got through my first Endurance weekend completing the long bike and run.  This included a PR for a training (non race) distance run with a buddy of 12 1/4 miles on a trail!  This finally took my headache to a 1/10 which I can fully ignore.   Of course I had to miss Sunday’s endurance swim due to the shoulder but I figure it is smart to hold off on.   I hope to get some wetsuit work in when I can resume water time. . .

So. . . Ironman Arizona is still a pipedream, still likely not obtainable, very much so still a bad idea for my back hardware, but it is equally I believe my final year to be able to even attempt it so I press on.

Today is a rest day as prescribed, except that my wife and I signed up for a Tour of New Mexico bike ride with friends in a month and she needs saddle time.  Thus we are going out when she gets home from work.  This would be our first ever athletic travel trip for the both of us so we are excited!  Work week here we come. . .