I had a second round of prolotherapy done yesterday.
Backing up. The week after the first round was horrible (I'm a walking commercial for this treatment not to mention lifestyle, I know). I had read plenty of cases where an athlete was treated and then happily back at her life a few days later and that did not happen to me. I slept like crap the first 3-4 nights because I couldn't lay on my back and I couldn't turn over and I couldn't lay on any one side too long and at some point Graham stretched and poked me in the injection site and I woke the entire house up shrieking. I don't remember when exactly but at some point I was in so much pain that I stood in the shower letting tears leak out of my face, convinced that I would never swim/bike/run or even walk/stand/sit again. I spent a lot of time in January trying stay reasonable and calm and not fall off the ledge but failed a couple of times, and that was one.
I came through Heather's office & healing hands, though, and that helped. She told me to stay off the bike for a while and that I could run a tiny bit every day, like twenty to thirty minutes, and to coexist with and not fear the pain. For whatever reason, that visit sticks in my mind as a turning point and it certainly looks like one in the pages of my training log. I went from eighteen minutes of jogging to thirty to forty to almost an hour in the week that followed. I do not give a single solitary fuck about pace right now but it was interesting to watch it drop, little by little, as I got moving again. It started out on the far end of what I recognize as oof I am so out of shape and came back down to a place that looks more like well it is February. Every time I come back from a break I'm fascinated by the process, watching what happens when I keep my runs truly easy/aerobic and how every time I go through it, my body comes around a little bit faster.
And then I came home from the pool one night with a scratchy throat. Woke up the next morning feeling like my body was fighting something, which I'm sure isn't even close to a surprise after hosting run camp + hugging so many sniffling people + some stupid life stress in the week that followed + broken nights of sleep + injury anxiety, but it annoyed me nonetheless. I bailed on a day or two of any attempt to "train" to work from bed with my laptop and my pile of golden retrievers and stuff plants down my throat. That seemed to knock most of it out, I was a little congested for another few days and my heart rate was back up to sky-high when trying to jog my easy twenty or thirty minutes but as I came out of my sniffles, my body suddenly (it seemed) came back to me. I went from swimming 200 yards & carefully flip-turning at the speed of molasses to swimming 600 yards and then 800, 1200, 1500 before putting the kick away and starting to pull. Kicking seems to irritate things and by the end of every day I was hurting a bit from my activity level. But the next morning I would wake up feeling okay again and I got a little bit further each day. I also dug a new swim buddy out of the walls of Boulder & I think we will be pretty closely matched when I am in shape which I am not right now so having to not be a weenie in front of someone I don't know very well helped too. I think they call all of this progress.
Progress to the point where, over the weekend, I started questioning whether or not I wanted to go through with another round of treatment. I checked in with some people that I trust about where I was & how I was doing and, hilariously, got completely logical but opposing responses. On one hand, it seemed like I was finally starting to incrementally heal and let's not mess with that because injections would be a step back, however small. On the other side, I've been down for this long and I'm still not 100% so let's just do it because it might be the push to heal completely. Both made complete sense to me; the research backs up the latter just a hair more than the former and it matched what I felt in my gut. So I decided (obviously) to go through with a second round especially once I got the surprising note in the mail from my insurance that they were covering almost all of the procedure, which I wasn't expecting but took quite a bit of anxiety away.
My appointment was for first thing in the morning which meant I set my alarm obscenely early so I could go to the sunrise masters swim that I haven't been able to attend for a couple of months now. The universe heard that I was coming and ALL of my favorite lanemates showed up and I even managed to just barely survive in my normal lane (still pulling quite a bit more than usual which helps). I forgot how happy it makes me to be around my swimming friends and all of a sudden over the last two days I feel like my life might return to what I consider normal. I'm sure that sounds quite dramatic but I've missed all of these things over the last two months and missed them terribly. I had enough time after swimming to squeeze in a very quick jog before my appointment, and it was freezing and I forgot my gloves and my sunglasses and my legs were actually a tiny bit tired from running the night before and all of it was fantastic.
I got to wear the amazing hospital pants again, which I think I'm going to start wearing at home or maybe to dinner and apparently I only have one pink shirt, before chatting with the doctor a bit about how I had been doing. He made some terrifying noises about a sacral stress fracture being a possibility at this point but I think that might be partly due to how bad I am at explaining myself, my brain ceases to function when someone asks, so how have you been doing? It's similar to what happens when someone is giving directions or reading through the specials in a restaurant. We decided to table the scary discussion and see how I did after one more round. He only treated the right SI joint (the inflamed one) this time and it was a lot less painful than the first time. I got loaded up with butt band-aids and dispatched home to heal (no picture, you're welcome).
Even since the first treatment, I've noticed some small differences in the way my body is aligned and stays aligned so I feel hopeful. Finally, hopeful. At some point about a month ago I got weary of the rollercoaster and I think I gave up on hope for a bit. But the run I did Sunday night and the swim I did Monday morning and in general how I've been feeling only as recently as the last 2-3 days, it feels like I'm going to come out of this. And even the non-training things are so much better, like being able to run around at the dog park Sunday morning with my pack of puppies and have dinner with the poet without spending the whole time shifting and wincing and afraid of whether or not I'm going to be able to stand up without pain. Plenty of people have said to me, you aren't going to be injured forever and while that may be true, that's never how it feels from rock bottom. (And it really isn't helpful to hear although I can appreciate the positive intent behind it so maybe it is actually helpful after all). Even as I start to look forward, though, the things that I can't wait to do have nothing to do with racing. Swimming with my friends this morning, cracking jokes and making sure no one said fuck before 7am because that's the only rule of masters, having to grit down a little out of fear of getting lapped and thank god the longest interval we did was a 400 or I would have, that's the best and happiest I've felt across anything related to swim/bike/run in such a long time. Watching the miles split on my watch (and decouple like crazy due to my paper-thin fitness) on Sunday night, it felt scary, like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but also amazing. Even realizing how out of shape I am doesn't bother me, it thrills me because it means that the pain has receded enough that I am thinking about fitness again and not how long until I end up back on the couch. And I'm so thankful. To be able to move my body, to be able to go searching for (and quickly find) the limits of my fitness, and to be feeling like I am heading in the right direction, finally. Onwards.