In my last blog post, I told you it’s been a tough couple of weeks, physically and emotionally. I also said that I would spend some time over the next few blog posts explaining why. So… let’s start with the physical. I’ve got a bad hip, y’all.
I developed a plan to start training, slowly. To gradually increase in distance and intensity, as my body allowed me to. That was the plan. I had a plan! I wrote a whole blog post about it. I CALLED IT “THE PLAN!” I did not stick to the plan. I started doing all the things, all the time, as aggressively as I could. As if I’m not a fat girl who’s just learning to walk for the first time. Ok, so that’s dramatic, but my point is, I trained too hard too fast, and I’ve spent the last month paying for it.
I started feeling pain in my hip during activities. I would feel it at various times; a mile into a walk/hike, if I twisted a certain way in water aerobics, or used a new machine at the gym. The pain was light, and it would go away when the workout concluded. I assumed it was a pulled muscle. After a couple of weeks, the pain started appearing during times when I wasn’t doing any activity, and I started to feel it in other places (sometimes in my lower back, sometimes down the front of my thigh). I should have taken to my blog from the beginning. Who better to ask about hiking injuries than hikers? Instead, I did what any rational adult would do… I took to WebMD.
After careful research, it was determined that I have one of two things: Bursitis, or Diabetic Neuropathy. WebMD did not ask whether or not I have Diabetes, but I guess that doesn’t matter. I don’t, but I guess that doesn’t matter. The internet is a very confusing place, but I decided to go with Bursitis. I have a friend who is in school to be a Physical Therapist, and he did not think it was Bursitis… but I WebMD’d it, so what does he know? Even though I didn’t know what the injury was, I knew that if I treated it the way I usually treat injuries, the ol’ -Imma just ignore this until it goes away- method, then it could prevent me from hiking the Long Trail. As I said in my Instagram post about the matter, I will drag this leg behind me, before I let it stop me from doing this hike. So, instead of going all Lieutenant Dan on Vermont, I decided to cease activity and make a doctor’s appointment.
This was my first time seeing this doctor, but I brought Type A Kelly, and she needed answers. Like, grab him by the shoulders, asking “WILL I EVER WALK AGAIN?!” type of answers. Of course, he asked me what caused the injury… “Uhhhh, it was probably hiking. Or pack training. Or it could have been ice skating, or maybe cross-country skiing, or snow shoeing, or water aerobics, or Yoga, or Pilates, or Yogalates. Or the six-mile walk to Yogalates.” I think his literal response was, “maybe you should calm down.” Type A Kelly was still present, and wanted to respond, “maybe you should stop telling me what to do”, but then I remembered that he’s the doctor and I need him. His diagnosis was IT Band Syndrome, with possible inflamed Bursae. Of course, all I heard was “inflamed Bursae.” Suck it, PT school friend, I’m basically a Doctor. So, the treatment looked like daily stretches, ice baths, and rest for another 10 days.
All in all, the doctor’s visit was very helpful for me. I have been incredibly frustrated over this injury, feeling like my goal was halted abruptly. He was encouraging. He asked questions about the hike, out of personal interest. Like whether I’m training for external or internal reasons. I told him that I’m in the process of exploring that question, but the best answer I could give him was “both.” He told me about a marathon that he trained for, and how he felt like training was the best part of the experience. He said that pushing myself and learning what I’m capable of, is something that is going to change me forever. He gave me advice about meeting my body where it’s at, and not allowing myself to feel discouraged if I need to train in a way that supports what my body needs, instead of what my brain is telling me I should be doing. I told him my fears about not being ready in time, or worse, not being able to do it, because of injury. His response was simple, but the look in his eye and tone of his voice made me feel like I had another person in my corner, “oh, you’re doing it. We will get you right. You are doing it.” He was excited for me. It was endearing.
I started the stretches, and my best friend forced me to ice it far more than I wanted to, but it was helpful. In an added attempt to do whatever it took to remedy this hip issue, I also decided to take the advice of my sister and add massage therapy to my treatment plan. A tough decision for me, because I don’t like to be touched by people I don’t know. It’s my thing, I can’t explain it. I think it’s a combination of having sensory issues in general and a history of working with people in crisis. It only takes one head-butt to the face before you start watching your six, you know what I mean? Ok, so I guess I can explain it. The massage therapist was very professional, and it was not as bad as I imagined it would be. Except for when she got to my glutes. It was my instinct to punch her right in the face and run out of there yelling, “stranger danger”, but I kept it together. At one point, she pushed my hip in a certain way, and when she learned that I didn’t feel a sharp pain, she said, “generally, if it was Bursitis, you would respond differently to that.” You win this round, PT school friend.
The massage gave me some relief, and though slower than I would like, I am recovering. I still don’t know exactly what the injury is, maybe some of my readers will have some insight, based on the symptoms. For now, I guess I’m sticking with IT Band Syndrome. I have been given the ok to start training again, but I’m not going for the 10 mile hikes, 30 pound packs, or doubling my workouts (just yet).
So, there it is. I had a lot of momentum towards the beginning/middle of the winter, and I felt really motivated and accomplished. This injury stopped me in my tracts, and it’s been both frustrating and eye-opening. I realized that I have to adapt my pace to the liking of my body and that makes Type A Kelly want to flip all the tables over… but Type B Kelly is going to go with the flow and try to remember that this is a race against myself. I’m getting stronger every day and that is the only goal. And hey, if my career as a hiker is over, I’m still basically a Doctor.