When Your Body Stops Cooperating
I haven’t really talked much about my broken-down body, but today I’ll share more information than you really want. I’ll start by saying that I started rehab training this week.
Why did I need rehab training? Well… last year, while lugging a suitcase up the stairs in the London Tube, someone bumped into me. The suitcase started to slip and I lunged for it, pulling something in my back. This seemed innocuous at the time. It wasn’t.
Pain in the Back
After about seven months of chronic pain under my scapula, I finally went to the doctor. She shrugged and said give it a couple of weeks and see a different doctor. He shrugged and referred me to a third doctor. The third doctor came through the door with a diagnosis already in hand, insisted that I had pain and numbness where I had no pain or numbness, and demanded expensive tests to prove that she was right. After much back and forth, I asked what exactly she hoped to learn and how that would affect my recovery. Essentially she said that the outcome didn’t matter and I’d end up in physical therapy either way. I opted to bypass the $2,000 in medical tests and just go straight to the PT.
Fortunately, I found a great guy who specializes in spines. Why would that matter with scapula pain? Turns out that my problem had nothing to do with my scapula and everything to do with the fact that I somehow tweaked the intersection between my spine and rib cage, which was pinching a nerve and referring pain to my scapula. Literally in the first session, he pressed on the offending spot, and miracle! With a tiny little pop, pain went from a 9 to a 2. Magic! Of course, after 10-11 months of my body compensating for the pain, I had to work through loosening the muscles to relieve back spasms, but I was well on my way to recovery by Christmas break.
Here We Go Again
After the holidays, I went back to Muay Thai as usual, and started slowly rebuilding my strength. And then in mid-February, during training, I lost my balance when my partner grabbed my ankle during a kick. Not only did I fall, but I dragged her down with me. I was mortified, but seemed unhurt. Until the next morning, that is.
When I woke up the next day, I couldn’t move my right arm. Couldn’t comb my hair, brush my teeth, or hook my bra. So in spite of the fact that there was no obvious bruising or swelling, I went in for an x-ray. The x-ray was inconclusive due to internal swelling, and they couldn’t rule out a hairline fracture in my radius. I was told to go home, follow the PRICE protocol and take time off from work (ha, sure, the clients won’t mind that…). So I did the best that I could. Mobility slowly improved, but the pain was still there.
I have a high threshold for pain and a low threshold for medical appointments, which is how I spent half a year just living with the scapula thing. So when I still couldn’t fully extend my arm at the three-week mark I went in for another x-ray. Still swollen, still inconclusive. Now I had to go to orthopedics.
Ortho looked at my x-rays and seems to think that it’s most likely a bone bruise, which will take months to recover from. Until the pain is gone, I can’t even begin to fathom punching things and holding Muay Thai pads. That’s when I decided to start doing injury rehab with a trainer.
The Rehab Training Begins
There’s a trainer I really like at the gym, and lucky for me, his specialty is injury rehab (he used to work with a local pro sports team). He is well aware that I wasn’t even at 100% when I re-injured myself, and knows that we have a long way to go. He seems to have high hopes that he can get me healthy again.
After an initial assessment two weeks ago, I had my first two sessions this past week. My rehab training will work on not only improving strength and flexibility in my back and shoulders (relieving pressure on my elbow), but also core and lower body strength. Combined with the Pilates that I already do, that will improve my overall wellbeing and hopefully get me back to Muay Thai with Coach Joe sooner rather than later.
It’s been a humbling experience. His goal is to improve my form before over-stressing my muscles. He brings out these pathetic little wimpy weights for me, and by the end of the session I feel like I’ve been lifting small cars. It’s crushing my ego, but definitely working on the right muscles.
My elbow is finally at 95% extension when I wake in the morning, and gets to more-or-less normal extension by the end of the day. I’m definitely seeing improvement there. The pain hasn’t gone, but my understanding is that it could take until May for that to subside.
Until then, I just have to be patient and stick with my rehab training.