Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Nerve

In the weeks leading up to my hernia repair surgery, I was forced to restrict what I was doing in the gym.  And then, there were the two weeks post-surgery where I couldn’t go to the gym at all.
And I made a lot of bad (fast food) choices.  Because I felt sorry for myself.  
After the surgery, there were another two weeks with restrictions in the gym:  lift nothing more than 15 lbs. and don’t put pressure on the abdomen.  Well …. that didn’t leave much in terms of CrossFit ...
My coaches though, were GREAT, crafting upper body work for me to do - something that allowed me to get moving again!  Even with a 15 lb. bar.
And then, we went to Hawaii for a week.  And I ate all the carbs that Oahu could offer.  Leonard’s Bakery.  Need I say more? 
And slowly but surely, the numbers on the scale went up.  And up.  And up some more. 
Of course, I immediately returned to the gym once home from our island getaway.  And getting back into our dietary routine was an absolute must. 
Because I could no longer fit comfortably in my slimmer-fitting jeans (Three is a Magic Number).
I slowly began to add weight to my barbell.  Pfffft!  I thought. 15 lbs. on a barbell is nothing.
Until I tried working with a 22 lb. barbell. Now that was tough. The next day, putting 35 lbs. overhead proved difficult; it was about half of what I used to be able to do. 
I put 80 lbs. on my barbell for a deadlift.  My most favorite lift of them all.  And it felt good.  But it was nowhere near my heaviest deadlift (217 lbs.). 
It was as if I was starting CrossFit all over (Lift Like a Girl).
It was a chance for me to get back to basics.  Work on my form (and believe me, my form and technique needed a LOT of work!) 
Then one day, about six weeks post-op, as we were warming up, I felt a stabbing pain in my right thigh.  It doubled me over, this feeling like someone had taken a red hot ice pick to my leg.  (Seems like an oxymoron, but the pain was sharp and it felt like my leg was on fire).
I didn’t know what it was.  But I knew it wasn’t right. 
I rolled it out.  I iced it.  And still … the pain continued.  In fact, it got worse.  Worse than the pain leading up to my surgery.
It fired at random.  When I was sitting. When I was standing.   When I was walking.  When I was laying down.  There wasn’t one thing that triggered it. 
And it was debilitating. 
Over the course of those first five days, when it hit, I couldn’t walk for several minutes afterwards, as the zingers just kept coming.  I also developed what could be likened to Tourets Syndrome. The expletives spilling forth from my mouth.  One friend asked if I was having a seizure, the jolt of pain so searing, my whole body jerked in response. 
Because WebMD is your friend, I diagnosed myself with nerve pain. 
My surgeon and an Airrosti doctor agreed, though they didn’t agree on which nerve.  One thought it was my femoral nerve (which makes sense because my hernia was femoral and on the same side as my leg pain) and the other thought perhaps, my sciatic. 
I know I’m not the first person to experience nerve pain, but wow!  This well and truly sucked. 
I dutifully took the prescribed (nerve) pain meds and did the prescribed stretching exercises.   
But there was now a different challenge ahead of me in the gym.  Basically – don’t do anything to set off the pain.  Okaaaaaayyyyy ……  I did say it was unpredictable, right? 
As the weeks went by, the debilitating pain became less frequent.  And I began to categorize the zingers as “major” or “minor”.  Or even “twinges” – little pinches which let me know the nerves were still agitated.  Or, as the Airrosti doc said, that they were pissed off.
My leg felt raw. And it itched. A constant reminder that something wasn’t right  
I even survived a week at Walt Disney World, where we pounded the pavement for an average of nine miles per day.
A third opinion came in the form of a second Airrosti doc, whose theory combined the two previous diagnoses.  He thinks my L3 was tweaked following my surgery, as my body compensated for the newly-acquired mesh which is holding my fascia together at the site of my hernia.  As a result, pain shoots down into my femoral nerve.    
To use the words of one of my friends, it seems I just can’t catch a break. This is now becoming a mental challenge, as much as a physical one.  
Is CrossFit still right for me?  Can I still work out without injuring myself?  Will this pain ever go away?  
I’ve come so far in my wellness journey, I just can’t give up! 
Whatever this is, I’m finally wrapping my brain around a couple of things.  Thanks to some well-meaning friends who I know have my back.  
·         My body is still healing from surgery. Heck, even my surgeon said it’ll be a year before I’m 100% .
·         I might not be as strong as I used to be. And that’s okay. 
·         I’m older.  I don’t have to prove anything to anyone (in terms of the weight on my barbell).  I just have to move.
·         I will gain my strength back. Not to worry. Even if I never get back to lifting 217 lbs., I’ll still be able to lift a huge bag of dog food.
And while I continued to increase the weight on my barbell, I still had little twinges of pain.  I know it’s a good day though, when I leave a little sweat on the gym floor.  And I’ve been doing that a lot. 
One of my coaches even said I looked more athletic than she’s ever seen me.  Two cheers for increasing my form!
Almost 12 weeks post-op and 5 1/2 weeks after the on-set of the nerve pain. The PT assigned by Airrosti doc #2 seems to be working. Either that or the massage I had with the ever-so-wonderful Pedro, him and his magic fingers.  
The constant raw feeling is gone. And it’s been several days since I’ve had any pain in my leg. The twinges barely perceptible.  
And I feel ready to take on the gym and whatever constantly varied functional movements my coaches throw at me. And I’m okay with the fact that the next time I get a barbell overhead, it might not be 70 lbs.  
Now if I can just avoid the cookies and ice cream and breads and booze on this cruise, I just might be able to get back into my size six jeans. 

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