Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sciatica Sucks (hopefully no more)

I had the microdiscectomy surgery Wednesday on my L5S1.  The hope is this would relieve the sciatic nerve pain in my right leg.  I've been in some degree of pain since it started in Sept 2009.  I tried many of the alternative methods but in the end, it wasn't getting better.  My spine doctor at Columbia Orthopaedic recommended living with it, more shots, or surgery.  Surgery is a last resort so I decided to seek a second opinion at Missouri Orthopaedic Institute.    The doctor there also recommended surgery and I found him easier to talk to than my previous doctor.  I told him my concern about being able to run after the surgery and he felt there was no reason I could not although there is no guarantee either.  The surgery could possibly make the pain worse or might only partially improve.  I decided it was worth the risk and he removed a couple pea sized portions of the bulging disc and hoped it would stop pressing on my sciatic nerve.

I arrived at noon and was home by 9 pm.  I tried to relax about the surgery but was still pretty anxious since it was my first surgery.  I am guessing that is why my blood pressure was high every time they took a reading.  Also, I think the pain level I have has been keeping it higher than it used to and with the anxiety it was even higher.  Hugh was able to be in the preop room most of the time.  About 2:30 they put some happy drugs in my IV and took me into the operating room.  I remember taking about 3 breaths.

Then woke up around 4:15 in the postop recovery room.  I wasn't cold but shivering so gave me some Demerol and that fixed the shaking.  I was amused by the staff's conversation, but the nurse attending to me said to me if I told anyone they would have to kill me.  Just regular work issues that I was sympathetic too so I won't reveal. 

They took me to a patient recovery room and let me have some ice chips since my mouth was beyond dry and throat a bit irritated from the breathing tube.  Hugh arrived and eventually I was allowed water and didn't help much with the dryness.  Then had some chicken broth and gatorade and felt better.  After going to the bathroom a few times, taking a pain pill, and getting up to walk, they finally released me just before 9 pm.  Before they released me, my blood pressure was ridiculously high at 161/92 so they took again a few min later and had gone down to 151/83.  They thought that was strange since I said I wasn't in pain, but thought I would be fine.  Everyone took great care of me and the worst part was just waiting to be released.

Went home, ate some dinner and went to bed and had a hard time going to sleep since I had to pee so much I guess due to all the IV fluid plus drinking.  Finally slept pretty well but still dry mouth.  No more pain in the right buttock, back of leg, and just a tinge in the calf when I woke up.  The incision wasn't hurting until later this morning so may have to get the pain prescription filled.  They have not scheduled my follow up appointment, but am guessing if all goes well, I will be back to work in 2 weeks.  Right now, it feels the best to just lay on my back in bed so that is how I am functioning today between my laptop and iPod touch.  Answered some work e-mails this morning and will probably start a book later.

Day 2 - I ended up not getting the  pain med even though the incision hurts and it is hard to get up and down off the bed and couch and turn over.  It isn't so bad that I can't tolerate it and once I settle I am fine.  I noticed later yesterday I no longer had the tinge in my calf and right leg feels nearly like the left one.  Now, my lower back which didn't hurt before, hurts because of the incision.  Feels like I have been stabbed in the back, but I am sure will improve with more rest.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Psycho Wyco Toto Run 50K

I wasn't sure I should run this 50K.  I was really tight and painful most of the week and didn't run since the Sunday before.  I contacted the race director to see if I could switch to the 10 miler which started later, but he suggested I could start with the 50K and 20 milers and then drop to the 10 if I wanted after the first loop.  This way I would get a better parking spot.  I mostly wanted to switch since I didn't want to DNF for the race I had signed up for and knew I could run 10 miles.

I set the alarm for 4 am, but slept poorly and got up at 3:45.  Hugh had gotten up and baked cinnamon rolls so had those along with cereal and hard boiled eggs for breakfast.  I wasn't as tight and painful as I have been recently, but I think that was due to not sleeping for very long.  I was hoping the drive to Kansas City would be pretty comfortable.

I left about 4:40 and made it there at 6:50 just as it was getting light, got a really close parking spot and was the 3rd person in line to pick up my packet.  We got a nice brown hoodie instead of a shirt this year.  I returned to the car to get everything ready for my drop bag and took it over to the start and then back to the car to figure out what to wear.  I realized I had forgotten to bring Body Glide but turned out to not be a problem.  I decided to wear my Mizuno pants, a long sleeved shirt, and jacket.  It was 23F and just felt too cold to start out in shorts.  I decided to wear my iPod since I was afraid it was going to be a long day if I decided to go for 50K.  I put my Kahtoola Microspikes on my shoes and was ready to go.

Dan H. came over to borrow my Swiss Army knife to loosen a few screws on his shoes.  I then headed to the start line for the 50K and 20 mile.   Saw Joel running the 50K and Shawn, and Nate running the 20 miler from Columbia.  A lot of other Columbians running but doing the 10 miler which started an hour later.  I started sort of mid pack and we were all running single file on the snow path on the way to the trail.  The trail was snow packed and pretty good to run on.  Definitely better than the mud I've run on the previous 2 years.

Into the run, I realized I had left my water bottle in the car.  I didn't worry since I would just drink at the aid stations and grab the other water bottle that was in my drop bag on the second loop.   I stopped at 3 different aid stations to drink so probably wasn't enough with their small cups.  I felt like my right leg was dragging a lot the first loop and couldn't seem to keep my right ankle steady.  I thought my shoes felt a little loose, but had a hard time tying them in the car since I can't bend over very well.  I was getting warm too and removed my gloves.   About 8 miles into the loop when I was running with fewer people I turned on the iPod a bit.

After I finished the 1st loop (1 hr 54 min), I took off my running pants and jacket.  I felt up to another loop, grabbed my water bottle, some food and took off.  I didn't get far and decided it was time to retie my shoes.  I found a tree and was able to prop my foot up and retie them.  It was much better and my ankles felt more stable.  Soon, I felt like my head was burning up so removed my head band.  The iPod was starting to hurt my ears which it usually does after a few hours so had to take it off and carry it along with the headband since I didn't have any pockets.  There were a few patches on the second loop that were icy and quite slippery where the snow had worn down.  There was one place on a steep down hill curve that I about lost it and fell backwards, but managed to catch myself and didn't go all the way down.  The Kahtoola microspikes worked quite well other than on the solid icy patches.  They were a bit of a pain running across a few roads and where we had to run about a half mile on the road, but I am glad I wore them.  I really didn't want to take a chance at falling.

After 2 loops (4:06 overall time), I decided I could finish and my goal was to simply finish since I didn't have any speed.  I had almost 5 hours to finish the next loop so decided there was no reason not to finish.  There was a big cheering section from Columbia that had finished running when I came through which was nice.  I started the 3rd loop feeling okay, but no speed and no power up the hills.  The trail was beginning to be more slushy in places and even some mud in a few places.  After a couple miles, it appeared I could do 15 min miles so hoped to finish in about 6 hr 40 min overall.  Most of the 3rd loop I was running alone other than being passed by people.  I did pass a few people but was mostly passed which I don't like, but nothing I could do about it.

I made it to the end in 6 hr 43 min and the race director gave me my medal and 50K sticker and I had my picture taken. It was quite toasty at 52F by the finish!  I am glad I did this run, but not happy with my time even though I realize there is not much I can do about that right now.  I had been running really well in spite of my bulging disc for about a year.  The weird thing is running excessively does make me feel better while I am doing it and loosens things up. Exercise is good for sciatic nerve pain, but getting up every morning, trying to put on my clothes, getting things off the floor or down low, and sitting is hell. For over a year, I didn't hurt too often when I ran with this condition but now it does hurt.  My walking isn't that great most of the time either. I had a hard time pushing off on the right leg most of the run although I think the second loop was better.  Between that and the crappy training, it didn't help my speed. I think I left my speed into last year since running hasn't gone well since December.  Probably when my last shot wore off.

I didn't expect to finish so I am happy to finish and also to have finished all the races since Sept 2009 when my bulging disc problem started.  It is hard to say if running is bad for this condition or not.  Doctors say exercise is good but running may not be good for the spine.  After surgery, I am just going to see how it goes.  My doctor says can't run for 6 weeks and need to take off work for at least 2 weeks, lie around all day, walk a bit, and recover.  Hopefully, I feel good again and will want to run.  I will do what I can to reduce the pounding.  The desire is there to run again, but I don't want to continue in living every day in this much pain if there is a chance surgery will help get rid of the pain.  I want to recover and get back into shape and hopefully that includes running.  If not, I will figure out a new plan.

1st Loop - 1:54:11 (35th place)
2nd Loop - 2:12:11 (41st place)
3rd Loop - 2:37:15 (45th place)
Finish Time - 6:43:38 (45th place male, 51th overall out of 92)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

2011 Nut Race

I didn't have any goals for this 5K.  With the snow on the ground, the way I have been running lately, and the pain and the weakness in the right leg,  I didn't expect too much.  I ran to the race and caught up with Tom, Dan E. and Phil.  I ended up with a little over 8 miles and felt pretty good.   I was feeling less stiffness and pain than some days.  We got to the start line about 5 minutes before the race started.  I had to pee but no time.  We took off and it took me awhile to get my speed up.  I passed Hugh on the first turn.

Not a whole lot happened.  I ran as about as fast as I could.  I passed one guy and Tom passed me before the end.  I assumed he was ahead of me.  I wore my Yak Trax but still some slippage.  Tried to stay on the pavement along Providence and cars moved over to the other lane.  Splits were 6:41, 6:52, and 6:52 and last 0.2 was 1:25 and overall 21:50. Placed 4th of 9 in age group of 40 - 49 and 6th overall out of 32.  Not as bad as I thought it might be.