Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back in the saddle even though I'm a mess

It'll be a year this May 2 when I tore my left leg's hamstring. It has not been an easy recovery and I'm left with so many issues stemming from this injury (weight gain, mental distress, anxiety, depression). I've also developed other problems that have become aggravated by the injury and the recovery process.

The worst has to be that I developed pes anserine bursitis in both knees. This is a painful condition that makes walking down hills and stairs difficult and challenging. To add to the pile of woe, I also have iliotibial band syndrome (IT band for short) in my left leg (I'm telling you the fun never ends). But wait, there's more! Just recently I was diagnosed with achilles tendinosis in my right foot - this is truly a party that never stops. I can only wear flat shoes which aggravates my left foot and is probably going to result in extensor tendonitis, a condition I've had before and is most painful first thing in the morning. There's been some discomfort which tells me it's inevitable.

I spent most of the summer crying myself to sleep, crying in the shower and just being fucking miserable. It wasn't any better emotionally leading up to Christmas. Depression set in when I found myself sized out of 90% of the clothing in my closet resulting in me breaking down and buying clothes in a size (22/24) I haven't worn in over three years.

I spent two years changing everything about myself which resulted in a 90 pound weight loss. I started in February 2012, two months after ditching my car and relying solely on my two feet and local transit to get to and from the GO station. My highest weight was 326, possibly 336 (this is a guess since my scale maxed out at 320). I made it all the way down to 250 in February 2014. My goal was 236 pounds. I got down to 246 but struggled all summer of 2014 to stay there. I plateaued at 256 until Thanksgiving of that same year when I blew out my right knee while running (I was running 2 km which was impressive considering my osteoarthritis). I tore my right ACL. The recovery was long and painful. Just when I was starting to feel better, I fell down the stairs of a double decker GO bus which resulted in me developing infrapatellar bursitis in the right knee.

Even now, just writing this all out I'm left with a sense of despair.

The only thing that saved me from the 2014 injury was taking up long-distance road cycling. At my peak, I was cycling 400 km a month - mostly evening and weekend rides. Now that my kid is finished daycare, I'm considering cycling from Courtice to the Oshawa GO station but the amount of trucks and crazy, distracted drivers terrify the shit out of me. I haven't worked up the nerve. My only options are Bloor Street or Highway 2. These are extremely busy arteries at rush hour and I'm convinced I'll be writing my own death sentence if I do it. There are no bike paths I can take that are a direct route. Cycling out in Durham really is a suicide mission. It's not like cycling in Toronto. Drivers aren't looking for cyclists and when they do see you, most try to run you off the road. Or maybe it's my own paranoia that feeds into my distrust...

Cycling helped my right leg get better. And when Spring rolled around last year, I was eager to get back into my cycling routine. I had no idea that all the cycling from the year before had over-lengthened my hamstrings (due to a poor seat position most likely) which made me vulnerable to hamstring injuries and all it took was one kick-boxing class a year ago and poof! My life changed for the worse. I've spent more time with my physiotherapist than with my own family these past 12 months.

Last Saturday, I tuned up my bike and went for a 4 km bike ride. I felt fine. Nothing hurt outside of pain I am used to feeling. Last night I went for a 9 km bike ride. I felt fine. Nothing hurt... until this morning. My IT band grabbed its fucking mariachi maracas and quickly reminded me it was fiesta time. Hey?! Remember me?! ¡Arriba, arriba! ¡Ándale, ándale!


I currently weigh 279 pounds. I was hovering around 284 in March. At the beginning of April, I had a pow wow with my dietitian and we developed a strategy where I would consume 1200 calories a day to kickstart weight loss. My body loves to be big. My metabolism is non-existent. I don't burn much. She and I discussed how obese people remain obese because the body actually becomes conditioned to being obese. She pointed to a study about contestants from a TV show called The Biggest Loser. It's a heartbreaking read.

I'm determined to be physically active. Despite all the pain, I remain committed to walking 1.8 km every morning to a bus stop where I can take a bus directly to Oshawa GO that puts me on the 7:03 am GO train. I just punch through it. It's been tempting to take a different route where I don't have to walk beyond the corner of my street, but it means taking a later train, which means leaving the office later... so it's a no from me. I've considered buying a car. The thought comes and goes. It would make life a lot easier but it's an expense I've become very accustomed to not having.

I will figure out how to deal with the IT band issue. Stretching will help. The concern now is the struggle to stay in one clothing size and remain there. I don't need to be skinny. I gave up on that years ago. I just don't want diabetes, high cholesterol, heart problems, breathing problems and whatever else being obese can bring. I've had osteoarthritis since my early 20s. It was always manageable, but it's definitely progressed in the past two years and primarily due to the stress and strain of the injuries and conditions.

The depression has been the hardest part of this. I'm not medicated. I find ways to cope. I fight the feeling of just giving up, quitting work and filing for disability. On weekends, I won't get out of bed until well after noon. I look forward to when it's time to go home each day so I can have dinner and just retreat to my bedroom. I'm no longer in physiotherapy, but I do force myself to perform stretching and strengthening exercises for 10-15 minutes in the morning and again just before bed. Some nights I just cry. Then I get mad at myself and remind myself of how good my life is, that I'm not dying and it could be so much worse. But boy, what I would give to just be able to climb a ladder again without feeling like I'm about to fall, or just being able to run down stairs - just for the hell of it. What I miss most, tho, is dancing.

Anyway, enough feeling sorry myself. I just wanted to put out an update for those who have read this website for years so I could share my woe. Thanks for reading.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

You can do it!

I have all of what you described: bursitis, IT band issues, tendonitis in my achillies, plantar fascities in the same foot, plus patellaer mal-tracking. I see a physio therapist for most of the knee-related issues and massge therapist for the other fall out (mostly back) because of the funny walking.

This past March, I spent 3 weeks on crutches for dislocating my knee cap. It's back in place, but I am still dealing with the fall out from that (here's hoping the ultrasound results bring not bad news!).

What has been recommended to me was Aquacise. It is gentle on the knee, provides resistance while supporting the knee. I am aiming to start that next week (when my schedule opens up a bit).

As for my weight: I am obese. When I hit the "hate my weight" portion of feelings, I go on the Fast Metabolism Diet. It does work, but it is a lot of work. Lost 17 lbs the first time I did it (28 day cycle with no cheating). This last round I only lost 10lbs in a month, but there were cheats.

I have learnt to live with my issues. I will never be able to run, I may never be able to kneel down without pain. But I cope, find other tools to use (a weeder to use standing up or a tub scrubber), use a chair when I am volunteering at the Humane Society because I can no longer sit on the floor.

It could be that I have had knee and ankle issues since I was 12. I am now firmly in my mid-30s. So for 2/3 of my life, I have had these limitations.

C.J. Smith said...

It sounds like you've accepted your fate and that takes a lot of courage. I'm not quite there yet.

Skin Man said...

Hey CJ, I'm sure writing that was cathartic, but still took guts. I hope you get lots of love from the This Crazy Train family.

I was very depressed a number of years ago, and started antidepressants, they worked wonders for me. I still get down, but it just doesn't feel soul crushing. Like you, I often chastise myself for feeling sorry for myself given the various challenges in my life, when my life is really pretty great compared to the vast majority of the population.

I don't have any solutions. Suck it up, never seemed to help. I think I just have to accept, this and work on my mind set, and as Dory would say "keep on swimming"; kept positive people around me; and try to do things that bring joy and contentment.

You got this!

C.J. Smith said...
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C.J. Smith said...

Thank god I actually CAN still swim!

Nora1968 said...

So sorry to hear that the last year has been so brutal for you, Cindy - as usual, you handle it quietly and with grace and still do a great job at all the things that you do. When I finally met you in person last summer, you kept me in stitches all the way home with your impressions of your mother cautioning a teenage you about all the dangers of being a teenaged girl.

Hang in there. You've got a good husband, a loving daughter and a whole readership who are rooting for you.

Robert Wightman said...

God, I thought my knee was bad. I have nothing on you girl. Knee pain is one of the worst because it is hard to avoid putting weight on it. I totally destroyed my right knee in 1970 watching a football game after playing for 10 years with no major injuries. i stepped on a beer bottle in the stands and tore up everything but the posterior cruciate ligament. Two major rebuilds and a year of physio got me walking again. Fortunately I found a good surgeon.

I appreciate what you are going through and hope they can help you. My left knee has about half the things yours does so I am amazed at your positive attitude. Keep up the positive attitude as much as possible and vent when necessary. I have learned to hate any word ending in -itis,

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting. I have suffered through different issues, and at time I still struggle. I took up cycling, but got hurt badly after I ended up in streetcar tracks trying to dodge an inattentive motorist. I still cycle, but out in the country the best I can. My knee can't take running or any high-impact exercise, but walking and cycling are fun and easy to do.

Keep up doing what you can and have fun doing it.

CJ Smith said...

Thanks Nora.
I appreciate your kindness

CJ Smith said...

I only come across as positive. I mean, I try.
Today has not been a good day. Pain. Pain everywhere.

CJ Smith said...

I am trying so damn hard!

Bicky said...

Oh my gosh, girlie. I had no idea.

You are a fighter and with the support of family and friends, you'll tackle the challenges that come your way.

You know where to find me if you need anything.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Makes my (mostly age related) injuries look trivial. Are you open to a suggestion? Have you tried yoga? Not health-club westernized, lulu-lemon yoga, but yoga with a properly trained teacher. I suggest it because yoga doesn't just work on the body, it messes with your mind too, but in a good way. If you can find the right teacher it can help with flexibility, core strength and depression. Good luck.

Sylv said...

Man, you're certainly been through the wringer! I'm so sorry you're dealing with all of this.

CJ Smith said...

I did yoga and still do. It is the reason why I can at least kneel. I am very grateful

CJ Smith said...

Last night I did a 10 k ride. It was wonderful. Today I hurt. Because I'm always in pain, I can't tell the difference between pain and general soreness of using muscles that haven't been used in so long.

MG said...

Thanks for sharing Cindy. that is never an easy thing to do. I know you like to run/ride but since your body doesn't appear to like that, perhaps you need to go down a different route towards something that does not have so much impact on your joints. I know someone above mentioned yoga, but perhaps you should look into restorative/yin yoga and/or pilates. I do this a few times a week and absolutely love it, and it does wonders for my back too; or maybe even hiring a personal trainer at the gym might be another option or an athletic therapist. Good luck in your efforts. It's an uphill battle for sure but I am sure you will succeed at :)

C.J. Smith said...

Thank you MG!