Running has been such an important part of my life for more than 30 years that it was a shock to suddenly have it removed from my routine. It was a shock both physically and mentally, and one that was not easily remedied. My nurse practioner immediately suggested that I begin taking an antidepressant because my serotonin level had dropped drastically, yet another shock to my system. Unfortunately, with two sacral stress fractures, not only did my doctors outlaw running, I was barely able to walk. That meant relying on a walker, which was another shock not just to me but to everyone who knew me. In an attempt to ease the embarrassment they knew I felt, my family made jokes such as Fred’s suggestion that he get me a horn. My initial insistence that there would be NO bag hanging from the front transformed into…well…okay, a bag, but ONLY in the house.
Of course, the whole situation worsened when I woke up unable to lift my right arm and had excruciating pain. That led to multiple MRIs, a nerve study, blood tests of my entire system, and a bone density test. That test revealed osteoporosis, and blood tests showed anemia, extremely low levels of vitamin D, extremely high SED rate (rate of inflammation) and high platelets. Then began a round of testing for frightening diseases such as multiple myeloma. Fortunately, those proved negative. Still, the shoulder pain persisted and it froze, despite physical therapy.
Three months and one major erroneous diagnosis later, a second doc discovered rotator cuff arthropathy — arthritis with a major rotator cuff tear. That meant the usual surgery to repair a rotator tear was not an option. The best option was a reverse total shoulder replacement, in which they reverse the ball and socket, replacing each with a man-made part.
Ironically, that doc informed me in that flat tone of some orthopedic surgeons, at 52, I was too young for the surgery. Thus began a quest for learning to live with chronic pain. Being housebound and giving up my usual activity was not an option, as far as I was concerned. After a few weeks of being overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness, I decided it was time to get on with life and figure out what I could do and what I’d have to set aside for the time being.
Initially, my plan involved walking as soon as possible, but that meant waiting until the stress fractures had healed. After nearly three months, the pain in both right and left sacrum had disappeared and I knew I was ready for some slow, easy walking — a somewhat new concept or at least a long-forgotten idea. After all, this whole situation began with a 15K in Mason, Ohio, where I’d placed first in my age group. Talking about dropping from the top to the bottom….
Stay tuned for the next piece of this puzzle…