I have a pretty good idea of what is ow-I-haven’t-stretched-for-a-while pain and ow-ow-ow-ow-bad-stop-ow-ow-pain, by now. Over the weekend I was feeling some of the latter so I didn’t do my physio exercises, but tonight was okay, so I did them. Leg curls, on the silver exercise ball, with my back on the floor because the incline ones hurt too much. Some core strengthening, because it’s not just the leg anymore, it’s the back. Bridges, on both feet because the one-legged ones hurt too much. I listen to a podcast when I do them.
Almost two years ago I popped a hamstring doing a cartwheel in a circus class. Just a cartwheel. I didn’t know what had happened; I knew something was very badly wrong but I didn’t know what it meant or how to help it, so I just…continued on with the class that night, and kept going back, for a couple of days more even though I was limping and using hot packs on it at work. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I did know I didn’t want to look weak.
Right before I went on a month-long trip to the States, I finally went to a physical therapist (we say physio in New Zealand), who put some tape on my leg and gave me some exercises to do while I was away. It takes six weeks to heal a hamstring, she said, and I did the exercises for a while and then it seemed to be okay so I stopped doing them.
It seemed okay.
I didn’t go back to circus, but if my Google calendar is to be believed, I went to yoga a bit, for a while. I started seeing an osteopath, who twisted and turned me in all sorts of configurations, but whom I could not continue to see after my ACC-funded sessions ran out. Plus, then it was March, and I had to go to Miami, and if there was anything I was thinking about it certainly wasn’t my own health. He had mentioned getting a sonogram done on the injury site, even though it had been so many months, but I never did it. My leg seemed okay.
I did a bit of a dance class for a while last winter, and that sort of hurt sometimes but I figured it was because I was out of shape, and then I had to go to Tampa and my leg was the last thing on my mind. I could walk and I could do a little bit of online yoga, twenty minutes at a time, and I could go the Monterey Bay Aquarium and dive in Mexico. I could sit on the plane back for twelve hours back to Wellington, and that’s all that mattered and all I cared about. It seemed okay. I was a bit stiff, and not as flexible as I’d been when I was doing more exercise, but, you know: it’s not cancer. It seemed okay.
So why, when I returned, all of a sudden the leg began making itself known, I have no idea. Why it made sense to see a new physio who stuck needles in my leg to relax the muscles and ordered me to get a sonogram, I don’t know. Why, when the results indicated that when the hamstring tore, so did part of the bone–that’s what I was doing, when I did that innocent cartwheel in July of 2011—and blinked when he told me in his straightforward physio way, “If Dan Carter had this injury that’d have been the end of his season and he’d have surgery the next week. I don’t know how you’ve been walking around on it for all this time.” I don’t know either. It had seemed okay.
So no yoga, even, at the moment. I can swim on it, so that’s all right, and I try to walk to work every day, which is sometimes okay and sometimes not. I was doing the more intense versions of my exercises for a while and recovering my range of motion, but then I had to trot gently to catch the airport bus to go on my farm trip a couple of weeks ago and I limped for the rest of the day and it has hurt since. I’m going to the sport doctor on Thursday and I have no idea what will happen. Cortisone injection, maybe. Surgery, maybe.
I am so angry at myself for this injury. I can’t believe I kept on with that class. I can’t believe I waited two weeks to go to the first physio. I can’t believe I just let it go, and let it go, and let it go some more, for months and months and months. I can’t believe I kept doing yoga and dance and stuff like that when I had (what turns out to have been) a major injury. I can’t believe I didn’t follow up when the osteo sort of gently, softly, vaguely hinted that maybe a sonogram would be a good thing to do. I can’t believe I didn’t advocate better for myself and my health.
I can’t believe my body doesn’t work exactly the way I want it to, for the first time in my life. I can’t believe the soreness isn’t just hoo-boy-haven’t-worked-out-in-a-while!! I can’t believe that maybe something is permanently wrong and broken, that maybe the best that can be achieved will be management or maintenance and that my physical activity won’t be confined by my own laziness or fitness but my my actual ability. I can’t believe that I might have to miss a flight because I can’t run—can’t gently trot for half a block for the airport bus.
It happens to everyone, I guess—not this sort of injury neccesarily, but the realization that your body will change, at some time, in some way. It seems fine, and then it’s not.