Seems Fine

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.


  1. OW. At least you’ve got a good diagnosis now so they can take steps to fix it for good. And don’t be so hard on yourself: you’re neither the first nor the last person to sit on a ridiculously bad injury for weeks/months because it didn’t seem that bad. It’s human nature.

  2. As someone who’s had my share (perhaps more than my fair share, who knows what “fair” is in this context) of small-to-middling naggy injuries in the last several years, let me say “I feel your pain, girl!” Alas, the things that we used to “walk off” in our teens and 20s become short- and long-term owies in our 30s & 40s and beyond.

    Of course, that’s not a reason to descend into total couch potato-dom (if anything, it recommends exactly the opposite – the stronger we keep our bodies in general, the better we can recover from this stuff), but it does mean we have to become and stay attuned to the aches and pains and not be afraid to adapt our routines to avoid aggravating things.

    I can also tell you that sometimes it’s damned hard to know where the line is between “oh this’ll go away if I rest a couple days” and “I should probably see a professional of some sort about this.” So don’t beat yourself up too hard – just keep healing and getting stronger. :-)

  3. You got compared with Dan Carter !!!! I think you are missing something very important here . . .
    Anyway that was from a non rugby fan but I do recognise him haha.
    Anyway question time, can they still operate ? Will Dan come around to mop your brow?
    (oh sorry sidetracked) . I understand your annoyance at 18 I was tramping Rotorua’s tracks like a crazy person and getting lots of knee pain, eventually (but only when I couldn’t walk on that knee) I went to the physio they did all the things they did in those days and as I was training for a tramp in the bush at Waikaremoana they got sick of nothing working and told me to keep walking and do the tramp “you will walk it off” they said.
    So I did the training, stopping to stretch out me knee when it was so painful I couldn’t put any pressure on it, then checked with the physio to see if I would really walk off and reminded them how far this tramp was. Go they said so I did.
    I have never eaten so many panadol and been in so much pain.
    I revisited the Dr and the physio and they said you just have to live with it, so that was the end of my walking.
    8 years ago I started getting out there and the pain started again I drew lines on my legs where I was getting the pain raced into the physio down the road she suggested a podiatrist and as soon as I got into the rooms the first thing he did was measure my leg length – guess what I have one leg longer than the other and a stupid orthotic fitted to your shoes sorts everything out.
    But in the mean time after all that i have worn one side of my hip and knee down.
    I think you just have to accept what happened and be proactive in the future. But keep doing what you can do like pilates or something.

  4. Yes, can you and Dan Carter please have a chat about this? I’m sure he can help you do some of your exercises!

    Look, I know it’s no fun to be in pain, but at least you’re not the opposite: I took a day off of work and went to the doctor because my back was hurting for a few days. Turns out I did not have a herniated disk or a fractured spine or whatever I was hypochondriactly thinking it was: I’d just done some crunches wrong and it hurt my back.

    Crunches. Crunches made me have back pain and take off work (not to mention the $80 doctor visit you ‘get’ to pay here in Australia, a land of free healthcare).

    I, too, realised that — fark! I’m getting older!

    It’s no fun, but it’s life. And soon enough we won’t even be able to type on our blogs because our fingers will have so much arthritis from all the typing we’ve done over the years. That is going to suck indeed.