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Photos from winter 2016-2017.

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Well, my running is still curtailed by this pesky hip problem which has now become a literal pain in the butt..some sort of piriformis/sacroliliac/who-knows-what syndrome  (that’s HKWS) that’s causing pain in my, um, derriere and halfway down my leg on one side.  But enough about that..what I really want to whine about in this post is PT.   I’ve been thinking a lot about why I dislike PT so much.  Sure, there are the usual intellectual reasons..the huge amount of time it takes, the fact that each visit costs me the same as a doctor visit but there are 8 or 12 times as many of them; the fact that it often amounts to nothing more than supervised exercise..but lately I’ve been noticing that it’s not just the rational objections that make me dread it.  There is something sort of unpleasant and stress-indusing about the whole experience, and I think I’ve figured out part of it.  It’s the togetherness.  When I go to a doctor, it’s pretty much a private 1-1 experience.  But when I go to the PT, I’m there in a room  with a bunch of total  strangers , all bring treated at one time, usually by the same practitioners.  That’s weird, isn’t it?  I mean, imagine going to the doctor and sharing your time slot with three other people in the same exam room?  And yeah, I  go to group exercise at the gym with people I don’t know, but PT is not like going to Zumba, where you’re basically doing a group activity and there’s music playing and it’s all happy happy.  It’s more like being in a stranger’s hospital room, where no one is having fun and you’re trying hard to ignore one another.

At my most recent therapy  session I had to do my exercises on a table about 2 feet from a guy with back trouble and try as I might, I couldn’t avoid hearing him telling the therapist all about how much pain he was in.  It felt intrusive.  And then I had to listen to the therapist having a long detailed and loud conversation with the woman on the table to my right, all about her wedding plans,  for at least 15 minutes while she performed some manual therapy.  (Believe me, there is nothing less interesting than someone else’s wedding plans. )   The therapist was, I guess, quadruple booked, so I can see how it was convenient to have everyone close together but from my standpoint, it wasn’t much fun.

I don’t know.  I suppose that PT couldn’t make economic sense if it were always 1-1 but for me it’s just one more reason to avoid it.  Anyway, I only lasted 1 session at that particular PT, and I am switching to one where, for whatever reason, there seem to be only 1 or 2 patients there at a time usually.  And if that doesn’t work out, I guess I’ll have to take the last resort and go to the ortho, which I doubt will be productive.  I suspect that what I really need is a good trigger point therapist but my insurance doesn’t cover that. That’s probably ironic, right?

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So, finally, I’ve reached the point where my trochanteric pain syndrome-slash-hip bursitis-slash- IT band syndrome has made me stop running.  I’ve promised myself I’m not going to run until I can run 5 miles pain-free, and also walk and sleep pain free.  The sleeping part has been the hardest so far.  No matter how I start out sleeping, I always end up  rolling onto my affected side (the left side) which causes pressure on the affected hip and eventually an intense pain that wakes me up.  So then I roll over onto my right side and somehow that causes the same left side pain as sleeping on the left side..I’m assuming that the IT band or some other structure in there is compressing the inflamed bursa  in that position.  But  my body really, really wants to curl up on my side to sleep, even though my brain knows it’s gonna hurt.  Back-sleeping is just wrong!   Of course, it goes without saying that I asked the Internet how to keep from rolling onto my side, but all I got was advice on how to keep a baby from rolling over.  Apparently side-sleeping is bad for babies?    Anyway, unless I figure out how to somehow affix my back to the mattress,  or construct some sort of bumpers to hold me in place, I think it’s going to be a while before I can get through the night.  But meanwhile, (thanks to the internet  of course), I’ve learned that sleeping on my side is actually good for my brain.  So, there’s that.

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Autumn colors, a few weeks ago, in views from the Henry Avenue Bridge on an afternoon run.

 

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Winter is coming..

The landscape of the Wissahickon Gorge has changed from vibrant yellows and reds to black, brown and green.  Between one Saturday long run and the next, most of the trees have lost all of their leaves, and what’s left are bare branches and the evergreens..the rhododendrons, the Christmas ferns, and the few conifers dotting the slopes.  Winter is coming.

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Yes, I know, I’ve blogged a lot about how technology is making my running better..GPS, running apps, podcasts, video gait analysis., blah blah.   But of course there’s a flip side..it’s also making me incompetent.  Last weekend I decided to run a 5 mile trail race.  I hadn’t signed up in advance, and was a little disorganized in the morning, and at the last minute was still picking and downloading my Podrunner mix.  I always race with something playing that has a 180 bpm cadence.  I’m not sure if it’s the right cadence for me, but it’s what I’ve gotten used to, and if I don’t have something in my ear telling me how quickly to step, my mind might start to wander and I’ll end up going slower, or so I assume.  Anyway, somehow when the gun went off I was still fiddling with my bib, struggling to re-pin it to the belt in which I keep my phone that plays my tunes.  So I got it pinned and turned around (totally ruining my plans for a fast start), and started the race.  And about a quarter mile in, the thought came to me that there was somethig weird about the music I was hearing.  It seemed familiar, but not quite.  That was the first thought.  The second thought that popped into my head was “Hey, why am I runing so slowly?”.  It dawned on me slowly, (way more slowly than it should have,) that I had accidentally pressed the half speed button on my phone and was hearing my 180 bps mix at 90 bps.  After another couple of minutes of high-powered thinking I realized that it was going to be OK, I just needed to take two steps for every beat, which isn’t that hard to do.  But really, technology is making me stupid.

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So, I had signed up for a race this weekend, and about 3 weeks ago my ITB (aka trochanteric pain syndrome aka Hip enthesopathy, aka that thing we don’t really understand) came back with a vengeance.  After a week of this, I somehow twisted my ankle..presumably because of the change in gait or weakness induced by the hip problem.  I was at a point where I could only run a couple of miles without pain, so I tried to rest, and it got a bit better, but definitely not back to normal.  According to everyone I talked to, it would be a good idea to rest for a few more weeks, but due to my pathologically responsible personality, I was very bothered by the idea of not running this race that I had signed up for.   Of course, no one else would have cared, but, well, somehow it goes against my nature to not run a race I signed up for.  But.. I also didn’t want to make things worse, since I had another race scheduled or the following weekend, so I began toying with the idea of not doing the race.  The night before , I was thinking it over and caught myself in this dysfunctional thought pattern, and reached the epiphany that I had no good reason to run that race, other than the fallacy of sunk cost.    At that point I should have just stopped thinking, gone to bed and slept late the next morning, but instead my mind kept on going.    I thought that maybe the real reason I didn’t want to run the race was that I didn’t want to DNF.  Then I thought, yeah, but if there is no shame in a DNS, then why should it be any worse, to try but fail? So, yes, in the end, I decided to run the race, figuring that a DNF would likely not be the end of the world.

I slept with an ice pack on my hip, got up and taped up my left ankle, but a knee support on my bad right knee, took an ibuprofen, and did the race.  I finished.  And although my performance was less than stellar, at least I was not DFL.  So, that was this morning.  Some time in the next 48 hours I will find out just how big a mistake I made.

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