Managing my “Not Normal”

My hamstring started to bother me, during my race break in February. I spent more time running on the road. Soon,  I became aware of a very inconsistent “feeling” in my hamstring. I would not call it pain.  It did not bother me at night or during a run or during weight training. It usually started to feel tight when I hit mile 10.  When I did notice my hamstring, I just knew “my left didn’t feel like my right.”

As late March rolled around, I decided to take some decisive action to figure out what was going on. I started with rest. In my experience, rest is a great place to start, and it usually does the trick. So, I rested from running. I rode the stationary bike for five days. Five days was not enough rest, I gave it a few more days on the bike.

I found a PT, Craig O’Neill with Results Physiotherapy. He was informative and thorough. He tested my range of motion, muscle strength, and state of mind (HA!). He did not suggest a break from running, just a break from high mileage, and some strengthening exercises to help a weak left glute, a strained TFL and strained left hamstring. “OK!”

I used a lacrosse ball on my piriformis and my TFL. I used it to hit some trigger points. This seemed to give me some relief to my hamstring. I thought maybe it was piriformis syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is most often caused by macrotrauma to the buttocks, leading to inflammation of soft tissue, muscle spasm, or both, with resulting nerve compression. Microtrauma may result from overuse of the piriformis muscle, such as in long-distance walking or running or by direct compression.

May, then June. . . some changes, but still so ridiculously inconsistent. I could run 12 miles and not notice my hamstring at all. I could run 5 miles and walk away aggravated because all I felt was my hamstring! Why was my left hamstring not feeling and functioning like my right?!

On my race calendar:

Stage Race in June

Pike’s Peak 50K in July

Kodiak 100 in August

Mid June. . . back to PT in tears, of frustration, this time, begging with each tear for an answer or fix. Craig suggested seeing my sport’s DR. I walked out of his office a bit defeated and A LOT questioning my running plans for 2018. I gave myself some rest. I spent time working with a great PT. I called to make an appointment with Dr. Johnson.

I called Elite Orthopedics to schedule with Dr. Johnson, only to find out he went into practice on his own. His office moved to Nashville, and he wasn’t seeing patients until July. I called Elite back and asked to schedule an appointment with one of the doctors who were taking Dr. Johnson’s patients. They scheduled me with Dr. Price. He is a hip specialist. (blessing in disguise)

SO nervous. I met with Dr. Price. He examined me. He asked about a prior MRI, and we decided on an action plan. He prescribed meloxicam for 30 days. If after 30 days, I did not notice a change, I could call back and schedule an MRI.

I wanted changes. I thought about changes. I wished changes. But by late June, I knew deep inside I needed to get MORE information. I called for an MRI.

My MRI was on a Tuesday morning. I lay in that loud machine as it announced, “this will take 3 minutes” and “this will take 5 minutes”. Done! And NOT expecting any shocking result, I walked out. I expected to hear “there’s some inflammation in your hip joint and you have a strain in your hamstring. (To confirm what I wanted to hear and so that I could ‘stop imaging’ something’s not right.)

Wednesday. . . Thursday. . . Friday*

*the length of time that passed without any news confirmed TO ME my diagnosis, right?

Mrs. McClain? This is Dr. Price’s office, and I have your MRI results. (She sounded calm and pleasant.) . . . partially torn hamstring, hip impingement, labral tear. . . 

I did not know what to say. I just cried. I called my PT,  and I called my trainer. BOTH, were helpful and calm. Really, this was the worst news,  and I took my thoughts down the road of the worst possible outcomes. Lived in limbo of sadness and relief. Sad because I was planning to drop all my races. Relief because now, I know what is not right.



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