I thought I’d include a complete unrelated photo for this post – colors draw you in right?

Sick of the injury wagon, yet? Well, buckle your seat belts because it ain’t over yet. I finally got my MRI results back and as I expected, I have a herniated disc in my lumbar spine.

When my back issue flared up back in September, I continued to marathon train because it didn’t bother me while running. As you may know, I had to drop out of my marathon four days short because things had gotten significantly worse. Then, a week before Christmas, it took a really bad turn.

I’ve been dealing with constant pain from my mid-lower back down past my knee on the left side since then. Sitting down for more than 5 minutes is awful and I can’t get a good night’s sleep because I wake up in pain. The middle part of my left leg is completely numb. Also, I’ve taken four different kinds of prescription paid meds and they literally do NOTHING to stop the pain. It’s like they are placebos!

Today, I’m heading back to the doctor to get the dirty details of how to fix this. From what I’ve read, there’s a high probability that I will need surgery. This does not excite me. I’ve never had surgery and I don’t want to start a lifetime of back surgeries! My friend, who is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, told me surgery was a bad idea for that reason.

Missing Out

In the meantime, I’ve had to forgo many fun things. The most sad thing on that list is the ASICS L.A. Marathon. I was chosen by ASICS to complete the race with fully paid flight, hotel, personal training and more. To have to miss something that amazing is crushing. I’ve seen a couple others who were picked and I can’t even get myself to read about it because I’m SO disappointed. What a cool opportunity. I know, I probably sound like a brat. I can be that way when I’m hurt.

Additionally, there is no race planning and no run to relieve stress. I’m coping okay and I know that not having exercise as a crutch in some instances is actually good for me. But it’s never been just about burning calories. In the past four years, I’ve changed for the better and come to love running and Crossfit in such a wonderful way.  Nonetheless, I’m sure I will look back on this time and realize what I learned about myself when I was injured.

What I’ve Been Up To Instead

1. Reading: I’ve been reading like crazy. A few that I’m working on now:

All are on totally different pieces of subject matter and all are very good. Instead of fitting all my reading in on my commute, I’ve spent a lot of outside time reading thoughtfully and really taking in the wisdom in these books. They make me so hungry for more knowledge and have forced me think about things I never have.

2. More Work. I’ve been spending more time focused on my job, simply because I’m not rushing out the door every morning after fitting in my workout. It’s not that I didn’t do enough work before, it’s just that now it’s a little more calm because I have some extra time to finish my to-do lists and plan carefully.  I’ve found I’ve gotten more excited about what we are doing as well. I like strategic thinking and dipping my finger into marketing — it’s fascinating — and I never knew that I liked it until now.

3. Spending Time on my Spiritual Life. Unfortunately, one of the first things to go when I have workouts in the morning is often my quiet time reading the Bible and praying. Because I’ve had more peaceful mornings and more time, I’ve been reading the Bible everyday and spending time in prayer. I feel closer to God now than I have in a long time — and I love that feeling. Like any relationship, the one with God takes spending time together to remain close and hear His voice.

4. Thinking. It’s not as silly as it sounds. I’ve had more time for critical thinking and brainstorming when it comes to my professional and personal life. I definitely have that “can’t sit still syndrome” where you are always on the phone, computer, treadmill and never stop to just think. It’s a worthwhile endeavor and something I never did when I was going going going.

5. Writing. This morning I woke up and felt inspired to respond to a little controversy brewing on the Internet. Because I had my whole morning before work, I took that time to write a thoughtful response on a blog I’m on guesting on sometimes. It’s been so long since I did something like that or focused on opinion pieces other than fitness. It’s not bad or good, but it felt fulfilling to write something and get it out there.

When I get back to my old self (have faith, Ericka!), I hope I will take from the worthwhile things I’ve found during this time. It’s good to find balance and reflection is more important than we give it credit for.

Have you dealt with a long-term injury? How did you deal? Have you experienced a herniated disc specifically? 

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