Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pain in the Ass...literally

My body - it is a strong, powerful, explosive entity that is also fragile, weak, and becoming a big pain in the ass.  I stand at 6 feet 3 inches, a height that is perfect for retrieving items placed in tall places, for shooting balls in various baskets or spiking them across nets, for looking down at students who want to challenge you on a grade you gave them, and for wearing long dresses and flare jeans (if you are woman or just like dressing as well).  But it is not a height made for squatting for long periods of time or for certain gym machines or for airplane seats (don't even get me started on 5'3 passengers who  insist on the exit row seats for 12+ hour flights and my tall ass is relegated to the back in a cramped plane with a beer bellied man in front on me who insists on reclining his seat for the WHOLE DAMN PLANE - but I digress).

But really, I am ok with my "abnormal" female frame.  However, what I am finding out is that this height comes at a price -  a bad back that likes to act up during exercise and now sciatica that leaves me with a pain in me right ass that just won't go away.  Now I am not saying that because I am tall I am destined for back pain.  On the contrary the bad back comes from playing a sport in which my height was valued - one of the few places in which I was comfortable and proud of my stature.  But the constant jumping and explosive moves required on the volleyball court were to much for my frame (that was bigger than is should have been for college sports) and eventually led to a compressed disk and pinch nerve down my right leg.  It was left untreated for 2 years due to incompetent doctors who insisted that "a female of my frame tends to get a lack of feeling in their lower extremities due to muscular over development" or as I now interpret it "you are only a female so you can't really have a serious college sports injury and let's be real you are too freakin tall and we all know tall females are just destined to be in pain so deal with it and that will be $500.  Hope your insurance pays for it."  Essentially, the preconceived notions and stereotypes about tall women led to a misdiagnosis and uninterested in a serious injury that, if I were a man in college sports, who have been taken more seriously.  Challenge me if you like, but I have seen it time and again. 

Once I found a doctor to actually listen to me it was uncovered that I have actually slipped a disc that broke 2 spinous processes in my lower lumbar, pinching my L4 nerve in my right leg leaving me numbness, tingling, and atrophying of the muscle in the right thigh.  I played on that injury my senior year of college as a starting right-side and co-captain and was made to feel as if I were making up the pain.  When I finally received that diagnosis I was actually glad because if finally proved that the pain was not in my head or because of my "abnormal" height, but in my back.  5 years since that diagnosis the pain is chronnic, but manageable as the discs in question healed themselves by shrinking, leaving 2 flat black discs in place of the once full white ones.  That helped alleviate the pressure on my nerve giving me back a little feeling in the leg but forcing me to quit the sport that I love due to the lack of stability and cushioning in my lower.  In place of organized team sports that involve pounding someone or something I moved on to individual sports that test my own physical and mental endurance, starting with this half marathon and entry-level mountain climbing. 

Yet, my body is not as strong as it needs to be to handle this level of pounding.  Hence the sciatica - a consequence of my body adapting again to my weakened lower back by tucking  my pelvis bones under to handle more load.  That worked for while, but when I decided to stop being lazy and start working out again the running and lifting proved to much to quick and my body let me know with a sharp pain in my ass and knee that left me frozen in agony just before the New Year in a training session.

What do I do now?  What I have now been told is that I need to stand taller and elongate my frame to alleviate the sciatica ass pain - a concept that I already knew but is now making me comes to terms more with my height.  After every osteopath session I leave standing taller - her manipulations allows my spine to straighten more and the muscles relax.  I feel good standing taller - I can breathe deeper and my digestion functions better.  With pilates as my rehab prescription (which I start tomorrow and should be interesting) I am guaranteed to stand even taller as my core becomes a stronger part of this body.  I will have to come face-to-face and reconcile with my height - which in itself may be a big pain in the ass.  Bring it on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so addicted to your blog hahah. I love your mix of humor and intellect. Very signature. Sorry about the pain in your ass. It is interesting to learn about how shit's working in there though... it's easy to forget how the strong feeling of a back don't mean squat when it's composed of so many fragile bits. Aaaamazin. Well. I'll give you massages when Im out there. <3 C