I’m Back!

Almost a month ago to the day I hurt myself. I had developed a “knot” in my back after a long ride some months ago. I didn’t think much about it so I massaged it every now-and-then but otherwise didn’t pay much attention to it. It would be painful for periods of time, but the pain would eventually go away.

For Holden’s birthday, we went down to LA to visit Universal Studios and Disney’s California Adventures. The plan was to; drive down to LA on a Friday; visit Universal Studios on Saturday; have a free day in Hollywood on Sunday; drive down to Anaheim Sunday night; spent Monday at Disney; drive home Tuesday. And that’s what we did.

The drive down was lots of fun and Universal Studios was outstanding the following day, Saturday.  Still wanting to stay on my training plan I visited the hotel gym Saturday night. The gym was very posh and included the highest end treadmills, bikes, and equipment I have ever seen in a hotel gym. Very nice indeed.  I decided to try a Peleton bike for the first time (side note: I thought it was great and totally understand why people love them). After my workout I went back to my room, showered and went to bed. At 1:30 am it struck. While sleeping on my left side I went to turn over and I felt something “tweak.” I can’t describe it but a pain shot through my back that caused me to jump out of bed. The left side of my back was spasming and the pain was shooting down my left arm. I spent an hour or so trying to stretch it out and finally got my back to calm down enough to get back to sleep, albeit restlessly.

The next day the spasms continued. My tricep would twitch uncontrollably and if I moved my arm in the wrong direction the pain in my back was unbearable. But, I made it through the day and we drove down to Anaheim.  That night, however, was miserable. I tossed-and-turned and no amount of Ibuprofen was giving me any relief. Finally at 5 am I couldn’t take it anymore and got myself to an ER at a local hospital.   There the doctor gave me a systemic anti-inflammatory shot and prescribed some low-grade muscle relaxers. Suffice it to say that the hospital wasn’t a leading research facility but I was thankful for anything at that point. I returned to the hotel in time to join the family for our day at Disney. it was a rough day but the meds helped. The drive home was another matter. By Tuesday morning the drugs were having no effect. My primary care doctor was on vacation so I wasn’t able to get anything stronger so it meant that I just needed to deal with the car ride home until I could get to Standford’s ER and then to my primary doctor the following day.

At the Standford ER, I was given a trigger shot in my back and a prescription for Valium. This got me through the night and into my appointment with my doctor’s physician’s assistant. At this point, everyone was treating my back as the source of the problem.

A week passed and while my back was getting better my left arm and shoulder were still in a lot of pain. I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that I had hurt a muscle in the rotator cuff. I returned to my doctor to have them evaluate my shoulder, which they did. The result was a referral to physical therapy.

Luckily my loving wife sacrificed one of her PT appointments so I could get in as fast as possible. It happens that she goes to one of the best physical therapists in the Bay Area, and his office is around the corner from my office. I couldn’t wait to see him and rightfully so. After 20 minutes of talking and observation, he concluded that my issue wasn’t a muscle or back issue. He believed I had a “compressed” nerve root in my C6/C7 vertebrae (at the base of my neck). After some slight manual adjustments, my fingers stopped tingling and my tricep stopped hurting. It was like a miracle, except it was real and logical :-). He gave me some exercises to do at home and I scheduled my follow-ups and was on my way!

That was 2 weeks ago. Last week marked my first week back on a training plan. While my fitness took a hit -amazing what 3 weeks off will do- and my arm still hurts on occasion I am so much better!

I have had to withdraw from the triathlons that I was signed up for which is a bummer but I have found new ones to take their place. I will now race in a Sprint on June 24th, an Olympic on July 22rd and plan on competing in Ironman Tempe in October. So nice ot be back!

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