Monday, December 29, 2008

What I learned from injury. Part I

I've been away for a while.

For more than a year, I've been nursing a mystery left hip injury that no one has been able to figure out. The injury first appeared in October 2007 after an especially long and hard road season. Two months into the cyclocross season, the pain was excruciating. I played tough guy and finished out the 'cross season. Despite the limitations, I won a collegiate conference championship and placed 28th at the US Cyclocross National Championships - my best result at Nationals ever.

I took a month off and hoped that the hip would heal. It didn't. I trained on it through February 08 in preparation for the road season, and it only got worse. The pain progressed from just being in my hip to full blown sciatica that radiated from my lower back to my left foot. At its worst, I couldn't sit, walk, or stand comfortably.

My doctor ordered a series of tests: MRI, X-Ray, EMG, blood tests, and bone scan. Each one showed nothing wrong. I started Physical Therapy and saw some relief of my symptoms but the underlying cause of pain still eluded us.

I got bounced from specialist to specialist. The orthopeadist wanted it to be my spine. The sports med specialist who worked with cyclists wanted it to be vascular. When it wasn't what they wanted, they lost interest.

For the first time in my racing career, I missed the entire road and cyclocross seasons.

It was hard to sit on the sidelines.

I trained just enough over the course of the summer to maintain my fitness but once September came, and it was apparent that I couldn't race cyclocross, I lost all hope in cycling.

I have been fortunate enough to work with a persistent and compassionate sports medicine doctor who has stuck with me. Finally, in September, with the help of a dynamic ultrasound they diagnosed the injury. It is a hip flexor injury. My psoas minor is very, very unhappy and has been so for a while.

It took almost a year for the correct diagnosis. It's taken even longer to see positive changes in my recovery. In the second part, I'll explore what I learned from being so injured for so long and what I'm doing to come back to cycling.


justin said...

I'm looking forward to starting up our Vegan Cross Cup again in (near) future.

Of course, we may be racing in the Masters 45+ before both of have an "on season" at the same time.

Jen said...

Hey, Mark! So glad to hear you're finally on your way to recovery. 2009 = the year of the comeback!