When I left my teaching job in 2010, I was having trouble sleeping. I spent many nights just dreaming about odd places, with odd people, with odd conversations- but always running. Not running out of fear. Just simply running.
My friend said to me, “Maybe, you are just dreaming of running away from the stress of the job.” I thought that was not the case, because I even desired the ability to run during my waking hours. As the school year ended, my new life began running my own business and being home with my children and the dreams suddenly stopped. Maybe… my friend was right.
Why did I not run when I so desired it? Why did I not just run out the door with my sneakers on and hit the pavement?
Excuses were- Knee trouble. Flat footed support issues. Being self-conscious and heavy. Being too busy with the kids. Sprained my left ankle in 2008 and it was weak. Really those other ones are lame and this is the real reason- During both pregnancies I had this thing that makes most people instantly uncomfortable upon hearing it, mostly because of social awkwardness, but it’s called SPD- Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Basically, my pelvis was completely out of whack. I wore a brace. I was not allowed to take stairs. While pregnant with our son, I worked a full day at school and was instructed to rest by my ob. I went to physical therapy a few times a week for months. I used a wheel chair to go through stores and I could barely walk much less run and in 2010 I was less than a year since having my daughter and still had trouble walking- running- was literally and metaphorically only a dream… so I did not run.
The hope of running dissipated and I sank into disappointment. I still lived in pain, but tried to push through. By the fall/winter of 2011, I had trouble walking a few blocks. My hips ached. My back ached. I sprained my left ankle again…. I would go slowly down steps like an arthritic tin man much in need of his oil can. If the kids climbed into the bed at night it was worse in the morning. If I sat on the bare floor it was worse. If I sat in the car too long it was worse. If I exercised it was worse. If I went to one of my husbands shows I had trouble standing and walking afterwards.
Doctors offered sleep aides over the years, muscle relaxers, pain medication- I hate medication. My husband encouraged me to visit his friend Garrett, a chiropractor. I drug my feet in frustration and fear. One week I had hit rock bottom… the pain was just too much to even function anymore. My husband took the initiative and called Garrett and I went to meet with him. Garrett scanned my spine and the results were unnerving. I knew, by the end of the meeting, that I had a long road ahead of me and too much weight on my small frame and Garrett had more guts to say that to my face than my obgyn or my family physician. It was difficult to accomplish- approach- admit. I needed to visit Garrett every week sometimes multiple times a week for a few months. I went with great effort- sometimes leaving more sore than I went in and iced and heated, but I went back again. I slowly became more independent and stopped going until I felt I needed to.
I tried running in the spring of 2012. It didn’t take long for me to bench myself from hip pain. I lost about 25 lbs and then put it back on in less than six months. I was discouraged and frustrated, but I knew running wasn’t going to happen. We had a gym membership we never used… the days were complicated. So in November of 2012, I convinced my husband to buy a treadmill and ditch the gym membership. I figured I had time to use it if it were at home. I started out really slow- embarrassingly slow, but regardless I was doing laps around the old me on the couch. It was slow at first with days and weeks in between building myself up to even walking a 25 minute mile. Then a 20 minute mile…. I was stuck there for a while and my joints would ache after even such simple activities.
After the first of the year of 2013, a new push and drive hit me. I lost 25 lbs and I started the couch 2 5k program. I had to do my own version of the program where I started a week earlier and easier than the programs designated week one. About 4 weeks in I went to see Garrett. I was having pain in my heel. He adjusted me, but really it was more than that. My progress with Garrett is more than that, because he is so encouraging. I had bruised my heel and he gave me some stretches to do, told me to put the treadmill on a higher incline, ice the heel, and some shoe insert suggestions. He cautiously said, “I don’t want to tell you to give it a rest.” I am so glad he said those words to me…. I didn’t want to be benched again or have an excuse not to try harder. He knew exactly what to say and it helped me so much. His advice was spot on and I messaged him the following day already feeling better.
I have been able to jog for the last 7 weeks. Making steady progress.
Here is today’s treadmill picture.
For the average thirty something, I imagine that’s not so impressive- someone else’s long stride- but for me that is such a great accomplishment. That’s six and a half months of improvement doubling my distance in the same amount of time. I’m not aching anymore in my joints. I don’t hurt when the kids get in the bed anymore. I don’t hurt after sitting for long periods of time. Stairs are easier- especially going up… Still feel like a tin man going down in the morning, but in time maybe that will improve as well. I still go to stand sometimes and my hips take a second to go in a normal balance and sometimes my gait is off, but for the most part the chronic pain has disolved into a memory.
Recently, I started dreaming about running. It’s running with odd people, odd places, odd conversations, but it doesn’t plague my nights as before. One dream a few weeks ago was with Garrett. I was running in a 5k and he ran along to encourage me- it speaks volumes of how much he has helped me heal and grow. I desire so much to run… I awake thinking about the run of the day. Always running towards something to keep my focus. Never running away from anything except the old me that hurt in chronic pain.