Saturday, October 9, 2010

Some Answers, Some Hope

When I started this blog, I never thought that the whole first year I would be talking about injury.

When I named my bike Esperanza, which means Hope, I never realized how much meaning that would have for me in the year ahead.

But, finally, I have come to a point where the hope is coming back. I have a diagnosis and I have some answers and it looks like all is not lost.

I saw my doctor yesterday to go over the MRI results and find out the plan for the future. Indeed, I do have severe arthritis in my right hip and moderate arthritis in my left hip. It turns out that good old Tylenol is the drug of choice for arthritis treatment. I am going to buy shares in Tylenol because from now on, forever, I have to take 4000 mg per day! (Compare that to the 650 mg dose one would take for a headache.) Ongoing physio will also be necessary to prevent muscle tension around the joint and to strengthen my hip muscles to better support my joints. Down the road, I will be looking at hip replacements but that's down the road.

I am going to wait a week or so to let the Tylenol get the pain under control. Then I am going to gradually and sensibly return to training to start building my fitness back up. I am not going to rush. I will listen to my body and do as much as I can but not too much. I can only aim for sprint distance triathlons next year and, at this point, I can't add running back in yet, so we'll have to see where I end up. But it looks like I don't have to worry anymore about it being over for good!

The race season next year also depends on when my surgery date for the hysterectomy is. At the moment, it looks like it will be July or August 2011 so if all goes well with the arthritis management, I can probably do a couple races in May and June.

I am feeling hopeful now but there is still work to do with pain control and rehab. I'm happy to do it though because I feel like there's a point to it. I can still do triathlon and that's worth the effort!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Old Grey Mare

When I was a kid, my dad used to joke with us when we were sick or injured that he should just take us out back and shoot us. (This, of course, is a reference to what happens to old horses and does not indicate that my dad has a horribly violent personality!)

Today, I am feeling like my dad's approach might be the best one for me. I am "only" 48 but I feel like I'm 100 years old and falling apart.

I had my MRI today. There were a few theories floating around about what was wrong: torn cartilage, bony hip impingement, bursitis, all of the above. They were going to do an arthrogram, where they inject dye into the joint to highlight the structures, but after the regular MRI pictures were taken, they decided not do proceed with the dye. The answer was already obvious: Advanced, bone-on-bone arthritis. I know this because I spoke to the radiologist when they were finished re-arranging my molecules.

What the heck? I mean, you might expect a little bit of "early degenerative changes" like other x-rays of my joints have shown in the past, but honestly, bone-on-bone?

Couple this wonderful discovery with another little age-related problem I have. Not to go into alarming detail but I have to have a hysterectomy in the next few months. What I need done is sort of specialized surgery so the waiting list is longer than usual. This means I'll probably have it next spring, just in time to screw up the race season for next year!

OK. It's looking more and more like this old grey mare really does need to be taken out behind the barn and put out of her misery. But, call me stupid, I'm not quite willing to lay down and die or be put out to pasture yet. The hysterectomy may be poorly timed but I'll get over that and will actually be better off afterward. Next week, I will see the doctor at the sports medicine clinic to talk about the MRI results and, more importantly, the implications they have for my future in triathlon. I'm pretty sure that there are people with arthritis who still participate in sport. Maybe there are exercises that can be done, pills that can be swallowed, weight that can be lost that will make it possible for me to do an ironman someday. Or maybe there won't be an ironman in my future but I can still do lots of short distance triathlons. We'll see. I'm not going to totally panic until I know more. I will wait and take it as it comes.

However, one thing I am going to do right now is go and take a few Glucosamine Sulfate capsules for whatever it's worth!