First Step

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new chapter for me.  It was the first day I was comfortable talking about my MS.

I hurt my hip doing my own bike-run-bike the beginning of December.  I have big plans of doing a half-marathon for the first time this April 1st, before tri season. (“Before tri season.” Listen to me.) So when the injury persisted after a few weeks rest, I called the UW Running Clinic and amazingly, wondrously, got in to see a Physical Therapist in a matter of two days.  Is this the benefit of being, of thinking like, an athlete?? I’ll take it.

I was expecting to be put on a treadmill and have my gait analyzed, but we’re not there yet.  First we repair and strengthen.  I met a friend in the lobby, a colleague of my PT, and we caught up about our kids and our health and made plans for his wife and I to train together.  It felt like belonging to a special club.  It felt great.

I meet my PT and he’s smart and nice and he asks questions about the injury and my goals and then, “Is there anything else I should know?”  And I don’t even hesitate to tell him I give myself injections three times a week for MS prevention and my hip is one of those injection sites and I’ve got some welts to prove it.  And he nods and asks if I have any mobility concerns related to that and it’s all completely normal.  He didn’t apologize to me for the diagnosis I shared.  I didn’t have to tell him how it started or how long it’s been going on.

He asks after my kids and we laugh about him asking if I pick them up, which I hear as “picking up after” and, of course I do, they’re slobs.  I mean, they’re my children.

One little test is while sitting, slouching and dropping my chin, I straighten one leg out and see where it’s tight on each side.  Except that dropping my chin makes the bottom of my feet go numb….and I have to redo the exercise a lot until I notice any other sensation. (It’s L’hermittes’ Sign, a vestige of the initial nerve damage.)  I explain what I can and can’t feel and he nods.

He gives me some homework (clamshells, hip raises, foam rolling) and I’m to stay away from yoga and running for a bit.  He mentions something horrible known as “dry needling” as a possible recourse if things don’t improve and jokingly I ask if it’ll make me cry.  He hesitates too long and I laugh and tell him, don’t worry, I’ll do my exercises.  I ask slyly if this is a good reason to get a new bike, hmm?? And he laughs and says definitely.  As long as I have it fitted.  Deal.

Later, he left me with my new resistance band while he filled out forms and I did some bicep curls with it until he came back (only because I didn’t have my phone and I don’t remember how to sit still, look pretty.)  Then, I needed to sign off on our plan and I couldn’t do it.  I’d been gripping the resistance band and my hand was hot and crampy and I got three letters out before I had to stop and shake it out.  Try again.  Third time, I manage to ink it out and he asks, “So what’s going on there?”  And I tell him “Oh.  That’s damage.  When my hand gets too hot, I lose my grip.”  And he’s a physical therapist who works is sports rehab so he says “Oh.  So running in the winter is actually probably better?”  Yep.
“How do you do with summer triathlons?”
“Good.  Well, actually, it’s a challenge.  I wear an ice-vest for the run, but that only give me about 20 minutes on a warm day. It’s part of why I only do sprints.”

Nods.  He just nods.  And it’s no big thing.  And he doesn’t congratulate me or tell me I’m doing the best thing for myself or tell me anything about how great I am.  And I liked it.  A lot.  This is me.  This is what I do.   I didn’t flinch or soften anything about my diagnosis or the small parts of it that affect my life.  And it was just fine.