Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Friends in High Places

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var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-7221662-1”);
} catch(err) {}Last weekend, I was talking to a racing friend about my ongoing hip frustrations. After five minutes of his diagnostic questions, I remembered that he is a sports PT, and when he suggested I come by and see him this week, I jumped at the chance.

I spent an hour in his office yesterday afternoon and came out stocked with new stretches and strength exercises, a new diagnosis or two, and a general uneasy feeling about the medical profession…

That hip injury that I’ve been treating for the better part of three months? Yeah, it doesn’t actually exist.

Lesson One: According to my friend, doctors and orthopedists are quick to diagnose patients with bursitis at the slightest hint of inexplicable pain in the hip region. During his fifteen years as a physical therapist, though, he has only seen a couple of actual cases. The bursa, it turns out, has no capacity to innervate, or feel pain. So, when you’re hurting in the area around the ball of your hip, it’s unlikely that it’s being caused by something that can’t hurt.

Or something like that.

Lesson Two: When you’re feeling pain on the side of your leg parallel to the bottom of your butt, you don’t have a problem with your hip. You have a problem with your leg. The fact that none of the four doctors I’ve seen has mentioned that is a bit troubling to me.

So, it could be one of two things:
(1) Worst case scenario, I have a stress fracture in my upper femur that a bone scan of my hip would not have detected.
(2) More likely, my IT band has scar tissued itself either to the hamstring muscles or the quad muscles, so the tendon and the muscle can’t move independently. He likened this to taking a rubberband and glueing the middle part of the floor. You can stretch either end effectively, but there’s nothing you can do to loosen up the middle except to remove the glue. He did some super painful (and hopefully super productive) manipulations, simultaneously digging his thumbs beneath the tendon and having me stretch out the muscles by bending and straightening my leg.

I have another appointment scheduled for next week, at which point we’ll see if there’s been any progress. If it’s starting to feel better, we’ll stick with this line of treatment. If not, I’ll see a sports medicine specialist and probably have another bone scan.

I left my friend’s office relieved at having a new plan of action and appreciative of his straight-forwardness (pictures and all!). But then I realized, this was exactly the same feeling I had over a month ago when I saw orthopedist #2. I trust my friend a lot, both because he’s been a sports physical therapist for a long time and because he’s completed several Ironmans and multi-day adventure races. He knows the human body and knows the stresses it endures under these sorts of conditions.

But the afternoon left me wondering – how do we balance skepticism with optimism? How can I keep my faith in the medical profession after seeing so many doctors and getting so many diagnoses? It’s been a frustrating ordeal, and I’m aware that my own experience pales in comparison to the experience of people undergoing serious conditions, and people who don’t have the social and economic resources to see multiple specialists, or even their own doctor.

So, another week of trial and error. No 10 miler today, but I can still get in a few reasonable runs before I see my friend again to gauge the progress.

Onward and upward.

On a lighter note, Natalie ‘tagged’ me for this little survey. A bit silly, but why not? I finished a chapter of my dissertation this week – that calls for a little mindlessness!

4 favorite memories from 2008
1. Swimming in Montreal’s olympic pool
2. Hiking across Massachusetts
3. Crossing the Ironman finish line
4. November 5, 2008

4 favorite movies of 2008 (seriously? only four? I’m limiting this to movies I saw in 2008, not those that came out in 2008 that I’ve seen in 2009)
1. Mongol
2. Tell No One
3. Definitely, Maybe
4. Rachel Getting Married

4 of my favorite foods in 2008
1. Hummus and veggie sandwiches
2. Chocolate vanilla swirl frozen yogurt in a cake cone
3. Summer fruit
4. Rosemary and paprika baked sweet potato fries

4 places I loved in 2008
1. The Inn at East Hill Farm
2. Montreal
3. Wissahickon
4. Madison, WI

4 racing events I loved in 2008 (in no particular order)
1. Ironman Wisconsin
2. The Edge Adventure Race
3. The Snowgaine
4. The Longest Day Adventure Race

4 things I liked in 2008
1. Monthly (ish) dinners with grad school and running friends (not quite sure how this group emerged!)
2. Hitchcock nights
3. Barack Obama and election mania
4. Apple picking

4 things I am looking forward to in 2009
1. Three weeks in Germany this August
2. Finishing a draft of my dissertation
3. Going on a cruise with 20 members of my immediate family for my grandmother’s 80th birthday
4. Hope and possibility, around the world

4 People I tag
1. Brent
2. Christina
3. Ali
4. Michele


2 responses to “Friends in High Places

  1. Denise January 17, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I know it’s frustrating and I’ve been there. For years I couldn’t get a knee problem diagnosed…literally years. Finally Jefferson Hospital got it right and I had surgery. While it’s hard not to get frustrated the body is crazy and it’s hard to communicate plan/location, etc. And it doesn’t help that scans, etc don’t always show it all. Hang in there and hopefully you’re on the right track!!

  2. RunToFinish January 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    This is why I love my doc, he looks at all the angles before telling me what he thinks is the cause. I know that my “hip” is actually running along the backside of my bum and down my leg, so it’s my hammie and IT band. I’m slowly finding that doing strengthening and stretching is helpful.About a year ago I went to a guy much like your friend who manipulated my hip and pushed on the muscles, I would usually feel good for about a day, but it wasn’t a long term solution because it didn’g exactly fix anything for me

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