Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Six Thousand Dollar Man: The Epidural

We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. 




The days following American Canyon 15k were bad. I continued twice weekly physical therapy sessions, and daily strength conditioning. My sore quads eventually recovered, but every run sent my back into spasms and the numbness in my foot returned. I gave into the discomfort and scheduled an epidural with my spine doctor. Fortunately, I was able to get an appointment within a few days.

I had been weighing the pros and cons of the spinal injection of cortisone for a couple weeks. As I kept hitting the dreadmill, and then needing four to five days to recover, it became apparent that I needed some relief in order to really begin training again. Any concerns about side effects were trumped by the discomfort. With races looming on the horizon, and no real mileage under my feet, I took the plunge.

Epidural needle
An epidural is an injection to the spine, usually using a needle about 4 inches long. An x-ray technician helps guide the surgeon to the desired location, and the entire procedure takes less than ten minutes. I showed up at Webster Surgical Center in Oakland at 10 o'clock on Friday morning. By 11:15 I was face down on the operating table, wondering when the anesthetic would kick in. Then I was in the recovery room. The clock said 11:25. Easy peasy. The local anesthetic made my back feel spectacular. I could hardly wait to go for a run.

X-ray assisted spinal injection

Later that afternoon, the local had worn off and the injection site was really sore. I had planned to take Twirly dancing in the city that night, but it was obviously a bad idea. I took it easy on Saturday, and went for a "test run" with Twirly this morning. So far, no real repercussions. My lower back is a little tight, but the discomfort I have been experiencing seems to be held at bay. With only two weeks to Way Too Cool 50k, I am curious if I can put in enough quality work in the next ten days to give it a shot. Either way, Twirly and I will be in Cool on March 5th.

Here's to hope. And drugs. And more hope ;)


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