For a few months I would get small bouts of sciatica pain radiating from my left buttock down my left leg and if it was a particularly bad day right down into my foot. These episodes wouldn’t last longer then a run or two or a week and I would always just keep training, just moving with some pain and at a slower pace. I was also doing heavy labour on a building site and at least one session of CrossFit per week. I won the two races I entered in the Covid impacted 2020 and felt as robust and fit as I ever had, looking to increase volume and results in more competitive races.
However in around March 2021, the pain developed again and I could not run it off, it grew worse, running became almost impossible and working on site everyday a constant struggle. I tried to do my own research which suggested a bulging disc, which would likely clear up within 6 weeks. I carried on working and moving as much as possible, sometimes I ran if I could handle the pain and sometimes I wouldn’t. It became a day to day self assessment of my pain levels, which were clearly impacted by my job and what activities were performed by me throughout the day. No improvement occurred and if anything the pain increased and the amount of time it took for me to be really struggling to function at work at my previous level seemed to be decreasing, to the point where by 10am tea break I knew that from then on it was just a matter of pain tolerance to continue through the day.
I contacted my GP who set up an assessment with their physio, he determined it was an L4/L5 disc bulge, told me to sit on a table and swing my leg forwards and backwards a few times a day and to continue to be as active and mobile as possible, and that being sedentary would make the condition worse. So I kept working, ran if I could and waited, still being advised that it would clear by itself and to be patient, if it persisted contact the surgery again to book in with a physio at the hospital. No joy, I booked a few sessions with the physio who gave me a couple more exercises but there was no change. If I moved in any way that elongated my spine, which it seems is most movement I hurt. Walking, standing, anything upright pinched my nerve. I was sent to a consultant physio for the neurosurgery department and assessed again. Same conclusion some kind of bulging/herniated disc but this is now September, over 6 months since I have struggled with any basic human function without being in bordering on intolerable pain. He agreed to send me for an MRI to confirm what was going on and also agreed that if it hadn’t gone away at all in 6 months, it probably wasn’t going to magically disappear any time soon.
I think my MRI happened in December and I waited patiently over the Christmas period where I enjoyed a trip to Scotland and a holiday in Jamaica. I had found by now that I could basically do one upright activity a day. So a usual working week was Monday to Friday on site, sit on the spin bike in the shed in the evening, because cycling didn’t seem to hurt me and continue to run at weekends, but after the morning run I wasn’t much use or was still just in the grin and bare in situation if I had things to do I needed to be mobile for. In February I had my consultation about my MRI and it was decided that an L5 decompression and partial discectomy was really my only option as I was already on 4 Amitriptyline a day which I struggled with because if I took them too early in the evening I was a zombie by 9pm but too late and I was a zombie in the morning, they definitely helped relive the most severe pain though. I had started to take them in July and played around with not renewing my prescription to see if I was improving or if it was just the drugs. It was definitely the drugs so although I didn’t like the idea of popping pills everyday they did make my life much more manageable if not at all like what it was before.
And that really is where I am at. I was told late March/early April for surgery but no confirmation as of yet. I have found a good rhythm of indoor cycling during the week and getting out for runs at weekends, which keeps my itch scratched and helps me to maintain some kind of normalcy, in my training routine and hopefully not a complete loss of fitness. I will say though that it is only a small impairment in the grand scheme of possible life problems, but it is amazing how the body can adapt to an issue to still make some sort of workaround to continue to live the life you want to live. I have also been very lucky that the people around me at work and home have supported me throughout.
I will write a positive post about how this change in my lifestyle has been put to good use at a later point. There are always silver linings and progress to be made.