08 October 2012

A Close Call...but,

Photo Credit: Hilary Barreto

Pain. 
It is what drives and pushes us athletes to work harder. But it can also stop us. When you're young, you tend to push through pain. As you grow older, you learn your body's thresholds and treat it like an expensive machine. 

I am one of those crazy hard workers. Too hard sometimes. My work ethic can be my downfall if I don't control it right, thus the importance of a coach (my mom). Injuries from working too hard have challenged my skating career the last 7 years. From over training and anemic issues (low iron levels), to tearing a hamstring in three spots and stress fractures in my leg...trials have become common in my life, but they haven't prevented me from achieving goals I have set before me. No, they have made me stronger. I have truly learned to embrace trials as being those great learning periods of time when I realize I can't do anything on my own. Instead I always turn to Bible verses:  Philippians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." & Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

With that said, it was a week ago that another blow came my way. My brother, Jeffrey, advised I blog about this incident, but I also felt like telling you will let you in on some of the craziness athletes go through and that training full-time for the Olympics never goes the way you plan, you are always sidetracked somewhere down the road. :) It happened last Sunday (over a week ago). I was rolling my legs/back like any other Sunday, a day off. I am someone who loves to self adjust and crack my back on the roller so when my back was feeling extra stiff, I placed it mid-low back and just fully relaxed...right away I tightened up and let out a gasp. My back slightly hurt as a result, but it was not that bad so I didn't think to ice or tend to it in any way. Waking up the next morning I felt some stiffness, but again, it wasn't alarming, so I continued my routine and drove to TCBoost for my Monday morning speed/agility workout. It was after that workout, though, that I began to feel more intense pain setting in while I cooled down. But I had to get to Milwaukee for skating that afternoon, so I continued on through the increasing pain. It was when I got out of the car (over an hour of driving) and tried to stand up straight, but failed, that I knew I was in trouble. I made the obvious decision not to skate that night and rehabbed it with ice and heat while laying down. Trying to diagnose myself was weird because I just didn't think such an action of rolling my back could really do such a destruction.
part of my MRI: Lumbar spine

Fast forwarding the story, after a couple of days of continuing pain, though slowly getting better, and after getting dry-needling, cupping (which felt SO good and released a ton of pressure in my lower back), x-rays and then finally an MRI, we came to a conclusion: my injury was only muscular. The great news is that nothing I did in the last week caused structural damage to my spine and the recovery was going to be fast along with daily exercises and deep tissue massage. It was the MRI, though, that brought about the frustrating discovery: I have the back of a 55 year old. The picture to the right shows my lumbar spine. You can see between L2,L3,L4, my disks are close to being bone on bone...that's not including 3 other disks that are fairly worn down for my age. So our analysis concluded that while rolling, the dramatic curvature of the roller let a disk get pinched by a vertebrae or a bone touched bone and my lower back muscles tightened up and spasmed for days. 

an overall view
So what's my current status? Well, I am back training...actually just had my first ice workout in over 10 days tonight at the Pettit, and felt great! My coach noted that I almost am starting up where I left off, and possibly stronger from all the rest. The future, though, holds a lot of deep tissue massage in my back and plenty of continual therapy to slow down the process of degeneration in my disks. But like most athletes, injury is part of the process to becoming great; our bodies are not invincible. Along with injuries, though, we also learn a ton about ourselves and grow through the process. It never a loss cause unless you make it out to be that way. For me, I gained knowledge on my back and continue to be more in tune with how my body functions. Most importantly, though, I was brought to realize, again, how the Lord has to show us He is always in control. He gives us the gift of life, He can take it away. He gave me the gift of speedskating so I can carry out His purposes, but he can quickly take that away if I fail to trust in Him. And if the latter was the only life lesson that I had to learn from this crazy ordeal, then I guess it was all worth it... :)


God Bless,
Nancy Jr.