The Verdict

I have some degenerative disc action–fairly  normal in a lot of folks.  I also have a herniated disc between L3 & L4 that seems to be pinching or pressing on a nerve, causing weakness in my leg–not so normal. herniated_disc

I met my physical therapist yesterday. He was helpful, knowledgeable and very optimistic that he could get me running again.  He (and my doctor) are concerned that my left leg has considerable weakness.  My muscles and reflexes seem to be a little better, not as bad as a few weeks ago.  But when I explained how tired my leg gets with just walking, he had me try to “heel walk.”  It is completely impossible for me to do that right now.   Have you ever experienced something like that before?  It’s not that it’s painful to try to rock back on my heels, but it is impossible. My leg just can’t do it.  I guess it would be like trying to lift 500 pounds.  Your body just doesn’t have the strength to do it.  That’s what my leg feels like.   Weak. Exhausted. Useless.

When I talked with my doctor this evening, she recommended I see a neurosurgeon.  She emphasized that this doesn’t mean I need surgery now or if ever, but it would be best if someone who specializes in this can tell me exactly what’s going on and what we can do about it.  I did tell her that I liked my physical therapist and his positive outlook was encouraging.  She was pleased with this, but I’m not sure she has a whole lot of faith in it.   After reading up on all of this, I think I see why.  (Sometimes the Internet is a very dangerous thing.)  Many sites I visited said that very often the pain from herniated discs can improve in 6 weeks to 6 months, through physical therapy, medication, compresses, etc.  BUT, weakness in any limb is a little scarier.  A few sites mentioned that those people that suffered weakness in their legs were more likely to need surgery–although sometimes that caused permanent weakness.

So what does all of this mean?  I still have no idea.  I’ve done a few google searches and I can see runners out there that have or have had herniated discs.  At first all I saw were posts about how walking and swimming were the best exercises to do and would be the only ones I would ever do….I nearly cried when I read that.  Thankfully, though, I saw other posts and sites that gave me hope that this wasn’t over.  Hope that my body could recover and be somewhat like it was before.

And right now, that’s about all I can do is hope.  I can hope, do my physical therapy exercises, and get back on that damn elliptical machine.  My very old and cheap elliptical is about the only thing maintaining my semblance of sanity.  So for now, each morning I will get dressed, lace up my running shoes, put my headphones on….and head downstairs to my basement where the elliptical awaits.   This is nothing at all like the rush of the cool Maine air whipping at my clothes while my feet pound the pavement.

But I’ll have to pretend like it is.

At least for now.

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