In my lifetime, I have….acquired?…many an injury to myself by doing something I probably shouldn’t have been doing. Running through the house barefoot and kicking my toe on the dresser leg which ended up requiring surgery and two pins in that toe comes to mind as my most recent big mishap. But I think I may have topped that one.
On July 2nd, I went roller skating on the path that goes from Manhattan beach down to Hermosa beach and back. I’ve walked this a million times but I’ve never roller skated it. Since it was a friend’s birthday, another friend and I thought it would be fun to take the birthday girl (who recently moved here from Seattle) to enjoy our sunny beaches and partake in her new hobby of roller skating. The birthday girl has been practicing a bunch so she’s very comfortable on skates. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve skated myself but it’s always been a thing I pick up quickly once I get back on them. My other friend, however, hadn’t skated in 20 years so she needed a lot more time to get comfortable skating again. We all took our time, prepared for the inevitable falls by wearing elbow, wrist, and knee pads, and headed down the path.
Our plan was to stop for birthday brunch at an outdoor cafe I’ve been to pretty much every time I do the walk down there. We had succeeded in making it through the first part of our skating experience completely unscathed….until we didn’t. I was barely rolling when my not-so-sure-footed friend announced “I’m going down!” as she lost her balance and landed safely on her side. However, on her way down, I happened to be in front of her and when her legs shot out from under her, she accidentally kicked my right skate out from under me so fast that I didn’t have time to react. It was just *kick* and I landed full-force down on my right butt cheek. It hurt so bad and happened so quickly that I had to just sit there for a minute to process how this unbearable pain suddenly happened.
With the help of a nearby vendor who saw the whole thing happen, I got back up on my feet, and so did my friend. My fall was so hard that I wasn’t sure if the impact or the pain was what caused me to feel nauseous for 20 minutes. Honestly, I think it may have been both.
We ate our brunch and still had to skate all the way back to my car (this route is about 7 miles total) which was incredibly painful for me for about 5 minutes but once the blood started pumping through my painful butt cheek, I started to feel better. When we got back to my car, we all stretched, got in, and I drove us home. When we got to my house, my butt was killing me. I iced it and took Aleve, and figured I’d be better by morning. What I woke up to was a giant, grape jelly colored bruise the size of the palm of my hand on my right butt cheek and that side was visibly swollen, but otherwise I felt ok.
It took 2 weeks for that bruise and swelling to go away and once it did, I developed a new pain down my left leg. It felt like cramping muscles, so I spent the next 2 weeks trying to carefully stretch and use a foam roller to get my leg to relax. Weird pains started happening in my sacrum and it worried me so I went to my orthopedist on August 2nd, where he took X-rays and determined nothing was broken, it was just sciatic nerve pain. He prescribed 6 days worth of steroids to reduce the inflammation and recommended physical therapy to open up the vertebrae where the sciatic nerve connects (L4.) I felt a tiny bit of relief on the first and second day on steroids but the pain was still there, and physical therapy wasn’t going to start until August 9th.
The morning of August 9th, just two days after finishing the steroids, I was still in bed when I heard a loud crash in my kitchen (that’s a whole other story I’ll share another time) and in my panic at that sound, I launched out of bed to see if everything was ok. I made it about 6 steps when suddenly I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg, and the left side of my back was completely spazzed. I figured I tweaked myself with the way I jumped out of bed and hopefully just some gentle stretching would make it better.
That night, I did not sleep. Instead, I spent the entire night writhing in pain, unable to get comfortable in any position except being tucked into a ball face down with my butt slightly elevated because it was opening up my low back and sacrum, which took all the pressure off of it. The next morning, I called my orthopedist to ask about getting an MRI because the sciatic nerve pain was still awful, but now I also have numbness in my calf, the top of my foot, and the bottom of my left toe. My ortho was out for the week and the other doctors in that office were fully booked, but they have a second office in another nearby city where one of the orthopedists there could see me. I took that same day appointment and drove myself out there while sitting on a donut pillow to ease the pain.
The orthopedist was able to access my X-rays since the offices share that stuff. He darkened my X-ray a bit and could see compression in L4 and L5 (lower lumbar) and after examination, prescribed me some meds to calm the nerves, meds for pain, and meds for the muscle spasm in my back, and then ordered an MRI to be done asap. The MRI place suggested I take all my meds before coming in because they suspected me needing to lay on my back was going to cause a lot of discomfort, so I had a friend drive me to and from the appointment so my drugged up self could get this done.
I have had a few MRI’s done over the years but this was the first time I had to have them stop 3 TIMES because I couldn’t handle my pain, even on all those drugs. The 15 min procedure ended up taking closer to half an hour because of all of my stops. I held back tears as I met my friend back in the waiting room to get the images on CD for my orthopedist appointment this past Friday.
So….um….it’s about how I broke my butt.
Well, technically I didn’t break my butt. What I did do was have an X-ray on august 2nd that showed compression, and then I had an MRI on August 17th that showed that compression had turned into a full-blown severely herniated disc that is bulging into my spinal column and pinching a bunch of nerves, which is why I have the numbness in my leg and foot.
So anyway, this is my very long-winded way of saying this 52 year old woman who fell while roller skating now has to have back surgery this week to get that pressure off the nerves before it causes permanent damage. Super.
But hey, at least I didn’t jack myself up running through my house and kicking furniture.
And because I am on Team Gross and always want to see my insides, here’s an MRI image where you can see my vertebrae, with healthy discs in between, and then….darkness where a healthy disc *should* be but instead, it’s smooshed and bulging inward. Apparently this is a very quick procedure with a small incision that’s stitched from the inside and superglued on the outside and heals in about a week to 10 days, with 6 weeks of don’t lift anything heavy afterward. Thanks, modern medicine!