Sunday, June 12, 2011

Things That Hurt Like Heck

I'm making a list of things that hurt. Or more specifically I'm making a list of painful things I've experienced at some point in my life, along with the corresponding degree of pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being mildly annoying and 10 being so-painful-you-pass-out-or-die.
  • Sat through dozens of hours of being tattooed -- mildly irritating (1.5 on a scale of 1 - 10)
  • Broke my big toe after dropping 50 pound steel desk on foot in 5th grade -- slight achy pain for a few weeks (3 on a scale of 1 - 10)
  • Hyper-extended my elbow incurred during Judo tournament in college -- hurt like heck for weeks (6 on a scale of 1 - 10)
  • Broke my pointer finger and got kicked in the balls (simultaneously) during an impromptu drunken kickboxing sparring match in the hallway of my apartment in college -- steady throbbing intense pain for several months (7.5 on a scale of 1 - 10)
  • Severe inner thigh cramps -- holy !@# that hurts, make it stop, make it stop, (12 on a scale of 1 - 10)
I've never experienced childbirth, though I hear it's quite painful. However, I've heard from women who have delivered children without pain-killer drugs, and who have also experienced severe inner thigh cramps, and they agree that the thigh cramps are far worse than childbirth. It's true, Google it!

So, why do I mention this and what does it have to do with running? Well, late Thursday night I was woken up out of my sleep several times by the worst God-awful pain you can imagine. Each time I thought I was possibly going to die. I was fairly certain that someone had broken into the house and stabbed me in the leg with a rusty ice pick. It hurt! Then the pain would suddenly disappear and would I fell back asleep. When I woke up in the morning my leg actually felt fine, so I hoped that perhaps it had all just been a bad dream.

But no, somewhere around lunchtime the shocking, tear-inducing cramps returned. I fell to the floor, clutched my thigh, cursed like an angry pirate, and cried for my mommy. Each burst of shooting, searing, pulsing pain would last for about 5 seconds. But what it lacked in duration, it made up for in intensity. I seriously considered going to the emergency room! But instead I did the next best thing and called my ER Doctor running buddy Joe who was at the hospital. He assured me that I wasn't dying of a blood clot, and that it probably wasn't even a hernia -- just some leg cramps.

So, feeling fairly confident that I wasn't going to die, I was still worried that it might be some kind of pinched nerve or compressed spinal disks. So I texted my chiropractor, Dr. Kristina Irvin, a fellow ultra-marathoner who has finished dozens (hundreds?) or hundred mile runs. If anyone could fix me and get me running again, it would be her. She told me to come in. She did some "stim" treatment on my legs with electrodes and what looked like a car battery. She performed some ultrasound on my lower back (good news, I'm not pregnant). And she adjusted my back and gave me a little massage. I stood up from the table feeling like a new man.

Seconds later the cramps struck again and grabbed a door jam to keep from crumbling to the floor. Not good! However, Dr. Irvin did mention that I might have an electrolyte imbalance (I'd gotten really dehydrated on a run two days prior) and suggested I take some supplemental calcium and magnesium. So I went home and popped a couple of Hammer Nutrition Enduralyte pills and drank some Coconut water. And the cramps mysteriously eased up.

So, now the question is, are they really gone or are they just lurking, waiting to strike in a moment of weakness? Would I be able to run the Lorenzo River 50K on Saturday as I was planning as a last tune-up race before my 100 miler on June 25?

To be continued....

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