This past July I went to my soccer game, played hard, and then went home and fell asleep. I woke up the next morning, walked to work, sat at my desk, and like most mornings I started working with my development team in India. An hour or so later I stood up and could barely walk. Pain starting in my left buttock was shooting down my leg. My first reaction was that I must have pulled a muscle in my soccer game the night before and it just took a little while to feel it. Basically, I thought I pulled my butt muscle.
I rested a few days and the pain subsided some, but strangely I began to notice that it would come and go. That sure didn't sound like a muscle pull, huh? A trip to the doctor confirmed I was suffering from sciatica. Sciatica is actually not a diagnosis, but a symptom. In my case, I'd have to guess it's from a back injury I suffered while skiing last February. Essentially the sciatic nerve runs down your leg starting from the bottom of your spine and mine was getting pinched. A severe case can cause sharp pain/numbness all the way down your leg. In my case, it's mostly mild discomfort (such as when I sit here typing this).
Well, fast forward 5 months and I'm still more or less in the same spot. I've missed two seasons of soccer, played 1.5 seasons of softball without being able to run past first base (I thought my team was going to kill me after 3 months of taking a pinch runner each at bat), got a super embarrassing standing desk at work, and ran a 1:38 half marathon. Wait, did I just say a half marathon? Yup, for some reason standing and jogging make my leg feel good, but hills, sprinting, and sitting in a chair/car start to cause issues. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to ski this winter pain free, but I think the thing that scares me the most is not actually skiing but sitting in a car or plane (yeah Colorado trip coming up!) getting to the mountain. To the right is my most recent Amazon purchase to hopefully help that problem. Yes, I'm 29 years old going on 89. Come on single ladies, who wouldn't want to date a guy that owns a seat wedge?
So far I've spent a fair amount of time (and a LOT of money) visiting two different chiropractors and a physical therapist. I've done lots of stretching, some yoga and tried two weeks of no exercise. Nothing seems to work. Next week I go to a back/spine specialist and will likely get my first ever MRI. Other options could include more yoga, acupuncture, cortisone shots, or even surgery.
So what have I learned from all of this? First, how important my health is to me. I know I must not be the only one that doesn't appreciate my health until I'm no longer healthy (and I keep doing this over and over and over again). I know it's affected my mood, especially at work where I'm in the most discomfort. Second, how important being active and playing sports is to me. Just the thought of getting worse and having to stop the ~20+ miles a week I run and the many days of skiing I hope to do soon makes me shudder. Third, how completely messed up our health care system is in this country. I have a comparatively minor health issue, have a supposedly high quality health insurance plan, and live in a city with some of the world's best hospital's and doctors. And yet I've been shocked at how wasteful, inefficient, and expensive my experience seeking treatment has been. I can only imagine what it's like for others in this country. It's also really peaked my interest in the health care industry and how much technology can disrupt the status quo (more to come on this soon).