Back Pain, Running and Doctors…


I haven’t run since Dec 27th.

Yes, that’s right. Despite my declaration to run 13 races in 2013, I have not been running at all.

I have back pain. Pain that I think/thought was another run {excuse the pun} with sciatica, has taken it’s toll. It started right before Christmas, but I tried to just take it easy and remembered what I did last time to heal. I tried to sit the least amount possible. {That’s tough to do when you  have a desk job.} I’ve been sleeping on my side with a pillow between my legs. I tried to keep moving, but all the while being conscious and careful about how I moved.

I even ran. It seemed like running made my back feel better!

Then it slowly got worse. I think trying to pick up Benny in the middle of the night over Christmas, so that he wouldn’t wake everyone up, exacerbated it. {Benny can’t hear very well, so he won’t come when you call him.}

I considered seeing a doctor. But my doctor left my clinic late last year. And we got new insurance. How does one start to look for a new doctor? {I had been thinking about it anyway. I never really clicked with the one I had.} I tried to do an online look up on our insurance website. Can they make those anymore confusing?

Then, last week, when it was icy, I almost fell in a parking lot. Of course, as I slipped, correcting my balance in order not to fall aggravated my back even more. Ugh. I decided it was time to go to Urgent Care. I finally just called the insurance company to make sure that my usual clinic was in-network.

Doc gave me some meds – a muscle relaxer and some pain killers – to be taken only at bedtime. I was to take Aleve or Advil during the day. I had been taking Tylenol, but he said that this was too wussy for this job. I tried to collect as much information as I could from him; but by the time I walked out of there, I realized that I was just really confused.

Was this sciatica again?

Was he just treating the pain?

Why were no follow up visits recommended to see if I my back improving?

How long was this going to take?

But here’s the worst part.

I asked about running. Yeah, I hadn’t been doing it anyway; but I wanted to know what I could or couldn’t do and what I should expect. His response:

“No. No. No. No running or any exercise of any kind until you no longer feel pain. You’ll want to do some core exercises and core work. But not now. No stretching until the pain goes away. You could do a little walking. But you have to be very honest with yourself if you feel any pain at all.”


I never, ever, ever thought I would say this, but I JUST WANT TO RUN!

In fact, it’s strange not moving. But it also hurts to do the simplest things, too… Like putting on my socks in the morning or bending down to get a file at work.

So. Incredibly. Frustrating!

My husband is frustrated, too, I’m sure. But he’s been trying to be very patient and understanding with me. I’m trying hard to ask for help and he is trying hard not to be annoyed with me for asking him to do the littlest of things. I guess if we are going to grow old together, we might as well get used to taking care of each other from time to time.

That’s even more of a reason to try to keep ourselves as healthy as possible!

While I’ve been maintaining instead of losing weight for the last few months, I now fear that I’ll gain due to this lack of inactivity. Because I really can’t do anything but lie down, I’ve started to binge. I forgot what this felt like. I’m learning that frustration leads to binging for me. And right now, I have more time to eat. But due to my lack of activity, I need less calories. It’s a challenge.

And these pills… They don’t feel like they are doing anything. I remember the first time I had this incredible sciatica pain, it took months to go away. They gave me Vicodin. I didn’t feel like it did anything. I told the doctor this when he started writing my prescriptions this time around.. He said we’d give Percoset a try.

I don’t feel like it’s doing a thing either. But maybe the problem is in my expectations. Maybe I should just be glad/lucky that I’m sleeping mostly through the night. Maybe I shouldn’t expect that there should be little to no pain upon waking.

At least we know that I won’t be addicted to narcotics. I really don’t understand what it is people when they get woozy on these drugs. I don’t feel that at all. Because of this experience, I don’t see what the big deal is. Of course, I will still follow doctors orders by not taking them before driving or at work.

Despite all of this, I need to learn to be positive through the pain. I know that I need to picture myself well again. I need to take this in stride or my mental state is going to be just as miserable as my physical state.

So here’s to looking to the positive side of this experience:

  • I am grateful for my body and that I have the ability to run. I always said that before. When people asked, “What made you decide to start running?” I replied, “Because I can!” Not everyone can. But I had the legs and the ability to do so. So I took full advantage of it.
  • I have permission to be lazy. I can lie on the couch with a blanket, a heating pad and catch up on bad TV. And not feel guilty. Because that is what I’m supposed to do – nothing.
  • If I get bored of watching TV and movies, I can read – one of the things I love doing and made a point to start doing again.
  • I will appreciate it even more when I start running again. It’s just going to be challenging to start out slow and build my way back up.
  • I am determined this time to get on the ball with core work. I don’t want to go through this again.

And I’m going to do the Challenge Obesity 5k, even if I have to walk the whole damn thing. So now you have no excuse! Please join me and Team Season It Already!

Once my meds have run out, if nothing has changed, I am determined to find someone who can help me. In the meantime, can you help me out by answering a couple of questions?

What is the best way to find a new primary care doctor?

What is the best way to begin core work?

I have yoga and pilates DVDs and loved taking classes in the past. But what are your favorite resources that you use?

Feel free to add anything else positive to the mix. I’m open to any and all positive vibes coming my way!


15 responses »

  1. So sorry to hear about this Carrie – I hope your back gets healed soon! It has to be frustrating, and I too tend to eat when the going gets tough. My husband had a primary care physician he’d been using for years before we met – he’s wonderful and he recommended my diabetes doctor, and I love him.

    I know planks totally help with your core – you may even be able to do them now. Hang in there!

  2. Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear this. I would try to set up a general physical with a new doctor. A good way to find one that might work for you is to read their reviews. When I got hurt, I made sure to find a doctor who understood my need to run. In the meantime, did you talk at UC about any physical theraphy? I might try calling them and seeing if they think it would be helpful for you. PT can give you exercises that will help you feel better and reduce some pain.

    Now, for the eating thing- it’s very hard I know. It took me a while to adjust, but I did. Feel better!!

    • Yes, I need to find a new doctor, I just don’t know where to start. When the meds are out (next Monday), I’m going to try my boss’s chiropractor. He’s supposed to have a holistic approach, so at least I know he won’t push surgery right away (a big fear). I did do PT last time. It was a long, slow recovery (as you know), but I feel like something is a bit different this time. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes. Thanks for thinking of me!

  3. I hope you feel better Carrie. One thing to consider, you’re lucky you have insurance though. Because I don’t, I have not went in when I’ve had broken bones, strep throat, pneumonia. It sucks but, I get through it. That last hospital stay (2 days) was almost $12,000. More than my car cost…ugh!

    • That’s a great point, Suzie. I should take full advantage. There was a point that I didn’t have insurance and it was frightening. I was able to eventually get individual insurance, just with a very high deductible. I hope you look into that if you haven’t already. In all, it’d be less expensive than a $12,000 hospital bill. Thinking of you!

      • Thanks Carrie, I will look into it. 12 grand is just insane and I still need my gallbladder out…ugh!! Hope you are feeling better 🙂

  4. I think I agree with those who say to get another opinion. I’ve had many major health issues and injuries and the only time I had a doctor tell me not to work out AT ALL was when I broke my pelvis. I was on crutches and could not bear any weight at all (lifting my arm up made my hip hurt. And actually I had to keep walking with crutches to a minimum, too, since that still put weight on my broken bones). As soon as I was even a little better, he let me hit the pool since it’s almost weightless. He knew it would help my sanity and make me stronger. That’s the thing, too – doing nothing does nothing to strengthen you and heal you. Maybe running isn’t the right thing right now, but there is probably something else?

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