Since I plan on writing some posts here this Fall, I figured I should let anyone who might read this know what’s been going on with me. I’ve had a few health problems since I posted almost a year ago. The first setback was the H1N1 flu plus pneumonia. I was already coming to grips with the fact that I was finishing at the very back of the race in the 35+ A group. When my “comeback” was cut short with the flu plus pneumonia, I was felt pretty low.

In an effort to mix things up and get in shape, I decided that I’d get back into running. I bought new shoes and started hitting the streets. Things were actually going well and I was feeling positive about my overall fitness. ?Then after the first of the year, I developed?tendinitis?in my right?achilles?tendon. I have some theories why I might have developed that malady which incorporate a combination of factors. However, the bottom line was that I couldn’t run any longer.

I could still ride and I did so sporadically. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself which left me unmotivated. My wife suggested I take an indoor rowing class. Back in the 90?s at a time when I was in excellent shape, I had used Concept2 ergometers as part of my training?regime?so I was pretty familiar with indoor rowing. Since it was something I could do 1) that didn’t aggravate my achillies and 2) kept me out of the rain, I decided to give it a go.

The new rowing machines with resistance provided through fluid inside a big pod on the front were pretty slick. I enjoyed the classes and even thought about moving to boats in the spring. Unfortunately, I injured my back doing rowing intervals. It turns out that I have a broken vertebrae and that leads to a condition calledspondylolisthesis. In essence, one of my vertebrae slides out of alignment over top of another one which causes the disc between them to degenerate faster. The disc in question is my L5-S1. It turns out that rowing puts stress on my spondy in about the worst way possible so I have no future as a rower (lol).

I’ve had problems with a sore back before (not uncommon with my condition) and I expected it to get better with some rest. However, it took a long time to resolve and it was also accompanied by some numbness and pain in my right leg and foot. I had probably damaged the sciatic nerve where it exits the spine between my L5 and S1. About a month after my injury, I moved 18 yards of bark mulch around my yard over the course of a weekend. I felt sore the next few days like I would expect to after that kind of physical exertion. But Wednesday morning, I woke up to severe pain. The pain was awful. Sleeping was a chore. I had additional loss of strength in my right foot.

Two courses of Prednisone, more than a few Vicodins, lots of rest, and some physical therapy later, I felt almost normal. It took about 10 weeks after the onset of the acute pain before I felt able to ride my bike. If you tack on the 4 weeks between the original injury, that means I had spent 14 weeks with virtually no physical activity (not counting moving the bark mulch).

The good news is that my rounded back position on the bike doesn’t further aggravate my spondy. I got back on the bike July 6 and have made steady progress since. The bad news is that inactivity and a love of food left me a fat blob. Those first few weeks of riding had me going pretty slow. I knew that I wasn’t going to be fast so I picked a gear I could spin and avoided the hills. The difference between then and now has been significant though I still need to shed more weight.

I am healthy now and just as importantly, I feel positive about what I’m doing. I changed jobs while I was recovering from my back injury and I like my new position better than my old one and the commute is a breeze. My family will be making a fairly large change this Spring and I’m looking forward to that as well. My quality of life and that of my family is on the rise and that helps me immensely.

5 Responses to “Status update?”

  1. erikv says:

    Sounds like a rough patch, but things certainly seem to be looking better now!

    I rowed in college for four years. A lot of my friends came out with hurt backs. I don’t think it’s something you move into, it’s a sport you do young and get out while you can still walk :)

    Keep the good stuff going Brooke!

  2. Brooke says:

    Did you RSS my blog? Or just happen to check of today?

  3. scott b says:

    Good to hear from you Brooke. That’s some rough going, couldn’t make that kind of stuff up if you tried. Hope we get to see you out there soon.

    Keep us posted

  4. Paolo says:

    Ciao Brooke, good to see some news from you, I have been looking for you out on rides or at races.
    Glad you have figure out what your sport is and looking forward to see you around again someday.
    And by the way I use your blog as my CX favorites in case you wonder.

  5. nathan says:

    I hope things keep getting better for you!!!! It’s tourture being off the bike, so I hope you can stay on for a good long time now.

    I hurt my back for the first time ever this fall when I was working in the garden. I just can’t believe how long back injuries take to heal. (luckily, I’m also back on the bike. I bet it took 4 or 5 weeks though)

    Here’s to cyclists with bad backs!!!!!

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