Monday, June 24, 2013

the worst part of being injured

The worst part of being injured is arguably sleeping.

The drive for sleep is an interesting one. It's incredibly compelling: nothing is better than drifting off to sleep. But with my leg injury, a muscle pull of some sort although I've not specifically identified which muscles yet, as soon as I lay down my legs start to hurt. The past few nights I've been taking an ibuprofen to help me get past this pain. I avoid ibuprofen and other NSAIDs because of a personal and family history of stomach ulcers. But not being able to get to sleep is a greater fear. I take my only ibuprofen of the day.

Eventually I settle down and sleep arrives. But I do so aware my waking sensation will be pain.

One motion which is particularly painful is an abduction motion with bent knees, similar to the clamshell exercise. I simply cannot do the clamshell with my right leg: too painful, especially at my outer thigh. Today I tried some very mild resistance exercises sitting with the same motion. I tied a single wrap of a yellow Theraband between my knees and rotated my knees outwsrd. This I could do: it was a bit uncomfortable but not painful. However, to do it on my side supporting the full weight of my leg is simply not happening.

The opposite motion is also impaired: squeezing the knees together (adduction). But I'm better at this one. I can generate a decent amount of squeezing force. This I feel more in the inner thigh.

The problem with sleeping is it's hard to avoid both of these motions. I am uncomfortable sleeping on my back so I try to move. But moving to either side hurts. Eventually I end up in a position which causes enough pain so I awaken. If that doesn't happen, then it's only because I remain in a position which is uncomfortable. In either case, I awaken feeling terrible, and since I'm trying to drink a lot of fluids, I invariably need to pee. So I struggle to get out of bed, grab my crutches, and haul myself to the toilet. Then I need to assess if I can get straight back to sleep or not. Sometimes I feel like eating a small snack first. But if I eat too much, I'll awaken next time with stomach pain. Eating too close to sleep messes with my digestion. And sometimes I just want to sit up for awhile before going back to bed. That's what I'm doing now.

After enough repetitions, however, I manage to get enough sleep. Then once I'm up and about I'm fairly okay. I'm off caffeinated drinks for this period as they impede rest, and impeded rest means impeded recovery, and recovery is my priority now. So I'm a bit slower than normal getting going in the morning, but it's not too bad. It's good to give my body a rest from daily exogenous chemical stimulation.

As I write this, I'm approaching 10 days since the injury. For serious muscle strains, from what I've read, this is about the time associated with the acute phase (see, for example, this reference on iliopsoas strains says 4-8 weeks for recovery from a grade 2 strain, worse for a rarer grade 3 which I hopefully do not have). So I'm not particularly worried: I'm making progress, although I'm at the point where it's worth seeing a doctor following my initial ER visit and a few visits to an acupuncturist. But I really look forward to being able to get through the night without pain. Nights are the worst.

That cycling is a dangerous activity nobody can seriously deny. I think about all the times I've been squeezed to the edge of the road by cars or trucks and I realize that in any of these situations I was a meter or less from permanent disability or death. What I experienced in my crash was so much less than this: it's ridiculous for me to even think about feeling sorry for myself. Life is finite, and I can't get back the month or so of health I'll have lost from this injury, but I can look forward to feeling healthy and strong again within the next two months. That's not so terribly bad, really.


tgao said...

Hi D.J:
I am a regular reader of your wonderful and informative blog.
I felt your pain. (I too had been pushed off my bike by pedestrian while crossing Golden Gate bridge) I hope you have a speedy recovery.

djconnel said...

Thanks, tgao! I experience close calls virtually every round trip of the bridge, so it's only due to luck I haven't joined you in getting to know the cement there. I imagine a collision tossing me either into the roadway or else over the railing into the water below. Crazy stuff, but I still marvel at the view every time.