RACING THE CLOCK
After 4 excruciatingly painful days that felt more like a week each I had my first appointment at a Physiotherapist. On a side note: it’s a bit odd at first seeing a physiotherapist when you’re one yourself, but as my GP said: “even doctors sometimes need to see a doctor,” and that, of course, is very true. Besides, these types of injuries are not really my area of expertise and even if they were I was blinded by pain and worry. I was not able to make any sane or rational decisions. Anyway, because my therapist is in town I am able to bike there, 10 min tops. He does textbook 1st time visit stuff: why I’m there, what I think caused this, how my pains are etc., and then of course some tests to see how my muscles are doing and if he can provoke my pain to locate the issue. All normal, like I said: textbook. Such as the doctor he had to conclude that he was not able to provoke the pain, which I told him, but no matter. He gives me 4-5 min of Deep Tissue Laser Therapy and tells me to bike for 5 min 3 times a day plus do stretches for the adductor group which helps with mobility and flexibility; always the first step, again: textbook. When I got home I got right on it and organised my exercises, so that I would bike every 4 hours and do my stretches when I got back. Oh, and by the way, when I say bike I mean paddling really slow in 1st gear to not provoke the tissues that causes pain. Had I gone any slower I’d probably started going backwards. Anyway, that laser therapy really helped me get some serious pain relief, but as always all good things must come to an end, and so did the pain relief. Sunday, the pain was back and it had a blast giving me regular shots of pain. Another issue was that I could only sit in one position. The tissue would only tolerate me sitting as such, it could suddenly change its mind so that what had worked the day before didn’t work the day after, and since the tissue didn’t exactly tell me which new position it wanted me in it was a game of trial and error with pain. Not immediate pain, of course, that would have been too easy. No, 30-60 min wait and then an electrical shock of severe pain. Like I said, it had a blast torturing me. All of this was also the case when I had to sleep, so I slept in the same position all night, which made my neck sore, and my legs very stiff in the morning.
Tuesday I had my next therapy appointment, and I had to arrive extremely close to time because I couldn’t sit on a chair. He asked me how everything was so far, and I asked if I could get laser treatment every other day because it only lasted 48 hours and I was in a lot of pain otherwise. He agreed. I also asked him how long it could take to get better since I had a vacation coming up. I was to travel to England on the 28 September to be with my boyfriend, meet his family and friends, and visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, so I felt as if I was on a bit of a deadline. He told me that recovery would take 6 weeks in total, and at that point there was 5 weeks to my departure. It was cutting it close but he ensured me I could make it so I trusted him. I went home with new exercises: he told me to keep the stretches but slowly bike for longer, increasing 30 sec each time until I reached 10 min instead of 5. So far so good. I kept the every 4 hours interval, and my damaged muscles seemed to like it as well. I wasn’t up a lot in between so those exercises was more or less the only times I really did anything other than going to the bathroom or grabbing something to eat.
I had my 3rd and 4th appointment 48 hours apart, I was tired from constantly waking up in the middle of the night with pain, and my lower back was really starting to hurt from lying in the same position the entire time. I cried regularly and just wanted this to end. I hated being in pain. I now had new exercises added to my programme: hip flexion and hip abduction with an elastic band, 10 pulls 3 times a day. I adjusted my programme so that I would bike, two hours later do my strengthening exercises, two hours later bike etc., you get the drill. Again I must stress that it wasn’t strengthening exercises like you see it at the gym with those bulky dudes in the corner. It was a careful and controlled movement.
Wednesday (12 September), I had my 5th therapy appointment. That night I’d slept extremely badly. I had had a lot of pain and it wouldn’t accept any of the positions I tried placing it in. Finally I tried getting a pillow to put under my legs, and it helped. Anyway, I walked out of the therapist clinic with a new dose of laser therapy and a new exercise: hip adduction (aka. my problem area) with elastic band. I should have seen it coming but I trusted him, and so I did the exercise but could feel that something wasn’t right. Immediately afterwards I felt a burning sensation, though in a different place, and it lasted for 15 min. The next day, after doing the exercise, the verdict came. I suddenly felt this new electrical shock kind of pain (level: 5-6) in that new place where I’d experienced the burning sensation the day before (adductor longus upper tendon).
It’s safe to say that from that moment it only went down hill. Though I didn’t realise it at the time, my physiotherapist, whom I trusted, had just made me do an exercise too strenuous for my damaged tissue to handle, and as a result I ended up with an injury worse than the first one. Now I had two kinds of pain to handle, the second more painful than the first. I wanted a cortisone injection which would, hopefully, remove the pain and let me slowly rehabilitate without being in severe pain. In other words: I couldn’t start proper rehabilitation before my pain was dealt with. The problem was that my doctor wouldn’t do it due to lack of experience, which is fair, but she didn’t exactly help me find a doctor who could and was overall not very helpful. I felt so alone and abandoned by a system that is supposed to help people in need. As a result I phone up a Private Hospital that I’d found online. On their website it said that they could do that injection, and when I called to ask (I wasn’t about to go out on a long journey for nothing) the woman on the phone asked me some questions to ensure just that: that I wouldn’t have to go through unnecessary travel. My appointment was scheduled for the 20 September, 8 days before I had to go to England. The problem was that I was nowhere near as ready as I thought I would have been – remember, my physiotherapist had promised that I would be. Another issue was that for me to be allowed to travel I had to meet at work and declare myself healthy that week. A third issue was that two days before I had the appointment at the Private Hospital my therapist declared that he thought me ready to go out into the world by myself. Again, I felt alone and abandoned.
On top of all of this, during my first week of torture, I had received the date for my GP scheduled Hospital appointment: 10 October! In other words, I would have to wait 6 weeks to get help! 6 weeks of severe pain in a time were 1 second felt like a year. It’s safe to assume that I was beyond desperate. Besides, the 10 October I would be in England, right? I was so certain that I of course would be in travelling condition (as I was promised) that I called them (Monday the 17th of September) and asked for a new date. The lady did tell me that they had an issue with their times, but I thought: “oh okay, then it will be in November,” right?
On 20 September I had to travel to the Private Hospital. Sitting on the train (which was crazy late by the way) I was scared to death that I would suddenly get a shock of pain. I felt trapped, and I never thought it was a thing but when you are in severe pain, sitting amongst strangers on a train is not really that fun. I had to phone up the Hospital to say that I was on my way but was running late due to the stupid train. I hate being late and combined with my fear it was a strong cocktail of unpleasantry. I finally arrived at the station and I looked around, hoping to see a taxi, but of course there weren’t any. I didn’t have time to get one, so I saw no other way than to walk there. For a normal functioning human being 1 km is not that far, but for someone who is injured 1 km is a long way to walk. Nevertheless, I did, and I didn’t feel any pain, though I knew that it would probably punish me soon. A sweet receptionist met me in the lobby, and she told me that it’s procedure to pay before seeing a doctor, but that her machine wasn’t working so if I would mind paying afterwards? I didn’t see any problem with that, and I was shown to the waiting lounge. I came in 15 min late, but that’s how doctors are, and when it was finally my turn I was met by a trusty looking fellow of a doctor. So far so good. He starts off by hearing my story, and looking through my journal. He does a test, and then proclaims that he can’t do anything about it because he doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong. I tell him the diagnosis my physiotherapist and I are in agreement on, but he quickly makes the statement that “a physiotherapist isn’t suited to make a diagnosis.” He is of course wrong, we are in fact experts on the body, but at this point he’s stopped listening to what I said. He wanted me to do an MRI-scan, but since it is a Private Hospital I, of course, had to pay myself. And let me just add that such a fancy scan isn’t cheap. I won’t spend that kind of money when I’m not even certain that they’re willing to give me the cortisone injection afterwards. I try to hold back my tears when the harsh reality hits: he is not going to help me. When I come out into the lobby I am still charged DKK 1.800 for nothing. It’s safe to say that this trip has been absolutely worthless and on top of that, since I had to walk all the way back to the station and take the train home, I’d injured myself further. When I came home I lay down – the only position my tissue will tolerate at this moment – and wait for the inevitable. I found that the more I hurt my tissue the longer it took for the consequence to show its ugly face, and sure enough, though it started off slow, I quickly realised how bad it really was. Now it’s not only my right groin area that’s the problem, it’s my left as well. I realise that during all this time I had been relieving my right leg by using my left a lot more, so now I had developed an overuse injury in my left leg as well. The weekend came and went, and when I, Sunday night, woke up at 03.00 I lay in my bed and finally made the hard decision of cancelling my trip to England which I’d been looking forward to as the only beacon of light in the midst of this misery. So Monday morning at 08.00 I called my boss and said that I couldn’t start work due to pain, and after we hung up I took a deep breath before calling SAS airlines to cancel my flight to England, and by that the chance to be with my boyfriend. Now with a more severe injury I was officially back where I started.
Bonus info: during this time I lost weight, about 5-6 kg. I was on a diet consisting of pain, loss of appetite and muscle atrophy. I don’t recommend it.