Last summer, for a project, I recorded a short phone video for each day and stitched them all together in an epic summer montage. Completing it was bittersweet. Autumn had commenced, and while I was happy with the film I knew it would also bring me nostalgic misery later in life.
This summer I did not set myself any daily challenge. For the first week of December it seemed like the only thing I was going to do every single day was answer questions about if I was going to make another video. Those queries quickly petered out, but I did do one thing every single day, which was, suffer through various levels of hamstring pain.
I first injured my hamstring tendon in June. For the next two months it was barely noticeable, just a twinge while running and only when I pushed the pace. Slowly the pain increased so that after I went running and cooled down it also ached. In September I saw a physio who suggested some strengthening, stretching and needling. I did those for another two months as the pain continued to get worse. By November I'd completely stopped running. I was barely walking.
At the end of November I had an ultrasound guided cortisone injection into the area of inflammation. This kicked off a summer of never ending hamstring pain. It hurt to walk, to reach over, to stand, to sit. I suffered through days of work and came home to live with ice packs under my arse. I barely left the house on weekends. Anytime I did push through the pain to walk or go out I was greeted with extra pain the next day.
I sought more medical advice, gulped down Voltaren, rested and didn't stretch for weeks. Nothing helped. Each day was the same, a soreness at the top of my leg every morning when I woke up. Gradually through the day it burned deeper and more fiercely. Sometimes the pain would spread into my hip, up through my lower back. Stretching and beer could sometimes beat it back to its home in the hamstring. It never left completely.
After a hot, aching Christmas break I had an MRI which showed absolutely nothing structurally wrong. It was devastating. There was nothing with a target for a surgeon to remove or reinforce. Nothing but a tendon caught in an endless loop of debilitating inflammation.
I wish this every had a happy ending. It's autumn now and still the pain eats at me, wearing at my patience and on my sunny disposition.
I wanted to write this entry about how a summer of chronic pain is so familiar to me. 2006's was blighted by back pain. 2008 I lasted until after Valentine's Day with torn cartilage in my wrist. 2009 was an iliotibial band which kept me from walking until mid March. I've been slightly more fortunate since then.
I wanted to compare those times with now, to give me some hope that I can overcome this hamstring pain the same way I beat those other injuries.
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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.