Monday, June 13, 2011

Electric Needles

Sorry for the long hiatus. I got all caught up in preparations for Lysts on the Lake, then working as staff for Lysts, then recovering from Lysts, and then just sort of being out of the habit of writing. I'll try to do better in the future.

Anyway... A while back my butt was healed enough that I was able to start doing sit ups again. I had to do them on the thickest softest carpet in the house, and I couldn't do many of them because it still hurt. And, of course, I was horribly out of shape. Over the past year, I'd gained almost 20 pounds and lost most of my muscle tone and flexibility. It seems like just laying on the couch reading and watching tv all day leads to flabbiness and obesity. I had begun to really hate my body. I've been physically active all of my life and I had been one of those few women who were actually quite happy with their bodies, until this accident happened. So, as soon as it wasn't actually painful to exercise, I started doing sit ups again. I'd tried walking on the treadmill, but that was actually quite uncomfortable. (I now know why it hurt, but didn't understand at the time.) So I just stuck to doing sit ups.

When I first started doing the sit ups, my tailbone was still so sensitive that I sort of did them off center. I was basically putting almost all my weight on my left hip so that there wasn't as much pressure on my tailbone. Naturally, this led to my sit ups being somewhat lopsided. I didn't care. I was exercising again. And it was helping me to feel better about myself even if I really wasn't doing that much. However, as my tailbone became less sensitive, I tried to start doing more balanced sit ups and I noticed that something was seriously wrong.

When I actually distributed my weight evenly between both hips, and did a sit up, as I was in the sitting up position, my right knee was NOTICEABLY higher than my left knee. At first I thought that because I was in the habit of sitting on my left hip, that I was simply not actually distributing my weight evenly. But after several attempts to redistribute my weight evenly so as to even my knees out, I realized that I was actually sitting evenly on both hips, and there was simply something wrong with my right hip that was forcing my right knee up higher. I sort of freaked a little. I wondered if I had actually broken my hip in some way, and that it had healed all wrong and now I was going to have the live the rest of my life with a mangled hip. I kept trying to re-assure myself that there was no way, no matter how good I am at ignoring pain, that I could have been walking around all this time with a broken hip. But I also kept remembering how much trouble I did have walking at first, and how my right leg at times simply refused to do what I told it to.

My husband and DA did their best to re-assure me and I set up a doctor's appointment as soon as possible. My doctor examined me and agreed that there was definitely something wrong with my hip, but that he wasn't sure exactly what it was. He wanted to do an MRI, but we only have catastrophic insurance with a $3000 deductible, so we really couldn't afford that. So we did a series of simple x-rays which reassured me that nothing other than my tailbone was broken. The problem was obviously in the muscles. My doctor then sent me to a specialist/physical therapist to try and figure out exactly what was wrong with my muscles. Turns out that my muscles had been so traumatized by the fall that they basically knotted up and then became so inflamed (swollen) that they couldn't unknot. The muscles in my right buttock and thigh had been continuously flexed for over a year. And what happens when you repeatedly (continuously) flex a muscle? It gets bigger. I now have one ginormous butt muscle.

Even the physical therapist wasn't quite sure what to do to try and fix things. He asked me to do some stretches and things, but I still had enough left over flexibility that the stretches didn't have the least effect on loosening up my poor butt. He decided to try poking it with electric needles. He wasn't sure that would work because the electric needles are actually used to cause the muscles to contract, but he thought that if we made the muscles contract even more, then, when we turned the electric needles off, the muscles might actually relax.

He didn't use the electric needles during my first visit, he just did some heat treatments and sent me home. He wanted to do some research and think about things before actually trying the electric needles. On my second visit, he first had me do some exercises that dealt with balance and theoretically worked the affected muscles in some beneficial way. Then he took me behind a privacy curtain and had me lay face down on a table. He then proceeded to stick a bunch of acupuncture type needles into various places on both buttocks. Though he did place more in my right buttock than my left. The needles were hooked to an electric current somehow. I really couldn't see much from my position. And he turned the electricity on. He adjusted the current by asking me when it was just on the edge of painful. Then he left the electric needles to do their thing for about 10 minutes.

After it was over, my butt was pretty sore for the rest of that day and somewhat sore the next, but on the third day, it actually seemed like it had helped. Of course, ever since I found out that the problem was overly tense butt muscles, I'd been trying to consciously relax my butt and that may have been helping as well. Because of my dance, meditation and martial arts background, I am actually pretty good at making my muscles relax on demand. However, I'd never really focused on my butt muscles before.

Anyway, over the next few weeks, my butt did seem to feel better. I could sit for longer periods of time before it became too painful. And in general, my body was beginning to feel better. I added push ups and squats to my exercise routine and I can now walk on the treadmill even though I still have to be careful with that, and if I feel my butt muscles tensing up, I stop. My body is finally beginning to trim down a little, although I am still pretty unhappy whenever I look in a mirror. But I will keep exercising and sooner or later, I'll get a healthy body back. However, my right buttock will probably always be bigger than my left. (And yes, having uneven buttocks definitely affects my riding. More about that in the next post.)

I really should go back and get another treatment with the electric needles. I'm sure it would help. I just have to make the time.

And next time I get injured, I'm going to a doctor right away. I promise.

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