What’s new? About a month ago I came across a post about an article published years ago by potter John Glick. It was an article I was aware of, but this time I was reading it with greater interest. For almost ten months I have been dealing with what I thought was a running injury. I assumed it was the running, since it happened immediately after a normal run. I had pain that started in my right pelvic bone, but that subsided into a subtle yet awkward sharp pain that shot down the inside of my leg. (When I say inside, I mean the actual inside!) When I tried to run after resting for a week, the pain was so intense on the bone that I couldn’t run. While that pain would go away with rest, the pain that prevented me from bending my right leg lingered. I did not run on it, thinking it would heal with rest, for almost two months. Other than the running, and the annoyance of starting the day unable to bend my leg to put a sock on, it was tolerable. But gradually, even though it would feel better during the day, usually, at night the pain started to become worse. It got to the point that I couldn’t press the pedal on my wheel without excruciating pain. The next day I finally called the doctor.
Had Kristen Keiffer re-posted Glick’s article on her blog at that point, I am not sure I would have clicked on it. I was at this time convinced that my running injury was a running injury – not a symptom of a larger problem. An office visit to the orthopedic proved frustrating, as even he admitted I was a puzzle to him, but he ran some tests and sent me to physical therapy where they were eager to call it my IT band and so I was optimistic. But a few months later I was back to the beginning, without much improvement, and at times, in worse shape than I had been when it all started. I doubted the orthopedic who sat there while I fell apart at a follow up appointment when he asked me how I was doing. Coming up on eight months, I was done. He disagreed with the IT band diagnosis, ordered up a back x-ray, and followed up with two MRI’s. Another month led me back to him and his grave results mumbling a lot of things I was just too overwhelmed to hear. I reluctantly agreed to and waited another 3 weeks for the spine consultation, which finally led me to listening to a neurosurgeon who explained everything quite clearly and firmly. It was my back, it was major, it needed to be attended to and no, I should not wait until winter break. I needed a microdiscectomy. I took the earliest appointment and am now home recovering, fingers crossed and looking forward to bright fall days ahead.
Before the results of the MRI came back was when the Studio Potter’s article appeared in my news feed. It was because of this article that I finally thought, man, I really need to take this a bit more seriously – my back has always caused me problems, off and on, and undoubtedly the back spasms that stopped while I was taking a studio break during the month of August couldn’t have been a coincidence…could it? I didn’t want to go into the Lahey Spine Clinic and be told I couldn’t throw on the wheel anymore. I needed to be proactive. I had talked to lots of people over the years about throwing while standing. I never took it very seriously until now. I went into the basement, cleared away the mess and put my wheel up on wooden crates. A bit of adjusting and I achieved a comfortable height. (Did I wait to have someone to help me put the wheel up? – no! – old habits die hard!) I was determined, and after a few days of throwing little vases, I knew there was no going back. I gradually increased to throwing between 2-3 pounds of clay, and up until a few days before the surgery I threw a few 4 pound balls. This will indeed take more time and practice, but I am up for the challenge. And since I won’t be throwing for a while, I can be distracted with other things…
Ironically, because of the initial running I was doing, and the fact that the pain started after a run, the whole throwing, being a potter, teaching pottery didn’t really come up. I never went to any of these doctors and complained of my back. The orthopedic suspected it was back related, and I originally thought he was a bit of a quack until the MRI showed the protruding disc on the right side. I still wasn’t convinced until the neurosurgeon described everything I was experiencing and why – even the back spasms – (which, by the way I never mentioned to anyone except the physical therapist!) Anyway, there’s a message somewhere in all of this long, drawn out drama. Meanwhile, I am staying positive, beginning to heal and patiently waiting for the pain in my leg to disappear, eager to start normal activity where I can work on keeping my back strong and continue to do what I love everyday.