Tag Archives: mri

Not So Fast …

The new ride

The new ride

After a long seven weeks off, I had been looking forward to yesterday’s doctor’s appointment. My expectation and hope was that we would X-ray the hip, see that it is healing, and move on to the next step towards my recovery.

My hopes were dashed by the results. Unfortunately there were no signs of healing.

Stress fractures are strange and perplexing injuries. They often will not show up on X-rays. Mine didn’t show up initially, and we didn’t know it existed until I had the MRI. When a stress fracture is healing, there are visible and distinctive signs that will show up on the image. Mine showed nothing, which means I’m not there yet.

The fact that there were no signs of healing does not mean I am not healing. I know just from the way I feel that the hip is improving. All we know is that the process is a little bit slower than we had hoped. The fact that I am still experiencing soreness, walking with a limp, and having popping instances, all show that the healing process is still ongoing.

The doctor advised me to take another month off. As he put it, I need to ‘respect’ the hip. He looked at my walking gait, and found it to be unnatural. “Is that how you normally walk?” he asked. Nope. Even though crutches are no longer necessary, he suggested using a cane just to keep weight off of it.

While this was disappointing, it was somewhat expected. I could already tell a couple weeks ago that healing was taking longer than I had hoped, which was the reason I canceled my plans in France this year. That turned out to be the correct move. This is a process that I have to be patient with. I’ll follow the doctor’s orders, and hopefully everything will continue to improve.

This sets back some of my spring plans. My heart is set on completing Mitchell, and I will optimistically register next week. However, if the news is not better in a few weeks, I may have no choice other than to be smart and back out.

I can’t complain too much, as there is always someone out there facing tougher odds. Today I heard about Christian Haettich, who is taking on both Haute Route challenges. And by the way, he’s missing an arm and a leg. By comparison, coming back from a measly hip injury seems pretty insignificant.

Time heals all wounds, and this one will be gone eventually.

The Injury

A smart person once told me that injury is a part of activity. It is going to happen at some point. What matters is how you handle it.

I am officially injured.

It started sometime around Bridge to Bridge. The exact moment when the injury occurred is a mystery, but my guess it was somewhere along the final climb up Grandfather Mountain. Symptoms first showed up a few days afterward.

I knew around Six Gap Century that this was not a simple tweak. I rode through most of those hills in pain, most from my injury, some from the difficulty of the ride.

Since then my training has been off and on. After a lengthy rest period, the hip felt a lot better and I was able to begin Phase I of my off-season training. That was short lived, as the injury roared back after riding around the hills of Asheville.

Yesterday was my first step toward diagnosis and treatment. I saw Evan Ekman, a local sports medicine guru who has treated the best and brightest athletes in the area. He checked me out, took some x-rays, and asked a lot of questions. When did it start? When does it hurt? Do I ever hear a popping sound? He moved my leg in different directions to determine where it hurt.

Dr Ekman's office was adorned with sports jerseys.

Dr Ekman’s office was adorned with sports jerseys.

He had a few ideas of what the injury could be, perhaps an issue with my labrum or hip snapping syndrome. After hearing about the injury that Alex Rodriguez is enduring, my hope is that it is the latter if either. It could also be just inflammation, but since I have been dealing with it for several months, it is best to diagnose the problem and move forward with recovery.

The next step was to get an MRI for a proper diagnosis.

I showed up not quite sure what to expect. Being slightly claustrophobic, I was worried about being inside the tube. Fortunately my head extruded out the other side, so that was not an issue. Everything was going fine until she added that one final touch. She put a band around my feet to keep them in the same position.


Remember that I have a hip injury. That band essentially pulled on my injury, like pulling on a gaping wound. It caused excruciating pain. I told the tech right away that this might not work. She said to do my best, but there was literally no wiggle room. I had to suffer through it.

This was my prison for 40 minutes.

This was my prison.

Holy mother of God, this was painful. I stayed as still as I could, but with every minute it hurt more. I felt like I was doing a plank with a knife stuck in my legs. Loud noises came from the machine. Some sounded like loud rumbling or humming. Others sounded like electric guitars. Even though they were unsettling, they somewhat distracted from the pain.

About 40 minutes passed. The Tech told me that there was one more test, just four minutes remaining. I gritted through, just thinking about the relief I’d feel shortly afterward. My lower body was shaking, quaking uncontrollably from the pain. The noise stopped, then she said there was yet another she had forgotten. Another round of suffering and it was finally over.

As I scooted out, I could not feel my legs. It has been a couple hours and they are still numb.

Oddly enough, after I limped away and sat down in my car, the hip didn’t hurt as much. It was as if the pain was squeezed out by the machine.

The results will be ready Monday. In the meantime I’ll be at the bar.