It seems like every other blog post the last two years has been about some injury or illness or other. I seem to have been gifted with one nagging thing after the next. At least I finally got a real diagnosis on the latest bit. “Athletic Pubalgia” or sports hernia. Doctors don’t like the term sports hernia since it implies an actual hernia. While athletic pubalgia can lead to a hernia if ignored, it is actually a strain or tear in the lower abdomen or groin area. I’ll skip going in to further medical dialog. I’m not qualified and you can Google as well as I can.
This rather firm diagnosis followed a visit to a new family doctor where an examination cast much doubt on the idea of an actual hernia. I was sent for an ultrasound which was quick and painless and “inconclusive”. It turns out an ultrasound is only slightly better than your eyeballs to look for things like a hernia. A CT is much better but more expensive and insurance companies won’t pay for it unless you get the ultrasound first. ‘Cause it makes much more sense to pay for a useless test first . . but I digress.
After the inconclusive ultrasound, I was referred by my new doctor’s office to a surgeon. Surgeon!? Alarm bells immediately went off. What did they see on that ultrasound!? I suddenly had images of malignant masses and biopsies in my head. But it turns out the surgeon was a bit of an expert on abdominal injuries and had co-authored several papers on hernia and athletic pubalgia (among other groin, hip, and abdomen injuries) in athletes. He came in to the room with a bad copy of one of the papers, and a med student with a big picture of the abdomen and it’s inner workings. He was a fast talker but knew his stuff about hernia and sports hernia. After an examination and review of the ultrasound he declared “You do NOT have a hernia”. He then proceeded to show me where most athletes have pain from a sports hernia. He put his finger on my lower abdomen at exactly the spot I have been having issues, and then again on my adductor at exactly the spot where my adductor nearly disabled me a few weeks ago. After a couple more diagnostic resistance tests, it was pretty clear what I was dealing with.
So now what? Dr. Fast Talker explained surgery can be done but typically is only used in extreme, chronic cases or with high-dollar pro athletes to get them back on the field quickly.
He cited Donovan McNabb, Adrian Peterson, and others. In fact, his colleague whom he co-authored the paper with was the leading expert on this surgery and supports all the Philadelphia sports team at Novacare in Philadelphia. But, Dr. FT went on to explain that I had a fairly mild strain and should be able to recover with rest and ice. No running or biking. Swimming and some upper body work should be okay. “Here’s the paper. Read that. Okay. Bye”.
I came home and sat down to read. There were two problems. First I think the photo copier used was circa 1970. I though I picked up a faint whiff of mimeograph ink. The page was distorted, and half the words in one column were off the page.
It didn’t really matter though unless you are a physician. The article used a lot of medical language and focused on pre and post surgery therapy not on actually what to do to rehab otherwise. I’m sure there is more to it than resting until things feel better and then beginning marathon or triathlon training again. There was one helpful little flow chart but that was the most guidance I got from the paper.
The good news is that we are heading off on vacation for a few days. The bad news is I’m leaving my running stuff home. The worst news is that means extreme dietary discipline which is just what I want for vacation. And before you say “Oh, just enjoy yourself on vacation”, don’t bother. I am blessed with the metabolism of Sarlacc from Star Wars, digesting my food over centuries and turning every unnecessary gram of food into unwanted pounds nearly instantly. Without exercise there can be no “fun eating” unless I want to go back to my former portly self which takes an unfairly short period of time.
Going forward, I feel like I need to find a sports medicine doctor or therapist who can get me through a sports hernia and back on the playing field safely. Addtionally, I’ll also be paying a local urchin to clear my snow next year. I’ll also be paying a bunch of medical bills. Goodie.
But that isn’t the part I mind. I said last year I would not enter races this year or in the future until I had to. Well, I ignored that good advice to myself and once again will be eating race fees. This is a big pet peeve with myself and most age-group athletes I know. It is 2017. Why do race organizers not make it easier or even possible for athletes to defer, transfer, or get a refund for a bib? I get the logic. The race director needs to know how many participants they have. But athletes get hurt and life happens otherwise. For most of the last decade, it was a seller’s market. Competitors were banging down the doors of race directors to get in to their events. Well guess what? The wave has crested and race entries are on the decline. Here’s a little newsflash race directors: The way to keep people coming to your events is to be participant friendly and realize life happens. If you make it possible for someone to back out when they have to, they are much more likely to sign up now or in the future.
As of today, I am set to lose nearly $500.00 in race fees. This is for two triathlons. I will no longer ever pre-enter an event . . ever. If I can’t enter on race weekend I’m not going to sign up unless there is a refund/transfer policy. Period. If that means I train and don’t get to race, that’s fine. I’ve done enough races that I know what it’s about. Crossing the finish line at an official event is awesome but it isn’t worth tossing money out the window for nothing. I suspect I’m not the only one that feels this way and as demand decreases I think races will see fewer sell-outs and more day-of registrations. I, for one, am done burning entry fees.