Map of Pain: My 5 Worst Injuries

This post is once again part of Fitness Cheerleader’s August Healthy Living Blogger Challenge.  I took a little break for the long weekend, but I decided to come back for this topic.  It’s a dangerous post to make, because once you start cataloguing everything that’s gone wrong in your body, it gets hard to think of yourself as a healthy person, and the next thing you know, you’re depressed and you stop acting like a healthy person.  Still, you can do the reverse and pat yourself on the back for overcoming all the adversity.

  1. Malignant Melanoma.  I don’t really label myself as a ‘Cancer Survivor’ because I haven’t done the kinds of things that Cancer Survivors have: chemotherapy, radiation, hair loss, etc. but the facts are:
    1. I had a Stage 1 Malignant Melanoma of 0.2mm diameter in my right leg
    2. My father passed away of Malignant melanoma in 2000.
    3. Treating it meant taking a chunk of surrounding lymph nodes out to make sure the cancer didn’t spread.
There are 2 kinds of skin cancer, Basal Cell Carcinoma (more common, more survivable) and Malignant Melanoma.  The surgery to remove the lymph nodes was out-patient with a local anesthetic, and I was able to go hiking in Spain a couple of weeks later, but I did have to limp until then.  I also have to take time out to get my moles checked twice a year (for a while there, it was 4 times a year), and I tend to think about going out to exercise in the sunshine as a life or death experience.

  1. Herniated Disc in the C6-C7 Vertebrae.  Though Jiu-Jitsu is largely about learning to fall properly accidents can happen, even when you’re just in practice.  This is what happened to me during my grading for my light blue belt (I still passed).  I landed on the back of my neck from an elevated position.  I’d had issues in and all around my thoracic spine for ages, but nothing like this.  It had to be identified with an MRI, which is not a fun experience if you have as much trouble sitting still as I do (plus there’s getting up at 4 in the morning).  There was pain for months, but the most nagging problem was a tingling in the tip of my index finger.  I got treated by a Sport Medicine doctor, a massage therapist, a physiotherapist, and a chiropractor (who included accupuncture in the treatment) and they brought me a lot of relief to a lot of the pain symptoms - I recommend Athlete’s Care if you want to get a comprehensive suite of services under the care of a medical doctor.  Still the very tip of my right index finger felt like it was asleep all the time until I finally got Active Release Therapy which I continue almost weekly to this very day, though the symptoms seem to be more toward my shoulder blade now.  Like I said, the upper back/thoracic spine has been a bit of an issue.  This injury made me quit jiu-jitsu indefinitely, I still visit sporadically, but the doctor’s recommendation is to avoid.  I still get misty thinking about it; you wouldn’t imagine a grown man could be brought to tears by his inability to practice breaking bones, but I guess I’m just a softy.

  1. Shoulder Impingement.  This injury is actually pretty common to those who work in front of a computer all day.  It crept up somewhere in my mid to late twenties, and limited my range of motion.  Strengthening the rotator cuff through physiotherapy and exercise got rid of the pain, but I always have to watch it when I do any heavy resistance work with arms overhead.  I’m not sure I can ever get to do pull-ups, because every time I start on a program involving that kind of movement, I get the pains again.  At least I can swim!

  1. Achilles Tendonitis.  This one affects runners, especially those with high arches who supinate (roll outward) like me.  One of the ways to avoid it is not to do hills - not a good option for me, unless I want to never run on weekends when I’m in Muskoka.  I’ve been trying to do more mid-foot landing according to barefoot/minimalist/chi running technique, but I don’t always manage it when my concentration isn’t 100% and I'm back to the ever maligned heel-strike. I have a compression band that I can wear (I used to have 2, one for each leg, but I lost one), and I've tried a pair of compression socks that did nothing. It's been bothering me lately, and for my next race, I'll probably wear my more cushioned Salomon training shoes rather than my Zoot racing flats.

  1. Lower Back Pain. This one's not as bad, even though so many people suffer from it chronically. For me, it comes from my pelvis being mis-aligned by my hip muscles (psoas) being too tight. As long as I remember to do the right stretches (usually some kind of lunge or Yoga Warrior pose) I'm fine.

You can get injured through physical activity, but you can get injured through lack of physical activity, so I'd rather have my fun. Like they said in the Princess Bride: "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

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