Back in January, I injured my calf muscle doing toe raises with a weight at Orange Theory. I thought it was just a really sore muscle so I kept exercising, and then I tore it running fast uphill on the treadmill. That time, I knew it was injured. There was a painful pop and I had to leave class and limp home. The GP said nothing was sticking out, so it would probably heal on its own (there’s really no reason to ever go to a GP), so I waited until it didn’t hurt anymore, and then went back to working out, at which point, it went back to hurting, and so on and so forth, until finally in April, after three weeks of inactivity seemed somehow to make it even worse, I caved and went to physical therapy.
There, I experienced dry needling, which is described as the “Western” approach to acupuncture, which means that they just shove the needles deep down into your muscle and wiggle them around painfully and scream at your injury “STOP BEING A WEAK LITTLE BABY AND HEAL LIKE A MAN! BOOTSTRAPS! CAPITALISM!” It feels super weird and is also very painful — it makes your muscle cramp up and leaves you pretty sore for a couple of days, plus occasionally the PT will hit a nerve with the needle which then makes you feel like other, unrelated parts of your body are being electrocuted.
I also underwent scraping, which is when the PT uses the dull side of a metal implement to essentially roll out your muscle, only with a blade instead of a roller. It is also quite painful!
In addition to the pain, there were also lots of repetitive boring tiny movements to be repeated endlessly several times per day.
After a month of this, my muscle wasn’t any better and in fact, seemed to have gotten yet worse still, so the PT referred me to a sports orthopedist, which is where I should have gone back in January, and this past Friday, I went to see him, and he gave me an x-ray, said there was calcification, ordered an MRI, and told me I’d need manual therapy, which is a more intense (read: EVEN MORE painful) physical therapy.
I’m starting to see why people try to convince themselves that reiki is a thing. At this point, some hippie waving her hands ineffectually in the air over my calf is sounding pretty awesome. Except I want this thing to heal.
Anyway, I came home and googled the actual term for my injury, gastroc tear. Now, my one consolation through all of this mess is that I was feeling pretty athletic and hard core, having undergone a SPORTS RELATED injury and then exercised on it like a badass (albeit a very stupid badass) for several months and having had all these doctors and therapists agree that it was very important I get back to my former level of activity and say things like “I know you like to push it, but you really need to go on only easy runs for now,” etc.
So I was less than thrilled to see that the excerpt of the first Google result for gastroc tear describes it as “a common injury in middle-aged recreational athletes, participating in physically demanding activities despite suboptimal physical presentation.”
Anyway, after I saw the ortho about my middle-aged injury, I had to go talk to a mortgage lender because I need to buy a house at some point. I met with a very nice middle-aged man with suboptimal physical presentation who patiently explained mortgage options to me for a good hour. I didn’t follow any of it. Here are my notes:
Renting isn’t so bad. I like my little apartment, really. And I mean, you can’t take your equity with you when you die. From boredom and confusion and paperwork and overly aggressive physical therapy.
After that, I worked for another couple of hours, and then I headed over to have an MRI! I don’t think I’ve had an MRI. I had one back when I was a kid, but they were called catscans then. But the tube looked the same.
Anyway, I got there an hour and a half early because there was a miscommunication about my appointment time, and so I sat in the waiting room with nothing to do because recently I took all my work shit off my phone for better work/life “balance” which just means that in this situation, I was forced to watch an hour of Judge Judy instead of getting some actual work done.
Then, a squirrely looking tech came and got me and instructed me to remove all metal bits and pieces from my body. I was wearing a sundress with a plunging neckline held together by a safety pin. “Do I need to take this safety pin out?” I asked.
The tech looked at the ceiling and then the floor, and coughed, and said “I mean, I…is it touching your skin at all?”
See? My physical presentation is still totally optimal! Screw you, Google.
MRIs are boring as all hell. This one took over 30 minutes and you just have to lie there in the dark with earmuffs on. “Do you want to listen to the radio?” asked the tech.
“Sure!” I said.
“Oh, I don’t know, I haven’t ever listened to the radio.”
“What do you listen to?”
“Sometimes it’s nice to just have silence.”
So, nothing to listen to either. I can’t honestly remember the last time I went for over 30 conscious minutes without any kind of external stimulation, just me and my thoughts and a tube making a noise like an air raid siren. It was torture.
Plus, the guy told me to be careful not to twitch my legs, and telling someone not to twitch a body part is like telling them not to think about their grandparents having sex, and finally, I read on the internets that some tattoos have metal fragments in them that can heat up and burn you in an MRI, so I worried about that the whole time.
I tried to focus really hard on my left shoulder, but I still twitched all over that damn machine. And I was starving. And despite everyone who worked there having asked me forty times if I had to pee like I was a child…I had to pee really bad two seconds after they switched the machine on.
I turn 36 tomorrow, and I am feeling extremely adult about this new, middle-aged, financially complex, recreationally injurious phase of my life.