Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A pain in the ass

Let me tell you a little story. A story about a girl. A girl who liked to run. A girl who ran too much and got tendinitis. Double tendinitis in fact.

OK the girl is me and at 41 I’m not technically a “girl,” although I’m more a girl than I am a boy so let’s not get bogged down in semantics.

Anyway, remember how I mentioned running a lot during all of those nasty lockdowns of 2020-21? Well it turns out that I may have overdone it just a bit, resulting in a constant (and I mean CONSTANT) ache in my left piriformis muscle, which is located deep in the gluteal region and does helpful things like allow the hip to rotate. As a bonus, the sciatic nerve runs right through it. I know this because not only do I have glute pain but I also have sciatic pain! Yay!

The unpleasantness began in early October of 2020. I thought it might go away on its own, so I kept on running. But it didn’t go away, so I stopped running and made an appointment with my GP, or rather, with my GP’s intern, because you can get an appointment to see the intern relatively quickly whereas the GP has a waiting time of about three weeks. Here’s how that went:

Me: My butt hurts.
Intern: Why?
Me: I may have been running too much.
Intern: Run less. Also take Advil.
Me: Is that it?
Intern: Get some insoles. I’ll refer you to a podiatrist.

So off I went to the podiatrist. As it was my first time seeing one, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I couldn’t help wondering what exactly inspires a person to pursue this type of profession though. I mean it’s a little odd, no? Just looking at people’s feet all day? My son likes feet. Maybe one day he’ll be a podiatrist.

Me: My butt hurts.
Podiatrist: Why?
Me: I may have been running too much.
Podiatrist: Show me your feet.
Me: This is going to get weird, isn’t it?

It was weird. I’ve never had anyone take THAT much interest in my feet before. Also he was extremely serious. I kept trying to make jokes to lighten the ambiance, except he clearly didn’t understand them since he kept asking me to repeat myself, thus killing the jokes. Maybe podiatrists don’t laugh. That’s understandable. In the end, he made me some special insoles. They didn’t help. He made me some new ones. The new ones actually made my butt hurt more.

Then I tried my osteopath because she’s competent as well as good-natured, plus I’d been meaning to see her anyway. She did what she could, but said she suspected a DOUBLE tendinitis and that it would be helpful if I consulted a kiné (short for kinésithérapeute – physiotherapist). All French people see the kiné at some point in their lives. It is a very French thing to do. So I made an appointment.

Me: My butt hurts.
Kiné: Why?
Me: I may have been running too much.
Kiné: What part of your butt hurts? How about *here*?
Me: Nah.
Kiné: *Here*?
Me: Sort of.
Kiné: *Here*?
Me: OW!!!
Kiné: I think I know what’s wrong with you. But you should see a sports doctor just to be sure.

I made an appointment with a sports doctor. In Paris. It took half a day. But he was reassuring as well as charismatic, in a 50-something sports doctor sort of way.

Sports doctor: Where are you from?
Me: California.
Sports doctor: I lived in California for a while! I went there to play music.
Me: Cool! Where?
Sports doctor: *Cites unrecognizable and possibly fictional place*
Me: Did you love it?
Sports doctor: Meh.
Me: Meh?
Sports doctor: I need you to take off your pants and lie on this table.
Me: You gonna buy me a drink first or what?

That went OK. He said he was pretty sure what was wrong with me, but that I needed to get an MRI to confirm. So I made an appointment with the specific MRI place he said I had to go to. Also in Paris. Also half a day.

MRI technician: Hi. Take off your pants.
Me: My, aren’t you a straight-to-the-point kind of person?
MRI technician: Is this your first time?
Me: Is this YOUR first time? I hope not because this is costing me €200.
MRI technician: Here, lie on this table and put these headphones on. It’s Queen. Do you like Queen?
MRI technician: I’ll be back in 15 minutes.
Me: What?

I got the full results that night and had to take them BACK to my sports doctor, which meant yet another trip to Paris and yet another half-day gone. He was happy with the results and said they confirmed his opinion that I would need an infiltration (ultrasound-guided cortisone injection). Oh good.
I made an appointment for the injection. Also in Paris. Also half a day.

Technician: Hi. Take your pants off please. The doctor will be in shortly.
Me: Cool, cool.
Doctor: Hi. Which side are we injecting today?
Me: Left.
Doctor: Lie on your stomach, with your head at this end of the table.
Me: Uh … that’s my right side.
Doctor: Oh sorry. You said left, didn’t you?
Me: This is so not worth it.

The shot was 50 shades of weird. First, the doctor was roughly three times my size; he looked like some superhuman German grandpa whose dimensions were not of this world. Second, the technician turned the lights down, creating a soft (i.e. WEIRD) ambiance that could only have been made weirder if hed put on some smooth jazz. And third, they may have numbed the injection site, but I could still feel the needle itself poking around inside the muscle. It didn’t exactly hurt, but the sensation was not what one might call “pleasant.” At one point, I heard the doctor say something to the technician involving the words “next” and “time,” at which I could only snicker. There will be no “next time,” my dude.

I spent the following day at home, awaiting some crazy effect of painlessness or painfulness. But in the end, it was pretty damn close to how I felt prior to the injection. Hmm. And today, a full week later, I have to report that the result is subtle at best.

You know what I think? I think that, much like parenting a difficult child, there is no real solution other than time. Your average tendinitis lasts 12-18 months. And while my children are finally starting to exit their difficult period, it looks like this particular pain in the ass is going to be sticking around for a while.

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