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  • Meagan Butler

Traveling Injured?

Summer time is here. I’ve been super stoked about this particular summer for a few reasons. This was to be the summer I’d train for my fourth half-marathon. I’ve been out of running shape for a long time. I did work up to six miles at the beginning of the school year, but after my 10k in September, I stopped running again. Call it hating to run in the dark before and after work or whatever, I just didn’t run this winter. So summer time was to be the time to get some miles on my barely worn Asics.

I am also super stoked about this summer because it is our Alaskan RV vacation. We’ve been putting things in place for this trip since January, and we are now just a few weeks away. There are still so many things to do to prepare for the trip, but it will be here before we know it. 2 weeks in Alaska with a kick-ass RV? I’m ready.

Unfortunately, my body isn’t ready. I’ve jacked myself up in a pretty gnarly way. I’m terrified my injury is going to put a huge damper on our plans to hike, fish, and explore the Kenai. I don’t want to slow down and wreck the months of planning. I am hoping this injury will only slow me down and I can talk about how to travel with an injury instead of how my back destroyed my long-awaiting vacation.

Three weeks ago I was at the Crossfit gym warming up. There were two strategically placed trash cans at opposite ends of the gym that we had to run around as fast as we can. There were four of us in class that day, so we were partnered up, and as partners,we had to try and catch the other team before they could catch us. It was like a game of grown-up tag. To make it harder we had to run with medicine balls. Once we circled the cans we’d pass the medicine ball to our partner with force to make the warm up harder. We didn’t want to go slowly, because if the other team caught us, we’d have to do burpees, and frankly we all hate burpees, so going fast was incentive enough. While we ran, we twisted our bodies and passed the ball to our partner. On one pass, something just didn’t feel right. I dropped to the floor and stumbled a bit. I tried to go on, but then it was burpee time for us. I couldn’t do the burpees, and I could barely move. I tried to run and shake it off. That didn’t work. I tried to foam roll the pain that was building in my glute and hip, and that just made things worse. Scared, I left class early and went to the chiropractor. The adjustment was a tough one because my muscles had basically seized. By the time I got home, I had shooting pain down my leg. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t lie down. It was bad. I tried Motrin, I tried wine, I tried the hot tub. Nothing worked. By midnight the pain was excruciating. I could find no relief. I finally had to ask to go to the hospital. After a few hours, I was sent home with pain medicine and muscle relaxers. I dropped from a 10 on the pain scale to a 5 and was able to sleep. Since that night, I’ve gotten no definitive answers. I’ve been hobbling around, still not able to put full weight on my leg. My muscles are atrophying in my calf. I still hurt and the only relief I’ve gotten is through acupuncture. Yesterday, I finally got to see a physical therapist. I honestly was truly lucky, as every therapist was booked well into my Alaska trip, and couldn’t see me. I was on the phone, almost in tears, ready to make an appointment in July when a cancellation opened up a spot for me in the afternoon. I jumped {in my head of course} at the appointment and was excited to maybe get some answers and some stretches to help me while I’m traveling. I really was bummed at the prognosis. The PT said it looks like a herniated disk. Of course, I won’t know anything until the MRI comes back {also taken yesterday}, and that can take up to a week. So here I am, waiting for the prognosis, and I am certain if it is a herniated disk, running anytime soon is out of the question. So is Crossfit, and so is lengthy glacier hikes and long kayak trips.

The question I have for myself is, how do I travel and still enjoy myself while I am hurting? I’m afraid a long airplane ride is going to put me over the edge, and sitting in an RV for days is going to be very challenging. I am going to do everything possible to enjoy my trip. I have to. I want to. This can’t stop me from having fun, but it’s going to slow me down for sure. I’m forging ahead. I’m going to do the stretches the PT gave me three times a day as instructed. My little foam roller will be my companion for the trip. Alaska will still be fun for us, no matter what, but I need to be prepared for some of the limitations I might experience.

If there are any readers out there who have traveled while injured, I’d love some advice on how to make things a little easier. Your input is welcomed!


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