2009 has not been a great year health-wise for me, as I’ve complained about before. For a while it felt like my body turned 40 and decided, “Okay, you’ve had 40 healthy years, and now it’s time to find out what you’ve been missing!” I haven’t been dealing with any life-threatening problems, but multiple nagging and worrisome issues made me wonder, “Am I really going to be dealing with all this stuff for another 40 years?”
Fortunately, over the summer things have improved considerably. Perhaps not coincidentally, two of my problems got much better as soon as I started exercising regularly, biking in to work twice a week:
- The pinched nerve in my neck wasn’t seriously impairing me, but it was miserable to live with, especially when trying to sleep. After seeing the doctor and getting some steroids (oh boy!) for a week, it got a little better, and it got gradually better thereafter, but after I started biking it got dramatically better quickly – and I could tell because the biking ‘position’ – with my head tilted back – was exactly the sort that pinched the nerve. So the first 2-3 rides in it was annoying, but it improved quickly and I haven’t noticed it for months now. Quite a relief.
I wonder whether exercising increasing my heart rate and blood flow helped the nerve heal, or if it just finished moving back to its proper place.
- In June I was having trouble with my hips, which would really hurt in a variety of positions, and made it especially difficult to get into and out of a car. Debbi taught me a yoga position which helped temporarily, but it was really after I started biking in that this problem went away. I don’t really know what caused it – maybe I’m developing some arthiritis – but I’m glad this one has gone, too.
- Lastly, I was having a problem unrelated to my pinched nerve where my right elbow would hurt if I was making a lifting or pulling motion when holding something (taking out a trash bag, for example). It didn’t hurt when doing push-ups, though. I have a suspicion that my ulnar collateral ligament may have gotten sprained somehow (hopefully I won’t need Tommy John surgery). This problem is not entirely better, but it’s much improved, as I’ve been trying to avoid behaviors which make it hurt. I believe if the UCL isn’t too badly damaged that you can work around it through rehab – basically, strengthening the muscles around it to compensate – and perhaps that’s what I’ve done. Of course, it may also have just been a sprained muscle.
Thinking back to May and June, it’s such a relief to not be dealing with this stuff anymore. While I don’t know for sure that exercising helped resolve these problems, this will help motivate me to transition into going to the gym twice a week once it gets too dark to bike to work regularly.