Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Oh... the elbow!

worst case of medial epicondylitis that has ever been endured by a human
I've been working in healthcare for more than 10 years, the majority of that in emergency medicine. I teach at a number of universities including Tufts, University of New England, and Mass. General Hospital's Institute of Health Professions. It is with that background and experience that I claim that I have the worst case of medial epicondylitis that has ever been endured by a human. That's right, no human has experienced the elbow pain that I have, and a lesser man would be in tears.

You might scoff, and say, "ha, that's just golfer's elbow," and that's where you'd be wrong. Yes, technically medial epicondylitis is commonly known as golfer's elbow (the opposite of tennis elbow which is lateral epicondylitis, on the outer part of the elbow), but I don't golf, so, ha!

My painful journey began innocently enough... I was doing some trail work and was raking a new section of singletrack that circumvented a mud bog. I noticed a little twinge in my right elbow, but didn't really think anything of it. However, the soreness worsened over the next couple of days and I realized that I couldn't ride. I couldn't pull or push on my handlebars without an excruciating lightening bolt of magma bursting to life in my elbow.

Not knowing the true extent of my injury, I just figured I'd give it some time. Interestingly, my lovely wife ALSO had the same pain (although, she's a woman so the pain was to a much lesser extent). She got a cortisone shot and was fine. Turns out, as time goes on, a cortisone shot can actually lead to a worse long term outcome so because I waited, I was out of luck. D'oh.

worst case of medial epicondylitis that has ever been endured by a human
Instead, I took enough ibuprofen to wear a hole in my gastric lining, I used enough ice to make a gin & tonic (I don't like ice so I didn't really do that much), I tried a brace, and I mostly just hoped that through sheer force of will it would get better. It didn't.

One of my colleagues had tried prolotherapy and she had great success. It was five shots, one per week. I just finished the course of shots (which hurt like the cumulative pain of all women who have ever given birth since the dawn of man multiplied by the cumulative pain of every kidney stone ever).  Supposedly I now just have to give it some time. We shall see. My only other options from here will be essential oils or amputation.

In the meantime, I need to stay active. I need to ride, and I need to get ready for spring. Running has been tough because of the inconsistent weather. I pretty much exclusively run off-road with the limited exception of going to/from the trails. The trails have gone from snowy to icy to muddy to icy to snowy to muddy and back and it makes being dragged by two dogs less than fun.

So, I've been riding in London. Or Innsbruck. Or Richmond (?). Or Watopia. I'm on the rollers and hitting Zwift. I'm not nearly as much of a Zwiftophile as my buddies Glen or Jeff, but Jean is doing a gravel grinder training plan, and we're a competitive house so here we are.

Getting back to my elbow (which really really hurts), I couldn't hold on to my handlebars in the normal position so I had to bring the bars up. And then up. And then up some more, and I'm currently rocking the most hoopty handlebar set up ever.

worst case of medial epicondylitis that has ever been endured by a human

worst case of medial epicondylitis that has ever been endured by a human
Enter the Delta Cycle Bicycle Stem Raiser Riser Pro Extender. With that much space, I figured I'd go with a double handlebar set up. It took a bit to get used to, especially on the rollers, but now I'm all beach-cruiser, kicking back with cocktail. This set up is DEFINITELY one that would have prompted no end of ridicule, but it's literally the only thing that's allowed me to keep riding.

I'm optimistic that over the next month, I'll keep the legs moving and the elbow will start to improve. What's really weird is that in addition to Jean having the same affliction, Ruby was limping and when I took her to the veterinarian, she diagnosed HER with elbow tendonitis too. Hmmmmm...

Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering if there's a GoFundMe account or something set up, and the answer is no. I'm not currently accepting donations of either cash or elbows. Thoughts and prayers should suffice for now. And if you see me on one of these, you'll know that I've given up all hope...

worst case of medial epicondylitis that has ever been endured by a human

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