Why I am Grateful for the Bull*%!& of a Pinched Sciatic Nerve

Yes, you read that right.  Grateful – really and truly, no kidding around here.  As much as having a pinched sciatic nerve sucked, I am also thankful that it happened.  Here’s why:

1. It got me a month away from work.  That part was lovely and terrifying all at the same time, but nobody died and life went on without me.  Sure, a few of my grade 12 students were stressed out that they wouldn’t be ready to write their English Language Arts Diploma Exam, but I’m pretty confident that they will indeed be ready in a few days when they have to write.  Most of my students still learned some stuff, and I realized that I need to stop taking myself and my career so seriously.  It is perfectly all right to focus more on me than on creating a perfect lesson (which often ends up moving in a different direction than I had planned, anyway!).  That month gave me time away from the stress of lesson planning, marking, and disciplining, and it allowed me some time to move closer to being healed.

2. It gave me time for pleasure reading.  I am a high school English Language Arts teacher, so you would think I would get to read a lot.  I suppose that I do read a lot, but I wouldn’t exactly call reading high school essays “pleasure reading.”  Occasionally student papers are quite good, and more often, the really bad ones are quite laughably entertaining.  I do read for pleasure, though I don’t get to do this as often as I would like, and regularly when I DO engage in pleasure reading it takes me so long to finish a book that I forget parts of the story.  I even joined a book club* in an effort to make myself read something other than student work and academic/professional development pieces; quite often I enjoy the books that are picked, though sometimes I REALLY don’t like them at all.  While I was away from work with my pinched sciatic nerve, I was able to read four whole books* that I picked out all by myself for no reason other than wanting to read them, and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one!

3. It made me realize how much I love running.  I REALLY enjoy running; not being able to do it made me sad.  I don’t think I actually realized how important running had become for me until I wasn’t able to do it – now that I know, I can prevent myself from taking the ability to run for granted ever again.

4. It brought me back to yoga.  I previously posted about the universe bringing us things – sometimes it presents an idea to us so many times that we just can’t (or at least shouldn’t!) ignore it, and other times the universe allows forces pushes us to learn, grow, see, etc. simply because the time is right.  I think that my return to yoga is a combination of these two things:  I hadn’t practiced any yoga at all for almost six years, but the opportunity to practice and/or learn more about it had been “popping up” all over the place pretty regularly for quite a while.  I think the universe was trying to tell me that I should do yoga again, but I basically ignored all of those messages.  When I had to stop running and weight training, though, I needed something active to do, and almost all of the health care and fitness professionals I encountered suggested yoga.  I hadn’t been listening to the universe, so it stopped making suggestions…and basically forced me to practice again.  Okay, the universe did not hold a gun to my head, but it did push me in the right direction!

If it wasn’t for the pinched sciatic nerve, it would have taken me much longer to renew my appreciation for yoga.  I remembered how much I enjoy practicing – for both my body and my mind – and now I am in the process of becoming a certified instructor (another one of those universe brought me here things – it just fell into place so perfectly)!

Thank you pinched sciatic nerve – I appreciate you!

* The best part of my book club is NOT the books – it is the great conversation with a group of fabulous, intelligent and funny ladies…and the wine.  The wine is pretty good too.

* The books I read are The Road(Cormac McCarthy), The Birth House(Ami McKay), Galore (Micheal Crummey), and Water for Elephants (by Sara Gruen).  This last one was actually for my book club, but I suggested it, and would have read it even if the book club hadn’t chosen it, so I’m including it here.

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I run like the wind!

Okay, more like “I run like the wind is blowing against me at high speeds,” but the point is that I run!  Today was my first day back running after a VERY long hiatus, and I’m not entirely sure yet if it was awesome or awful; I will make that call tomorrow.

If you know me outside of my brand new blog, you will know that I have been suffering from a pinched sciatic nerve and some pretty intense leg and hip pain since mid October, and some gross back pain since mid July.  It sucked.  I took a break from weight training at the end of July, and was forced to stop running in October.  The numbness in my leg and the fact that my right side would literally give out while I was moving made running tough, to say the least, so I had to give it up for a while.  Bummer – especially when you factor in the extra 15lbs that just magically appeared on my ass.  Anyway, I focused on getting chiropractic treatments (from a massage-manipulation chiropractor with magic hands), going for regular massages, and practicing yoga whenever possible, and low-and-behold, I am now on the mend!  I am not yet feeling 100%, and I still have a LOT of tightness in my right calf, but comparatively speaking, I am feeling pretty good!

Let’s talk about my run tonight, though.  I’ve been walking at a decently brisk pace for a little over a month, so my magic-hands chiropractor and I decided that I was ready to try running again.  I was pretty nervous given the fact that the last time I ran, my leg buckled underneath me and I wiped out in a crumpled heap on top of one of my dogs with the other one licking my face.  I love my “kids,” but I don’t do face licking, and Jax knows it, so I guess he must’ve been pretty concerned about me.  Naava is a trooper and she still loves me even though I squashed her.  Anyway…I was nervous, but I tied up my shoes, put on my running leash, grabbed the dogs, and headed out the door.  It was…fine.  I was slow – I haven’t done any cardio for quite a while now (I guess I did swim laps 4 or 5 times, but the pool in my town is closed for upkeep, so I haven’t even done that for about a month!).  My breathing was a lot more laboured than I would like, my legs felt a bit like I was running through jell-o, and my right leg got REALLY heavy after about five minutes, but I ran for a full eleven minutes before I had to walk.  Three months ago, eleven minutes would’ve been just getting me warmed up, but I don’t care.  I’m proud of those eleven minutes, and I plan to turn them into twelve – or maybe even thirteen – for next time!

I followed up my run/walk with a nice yoga stretch in my living room, and then had a lovely tea and visit with my husband, who has since gone to bed while I click away at the keyboard.  All in all it was a pretty wonderful evening, and I’m really glad that I can call myself a runner again, even if I’m not exactly running like the wind.