Friday, 24 July 2009

A busy week in the woods

Duncan and I have had a very busy week that has included hiking, camping, MRIs, sticking needles into my legs, cycling, running, seeing doctors and generally having a good old time.

The main purpose of the visit was to see a wonderful sports doctor up north in the city of Ioanning, who could help me with my back and other pain issues. However, as the area is one of the most beautiful in Greece, with forests and rivers, lakes and mountains it was only fair that we included some exploration and activities in nature. It was also a good idea as between tests and doctors' visits there was a lot of time to kill.

Now for the science part: The good news is that my two herniated discs seem to have gone into the subacute phase. That is wonerful and I was very relieved to discover that. The problem is that despite that I still have crippling sciatica. However, my nerves don't seem to have any permanent damage, despite the pain and weakness of reflexes. So... it seems that now the problem lies deep within my glutes, in a small muscle called piriformis. Those of you familiar with triathlon, running or cycling know exactly what I mean... I have chronic piriformis syndrome, whereby my muscle is choking the sciatic nerve (which at that point is as thick at an index finger would you believe it). Treatment is going to be multifactorial but I am hopeful and ready to start!

Aside from that the week was wonderful - we went climbing up mountains, camped by rivers, walked across mountain plateaus (chased by what seemed to be a million flies), saw bear tracks, met some wonderful people, slept in mountain refuges and generally had a wonderful time. Duncan and I have not had a honeymoon yet but this holiday felt like one (though probably not most people's idea of one).

Back in Athens things are a bit tougher with my dad's health taking a turn for the worse. Don't want to write much now until we know more, but worry is eating me up inside. Knowledge is power, I feel, and at the moment we are in the dark.

If anyone reading this has any suggestions for treating chronic piriformis syndrome please let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


I am heading up North tomorrow, to go see the doctor who first diagnosed me. I have a million questions and a lot of observations to discuss with him. I am full of hope, though I am uncertain what exactly I am hoping for. Of course to get better, but I am not sure how...

I know there are many ways to treat herniated discs, and people have been asking me a lot why I am not having surgery. The point is that although short term, surgery would probably help, in the long term - that is in 5+ years- the prognosis is not good. I will only be 34 by then and I am expecting to be leading as active a lifestyle as I can, not having spinal fusion... So trying to keep of the surgery for as long as I can.

The day to day change is imperceptible, but it's true that I have got better and the pain is never bad enough to keep me up at night any more- that seems to be one way of measuring it.

So... let's see what the next few days bring... Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Today is the day I should have been out there, in Frankfurt, swimming, cycling and riding. A weight hangs on me today. I try and keep perspective, I try very hard to be happy for those who today manage to realise their dreams. But all I have is sadness, for the death of my dream.

Where is the magnanimity I normally possess, the life perspective I always keep? Where is the gratitude for all I have? Where is my strength to fight and go on and the belief that one day maybe I too will be able to race my race?

There is no fight. No noble feelings. No sympathy or gratitude. I wish with all my heart I could let go of the dream and live a life full of other dreams. I wish I could be happy for all my friends who are racing today. And yet I can't.

And it's not about today. It's about the fact that the longer I am away from it, the least likely it seems that I will ever be able to race again. A Marathon? I have enough pain after running 400 meters at the moment. A good day on the track is one when I can run 5 laps (2km) and still sleep at night.

Do I dare keep dreaming? Do I look forward to the day when I can again? Or do I strive to let go?