the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Fun with bones!

Egad. Wait, is that supposed to be plural? EGADS. Whatever. Maybe I should just end this sentence with ten exclamation points to express the same thing!!!!!!!!!!


Six days ago I got up really early to go for a five-mile run. My right hip was a little sore from the five miles I had run two days earlier, and then an hour later I tried to take my clothes off to hop in the shower and realized I couldn’t lift that leg. SERIOUSLY, RUNNING?! You are harshing my mellow. Do I have to remind you that I’m not 90 years old? AND EVEN IF I WAS this is how I’m going to do 90:

I had trouble walking for the rest of the day, and then the following morning when I showed up to the gym to work out with my trainer I had a hard time holding back the tears. So gross. You don’t cry in front of your trainer, dude. You know what you do in front of your trainer? You break rocks in half with your bare hands and bench press a piano. And then you take a giant swig of gasoline because you are that fucking tough.

She could see the pain and anger in my face, and after I explained what had happened we spent the next hour doing pilates to try and lengthen my sore muscles. I asked her if I should run ten miles the following morning since that’s what my schedule required, and she was like, oh my god, how have you made it this far in life being so stupid?

I’m usually sore after running, but that soreness goes away after about a day. So Saturday morning I expected to get up feeling much better only to collapse as I tried to get out of bed. Same thing Sunday morning. The pain started in my butt and exploded down my hip and into my thigh. Both days I stretched, rolled on a foam roller, iced, and popped enough ibuprofen to sedate an elephant.

There is no more ibuprofen left in the world. I took all of it.

Monday morning I showed up to spin class and my trainer took out a gun and hit me in the back of the head. Look, I can’t run, but spinning doesn’t irritate my hip! Fine. I’m addicted to endorphins. Withdrawal symptoms include CRYING IN FRONT OF YOUR TRAINER.

The entire spin class gave me all sorts of advice. Someone knows a guy who knows a guy, etc. And that’s when my trainer pulled me aside, took me by the shoulders and said, “You are going to see an orthopedic surgeon. Tomorrow morning, 9 AM, check in at the south entrance.”

Ladies? Guys? Are you looking for a hot piece of ass? Leave the bar and head immediately to an orthopedic clinic. That place was crawling with young, lithe athletes. Yes, they’re injured, but not forever! Just avoid the “come here often?” line because that would be insensitive.

After two sets of x-rays, one for my back and one for my hip, the doctor and his assistant confirmed that it wasn’t a disc issue (THANK GOD), but they couldn’t rule out a stress fracture. So I’d need to schedule an MRI. Ooh, fun! This NYC marathon is crossing off so many things on my bucket list! See: being trapped inside a giant, deafening machine emitting a nuclear magnetic field.

The clinic had an opening last night, and when I showed up and started to fill out the paperwork I paused when it asked if I ever suffer panic attacks. HAHA! Panic attacks. Me? Nahhhhh. Wait, those four days I spent in the psyche ward? That was ANXIETY. Don’t look at me, paperwork. You’re the one getting into semantics.

I hadn’t been apprehensive about the MRI, because come on. How bad could it be? I pushed a baby out of my vagina. Twice. TRUMP CARD. But once I was strapped to that board and wheeled inside that tube I started to FAH-REAK out. I have no idea why, maybe because it was just such an unnatural state for a human to be in. Well, a living human. Totally normal for a dead one.

Knowing that I wasn’t supposed to move I tried to shorten my breathing, but that just freaked me out more, and then in my head I was screaming LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT! However, I did not show any outward sign of distress, no. Because I was going to prove to the technician that I was the valedictorian of MRIs.

He was going to go home to his wife and say, “You would not believe the patient I saw today! She was the calmest person I have ever wheeled into that machine! It was like, having MRIs is her job!

I wouldn’t see my doctor until this morning, so I had an entire night to imagine all sorts of horrible things, the worst one being that I’d have to drop out of the marathon. I know, it’s not cancer or starvation or unemployment. There are far more horrible things in life. But the idea of having to sit out that race, especially with all the mileage I’ve put in already (73 miles in four weeks), especially since it’s with such a fantastic team for such a worthy cause… I felt like someone had punched me in the gut.

This morning I hobbled into the orthopedic clinic prepared for the worst. And when the doctor pulled up my MRI I totally expected to see a skull and crossbones etched into my hip. No, a laughing skull and crossbones. THE GLASS IS HALF EMPTY.

But there was no fracture. There was no break. Everything looked perfectly normal except for the inflamed muscle there around my right hip. Was there anything they could do for it? He was so glad I asked! Yes! I’d just need to drop my pants and stick my butt in his face so that he could inject it with a shot of cortisone!

You guys, I gave birth to my children in front of multiple people. Not a big deal. But sticking my bare butt in a stranger’s face? It’s just not the same without tequila.

I should be up for running in a couple of days. EGAD.


  • luv and kiwi

    2011/10/05 at 1:50 pm

    Be careful and good to your bawd lady!!! My bestie was training for the marathon and started suffering from a sore hip…It ended up jacking up her butt big time. She was in physical therapy for a year…she had torn something crazy in her butt muscle.

  • boilermomof4

    2011/10/05 at 1:50 pm

    Dearest Heather,

    I am recommending Glucosamine Chondroitin dietary supplement. I am a 40-something who teaches Zumba and without the Glucosamine I would not be able to teach my classes. My old lady mother told me about it, how it saved her aching knees, and after about a week of taking these horse pills, my hip ached no more. I take them every morning with breakfast and I love them.

    Lube up those hips, girl.



  • tokenblogger

    2011/10/05 at 1:52 pm

    So I did some research and came up with this:

    “Friday 02 March 2001
    Ran 4 miles tonight in preparation for the LA Marathon that I’m not going to run. Who in their right mind would run 26 miles? Do you know how far that is? That’s about 22 miles farther than I ever want to run in one helping. Runners are freaks.”

    Maybe your past was actually speaking to your future. Like now.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2011/10/05 at 1:52 pm

    My longest run is about 5 miles … and I, for some time, have been on the fence about upping that to some serious long-distance running … but I must say that this series of posts about your marathon training has really inspired me. To never, ever, ever run again, that is.

  • Billygean

    2011/10/05 at 1:53 pm

    Top left hand corner of MRI image. Look like a foetus to anyone else?

    *Has freaked self out with weirdo-ness*


  • sarahdoow

    2011/10/05 at 2:00 pm

    So glad you’ll still be up for running. I can’t have any MRIs on account of metal in my head. So I kinda want to leave my body to science so that when I’m gone they can put me in an MRI and see if my head would actually have exploded. That’s not weird, is it?

  • sweetpotatopie

    2011/10/05 at 2:01 pm

    Lucky you, back to the running! You really are going to do this! And it will be the most empowering experience of your life.

    I had an MRI last a few days ago and it was the most relaxing 30 minutes of my week; I begged to stay in there awhile longer. Moms take their peace and quiet wherever we can damn well get it.

    I have an appointment with an orthopod next week, named, I shit you not, Dr. Bone. How could I NOT go to that guy??

  • cory212

    2011/10/05 at 2:12 pm

    This is concrete proof that running is stupid. It causes injuries and pain. Is it really worth it? A friend of mine has been training for months and is up to 60 miles a week…a WEEK! You have too short a time to prepare and it’s not safe.

    Just sayin….

  • Juls

    2011/10/05 at 2:21 pm

    OMG! Too funny!
    Seriously, I hope you heal up quickly.

  • sarahfromthenorth

    2011/10/05 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve never seen an MRI of the hip before, what is that knob there? Is that the hip joint?

    I don’t know if you should be hurting after every run, that doesn’t seem right for an amateur runner like me. I run about twice a week, 3-4 km (hmm .. 2 miles ea time) and I don’t hurt .. ever .. and I’m 47 with not alot of prior running experience (took it up 2 yrs ago but don’t run consistently).

    Be careful .. it’s not worth injuring anything permanently.

  • Anu

    2011/10/05 at 2:40 pm

    So glad its not a stress fracture, those can be a bitch. My hubs had one of those and he still kept running. He was so not fun to be around. If he hadn’t already raised $3000 for my charity, I would have gladly broken his leg for him.

    Anyway, I digress. Point being, keep stretching and be sure to strengthen your hips with weight training on the side and hopefully, your second marathon will be a breeze 🙂

  • dad

    2011/10/05 at 2:44 pm

    If I turn the MRI picture sideways….wait…are those your mommy parts?

  • katdenk

    2011/10/05 at 3:04 pm

    Am I missing something? Where’s your butt? Isn’t this a sideways view of your hip? No butt…where’s the doctor for that?

    But I’m glad to read there’s no fracture.

  • psweet

    2011/10/05 at 3:04 pm

    So… 73 miles in 4 weeks – You’ve run 2.6 miles a day????? YowZah … really???

  • jilllovesbacon

    2011/10/05 at 3:04 pm

    Even before you said it I was thinking, “that’s because you’re the valedictorian of MRIs.” Thank goodness you’re NOT the valedictorian of stress fractures. Rest up, woman!

  • Anxious Annie

    2011/10/05 at 3:10 pm

    The pain you described sounds like SCIATICA. Had it once – not fun. You can support them in a HUGE way online without running. I say it’s not worth the wear and tear on your body. Next thing you know you’ll have a PROLAPSED UTERUS. Look that one up (if you dare). P.S. Your fans will not be disappointed or think any less of you if you don’t run.

  • Anxious Annie

    2011/10/05 at 3:13 pm

    cory212 said:
    This is concrete proof that running is stupid. It causes injuries and pain. Is it really worth it?

    I SO agree!!!

  • jacqueline

    2011/10/05 at 3:28 pm

    as i don’t know anything about running or medicine, my feedback is:

    i think it can be either egad or egads, because both are derivitive of the exclamation YE GODS!

    glad you’re still going to be able to run!

    **just had to edit this comment for a serious misspelling of the word medicine (madecine?!), so take my linguistic analyses cum grano salis.

  • snapshotmemoirs

    2011/10/05 at 3:37 pm

    Ok, love those surgeons…when you need surgery. Hate the pill-popping, shot giving mentality of medicine today. You should be careful about cortisone injections. People think it’s harmless, quick and easy, when in fact it’s very destructive to ALL tissues. Nonspecifically it will eat away at the integrity of bone, ligament, tendon, etc. The rule we use in the medical world is 2/joint/lifetime because any more than that and you end up needing to fix the damage caused by your that “fix”. A marathon is not worth it. Give your body ample warm-up, stretch, recovery time and forget the shots. Besides, you still must be gentle with yourself as it’s an enormous anti-inflammatory, but won’t necessarily heal your injury. So you could make it worse by overworking it while it feels better.

    Just my 2 cents. Good luck and hope you feel back to your old self here soon!

  • NicoleC

    2011/10/05 at 3:55 pm

    I feel you lady. I had the same kind of pain in my hip last year when I was running a whole bunch. My ass would go numb with tingling sometimes. I had to stop running and was so pissed that I found myself secretly hating random runners in our neighborhood. Swimming was my savior for a while. Glad to know you’ll be on your feet soon!

  • MaLo

    2011/10/05 at 4:36 pm

    Dude…sounds like sciatica. I have it. And running always worsens it…which is why I can only run 2, 3 miles (tops) at a time.

    You don’t want to mess around with this stuff. When I started to have the pains you describe (esp while running), I thought “oh, I’ll work through it.” After some time, I was seeing a chiropractor weekly and going through physical therapy.

    If you do continue to run, strengthen your core, big time. My PT said that was key. As well as stretching really well before and after. And ditto on the swimming. There’s more suggestions online.

    Stay healthy!

  • Crazy Card Lady

    2011/10/05 at 4:39 pm

    Why, why, why? I am a retired runner of 30+ years. Just had disc surgery in May. I was in so much pain I wanted to die. I have learned that it is not worth putting yourself through hell whether you are doing it to be in shape or a charitable cause. On top of what it takes away from your quality of life when you are injured. On top of not being able to take care of your family. Some humans are not meant to run. But if you must, I am sure your trainer has told you that you must be favoring one leg over the other. So when you spin you’ve got to use your weak leg and turn off your strong one.

  • writtendad

    2011/10/05 at 4:40 pm

    Oddly enough, an MRI was on my bucket list! (Small world!) After reading this, I’ve decided it would be okay to cross it off my list as well because, you know, you pretty much rocked it for two people to take credit.

    But holy shit! This marathon is important, yes, just don’t forget about you.

  • brandychome

    2011/10/05 at 6:20 pm

    As if running weren’t bad enough for you already there’s “runner’s face” to worry about.

  • Janice

    2011/10/05 at 6:28 pm

    So glad to hear you are okay. You run and be glorious and change the world. You seem to be doing a great job of taking care of you in the process. I applaud your tenacity.

  • mmh

    2011/10/05 at 6:52 pm

    marathon training will make you completely crazy. you’ll do anything to get to the start line and you’ll drag yourself across the finish if needed. Cortizone will make you feel so much better, at least temporarily. You can go back for another shot a few days before the big race .. just so you can survive (I did that so that I could run on a sprained ankle – yes, 26.2 miles on a sprained ankle. By mile 18 my foot was so swollen I had to untie my shoe and loosen the laces all of the way, but hey I finished!).

    Also, dude, just stop the excessive cross-training right now. Let it be about the marathon and do the other crap when the race is over. Run, eat, stretch, sleep.

  • curlsz

    2011/10/05 at 7:07 pm

    runners are like meth addicts – that’s all i got to say on that

    oh and my mom’s in sports medicine – in an area where football is king – they see more runners than football players

    like i said meth addicts!

  • Failjolesfail

    2011/10/05 at 7:15 pm

    *I* am the valedictorian of MRIs.

    Spent 4 hours in it last month, trying to figure out where between my brain and my pinkies my ulnar nerve is getting pinched.

    It’s too bad they didn’t tell you what I figured out on my own…they don’t care what you eat or drink before going in the tube. Glass of wine? No problem!

    I, in fact, fell asleep. They kept having to yell at me to wake up because I was twitching, or worse, because I WAS SWALLOWING. MRI of your neck? Means no swallowing for 5+ minutes in a row.

    We still don’t know where they are pinched, but we do know that it’s not MS, not a disc, and not extra ribs or weird muscles.

    And that with a glass of wine, I really can sleep anywhere.

  • OldDogNewTits

    2011/10/05 at 10:00 pm

    You did the right thing. Runners run. It’s hard to explain but I get it. As much as I hate it beforehand … every time, I might add … I’m always thrilled when I’m done. And, as far as your ass-to-face activities, we can all look forward to pap smears, mammograms and, God forbid, colonoscopies in our futures. I’m sure yours was FAR better than the worse he’s ever seen. 🙂

  • Smiddlemore

    2011/10/05 at 10:28 pm

    Please please please. Never “jump” into a shower very dangerous. *wink

  • jalla

    2011/10/05 at 11:48 pm

    I once got prescribed a cortisone injection in the doctor’s office, I always research things later, but that got injected then and there. I’ll say this, please research cortisone in case you get offered it at a later time. It is a scary drug when not administered locally (ie. on your skin or in inhalers).

  • Mommaschmoop

    2011/10/06 at 12:17 am

    HAHA! Oh, Heather…if only you knew HOW MANY bare butts I give injections to on a regular basis. If you’d have caused more ruckus while you were on the psych ward you would’ve been a seasoned pro when it came to getting gluteal IM’s!

  • Reluctant Launderer

    2011/10/06 at 8:18 am

    I had a leg MRI yday too. Scan pic nowhere near as exciting as yours (no foetus, no lady parts etc). Somewhat embarassingly, I asked them to turn off the loud thumpy house music, because I was hoping to nab a 15 min snooze. Assistant pointed out to me v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y that said thumpy music was in fact the machine and, thus, not turn-off-able.

  • filmlady

    2011/10/06 at 6:07 am

    OK I’ve seen a lot of MRIs in my day, but holy crap, what IS that??

  • TanyaK

    2011/10/06 at 7:52 am

    That’s your hip? Where’s your ass?!

  • TanyaK

    2011/10/06 at 7:53 am

    I only ask because that looks like it could be my arm.

  • tallnoe

    2011/10/06 at 11:22 am

    I love looking at MRI pictures. Yes, I’m weird. But all I’ve seen thus far is knees. So a hip is fascinating.

    So, thank you.

    Oh, and I’m SUPAH glad you’re going to go back to running. Because if it makes you happy (even if it is really strange), DO IT!

  • TurdFerguson

    2011/10/06 at 11:34 am

    My motto: The only reason to run is if you’re being chased. I used to imitate Sally O’Malley all the time, kicking my leg & doing lunges, “I’m fifty”! I didn’t find it as funny when I actually did turn 50, I haven’t done it since….

  • Steph Bachman

    2011/10/06 at 11:40 am

    1. Anxious Annie, many women eventually have some degree of uterine prolapse. Even nuns, who presumably do not have sex or give birth (or run). Not a doctor and did not stay at Holiday Inn, but did read my sister’s OB/GYN journals.

    2. I have sciatica too, and I find that it is caused (get this!) mostly by my chair at work. It makes sense, though, since I run for about an hour and I sit in the chair for eight to ten hours, that the chair might be the problem. Solution? Sitting on the exercise ball. Dorky-looking (no one has a hankering for an exercise ball) and potentially dangerous if you don’t pay attention, but way easier on the behind.

  • Steph Bachman

    2011/10/06 at 11:59 am

    So, thought more about your hip while sitting on my exercise ball (switched from the chair even though I’m wearing a skirt – HA!) and in the interest of full disclosure, your hip may (probably?) have nothing to do with your office chair.

    It’s just that I love the running and therefore I don’t want it to create an injury.

    And, if running is actually creating my problem (I actually think it is the spin bike, but whatever), the ball does make it feel better.

  • danise

    2011/10/06 at 1:02 pm

    Having run for 15+ years, all I can tell you is get thee to a chiropractor who is certified in Active Release Technique (unfortunately, it’s not as titillating as it sounds). It’s like a deep tissue massage that you wish on your worst enemy. It hurt like a mofo, but it’s the only thing that helps my soft tissue injuries, my muscles and tendons mock regular PT. Good luck! And remember to take Immodium the morning of the race!

  • rosepeck

    2011/10/06 at 6:19 pm

    I know it’s been said a few times already, but this sounds just like sciatic pain. I am pregnant for the second time and am dealing with it for the second time. The things that help are massage, chiropractic care, multiple times icing each day, and a belly support band. You could probably benefit from all of the above except the belly support 🙂

    Good luck in your marathon!!! I did a half last year and it was hard but feels so great when you’re done! Can’t imagine going twice as far but you can do it! Best wishes for a quick fix for the pain – hopefully a chiropractor can help you get back in alignment pretty quickly. It does seem to work miracles sometimes.

  • Sparklemommy

    2011/10/07 at 8:25 am

    I would highly recommend reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Not only will you feel like running is the best thing that could possibly happen to you in your life, but it will also make a marathon look like a walk in the park. There is also a lot of great information about why runners get hurt and how to avoid it. My favorite advice includes wearing old cheap shoes instead of brand new expensive ones. Also you will learn about the raramuri now you have to read it!

  • sugarleg

    2011/10/07 at 1:20 pm

    Heather, I know you’re overburdened with ADVICE, but f*ck it, I am going to give you some because it’s good and I am right.

    I am runner, am 40, and pretty much only focus on half marathons; I do 2-3 of them a year. (Real Marathons are too crazy for me.) Anyhoodle, please look up Active Release Technique. The website is activerelease *dot* com. Find someone in SLC (I already looked, there’s like 87 of them there b/c so many athletes) who does it and get your boney, sore ass in there. ART is bodywork for athletes that focuses on SOFT TISSUE injuries and injury prevention. The NFL is all about it and you know how beat up those guys get. Ironman triathletes use it to stay injury-free. IT WORKS.

    Do it. OH and REST FOR GOD SAKES. Rest more important for runners sometimes than running.


  • useharmony

    2011/10/07 at 9:50 pm

    Your my hero. I had to have an MRI when I was 22 weeks pregnant. I couldnt do it. COULD NOT GO IN THAT MACHINE. Talk about anxiety. I actually chose surgery over an MRI. Bat shit crazy – yep, thats me.(everything turned out fine (expect for my right ovary which is no longer in my body, but whatev.)

  • LisaAR

    2011/10/11 at 10:43 am

    I had an extremely difficult time in an “open” MRI…I could not do a closed one. No way. It makes my chest tight just reading about it.

    My niece just ran the Chicago Marathon this past Sunday. It was uber cool. It was her first, and she came in at 3:42–and was irritated that she had such a “slow” start. Ah, youth. Oh, yeah…did I mention she’s 23? Me? I’ll stick to 5ks…

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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