Queering the Triathlete (and Other Discomforts)

A Melancholy Zebra determined to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Vertebral Subluxation Just for Fun

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*adopts Henry Higgins voice* Damn damn damn damn damn damn damn.

Somehow–and lord only knows how exactly–I subluxated a couple of my cervical vertebrae and, in doing so, pinched a nerve. Or possibly two, as both of my arms over the course of an hour went from: “Huh, I think my fingers fell asleep. Lazy fingers” to: “OH MY GOD I can’t move my arms!!” For example, it quite literally took me five minutes to get my key in the door lock because I couldn’t control my arms enough to lift the key and hold it still. Terrifying.

What my neck probably looked like, possibly without the pissed-off-looking disc.

Yowch! You’d think my body would have let me know…

Luckily, my chiro/PT-friend met me at her office within a couple hours of this happening, relocated everything from my neck to my wrists and with the intent to haul my butt to the hospital depending on how things went. Thankfully I didn’t lose the ability to feel pressure in any location, and I had no pain and full neck mobility. I regained nearly all of my arm mobility and muscle strength within the hour, so I got to skip most of the annoying ER protocol and having to teach a doctor what EDS even is… (C5 and C7 were disgustingly out of place, though everything was shifted a bit wrong in the arms.) Started popping the NSAIDs on the proper schedule and have been dutifully lying down or walking carefully just to be safe.

Thank goodness for her and for my doctor-aunt, who helped advise and assess as best she could. Unless something weird happens, I’m basically out of the woods. I don’t even know which woods these are: Fuckedoverdom Forest? The Woods of Weeping? That expression has become such a cliche that I can’t even say for certain where it came from.

Correlations between the cervical vertebrae and the nerves they screw with. Chiro/PT friend was spot on.

This morning I still have total mobility but a slight residual tingling in my fingers and even slighter in my arms. It feels weird as hell and is driving me mad.

And this is the first time I’ve had two days off exercise/activity in nearly two years.


When I tore my labrum, I could at least swim. When my knee is being a dick or my shin is acting up, I can at least get on an elliptical or swim. But not now– it’s much safer to take this first day keeping pressure off the neck so the nerves have the space to stop freaking out. Since we caught it so early, luckily it should only take another day or so to heal and for the tingling sensation to cut it out.

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to air some worries and whining into the Internet void to spare some people the trouble of listening.

  1. I hate that I’m taking two days off training. I have my next half in a little over a month, and I really really want to improve on Honu’s performance. There were mitigating factors at Honu (like tire shenanigans and grass), but I don’t want to use those to wave off the fact that I know I can do better, that I want to better, and that damn it I WILL do better. But two days off just feels crippling. It isn’t, and I know that, but damned if I didn’t wish I could be out doing something, anything, other than lying in bed being bored as hell and worried that I’m getting slower by the second.
  2. How on earth does anyone subluxate their own freaking neck and A. Not notice, and B. Not feel any pain. You’d think my body would at some point have said, “Hey! That hurts!” Or “Don’t do that! I’m warning you!” Nope. The present theory is that I turned my neck too hard or in a bizarre direction without realizing it wasn’t right. Now I’m wondering what the hell else might go wrong in the future that I won’t know about until later because my damn brain won’t send the freaking pain signals?!
  3. Is this type of shit going to continue to happen, and will it happen more frequently as I get older? Is it going to cost me the ability to get fast enough to qualify for Kona? Or worse, to give the Enduroman Arch to Arc a go? Is this strange body of mine going to cost me my dreams? I like to think not. I like to think I’m stronger and more stubborn than my body, but doubt creeps in every time there is a hijink.
  4. And even lying in bed/moving around carefully is freakish. I know I have a connective tissue disorder, albeit mild enough. I know that being strong is what is keeping things from getting worse. … Is this what it would be like if I weren’t strong and if I don’t stay strong? Is this a potential future? If so, I don’t like it at all. Giving up triathlons, spinning, swimming, hiking… these are not options. I’d rather finish DFL at every iron distance race and take an entire day to do a hike than never start at all. Screw that.

I shall be positive. Just watch: “The sun will come out tomorrow? Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun./ When you’re stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely, I just stick up my chin and grin and sayyyyyyyyyy…”


P.S. Yes, it’s only been 24 hours almost exactly taking it easy and being extra-careful with how I move to make sure I’m ready to go in the next day or two, and I’M SO BORED. For once I long to sit on the bike trainer and have a go. Getting a little slap”happy” over here 🙂

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