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my injury and life from 1992-2010

PART 1…Amy Eicher, My SIJD Story:

Oct 1992 point of injury – My freshman year in College, I was 18 years old. I had been swimming at a division 1 college since Aug of that year and my body was being beaten to a pulp – tons and tons of yardage, weights, running, and very little sleep – we were being over trained and I knew it – I went to the coach and told him I wasn’t recovering well enough and was starting to get back pains. He told me suck it up, I was being paid to swim…. so I did what I was told, I mean really whose going to argue with their coach and meal ticket?. After 3 swim meets in 3 days my lower back was killing me. When we got off the bus that Sunday night I crawled into bed and didn’t want to get out, ever again. We hit practice Monday afternoon, started doing sprints and I hit a turn (twisted midsection feet firmly planted on the wall with opposing forces) and SNAP I never came out of the turn. I had to be pulled out of the water. My lower half felt like it was on fire and someone had pulled my hamstrings out through my nose. The blinding pain – I can still remember wanting to die on that pool deck.
Enter trainer tries to stretch hamstrings, I want to kill him – beg him to stop – just want to lay on my side in the fetal position and have someone shoot me. Ice lots of ice… then it gets fuzzy….
I went to see an orthopedic sports Dr – he things I have a bone fracture in the spine or arthritis ( in an 18 yr old D1 swimmer? really?)
x- ray – clean
bone scan – clean
mri -clean
Dr says, wellllll it must be in your head, sorry nothing I can do for you, nothings wrong with you.

My reality – I can’t walk , sit , stand or lay down – I realize doctor has no idea what’s wrong with me. I have no idea where to turn or what to do I am alone and VERY, VERY, VERY scared! – swim practice is out of the question, I have to lay on the floor of my classes to even make it through them. Athletic Trainer continues with e-stim and lends me TENS unit – I could kiss the man – as well as massage – continually remarks that he can’t get the spasms to stop….

My HS athletic director gives me name of PT 2.5 hours away from me at school and says – she will take you (this is 4 months post injury.) Ann sees me once and says you have over stretched the ligaments that hold your SI joint in place – this is NOT going to be a quick fix… she did counterstrain techniques with me and worked on core stabilization, and taught me to self correct for my posterior rotation.) – after 9 months I was able to walk and sit without pain. She warmed me to NEVER stop doing my core exercises, I took her seriously. She told me pregnancy might be complicated, I was 18-19, I didn’t understand what she meant – I do now! She advised me to think about adoption and not having children naturally. (She might have told me about more ligament issues, but I don’t remember what she said exactly, but NOW I am SURE she was right
In that first year somewhere was my GP Dr that gave me cortisone shots in my lumbar spine in his office- no x-rays no nothing – yeah that didn’t help.

My menstrual cycle would come and with it INSANE pain, – it would go and I was ok-ish again in a few days. It was like this from 1992 on – they even had me on birth control from 1993-1994 to stop my cycle and help me heal, it wasn’t a bad idea ( I don’t think).

From 1994-2000 the SIJ would act up once a month around my period and once in awhile if I turned funny or getting up out of the car and I would be out for 3-4 days about 4 times a year- I knew the pain, I knew what it was – I would find a Dr ask for a weeks worth of pain meds and muscle relaxants, do some of the exercises I had been taught, self correct, and move on. I noticed that during that time things like youth groups ski trips, and the real high adventure stuff we did with our high school kids was getting harder and harder to recover from and that good old burning feeling in the bum just didn’t leave as fast…. Went to the Dr in like 1999 to check everything out, really felt like I needed a PT again…
more mri – nothing, x-ray – nothing..
I’d say,” right yeah it’s this SIJD thing”… blank stare from DR….
then I’d say,” – yeah can I get a referral to a PT” –
Dr- sure…
went to PT – CLUELESS – did like 3 weeks with her and nothing helpful ( realized all PT’s are NOT made equal.)
Gave up and went back to doing stuff I had learned from first PT – it helped, but not as well and took longer to try to calm things down.

2000-2001 pregnant with my son(Connor)
All I can say is round ligament pain and SIJ pain after week 20 until the end…back labor- ouch! Begged OB for a PT referral, told her about my back story – went to PT got my own tens unit – “that’s about all we can do for you” continued with exercises from PT in 1992 – turned to the internet – surgery still hadn’t caught up with what I knew – not a bone issue – soft tissue issue – couldn’t find anyone online at that point that appeared to have knowledge of the issue – put the idea of surgery aside again and hoped the SI would heal after the baby. post baby pain settled a bit, but life was just more taxing – did LOTS of gentle yoga and pilates – it helped.

2002 – Refereed pain into hip and hamstrings plus SIJ pain – another trip to the dr – more xrays… can you guess… still fine – turned down MRI – dr says he knows what it is – BURSITIS! Go see PT – another bummer of a PT – more pills- a few weeks of exercises and I was let go – I resume core stabilizing exercises, but the self correction that I was taught is no longer enough to hold…. uh oh….

2002-2003 pregnant with my daughter ( Erin)
Whole pregnancy was hard, hard to stand, sit, get stuff done – that same familiar burn, knife, totally taxed feeling was back and constant.) No dr’s, got out the tens unit and did what had worked – had decided Dr’s were worthless and knew nothing and finding a PT that knew anything about SIJ was near impossible, so I pulled out all the stops and did what I could. Looked for PT’s that new about SIJ were I was – couldn’t find any – searched again on internet – still fusion without adjusting the pelvis… I just couldn’t’ find enough information on the problem with someone who understood how to FIX it. (Still knew this is NOT curative and pointless with out adjustment.) refused drugs without a solution to FIX the issue.

life just got a little slower and the pain was like a 3-4 all the time a 8-9 around my cycle…. no more biking, no more skiing, sex was becoming harder and harder – it would hurt for so many days once we had it…. but we had 2 small children so – well it wasn’t all that often that we had sex, so who sees that as an issue if you don’t really know for sure – right?!

In 2005 we moved again – packing I twisted and bent – you can figure out what happened – had a friend that was an osteopath, his wife told him I needed a hand, told him my story and he used the twist and pop method – instant pain relief – but I think it contributed to the continued deterioration. Also did some massage and gave me core stabilizer exercises – did as I was told – treatment was free and working – but then we moved…. 2005 – in new town(the one where I originally got hurt) my WHOLE body was out of wack – hormone issues – pain in my neck-left shoulder… mess of Dr’s to get diagnosis- felt like I was fighting SI battle on a different front- I was finally self diagnosed low thyroid and low progesterone – got on bioidentical hormones felt GREAT minus the pain in my neck- 2 herniated disks ( I have been leaning forward so long to get the weight off the SIJ that I had herniated the disks in my neck – AWESOME. Sent to PT – 6 weeks later no more neck pain, standing up straight – but MAN the pain in my rump is JUST like it was in college now that we corrected my posture……
PT looks at me and does stork and a few other SI tests – already knew I was a swimmer in college – looks at me and says – did you ever hear a POP while you were swimming? Any low back pain you couldn’t figure out…. I think you have an SI joint dysfunction, your pelvis is all out of whack – I seriously could have kissed the man – I knew I found a winner! 18 months we worked together – he took classes in SIJ for me to get more info, but we couldn’t get me stable for any length of time – he and insurance had to release me – we have stayed friends and he even came over and showed my husband adjustments he could do for me, and has come over to adjust me out of the kindness of his heart – but he said ok time to look into prolo and surgery – I passed on prolo for now because I figured if I couldn’t stay corrected and if prolo does what it says it will then that would be just as bad as a bad fixation – ligaments tighten down on a misaligned pelvis – awesome….

so surgery –  seems the only way to go. I am 36 5’10 and 163 lbs – never smoked a day in my life and got off the NSAIDS. I live at an oh don’t know 8 – it’s hurt for so long I hardly know how to categorize it – I know I am usually in bed by 3:00 because sitting and standing hurts too much to stay focused on being a mom or cooking dinner… we have adapted life – I can’t sit through movies, or drive for too long, my husband does the grocery shopping and I do a load of laundry a day not all in one day, the kids load the dishwasher because I can’t – you get it, I know you do. It is impossible to live in my life anymore. If things keep going this way I am going to need a wheelchair soon and I can’ t be like this anymore… I can’t be this dysfunctional any more.

It’s time to fix it, but I am realistic in understanding that the surgery is not the perfect fix…. it’s help, and the best solution available, but the real “cure” is a ligament replacement – which no one is doing….

So I am left hoping that I can try a fixation followed by therapy………. because that would stabilize the pelvis and allow me to regain normal function. I realize fusion at this age might lead to more degenerative conditions in the S1 L5 area as I age…. I would like to avoid that… but things certainly aren’t working right the way they are now, so it’s time to do something  so I am taking the leap and hoping it works!

Nov 2010~Amy Eicher

5 Responses to my injury and life from 1992-2010

  1. TwoDimes

    I hardly know what to say, Amy! All stemmed from swimming and at age 18? Godawful. I am so glad that you have your life back, now. I surely could relate as I believe I kept injuring my SJ’s from sports-related and extreme/high adventure activities (diving, rock climbing, improperly portaging canoes in the “Boundary Waters”, roller blading, ice skating, jump roping, backpacking with 80 lb. packs, x-c skiing, downhill skiing, ropes courses, and overstretching when doing floor exercises. I believe the initial injury was when I was thrown off a horse at about age 19. Thanks for this post on your blog. – Judy Schrag –

    • Amy

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m surprised at the number of highly athletic women that seem to suffer with this kind of pain. Blessings to you on your journey!

  2. DeeDee Kirby Hankins

    Your story reminds me of my own. I have been suffering since I was 11 years old and am now 55. I can only imagine what a normal life would have been like.

    I had the SI Fusion surgery 5 1/2 weeks ago. I am in less pain that I was in before surgery. I am having terrible muscle cramps/spasms and sciatic pain. I was also told prior to surgery I had Piriformis Syndrome.


  3. Susan

    You are an inspiration Amy. I hope you know how many people you have helped with your story. Thank you.

    • Amy

      Thank you. If I am dead honest… no, I don’t. I really honestly don’t. Everytime someone sends me a message saying that I said something that helped them simply humbles me to my very core. It has made me realize there is a lot to be said for simply sharing thoughts, fears, and joys in this life.
      I am so glad my sharing has helped you and thank you so very much for taking the time to tell me.
      I was humbled beyond reason at the amount of people that have visited here in just the last 48 hours. I hope that more will “talk” and share here in the comments… I hate talking into the “air”.

      Susan, I very much hope you have reason to hope today… I’d love to hear your story if you care to share.

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