In the middle of all this, my IT band started hurting. I didn’t know what it was specifically at the time since it just felt like pain in my hip and in my knee and since I was marathon training some day to day pain was…normal. My runs started getting harder each day and after only a few days I headed to Austin Sports Medicine. That was the quickest I’ve ever been to a doctor for an injury.
I’ve had a few sports injuries over the years and now I had a brain tumor. Without exception, they had all been on the left side of my body. Left temporal lobe tumor, left groin, left shoulder, and now I had a pulled/stretched left IT band. I couldn’t help but think of the Latin word sinestros from where we get our word sinister, which comes from the Latin word for left. I was really loving the right side of my body right around then. I went to see my doctor and when he came in and asked what was going on I said “Since we last saw each other, I’ve gotten brain cancer, had to give up two sports, my job has reassigned me to a crappy position… I’ve got something going here which is causing me a lot of pain… you’re going to have to make one hell of an argument to get me to stop running.” With a lot of sympathy he offered a cortisone shot. My response was automatic but I was pleased with my immediate response: “Is that cheating?” I wanted to keep marathon training, to have something to look forward to but I wanted to be honest. I turned down the cortisone shot and asked if I could do physical therapy first and we could revisit it after a couple of weeks.
Work kept draining me from day to day and the stress of that finally started keeping me awake at night. I could sleep fine with brain cancer but committing 40 hours a week that took more out of me. My wife and I started arguing more because I was being a pain and I started withdrawing more. She poignantly stated that if she had to lose her husband early she wanted it to be to cancer not to discouragement about my job. She stated for me to be smart and to be cautious but if I needed to quit my job even if that reduced my income and got rid of my health insurance, she would understand. She even hinted that she would embrace it because she knew her husband needed a job that mattered to him.
My IT band, my job, my finances were stretching my marriage, my emotions. It was time to regroup, to refocus but there was no clear path.