I can't recall exactly when I first noticed it, but somewhere in the late August/early September timeframe I began to notice a pain in my left hip. I felt it when I ran or exercised but also sometimes when I didn't. It didn't get worse but didn't get better, even with a little rest.
Now, as a veteran runner I know a fair bit about some common running injuries. And once I isolated where the pain was I did a little more reading and found an injury whose description seemed to match my symptoms: hip bursitis. I did a lot of stretching with the foam roller, but since bursitis was a condition one could safely run through, I did. And the hip didn't get worse but still wasn't improving.
And so it was that last week I finally paid a visit to my sports doc and, an x-ray and an MRI later, learned that my self-diagnosing skills weren't as good as I thought.
Turns out it wasn't bursitis after all. It was a stress fracture. The kind of injury you shouldn't run through. The kind that gets worse with repeated wear.
I'd had a stress fracture before, years ago, so I assumed if I ever got one again I'd know it right away. Wrong. This one, fortunately, is milder, so feels different. Even the doctor didn't think it was a stress fracture until he saw the MRI. But with a professional, thorough information-gathering process, the answer came to light.
The takeaway? I was over-confident about my ability to correctly identify my problem and treat it myself. By the time I finally went to the doctor I had no doubt made it worse, to say nothing of the fact that had I gone to the doctor when I first felt pain, I'd probably be healed by now. Instead, I'll have to miss one half marathon next weekend and instead of gunning for a PR at my December half, I'm just hoping I'm healed enough to run it at all.
Now, disappointing as it is to miss a race or two, ultimately it'll all work out. I'll heal up soon enough and get back to pounding the pavement. It'll cost me some time and frustration but I'll come out the other side healthy.
But every day we attempt to be our own doctor, lawyer, financial planner, plumber, etc. Sometimes it works out, or the stakes are so low we can live with the downside risk. But this incident was a humbling reminder that I'm not a sports doc and when I try to be one, it may not end well.
I'm a well-educated professional and experienced runner and I researched the issue a lot. I didn't fail for lack of effort or intelligence. But even with all the information in front of me, I simply didn't have enough experience and training to correctly diagnose and treat my own injury. My doctor, on the other hand, spent years studying this, and has probably seen more stress fractures in the last week than I have in my whole life.
As the popularity of DIY estate planning sites shows, many people believe that they know enough to be their own estate planning attorney. DIY family law and probate forms are also growing in popularity too. No doubt, the people who use them are intelligent people who take the matter seriously.
But would you want to be an attorney's very first estate plan/probate matter/divorce case? Sure, maybe so, if you knew that they had the guidance of a more experienced attorney backing them up. But would you want to entrust that brand new "baby lawyer" with a matter of such importance, with no back-up? If the answer is "no," then why do you trust a non-attorney with it, even if that non-attorney is you?
Some of the time, DIY legal docs will work. After all, sometimes we guess right and diagnose our injuries correctly. Or we don't, but still manage to choose an appropriate treatment. So some of the folks who use these docs will end up getting the result they want, or close to it. Maybe they do it all right, or the mistakes they make don't end up hurting them.
But some of them will be like me: they'll try to do it themselves, then finally they'll go see a professional, and they'll find that in trying to do it themselves, they just made it worse. Sure there're a lot of information online about estate planning and the probate process (like this website ;)), and you can learn a lot, and be a well-informed client (my favorite kind!). But as my ruined running season reminds me, you can be smart and well-educated and have all the information in the world at your disposal and not know how to apply it properly.
When we try to do things outside our realm of competence, often we end up doing things, without competence.