Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ability to laugh at myself

I went to bed waaay too late last night.  I think I finally went to sleep around 3 a.m.  I've been on vacation this week so I can do that, but it throws my entire day off.  I ate breakfast at 10:30 and wanted to get a workout in at the gym and run some errands before I had to go to my class.  I've been in so much pain lately with leg issues that I know I needed the workout today.  I kept telling myself that I need to take it easier if I'm feeling pain while I'm working out and that I can pull back at any point.  Normally what I do is stretching at home since I wince through the whole thing that I'd rather not have people staring at me while I do it.  I can't quite describe the pain I'm living with adequately enough, but just trust me when I say it is debilitating.  Yet, I know that this is what I'm dealing with so I'm trying to do the absolute best I can.  So, after I get to the gym, I usually do a 5K on the treadmill and then about 20 minutes on the recumbent bike.  Then I'll do stretching exercises again at home.  I do my strength training at home as well.  I have a ton of resistance bands, one of those balls you sit on, and weights for arms and legs.  I clip out strength training routines from fitness magazines I get and use those to help me follow proper form and technique.  For right now, this is the path that feels the most comfortable for me.  When I don't go to the gym, I do walking outdoors.

So, I hopped on one of the treadmills and started out in warm-up mode.  My legs were hurting, but I just kept telling myself that it will feel better once I get going.  I have put music in my iPhone that really gets me moving, so that helps me with pace.  I can't run because of the osteoarthritis in my knees, so I walk anywhere between 3.0-3.7 mph on a random hill course.  I make it sort of like circuit training where I'll go slower then kick it up for a song, then back down, then back up.  That really gets my heart pumping and leaving me sweaty.  However, today, my legs were in so much freakin pain that I felt like every step was like torture.  I did slow down a little bit, but I finally had to wave the white flag at 2.77 miles, short of the 3.2 miles I usually go.  But my poor legs felt like they were on fire and I was starting to lose my footing a little bit with my left leg that I just told myself, no, you have to stop right now and that is perfectly okay.  I skipped the bike and went straight out to my car.  I started it, sat in the driver's seat and just cried into my hands.  The pain was unbelievable and the only release I could have were those tears.  I know that continuing to lose weight is going to help with the severity of the pain, but I had it with me at my smallest weight.  So many people who see that I have lost weight assume I'm feeling so much better.  With my overall health, yes, things are so much better.  But when it comes to all of my pain issues, no, I'm in the most pain I've ever been in. 

Now, I'm not saying all of that with any regret.  It's just that, as I continue to move forward, I am dealing with the extreme challenge of significant pain.  I am doing my best to stay in as positive a place as I can be in.  If the doctors have said this is chronic pain that may or may not get better, then the best I can do is follow their directions about how best to manage the pain.  One of the big things is to get regular cardiovascular, low-impact aerobic exercise, which I'm getting through walking and the bike.  However, I think it's now time for me to pull back with the intensity.  When I plugged in my ActiveLink, it showed me actually running for 30 minutes.  Obviously I wasn't running, but at the higher pace coupled with the intensity, it looks like I was running.  I'm a very black or white person in a lot of ways, which is something I continue to work on, so my mindset has been that if I'm going to exercise, then I'm really going to exercise.  But, if I'm left sobbing into my hands because it hurts so much, I think it's time that I go slower and spend more time doing the stretching and strength training.

After all of that, I was in a pretty emotional place, so I told myself that I needed to go home, take a shower, have a healthy lunch and then get out of my house to go run my errands.  One of the things I needed to do was return some clothes I bought that are too big on me at both Walmart and Kohl's.  They are next to each other in a strip mall nearby, so I had to gather up the clothes and receipts.  No problem on the items for Walmart.  However, I had bought two pairs of jeans at Kohl's and could not find the receipt for the life of me.  I was hunting everywhere in my house.  I dumped out my purse, looked through my receipt drawer, went through stacks of paperwork on my desk ... nothing.  It was driving me absolutely batty.  That was $75 that I could get back.  I finally decided to just try my luck at Kohl's without the receipt.  I remembered that I had a bag on the floor of my bedroom that was big so I could stick the jeans in there to return.  I looked at the bag and saw that it was the one from Kohl's and then I thought to myself, Hold on, maybe the receipt is still in the bag!!  And wouldn't you know it, there it was just waiting for me.  Seriously, I probably spent a good hour searching my house for that receipt.  After the physical and emotional pain I was suffering with my legs, it was a source of intense comic relief that I absolutely needed in that moment.  It really helped me see that this is all going to be okay.  The weight loss, the pain in my body ... I am doing the best I can and God is seeing me through all of it.

Tomorrow morning I'm taking my mom to my auto mechanic to get her car fixed and I'll be paying her bill because it's just too big for her to handle right now.  But that's okay.  I have the money and I want her to be safe driving in the car.  She works a second shift so she doesn't get out of work until 11:30 p.m. so I don't want to be worrying about her getting stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night.  Our relationship has definitely evolved from those extremely rough years when I was growing up.  We had a period of 12 years where we didn't speak after that and so now we're in a much better space.  She has her issues and I have mine, but we respect each other as adults.  I won't be giving her the cash to fix the car, but I will be by her side to help her get it fixed.  Getting healthier is not just about taking care of my body but having healthier relationships, too.  My relationship with my mom today is the epitome of that.


Amy @ Delightfully Shrinking said...

Reading about your struggle with chronic pain really breaks my heart. I also struggle with a chronic condition that effects my everyday life. It's so incredibly hard to look "normal" or even healthier than you appeared before and be suffering from invisible pain. You can explain to your coworkers and friends-- people who really do care-- but because they can't see your pain, it's hard for them not to forget. I admire your optimism and I laughed about the Kohl's receipt. I've so been there! I'm so glad I found your blog, Kathy. Thanks for sharing this post.

Kathy said...

Amy, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I'm sorry you're going through pain of your own, but I'm grateful that you can relate to the struggles of having chronic pain. It is very difficult to explain to other people who don't suffer from it. That's part of the reason I talk about it so openly here. Some people will "get" it and some won't, but at least I'm saying what I need to without being in a negative space.

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