Thursday, January 12, 2012
I didn't realize there were so many of us. I thought I was the only one. Actually, that made it worse. Imagine that you're standing all alone on an island in the middle of nothing. It causes you to stay awake at night. A few weeks ago, however, a Spark friend who had been missing in action reached out to me in an effort to get back on track. It seems they were suffering from the same malady that I was. Call it being down and out, call it the blues, call it depression, call it whatever you want, I found out there are more of us who have it, then don't.
In May of 2011 on a warm, rainy day, Joan and I went to the grand opening of a new health food store. On our way to the car, I slipped on some wet pavement and fell. As I fell I twisted my lower back. We had to drive about 45 miles to get home and every mile was full of pain and agony. I just couldn't get comfortable. That night I tossed and turned as I tried to get to sleep. I had pulled muscles before. During the course of working out and running but I had never had a pain like this. I even tried sleeping in my recliner in our living room. So I did what you do when you pull a muscle. You rest, apply heat and stretch. In a few days the pain went away and other than being slightly tender, you wouldn't have known I was hurt. A few weeks later my hamstring muscles started to tighten up. It didn't matter if I exercised or didn't my legs started to feel real tight. I started walking like Frankenstein's monster. Everyone close to me kept telling me to "walk right." The problem was I couldn't. As a chiropractor explained to me a little later on my hamstring muscles were actually shortening up.
I went to the doctor. The doctor told me to stretch more and that would take care of the problem. She did order some back x-rays and told me when they returned that I was "getting old." Two weeks later I was back in her office. Now I was in pain. My calf muscles were cramping, my feet were cramping and it was really difficult to move around. She ordered an MRI. Three days later she suggested I see a neurosurgeon. Talk about being scared. I went from stretching to potentially having back surgery. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the neurosurgeon a week later. He poked and prodded at me told me to push my feet against his hands, reviewed my MRI looked up at me and said, "Why are you here?" He told me there was nothing wrong with me, that I was obese and that I needed to walk. Back to my family doctor I went.
While all this is going on my mobility is diminishing. It hurt to get out of the chair. I couldn't walk without fear of falling. I realize a lot of this was mental and that I really wasn't going to fall but it only made me tenser. I didn't want to go anywhere; I didn't want to do anything. I just want to be left alone. It got harder and harder to walk. Each step was full of pain and agony. I went to physical therapy for three weeks and that only made it worse. I finally saw a chiropractor who was able to give me some relief. But is all this was going on. I got deeper and deeper into a state of depression. I want from my bedroom to my office to the living room to the kitchen and back to my bedroom. If I could deal with you on the phone, everything was fine. I got so tired of people coming up to me saying "What's wrong with you?"
During the past two years I have become very active. I had run and three 5K’s, had started spinning, and was seriously looking at beginning triathlon training. I had lost 79 pounds and felt great. Then my world came crashing down. I actually had dreams at night where I was running. There was no pain and I was just running and running and oh gosh it felt good. I would wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and the pain would return and I would sink deeper and deeper.
Since every healthcare provider I had visited told me there was nothing wrong with me I decided to stop spending money and to treat myself. I was starting to get scared because I didn't want to leave the house. I thought the whole world was laughing at me. The people from my gym, who were my friends, suddenly stopped calling. Right after Thanksgiving I started visiting the therapy pool at my gym. I walk back and forth for 30 min. each day. At first, those 30 min. were filled with agony. I couldn't keep my balance, I couldn't walk without pain and I felt like everyone was watching me. Slowly I have started to regain my balance, and three days out of seven I am walking in the water without pain. I noticed when I am on land, LOL, which my legs are not as tight and along with it, my attitude and demeanor have improved to. It's a long journey. I'm not sure I'm even halfway there, but the one thing I do know is that I made the decision that if this was going to beat me I wasn't going to take a called third strike. I was going to go down swinging. Falling down in the water provides you with a sense of security and a unique ability to laugh at yourself.
I'm sharing this with you because I'm sure there are many of you out there who are like me. Many of you who feel like you want to give up. I checked out mentally and emotionally for about six months and now I'm back and by the way, I have your back to. So if you'll excuse me, it's almost time to go walk in water. Ever great day.