Sunday, November 04, 2012
Sometimes you just don't know when you have made an impression on someone. You don't realize something you say or do may have an impact. At the end of this blog I will share something I felt was very cool and humbling a friend wrote to me today.
As those of you who read my blogs know, I've been pretty down since finding out I can't participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run next month. My back is just too fragile to risk the potentially devastating injury that could occur should I slip or fall during the climbing, swinging, or even walking through the slippery, muddy course. I tried to take solace in the fact that the doctor didn't prohibit me from continuing my Half Sparkathon training, but the news still hit me pretty hard.
The 13.1 Half Sparkathon was created by myself and other leaders of the San Antonio team at the end of last year. We wanted to do something with the team that many members felt they could never do (myself included!). We decided we would invite everyone to train together on Saturdays and individually through the week for the entire year with the goal of walking 13.1 miles on January 12th, 2013. We divided into two training teams. Team Speed was created for those in better shape, people who already walked well and/or ran, and those with quick, long strides. Team Stamina is for people more like me. We are the group who don't walk fast but are working towards a goal of getting a little faster and building our stamina. Most of us have health issues which don't allow us to run or even walk especially fast. My own darling dad, age 78, rides his adult trike and carries water in a cooler on the back of his bike for us. This event is my baby. It is extremely important to me to finish it. Two weeks ago I was finally able to walk 8 miles!
Yesterday was NOT a great training day. I had to stop every half mile and sit on either a bench or large boulder, depending on the area we stopped. A few times I had to stop every quarter mile. I didn't rest for more than 2 minutes at any mini-stop. Sometimes the stops were only for 30 seconds. You see, the dull, achy arthritic pain and muscular pain I can deal with. It's the sharp, shooting pains I get from the spinal stenosis that nearly takes me to my knees. The textbook definition of spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings (called neural foramina) where spinal nerves leave the spinal column. As soon as I sit down, the sharp shooting pains go away and stay away until I walk another quarter mile or so. I try to make it to the half mile point each time before sitting down, but sometimes I just can't. By the time we got to the 3 mile mark I just knew that I wasn't going to make the 9 miles we had planned, but I didn't want to throw in the towel. My husband looked me in the face and said, "Enough! This will be a short week. Next week we will do nine miles. Time to turn around." We ended up walking 6.3 miles.
I injured my left foot a few months ago. I've got a stress fracture. The doctor said as long as I keep distance walking I will keep injuring it over and over again. It didn't hurt too bad when I did the 8 miles, but last night after the 6 miles my foot was throbbing with red-hot needle prick pains shooting all across the top of it. There was a lot of swelling as well. Icing it helped, but it is still sore today. The muscular-skeletal pain in my back is pretty strong today, as is the lower lumbar pain. I've sat around a lot today, so the pain from the stenosis is minimal.
Between the foot and the back I started really feeling sorry for myself again. I felt pretty down-hearted that I didn't hit the 9 mile mark yesterday. I've got to be up to 12 miles by the end of December to stay on track in training. I don't question that I will do it. I do, however, question if I can do it without real severe pain and without further injury. I have the radiofrequency neurotomy to burn lesions on the worst of my spinal nerves and cause them to die on the 15th and am hoping and praying this will end the sharp, shooting, disabling pains during the walk training. No guarantees, but I have to take whatever chance I have at some relief. I wrote an email note to a friend in Wisconsin who does physical therapy at a back pain clinic. She specifically works on patients who have sustained injury and had surgery. I asked her (since I have no shame) if she could please send me some free advice on what she would have me do in the way of physical therapy I could do on my own at home.
What I got from her was not only a lot of exercises to do at home, but a ton of great information on my various back problems of neurofaraminal stenosis, degenerative lumbar disease, facet disease, bulging discs and arthritis. Then she wrote something that made me feel so good. She wrote: "Don't you dare get down on yourself. I'm really impressed with the distances you walk. Patients with spinal stenosis are not usually able to walk for long periods of time. Stop when you need to and then get up and move on. I use you as an example when I get a whiner or a patient who won't push themselves at all." Like I said, sometimes you just don't know when you make an impression on someone. This humbled me and gave me a heavy dose of "remember who you are, She Beast!".
Pain be damned. I'll do what I can to control it, because it is NOT going to control me. I'll sit down when I have to and not feel guilty or like I am failing a test. I'm tired of crying because I can't keep up with the majority. I don't have to keep up with anyone, I just have to keep moving. The fact that I can get back up and move forward is proof that the pain doesn't own me, nor does it define me. I will keep reminding myself that I am a champion. Jack Dempsey said, "A champion is someone who gets up when they can't." I AM a champion. I AM a warrior woman for my own health and my own sense of accomplishment.
I may still cry when the pain gets bad enough on the trail, but the tears will not be a sign of me giving in. They will be my way of saying, "Okay pain, you made me cry. Prepare to get your butt kicked!" If I have to crawl or even be half carried across that 13.1 mile mark, I WILL finish. I will prove that I am bigger than the pain and I will prove to you, and to everyone, that if I can do this. If I can take this body that is more than 100 pounds overweight, that has lungs damaged with COPD, a heart scarred from cardiovascular disease, lupus, arthritis, high blood pressure, thyroid disease and all the back issues listed - if I can do this, if I can walk 13.1 miles - ANYONE CAN. You can. If you are not physically active at all than you can do so much more than you are doing. You can do more than you think you are capable of.
Stop reading now. Go walk around the block or lift some weights or do something, anything, that will make you live longer and better. Don't wait until it is too late or you are as broken as this body is. Go make the She Beast proud - because sometimes you just don't know....