Weighted Options

The nerve pain running down my right leg yesterday was the worst it has been for a long time, and it stayed at that level for most of the day and night. Needing to be awake by 4:15 this morning for work meant I was in bed even earlier than normal last night, but I still didn’t sleep well. Or enough. My original plan was to go to the gym after work, but my zombie-like state upon waking had me considering the potential of shuffling things around. The flare up of the pain in the leg mid-morning kept me waffling on whether or not to train today or postpone it until tomorrow morning. Both choices weren’t overly appealing, but knowing that I’m on a bit of a deload made it easier to stick with training this afternoon.

Training after work usually hasn’t really been enjoyable since the injury. Even though my body is holding up better through long hours of work better than it was when I returned from my leave of absence, “holding up” is still the best way to put it. After work, my back is achier and the nerve pains/tingling in the legs increases, and I haven’t even begun to talk about the permanent state of fatigue I am in on this medication. Training tomorrow morning might have been appealing; however, I was also greatly looking forward to having a slow and leisurely start to my Thursday.

There are not many days in the week where I have the luxury of starting slow. If I’m not working in the morning, then I’m going to the gym. Or an appointment. Or church. I got my workout in this afternoon, so that I can sleep in. Okay, so I will probably still set an alarm, but I can hit the snooze button. I can stay curled up beneath the quilts, petting the cat and listening to her purr until I feel inspired to drag myself out of bed. I can make myself a cup of coffee and a hot breakfast. I can have a soak in the tub. I can prep my food for later in the day, read a book, tidy something, do some stretching. All these things and more can be done before I go to work for my closing shift, and that was a luxury I could not sacrifice for today.

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Enjoy the View

As I am typing I am ensconced in the covers of a king-size hotel bed, eating a protein bar and sipping a glass of Pinot Grigio. My back and legs are most unhappy after a long day of sitting in the car, sitting on bleachers, and sitting for dinner. I walked as much as possible, but the nerves have been cranky from the moment we left the driveway earlier this morning. The back’s discomfort comes from yesterday’s chiropractic treatment in which Shockwave was tried for the first time. I don’t know if I liked how it felt or how tender my back feels now. The nerve pains in the legs is pretty standard, just a bit angrier than usual. So, despite having a lovely sofa in front of a fireplace in the living room of our hotel suite, I am in the bedroom. Tomorrow will be another long day of sitting in the car. It’s funny how long a three hour drive feels when it hurts to sit.

I am enjoying some wine, because today is my high calorie day of the week and I am “celebrating” my birthday. Kind of. Even with the alcohol, I am short on calories, carbs, and protein…and that’s just going to be the way it goes. Being out of town, we ate dinner at a restaurant. I ate a lot. I cannot eat anymore.

The drive was interesting. I never get tired of looking around me, soaking up the landscapes. My daughter had her music playing in the car. We chatted and we enjoyed being silent. As bits of lyrics would flit through my head, I would feel my emotions surging, crashing like waves against the shore, and I would need to turn my gaze to my passenger window until the tide receded. I am not entirely certain why my heart was so wide open as we drove through fog and mountains and sunshine, but it was in all good ways. Maybe it was just the way certain lyrics arrived as I was enjoying different aspects of the passing scenery and thinking deeply beyond the surface of their appearance. One line in particular said something along the lines of everything being created for me to look upon, and that thought alone echoed the song inside my heart.

We live in an amazingly beautiful world, and I love how every corner of it is something special and wonderful to behold. During today’s three hour tour, I saw snow-capped mountains, waterfalls frozen and still running, all manner of trees and some wearing heavy coats of snow. The river snaking through the trees intrigued me, as it does every time we drive past it. The forest floor catches my eye with it’s carpet of fallen leaves and dead trees and moss covered rocks. The mountain sides with their deep gouges running down and rocky layers pushed violently upward fill me with awe. I love the sky through all of it’s transformations, although nothing will ever compare to a prairie sky.

We could drive past it all and never give it a second glance. Focused on the task at hand or distracted by other things or people inside the car. As much as I enjoy singing along to the music, I will always be one to look out the windows. It brings me pleasure and joy. It turns my heart to the Creator, and it inspires me to be strong and resilient and carefree. Nature teaches me.

Rise Up

I heard a song a few months ago which immediately joined my favourite playlists and struck a chord within me. When I am at the gym, it is not uncommon for me to listen to it over and over again, and this song has inspired my theme for 2019.

Rise Up by Andra Day

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousands times again
For you

When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We’ll take it to its feet
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you

This past year has been a tough one, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Being off work for half the year was far from a vacation. An endless string of medical appointments. Lots of waiting. A long list of medications with varying degrees of side effects, including weight gain and mood swings. Sleep quality always stuck between 50 and 60%. Constant pain at varying levels. Missing out on so much living. While it is okay to not always be in control of everything, my control over these intimate personal details has been minimal and I do not like it. For a season, I let things slide, because I was too tired or simply couldn’t do some things. I have learned a lot about myself, and I have grown in many ways, but I still want to rise up and find myself again.

Rising up is my theme, my focus for the new year. I don’t know when, or if, my current situation will improve, and that doesn’t really matter. I’ll rise up in spite of the ache. I’ve already been doing that for a long time. In fact, I think I’ve become so accustomed to simply picking myself up that I tend to forget that I am actually doing it, which brings me to the flip side of my theme. Not only will I continue to rise up, but I can use those positive aspects of my character to help others to rise up as well. Because I have long known that I am an encourager, even if I sometimes forget that I am or feel empty and unable to give of myself in such a way.

We gonna walk it out…

A Farewell to 2018

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Day often blur together. Sometimes the edges lag behind as time flies by, while other years sees time moving so slowly that every day feels like an entire week. I am not quite certain what these days will end up looking like, but my short little four hour shift at work today felt like an entire eight hours. And yet, it feels like Christmas was last week. Maybe the issue is just me and my perpetual state of physical discomfort and fatigue. I don’t know, and I guess it doesn’t really matter much anyway. Each day begins and ends regardless of what I am doing. This year will end and the new will begin in the same way.

Despite my difficulties in grasping the passing of time, this period of holiday limbo is when many reflect on the past year and look ahead to the new. My looking ahead post will need to wait for another day, but I finally have a few moments to sit and reflect on 2018.

This year began with me in an unplanned and unexpected position of being injured, in constant pain, on a lengthy medical leave of absence, and having to let go of some of my goals. My theme for 2018 was Making Lemonade, because I wanted to accept the disappointments and struggles as opportunities for growth, things to embrace rather than run from. How did I do? That’s probably up for debate. Others might have a different opinion than mine, but I think I did okay. Mostly. There were rough spots, to be sure, and I know them well. Medication has definitely affected my mood, along with my energy levels, and I am only human. The past year has been most frustrating and painful, and I would be lying if I said I was 100% happy about the lemons dropped into my lap.

And yet, in spite of those low moments, I have tried to remain positive and hopeful and accepting of what I’ve been going through. There have been many occasions where others have tried to insist that I feel less positive and that I get more angry and upset. While I might slip into despair now and then, I really cannot linger in such a negative state for too long. Maybe making lemonade is part of my nature.

As for any goals that I had for 2018…

The uncertainty that came with my injury meant making fairly broad and general goals. I wanted to heal the disc and was willing to do whatever it took to get there, even staying off of the platform for the entire year. A few health practitioners have said that the disc has been healing nicely. What does that even look like or mean? I do not know! The low back itself generally feels good. It still gets achy sometimes, especially after a long day at work with lots of bending, but I have no reason to think that the original injury hasn’t healed. Unfortunately, I haven’t stopped having constant nerve pains in my legs, and portions of my left foot and calf are still numb. I am still doing what I can to try to improve my situation, but I am constrained by the limitations of our health care system. Various medications have done virtually nothing for me, at least nothing positive, and I am still waiting for nerve testing and a nerve block. I am also handcuffed by my family doctor’s indifference. So healing has been a mixed bag. I am much improved compared to this time last year, compared to even six months ago, but I could never have imagined still being in constant pain after all this time.

Powerlifting wasn’t just put on the back burner this year; the burner was shut off. My goal to compete at Nationals last February crumbled into dust during a January physio appointment. Competing at Provincials in June felt like a slight maybe, but I quickly accepted that there would be no competing at all this year and that was okay. Even returning to powerlifting exercises at the gym has been extremely slow. I was only allowed to put a barbell on my back about a month ago, although the weight permitted is still lower than what I would begin to warm up with prior to the injury. The slow, baby steps is a little frustrating, at least until I am partway through a set and feeling the nerve pains in my legs.

The rest of my goals revolved around trying new things, simplifying, and growing or expanding. Again vague goals but meaningful to me. The ongoing nerve issue has been a giant obstacle in my path in many ways and for most of the year, but I think I still managed to put a bunch of check marks in the goals column. I did my own version of a polar bear dip on New Year’s day. I was able to volunteer at a powerlifting meet. I tried blue cheese and pho for the first time (probably other things that I cannot remember in this moment). Boxes and boxes of needless things have been removed from my house. New people have been embraced and welcomed into my life, and I do think I have grown through the year’s struggles. Honestly, if my head was clearer I would probably be able to think of more specifics.

I am not disappointed to see 2018 go, although I do wish the nerve pain would go with it. Making lemonade was a good theme for the year, but I am ready for a different focus.

Christmas “Vacation”

Day one of Christmas “vacation” was a busy one. It felt like I was hardly home during the day (which is not how I enjoy spending a day off), but I was able to get quite a bit accomplished, so I can spend more time on my remaining days off at home and simply enjoying the season. This morning I went to the gym first thing, followed up with an appointment with my chiropractor, and then I picked up some groceries before heading back home to make some lunch and have some coffee before heading out once again.

The first appointment of the afternoon was with my doctor. Or so I thought. Apparently there was some sort of glitch somewhere in the system, because I walked into an empty clinic with staff who were obviously not working. The receptionist tried to tell me that I couldn’t possibly have an appointment, since my doctor wasn’t in the office today and they were finished for the day…until I pointed out that I had confirmed the appointment two days prior. My comment caused her to ask what my appointment was about (a prescription refill), and then to ask if I could wait until Monday. No, I could not. So, I was whisked into an exam room to wait for a few minutes, while I could hear chatter and laughter going on nearby, including my doctor’s voice. I did get my prescription refill, but there was no apology about the appointment snafu, which was not my fault. Even while filling out the prescription form, my doctor once again displayed his lack of listening skills, despite the fact he parroted my own comments about the dosage just a minute earlier. Words cannot even begin to describe how frustrated and disillusioned I am with my doctor and his “care” for me since herniating my disc. From the beginning, he has downplayed my injury and concerns, not listened to what I have to say, been slow to pursue courses of action, and screwed up important paperwork. I’ve had several appointments cancelled at the last minute, and now a booked & confirmed appointment didn’t exist. Almost every minute I spend at my doctor’s office feels like a waste of time, energy, and focus. But I am glad that I was able to walk out of the clinic with prescription in-hand. As much as I don’t like taking medication, I’d rather not quit this type of medication cold turkey due to someone else’s mistake.

Upon leaving the clinic, I dropped the paper off at the pharmacy, finished off the last of the grocery shopping, and then arrived back home for an hour or so. The last appointment of the day was a quick and easy brow wax. It’s been a long time since the last one, otherwise it wouldn’t have been a pre-Christmas priority. Then back home to make dinner, and now relaxing for the rest of the evening. Four more days off. Four more days of various sorts of things to do and places to go, but I think they will be good days.

Against the Current

Christmas is in ten days, and I am slowly inching towards being less Grinchy. After two weeks of emotional chaos to start the month, I think my mood has finally stabilized. More or less or at least somewhat. I am definitely more myself than I had been…just in time for an upcoming appointment with my family doctor to review the medication and make decisions about continuing or increasing the dosage. The low dose I am currently on hasn’t made any difference to the nerve pains in my legs, so maybe the dosage needs to increase. But do I want to go through the emotional upheaval that will come with an increase? 

While my emotions may not be as volatile today as they were last week, I am still feeling all sorts of sad, depressing, and conflicting things inside. I keep plodding along, because there isn’t any other option. I can’t stay in bed all day, definitely couldn’t sleep that long if I tried. I can’t seem to figure out the gifts for Christmas, and I definitely dropped the Christmas cards this year. I barely cook, although that’s mostly due to working a lot of nights. I’m eating a lot of crap, hating it and hating feeling stuck in this rut. Life feels very big these days, while I feel incredibly small. And through it all, the nerve pains and tingling continue on. 

Motivation and will-power flare up brightly and fade just as quickly. I am like a child trying to swim against a strong current. 

The Medicine Cabinet

There I was in a bathroom stall in the women’s change room at the gym…sobbing uncontrollably as quietly as possible, and I didn’t even know why. I just was and so the day has continued. It is a bonus day off. My workout was fine. There was no real reason for bursting into tears, but I think I can lay most of the blame at the feet of the new medication I am taking. My emotions are all over the place, and I am quite easily irritated, angry, and teary. This doesn’t feel like me, and I hate it. 

When I look at my personal medication history attached to my latest prescription receipt, I am both dismayed and amazed. I am currently on my eighth medication in the past year. Eight different medications since November 7, 2017! Maybe that’s not a lot for some people, but it is for me. Prior to my injury last November, the last prescription I had was in November of 2012, an anti-inflammatory and a pain-killer for a week or two post-surgery. 

I really am a fairly healthy person normally. Five years between prescriptions seems good to me. But now I walk into the pharmacy slightly worried that the pharmacist is going to think I’m a junkie. I’m pretty sure he did at one point, because he took him into a private room to go over my previous medications as well as the new one at that time. I had to explain to him why I was taking the medication and that I was no longer taking the previous ones, which did include an opiate. He was understanding and tried to be helpful, but here I am still unsuccessful in finding something that actually helps me. It might be too early yet to say whether or not this drug will work or not, and I am starting off on a very low dose with wiggle room to increase it. I just don’t like it.