Thursday, November 22, 2007

**Babysteps and My First Magazine Appearance!**

Starting this week, I started a running program as advised by my physical therapist who has been advising me on my hip injury. My first week of workouts - 20 minutes of brisk walking, every other day. Obviously, this indicates how much I have been rushing to get the ball rolling in triaining whenever i felt that i have made an advancement in hip or shoulder injury recovery - for example, running 3 miles straight up whenever i felt *better*.

I did my 20 minute walk yesterday, and shockingly my right hip and back did feel extremely tight. I did my stretch exercises this morning, followed by 50 minutes of easy spinning on the bike, wrapping up with some stretching and, the key to all muscle recovery, icing. Wow, thank God for icing. I have truly learned the benefits of icing after a long hard workout. If anybody saw me wrapped in ice all around my hip and back and shoulders...and thank God that anybody is nobody but me. :)

I am really looking forward to this running program, because I believe it will surely build me up gradually and effectively, hopefully preventing me from further injuries! I declare 2008 as a injury-free year!

Another good news - East West magazine, an Asian-American targeted lifestyle and fashion magazine, featured a story on Fibromyalgia and yours truly. :) Yes, who would have thought - I'm featured in a magazine!!! The link to the article is The content of the article was very informative about Fibromyalgia itself and my story was interwoven nicely almost as a case study. The writer, Jennifer Kim, really did an amazing job and I commend her ability to build a cohesive and interesting story out of interviews from doctors, references and worst of all, my long interview of many many words. Thank you Jennifer!

Anyway, I am hoping and praying dearly that my current 20 minutes of walking will soon develop into the ability to run miles and miles....and 13 miles to be exact by February. I really want to do the half marathon race in February! I will have Fibromyalgia awareness phrases on my race singlet this time. I can't wait.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

**Bringing Healthy Back (well, sort of!)**

It has been a while since my last update. First of all, I want to share with you that after a tumultuous summer (health-wise), I am finally getting back to my base-level health. I stopped all the traveling and took advantage of the down time at work to focus on getting better over the past month.

Hip Injury – Back again, or time to get rid of it for good?
Starting mid-October, I realized that my hip injury has not completely healed, causing tightness and pain on my right hip every time I went biking or running. I was excited for a while to be able to run more than 3 miles – but a couple of weeks later the pain worsened. I went to a free lecture series at a personal training facility called Phase IV. The lecture was about achieving efficient and effective training for cyclists (it was amazing). The place also offered free injury evaluation at their physical therapy location, so I signed up for it. They quickly called me to follow up to set up an appointment, which was quite impressive. The evaluation indicated that my right hip was rotated (which I think is from my sitting position in front my desk at work) and muscles around them were weak due to prolonged tightness. The rotation caused a slight misalignment of one of my backbones, which have been causing the irritation in my back.

So – I’ve been back on physical therapy for about 3 weeks now, and I have been doing my assigned stretching and exercises every day, followed by 15 minutes of icing as if it were my religious ritual. I’ve been limited to 30-45 minutes of cycling until further instruction. Definitely no running. Ouch. But I have been diligent with it and I have been observing my therapist’s instructions (ie, my subjective opinions and feelings have been out of the question – but I did trip again, coming up in the later part of this entry).

I signed up to do a half marathon in February ( Perhaps that is the primary reason why I can be patient and do whatever my physical therapist is telling me to do J. I am praying that by December I will be able to start running. I am right now just doing my minimum biking and building my base (about 125 heart beats per minute), just thinking about being injury free.

My shoulder/neck injuries are getting much better, though. I went to a swimming clinic about two weeks ago, which helped me greatly with fixing my stroke and therefore relieving too much stress on my right shoulder. The problem I have been having was that I have been crossing over my arms instead of keeping my arms aligned with my shoulders – fixing that position changed everything!

Sleeping Better!!!
One of my (and most of FM patients’) biggest and perhaps most detrimental symptoms is poor-quality sleep, or what’s called sleep apnea. Basically, getting our REM sleep (deep sleep where growth hormones are developed and our muscles recover) is like getting a guy to ask for directions – or whatever that basically means “impossible.” Realizing that getting good quality sleep is probably one of the most important things I need for daily recovery from training, I asked my physician about ways to get better sleep. I have tried many herbal sleep enhancement supplements, and they seemed to help me for only the first 2 weeks, and then become practically useless.

My doctor recommended I try Amitriptyline. Having been off any kind of prescription medication for a while now, I was a bit hesitant when he mentioned it. I asked him exactly what the medication did, and he kindly explained to me that it was proven to help people with FM get REM sleep and enhance serotonin levels in the brain – perfect. Isn’t that we fibromyalgia patients lack the most anyway? It was a 10 mg pill, but the doctor advised that I start with half or a third of a pill first for two weeks, then increase the dose to 1 pill, before bed time. I figured I’d try anyway since I can immediately stop taking it if I didn’t like it while recognizing my craving for some solid, good RECOVERING sleep.

The first day, I couldn’t really notice the difference but the stiffness in the morning was less. After 3 days or so, I really started feeling so much well rested after a long-night of sleep! I was feeling fantastic. I was exercising regularly (every other day), feeling recovered every day. I was keeping up with my work schedule and the grueling 4 sessions of physical therapy (2 for my shoulders, 2 for my hip) every week and I was quite amazed by the way I can feel on a daily basis.

BUT once again, my biggest weakness reared its ugly head – and I abused my health and I had a pretty bad fall this Thursday and Friday. I worked long hours and cut down on my sleep to accommodate training while trying to make all my appointments before and after work – and finally my body gave in. WHY WHY WHY do I get so excited every time I am feeling better? I need to learn how to be moderate. I keep learning the hard way, over and over…ok people, I promise I will do everything in moderation. I will save my energy when I can, and the only time I will exert everything and beyond what I have will be on…race days only! It is Saturday afternoon right now and I only did my exercises and stretches I learned from physical therapy – that was still 30 minutes worth of work. I am so itching to get on the bike right now, but it is my first day in recovery after my two days of flareup so I KNOWWWW that I just have to build up slowly. Tomorrow I will go swimming focusing on my stroke. And that is all I am going to do. oh, and my physical therapy exercise assignments. :) BUT THAT’s IT!