Sunday, December 19, 2010

Five Simple Principles I Live By

Last Saturday, I enjoyed a 7 mile run with friends by doing a Christmas 10k run in Venice and then running an extra mile after completing the race. I felt good, not much soreness to complain about, which was great. I followed up with an easy 4-mile run on Tuesday, during which I felt my right leg was caving inwards a lot. I pushed through, felt ok, and 2 days later the right hip pain started seeping in... and had me limping for the rest of the week.

As some of you may have read before, my right hip has been such the culprit of my problems and now I have a sick sense of fear develop inside me whenever my right hip (front side, connecting to the upper quad area) starts stiffening up and I feel the pain radiate all the way down my leg. I spent the next three days stretching, massaging, doing Yoga, and giving my hips alternate ice-heat treatments. I was doing everything i can to prevent any further injuries, including re-alignment of the hip (my hip tends to rotate forward a lot, because of all the sitting at work, so i have to do adjustment work to tilt my hips back, i know, how weird).

Yesterday I was supposed to do an easy 4 mile run again but something told me that i just shouldn't do it. I was running errands all day practically limping everywhere i walked. Whenever I didn't move, the heating pad was on my right hip. Uggggghhhh the level of frustration and fear of my worst nightmare rearing its ugly head (12 months of physical therapy!) just sent my mind to a dark place. But I was focused on managing this pain and resting, and therefore had to perk myself up often. The rainy day of course didn't help the pain elsewhere, but I didn't want to dwell on it. I kept myself busy, and i kept myself filled with exciting thoughts of what's coming ahead (holidays, seeing family and friends, training, making career changes, etc...). Spending time with friends and keeping the laughter going also helped me - just had to stay positive.

This morning I woke up feeling pretty decent. My right hip wasn't as tight, there was still pain if I really dug deep...i learned that the pain was coming from my hip flexors, also leading to my right oblique muscle. I massaged them, stretched them out, and did some conditioning exercises to firm them up. Then I did my usual 15 minute dynamic stretch/warmup, got dressed for the wet weather and headed out. 9 miles was the goal.

It wasn't raining when I walked out the door, just quite windy and really really gloomy. A good enough reason to run outside...the first 2 miles were a bit of a warm up (always the hardest!), then I really got into a rhythm, feeling pretty awesome as I reached around 4 miles. Meanwhile, I was feeling really great - the run felt strong, yet effortless, well hydrated, etc... the only wrinkle was that it started to sprinkle a little... but that was fine, running in the rain felt quite good. The rain wasn't getting any lighter developed into a full-on storm! I was laughing when the weather reports from the night before warned of it, because it always seems like people in LA make such a huge deal out of rain. But today was pretty intense! I was laughing as I was running by the beach, as I found no one but me on it, running through hard, thick rain against a massive headwind.

As I passed through mile 6, my running pants started dripping, my running shoes were squeezing out water every step i took. My hip definitely started feeling it, it got harder and harder to lift my right leg up, but I didn't stop...for some reason, running in this storm felt so exhilarating that I wanted to keep going. In order to prevent any serious injury, I started mixing in a minute of walking intervals between 5 minutes of running...the walking helped me stretch out my hip and recover the muscles, and it definitely helped me run longer too! I kept saying "a little more, a little more", and next thing you know it was 7.5 miles and my right hip was really hurting, and my body started shivering from being a little too cold. It was pouring rain and brutal wind...ha ha ha what am i still doing out here? I loved it though...until it got too painful to run anymore. 8 miles. I stopped. Immediate hot shower and icing my hip afterwards.

Spent rest of the afternoon seeing friends and running some more errands, my hip was feeling very tired, but I focused on stretching it out, keeping it moving. Now i'm writing this blog with my heating pad practically burning the area. I can't let the fear of being badly injured again keeping myself from achieving my goals of getting my miles in while getting enough rest. This weekend was a successful one in that regard - i rested yet I got my long run in. I ate well, i stayed hydrated, and i felt awesome for most of the run. I feel great!

Pain sucks. The mental stress coming from pain is even worse. With fibromyalgia, pain gets complicated, as it is not only a physical phenomenon but it also has a significant psychological angle to it. Pain is not something we can get rid of by taking an anti-inflammatory like normal people...pain is sometimes uncontrollable, and that inability to control it gets us discouraged, makes us feel the world isn't fair, and that we're victims...all that crap. That's when we have to stop ourselves from thinking too much and take action to stop the pain - by nursing it, managing it, waiting for it to end with a positive, "ive been there before, so this too shall pass" attitude.

If so much of it has to do with the balance of substance-P vs. serotonin, then we all know, we gotta get the serotonin levels up. Now, i don't run to the pharmacy or my medicine cabinet for it, but i eat right, I move my body, laugh a lot and get my head out of the unhappy trap. I've taken the medication route before but what happened was long-term weight gain, more stress on the joints from the extra weight, more stress on the psyche from feeling fat and therefore absolutely no healing. I've freed myself from the vicious cycle. There are *naturally* natural ways to feel less pain - so many natural ways. It hurts me every time I read about those who go from one prescription medication to another - and live in endless cycle of pain and suffering and self-victimization. Yes, it is an awful illness. It is a very real and very strong condition. BUT THERE IS A WAY TO MAKE IT BETTER. Instead of crying about getting acknowledgement for the validity of fibromyalgia, if it is so real, why not show that it can be improved??? Isn't it our constantly negative and helpless attitude about our illness that gives fibromyalgia such a bad name?

There is nothing I want more than for this pain i'm feeling to become unreal. Because, man, if that were the case, I can't imagine all the things I can do in addition to the things i'm already doing. I learned how to make my pain more manageable and how to do more with the limitations I have. In fact, they are no longer my limitations, they are my source of empowerment and newfound abilities. We can turn every negative situation into a positive one, if we so choose.

Eat well, sleep well, move well, laugh well, and love well - my simple five principles in life. These simple things have enabled me to do so much in my life and more.... i'm so grateful, and I wish to share my experience with anyone that needs that push to make their lives better. We are not placed in this planet to live a life dominated by pain. We ought to dominate our lives with joy. No physical pain can take away this joy. and it is our job, our individual responsibility, to make it happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everything you just wrote about fibromyalgia is exactly what I've been thinking since I was diagnosed. People keep asking me if there are support groups I can join to learn how to deal with the pain—problem is, it seems the majority of groups I've looked into consist of those who sit around waiting for it all to go away. Or, they depend purely on popping pill after pill waiting instead of taking an active approach. I want to learn how to LIVE with the pain, not just simply exist.

I have to thank you, because when the word first started popping up during office visits, I googled "athlete, fibromyalgia" in hopes of finding a bunch of results about active individuals who deal with this. Your blog was one of the few things I found. I'm just starting to find my way, but I hope I can pass along some inspiration to others in the future.