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The Game Changer

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The air was crisp, the first rays of morning light peeked over the tree covered mountains. I pulled the laces of my sneakers tight, grabbed a bottle of water and headed for the door. I did a few stretches and then set out. As I crossed the two mile mark on my walk, I recalled the days when I could only make it down my driveway. I had one rule: Every day do a little more....and that approach built muscles and defied asthma. I did a nebulizer treatment every day before I started out and this kept most of the wheezing at bay. I rejoiced in my new strength and endurance. I watched the deer eating their breakfast, saw the ripples of reflected sunrise on the lake, and kept my eyes peeled for bears. The wildlife was a benefit of living in these mountains....but a mixed blessing was the steep hills. They challenged me and I conquered them.

That was then.
Now I'm 60 lbs overweight and am in so much pain I can barely make it to the kitchen. (maybe that's a good thing!)...My psoriatic arthritis has demolished my ankles...they are bone on bone and very inflamed. I need to have fusion surgery and I fear that those surgeries will mark the end of my early morning walks as my ankles will be fixed in 90 degree angles. I also need to have my other shoulder replaced.

There are a few exercises I can do....but they hurt. And I am finding it tough to find the motivation to face that pain. Yet I know that every day I do not challenge my body, it is becoming weaker.....and the struggle with food becomes less of a struggle and more of an acquiescence. I have made some progress. I am 30 lbs less than my highest weight but am kind of stuck in the same plateau I've encountered every time i try to lose some weight. Always I bounce around between 205 and 198 and haven't made it below that except after my last hospital stay when I came home at 194--but that didn't last. I know that losing weight is so much easier when I exercise, but even that knowledge doesn't propel me into surmounting the pain wall.

I think back on the days when I was sweating and moving to Leslie Sansone's 5 Mile DVD or walking up the last big hill, to reach my house perched on that peak. That exhilaration is something that I may never attain again. And that makes me sad. But my body is being consumed by this disease and now I need to find ways of being exhilarated by smaller things. Smaller victories but just as hard-won as the 4 mile walks.

I think because it is a small victory that making it from the disabled parking space into the restaurant, it doesn't thrill me the way a hard work out used to, but honestly, it is just as hard. It is hard to accept. And maybe I shouldn't accept it. Or maybe I SHOULD accept it and should learn to applaud myself at these huge struggles and tiny victories. Chronic illness is a game changer. Maybe I need to cherish those lakefront morning memories and to cheer myself through today's challenges.

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