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Where Fitness and Illness Meet

Thursday, December 12, 2019

I remember clearly the day that my quest for health began. I was in the hospital recovering from an asthma exacerbation that nearly took my life. As I laid in that hospital bed bloated and swollen by steroids, feeling so sick and weak that I knew i was close to death, I was looking around online and I discovered the Spark People website.. I read some of the success stories here and saw the before and after pics of person after person....and I was smitten with the desire to be healthy. At that time I could not make it from the hospital bed to the bathroom without assistance and I clearly understood what I was up against and how very far I needed tp travel.

The next day my doctor checked me over and for the first time in many weeks in the hospital mentioned that soon I could go home. I asked him, :"Dr D. what kind of exercise can i do?" and he looked serious and said "Cynthia, you cannot do any exercise. Your lungs cannot support the need for extra oxygen...exercise will kill you." I persisted, refusing to hear what he had just said. I said "What about walking? can I walk?" He considered for a moment and then said "Yes, you can walk. Walking may save you."

While still in that hospital I asked my friend to bring me some health magazines and some poster board and scissors and a glue stick. I had read on Spark about making a motivation poster. My friend did as I asked and I sat on the bed and began to cut out pictures.

This is the first motivation poster I made. I looked at my body: fat, sagging and lumpy from all of the toxic steroids that had been fed into my veins through my IV....and I knew I had a very long journey in front of me.

When I got home I was excited to begin. I did a nebulizer treatment (and that continued to be something I had to begin each walk and each workout with) and then set out. Well that first
day I struggled and I managed to walk----to the end of my driveway, where I stopped---panting and short of breath. I refused to be daunted. I said to myself , "Tomorrow I will go a little farther. And i did. I made it to my next door neighbor's driveway. And then next day, I went to the driveway after that.

I bought myself some walking sneakers and a few workout shirts and pants. I refused to give way to discouragement and lived on self-delivered pep talks. It was several months later that I walked a mile. (we live in the mountains in NE Pennsylvania and these walks were INTENSE, climbing steep hills in every direction from my house) .. I had an Mp3 player with a mix of workout songs---songs wiht a driving beat and upbeat lyrics. Walking on Sunshine and Me and Julio.. for example. and Mandisa's Stronger

Soon I added strength training. I could not do one curl or crunch. But I kept trying...I added Yoga to the mix and found that it took a lot more strength to hold a pose than it looked like it did. I bought videos and CDs and converted my downstairs bedroom into a workout gym. I have a large closet down there with sliding mirrored doors and this was perfect as I could watch to see if my form was good. I bought a stability ball and some weights and stretchy bands. I was smitten. The video series that made the greatest impact on my body was Leslie Sanson's series on Walking Away the Pounds. It was a simple method and included a WIDE range of intensity...from the slow ten minute mile to an intense five mile workout including weights and aerobics.

I began to see visible changes in my body and was so thrilled that every time I got on the scale, I was at least a pound lower in weight. In all this time I deliberately stayed away from Dr D's office. I was keeping my quest a secret because I wanted to be a KNOCKOUT when I saw him next. Finally the day came when I made an appointment with Dr D. I carefully put on my makeup and a knit clinging dress with black tights and low boots. I was READY. (a pic taken of me in the maroon dress is on the info page on my Spark Page)

In the exam room I heard Dr D come walking toward the room i was in "CYNTHIA! Long time no see." He entered the room and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me. His jaw dropped and delight shone on his face. He was awestruck at the changes in my body and in my health. My lungs did not make a single wheeze as he examined me. I had lost 70 lbs.

Of course if you know my story you know that my struggle with asthma/COPD was not over yet. And how with repeated series of hospital stays, IV steroids, and hip replacements--the weight once more crept back. Until ultimately I was another 100 lbs overweight. So far I have lost 36 of those pounds and am now approaching entry to Onederland for the first time in maybe four years. I have no illusions. I have been in a horrible fight with my body as I have very severe Rheumatoid and also Psoriatic Arthritis. i have been through many surgeries and at this point it would be hugely unrealistic to expect that ever again would I approach the fitness level i had obtained in the time I just mentioned (2010-2011). I have artificial joints and my ankles are fused at 90 degrees and i am in severe pain constantly. But forever will I recall how amazing it felt to work my body into a sweat and to defeat the naysayers.

I know what it feels like to literally come from the point of being at death's door to climb hills and conquer my sick body. Right now I am incredibly weak and it is my goal to try to recover at least functional strength. I cannot go up or down stairs and when I go anywhere, I must use my electric wheelchair. Every joint in my body has been wrecked by these diseases but I am determined to do what I can. Even if that is just to stand up from a chair without a struggle and making five attempts before successfully standing. But I am determined. It is true that I struggle with the sense that the challenges I face are greater than my resolve or assets and sometimes I give way to discouragement. but even if all I do is to lose this excess weight, it will be a great victory.

One foot in front of the other....it's the only way to get anywhere.
(i JUST WANT TO SHARE THIS. I just stepped on the scale and it read 199.6!! First time in four years that I have been in "Onederfland"--it feels GREAT!)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JANNY316
    Thank you so much for sharing. I have rheumatoid arthritis and some days are a struggle trying to move. You are an inspiratuon.
    282 days ago
    emoticon Cynthia emoticon emoticon emoticon Onderland emoticon
    Everything starts in the mind and you have the Determination to succeed! emoticon emoticon
    Sooooo Proud and Thankful!!!Have a Blessed Day! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    283 days ago
  • EISSA7
    Your shared story definitely speaks to human resilience and pure determination. Even through your struggles, your unwavering grit still shines. Celebrate your return to โ€œOnederlandโ€! emoticon
    283 days ago
    Magnificent job, my friend๐Ÿ‘. Congratulations ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽˆ๐Ÿ‘. Have a blessed day ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ˜‡
    283 days ago
  • LOF7203
    Thanks for sharing
    283 days ago
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