What’s YOUR Excuse? Who Are You?

Nearly 7 years ago, I could barely walk.

I’m fed up with telling my fibromyalgia diagnosis story, which I’m sure can be found here somewhere, but I’ll tell you what happened after the year of blood tests and radiology. I started walking two and a half minutes out the door, and then two and a half minutes back. That was how I started. That was the limit of what I could do.

Fibromyalgia (among other neuromuscular disorders) is characterized by exercise intolerance. When normal people exercise, they feel fantastic afterward. They have energy and motivation for the rest of the day. I did not.

What many of you don’t know is why I started noticing problems in the first place. I began an aerobic training routine on my then-fiancé (now exbf’s) XBox. The “game” is called MyFitness, and it customizes workouts for you. I got up at 5:30AM to do that shit. Then I’d go to work feeling like I had the flu. Then I started randomly falling.

The falling is what got me in to the doctor, not the pain I’d had since I was six, not the cognitive hiccups where my brain confused words, not even the constant fatigue. That had been my life for so long, I figured that was just me. Falling for no reason while I was crossing the street, however? That was a wake up call.

My doctor initially thought I had MS at best, ALS at worst. A year of testing later, a neurologist confirmed I had fibromyalgia. She said “Yep, you guys have exercise intolerance, but exercise is the only thing that will start repairing your muscles. Start slow.”

So I did. I reported my progress to my online support group. You’d think I’d introduced television to Spanish Inquisition-era Europe. I was pretty much met with “Burn the witch!” and understand why. Most of the people in my FMS support group took even longer than my then 32 years to be diagnosed. They had tremendous damage and extremely sensitive pain receptors. Their doctors had put them on Fentanyl patches and disability payments.

I had asked my neurologist if this would be my fate. “God, no,” she said. “You’re pretty far gone, but you’re not dead and you won’t die from this. You just have to do some work. And here are some anti-seizure drugs and muscle relaxants. They help.”

Kinda. The work did more for my body and spirits than the drugs. I started walking 7 minutes a day. 10. 15. I bought myself a cheap ass recumbent bike on Amazon and got up to an hour three times a week of exercise.

My body was performing better, but the fatigue and pain and cognitive stuff continued to be an issue. I also wasn’t losing much weight despite working my ass off. A friend suggested I see an endocrinologist. Yes, I had low thyroid. More importantly, I had celiac disease.

The only “cure” is a gluten free diet. I lost 40lbs in a year without trying, simply because my body was now able to digest fat, and I stopped being hungry. I also got off every medication–all the medication–even the anti-depressant I’d been on more than half my life.

Then my “almost marriage” fell apart. I moved to LA, kind of exercised, mostly didn’t. I ate a bit better. I lost another 20 lbs. I gained back 10.

Four weeks ago, an extremely kind (and tactful) friend whose wisdom I trust above all recommended a personal trainer to me. I investigated this trainer. He seemed a little intimidating, and I couldn’t figure out what his experience with neuromuscular disorders was, but the evaluation was free, and I made the appointment. As you all know, he destroyed me the first day, and my pain threshold was challenged for the subsequent four days to a degree I had not felt for years.

My car had some fairly expensive trouble. Despite using crutches to get around, I was so convinced I could challenge and overcome this pain, I broke down in rare tears thinking I might not afford to start training. My generous and extremely thoughtful roommate helped me with some of that expense (and tire changing and ride giving and overall listening) so I could sign up for a month.

If you had told me three weeks ago that I’d be eating 1200 calories a day of protein and green veggies, and doing 60 bar push ups, 60 ring pulls, 45 deadlifts, and voluntary interval cardio, I’d have told you that you were high.

If you told me that nearly 7 years ago, I would have thought you cruel.

I no longer know who I am. People who read my old blog years ago read the exact same sentiment as I was going through my medical tests. I could no longer do anything. I was the girl who went out dancing; I was a happy cook and cheerful homemaker who could no longer lift a pan or push a vacuum. I had to redefine myself as a person who couldn’t.

I am now a person who not only can, but must. I enjoy the discipline of eating properly. I enjoy being challenged by my trainer to push the thresholds of pain and strength. And bitches, I enjoy this definition I’m starting to see. And the 15 lbs I’ve lost.

I don’t know who I am right now, but I enjoy meeting her. As I edit that old blog so I can publish it as an ebook, I see how that girl felt and I want to shake her. I want to slap her sometimes. She put up with so much crap. She succumbed to despair a lot. She used humour to drag herself out of it, and that is the one consistent thing we have in common. But I don’t know who she is. I don’t like her. No wonder she hated herself. She was a fighter, but she gave up in so many areas. She made excuses for others. She ate a lot of donuts.

I hope in a year to look back on this blog and say “I don’t know that girl any more. But I’m grateful for what she’s done for me. I’m grateful she surrounded herself with quality people. I’m glad she found friends who care about her enough to call her on her weaknesses.”

For once, I’m enjoying not knowing who I am. It’s like going to a party and finding myself talking to someone fun only to realize they’re super famous for doing something awesome that I never even heard of because I am a shy bookish introvert. I’m like “Who is this fierce bitch?! I dig her!”

Maybe in a year, I’ll know her. And she’ll take me places I’ve never before been. TAKE ME, FIERCE BITCH! Let’s go!

SURPRISE!!! God!

We all have crises of faith. We beat ourselves up, because He’s done so much good in our lives, but we’re human and we have whingy, needy moments brought on by Daddy/abandonment issues. Don’t be cross with yourself! Jesus was always having to tell the disciples “Oh ye of little faith!” As he was a Jew, I imagine this was said with a bit of world weary exasperation, possibly accompanied with a smack upside the back of the head. He probably also said, “What, I heal the sick in front of you, I turn water into wine, I raise a guy from the fricken dead, and you people are worried about what’s gonna happen tomorrow? Oy!” But that part was not transcribed.

We don’t have the pleasure of the physical presence of Christ in our lives any more, but He’s with us all the same. He’s just on speed dial. Check it:

I describe God’s mysterious work to my clients thusly: you tell your friend your birthday is coming in two months. Your friend gradually becomes more & more secretive. He doesn’t invite you over any more, he doesn’t really talk about what he’s up to, & you think he doesn’t like you any more. Two months later he calls you & asks you to come over. You can be pissy & refuse the call, certainly.

But if you answer it, you’ll find he’s been transforming his home over the past two months into a giant birthday surprise party for you. There’s a bouncy castle IN THE LIVING ROOM. He knocked out walls to accommodate it! He built a waterslide of champagne down his own stairwell. And he made your favourite cake, 50 ft high, so you can literally walk into it & eat it. He invited all your friends & somehow got Kanye to play. In this scenario, pretend you like Kanye.

It was an even better birthday than you imagined, huh?

That’s God.

When Your Ass Forgets

I told you guys that my trainer is having me touch my butt to the wall to strengthen my demented glutes. No, not demented…what’s the word? Alzheimer’s.

Sorry, I just got done with my work out. I’m a little loopy.

Amnesia. That’s what Killpundit called it. Gluteal amnesia. Basically our butts have forgotten how to do butt business. I’m not talking about defecation, though many of us have forgotten what that’s supposed to be like, too. But what with sitting at desks and sitting in traffic and America’s Next Top Model marathons, our butts no longer remember how to butt.

My butt was further traumatized by the whiny crap I mentioned in my last blog post, which I won’t even link because eww, whining. Since I did not believe in my ability to unfall, I could not perform even bench assisted squats properly. So he had me do an exercise where I literally just touch my butt to the wall. And I told you people about this. But you didn’t believe me. Why didn’t you believe me?

HERE IS PROOF:

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He texted me to do 3 sets of 30 butt touches to the wall. It’s there in writing, people. And this is how people with fibro can learn to walk & sit & squat &, more importantly, back that ass up again.

My trainer is a god.

I also did other things too. I can now say stuff like “I blasted my biceps, lats, pecs, triceps, traps, delts, glutes, quads, & hams.” And I don’t even want the extra calories I’m allowed to have. And I don’t want carbs.

WHO IS THIS GIRL?

Well, maybe in a month I’ll post progress pics & you can tell me.

Excuse me while I go have, on purpose, a whey protein shake.

Fear of Falling

I’ve had chairs pulled out from under me, twice.

Both times were in junior high. I even remember the names of the boys who did so: Robert Corrica, & later Bobby Dunbar. I’m sure they grew up to be model citizens who would be mortified to know they humiliated & injured an abused child with a neuromuscular disease. No reason was ever given for these betrayals of the trust that my chair would be beneath me when I sat. I was a good kid who skipped a couple of grades & had a funny accent. I guess that was enough.

And who can imagine why an adult would throw his own child at a wall? But there you are. I have hip & back problems that I’ve overcome quite magnificently considering I have fibromyalgia.

At least I thought I did, until I started personal training last Wednesday. Let me preface this with the simple, delightful fact that training is awesome. I enjoy it immensely. I get such a rush of endorphins from strength training that at Target I mistook a small Filipina woman for my friend Shelli (who is Italian) & ran over to hug her. She walked away from me very quickly.

Oh yeah, I also was picked up by a gust of wind on a mountain-top ice skating rink & deposited unceremoniously on my arse. I couldn’t walk for two months. What I’m saying is, I’ve fallen a lot. That’s not even counting fibro falls.

I hate falling.

It hurts.

The resulting injuries always make me need help. I hate needing help.

Even sans falls, people with fibro have problems with proprioception, so that in and of itself is problematic.

So imagine my shock to learn that my nemesis is the bench assisted squat. My trainers assure me I am not a pain in the ass (no pun intended), but I feel my poor guy ate through much of my session trying to teach me to sit without looking behind me. And he couldn’t do it. Not today. As a last ditch attempt, he gave me some homework where I basically have to practice touching the wall with my butt.

I wish I were kidding.

I went home and practiced. I successfully touched the wall with my butt from three inches away without bending at the waist or looking behind me with my shoulders back & chest out & with my weight on the balls of my feet 3 times.

I’m very proud of myself, cos the 4th time I about had a panic attack & had to stop.

I haven’t thought about Robert Corrica or Bobby Dunbar since I was 10. That was almost 29 years ago. You bet I remembered them tonight.

Yes, my lower back hurts, but I know this exercise will reduce the pain, eventually. My trainer asked how I pick up anything off the floor & I said “Gran pliés,” because hello, childhood ballerina. But gran pliés are not squats, & they don’t build muscle like squats, & also I need to stop turning my toes out so much.

What I failed to tell him is that sometimes the fibro pain is bad enough that if something ends up on the floor, hey, new cat toy.

This reminds me that I totally forgot to tell the trainer a thing about me that my roommate made me promise to remember. When we clean for a party, I overwork so hard that when we have the actual party, I’m in tremendous pain, dealing with fog, & don’t enjoy the party. I actually don’t remember why I had to tell the trainer that. I’ll reread this later & suss out the significance then. Maybe you’ll tell me.

So anyhow, I feel like a fearful failure, but I’m trying to do something about it, because that’s the only way to get better. I should ask him to just barely touch my arm next time so I know I won’t miss the bench. That’s a reasonable request, right?

God, I’m lame. SUCK IT UP, RED!

Update 12/5/12:
YOU GUYS! I touched the wall with my butt IN PROPER FORM 20 times today! Lenny Kravitz helped. It’s best not to ask. I CAN TOUCH THE WALL WITH MY BUTT!! Woo!