Monday, December 08, 2008

Please believe me that I am falling apart.

I was looking back through posts from last winter, and I see that I was bothered then by many of the same things that are bothering me now—a bigger body than I’d like, a body that won’t cooperate with my desire and need to exercise, a body trying hard to recover from injury, a body that has asked me to slow the hell down so that it might try to heal. I see that my New Year's Resolutions from this past January even set more limited goals, exercise-wise, since I didn't want to go crazy with the expectations.

Last year I expected this, since I had just had surgery. I really thought that by this year I might not be feeling this way. I know that those kinds of thoughts do me in, those kinds of expectations, but they sneak their way in there before I realize it, and then I have to extricate them.

I am not complaining about my shoulder. In fact, I am trying hard not to complain. It is just that the left side of my body seems to be part of an organized revolution of some kind. Things started with that shoulder, of course. Then randomly one day, I had a blind spot in the center of my left field of vision—kind of like I had looked at a bright light, but it has never gone away. Then this summer while I was in London, my left hamstring got really tight, and no amount of stretching would help. (Mind you, this cannot be a sports injury, because all I was doing at that time was sitting in the British Library for hours on end, and walking to and from the British Library. Well, and Bollywood dancing, but I digress.) That hamstring pain came and went during the fall, but got worse in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, to the point where it even hurt to kick while I swam.

My coach, knowing how the pain started, suggested that I try a chiropractic adjustment. I went to see the chiropractor last week, and he asked, “Has your left shoulder always been lower than your right?” I said no, and told him the whole Shoulder Surgery Massacree, with four-part harmony, and he said, “Bless your heart,” southern U.S. code for “Your life sucks but I’d hate to say so.” He also suggested that until I see how these adjustments affect my spine, that I not do any strength training, though swimming would be fine.

Anyway, he has done some splendid crackly adjustments on my back, neck, and hips, trying to get things straightened out. But then on Wednesday of last week I went to the pool after seeing him, and as I was kicking—but not even particularly hard—I felt some kind of irksome but not particularly traumatic snap in my—you guessed it—left knee, which then got more and more painful. So after a ridiculously short swim, I got out, took a shower and went home, befuddled, and did a lot of icing.

I mean, exactly what kind of exercise can I do? Nothing that overtaxes my shoulder. Nothing that makes my hamstring or knee hurt. Nothing that might affect my spine.

That leaves . . . knitting.

Which I have been doing a lot of.

But it ain’t swimming. Or walking. Or rowing. Or cycling. Or lifting weights.

Have you tired yet of my now seemingly endless tales of exercise woes?

On Friday the PP noted that his mother and sister are getting themselves a Wii fit for Christmas, and he suggested we consider getting one. I told him maybe, but first let me put in a plea to Magpie, who is giving one away.

Will it change my life? I don’t know. I love games, and maybe having some little active games that we can play in the cold weather that still get the blood pumping would be fun. (Probably can’t knit while playing, though, without risking bodily harm to myself or the PP.) But hey—at this point I am willing to try anything!


estaminet said...

I'd recommend Wii Fit. T & L got one a month or so ago and we use it a lot. It's fun and not too strenuous, unless you get obsessed with beating someone else's score and can't stop playing until you do (cough). Of course, it won't replace swimming for you (BLESS your HEART), but it's better than nothing.
Plus, it's a gateway drug to other Wii games. :)

Anonymous said...

Here's what I think. Stress is the cause of lots of what is going on. Believe me when I say so. When I knew my job was going in a direction I didn't like--I developed problems that I didn't know I had. Some of them were muscular. This probably doesn't help, but it is amazing the many faces that stress takes on.

Magpie said...

Maybe your left side is crumbling because it thinks you ought to be a Republican...

No, that was lousy.

Sorry about the ongoing betrayal by your body.

Yarngineer said...

We need to create a support group for ex-wannabe jocks who are now cripples. I was just whining the other day how it is not fair (start the wahmbulance) that girls I went to high school with who hated to sweat are now avid runners.

I am stuck with walking, or maybe hiking, as I hate swimming and biking. Maybe if I could find the time to do mountain biking, that would be more favorable. Anyway...

rebeccapaul said...

There was a time when I felt like my body was falling apart (not that I was nearly as active as you -- so I didn't even have a good reason for random joint pain!). It turns out that it was an autoimmune disease (not a serious form of one, as you might guess). You're a little past the average age of onset for that sort of thing (mid-20's for women) and I think I got it from my mom's side of the family, but it might be worth seeing a doctor anyway.

Meanwhile, I look forward to stories of competitive knitting.

Scott said...

Speaking from personal experience I know how difficult it is to get out of the deep hole physical infirmity can put you in. I was fortunate to have a chiropractor introduce me to Bikram's Yoga and found it to be a godsend. I mention Bikram's specifically because it is a rehabilitative form of Hatha yoga and so specifically aimed at us cripples. It's also known as "hot yoga" as it is practiced in rooms kept between 105º and 115ºF. The temperature not only 'cleanses' you by way of the resulting copious amounts of sweat (the words perspiration or euphemisms such as 'glow' can not be used to adequately describe what happens); but also helps keep your muscles limber and supple. The postures are surprisingly difficult to do well and provides excellent and comprehensive exercise for the entire body. I urge you to look for a Bikram's studio as the format and selection of postures is unique enough to have been granted U.S. copyright and trademark protection. You can go to the Bikram website for more information and locate a nearby studio.

I also sat up at your statement that your chiropractor identified your shoulders weren't level. This is a problem I share and have struggled to correct for years without success, that is until in desperation I turned to Alexander Technique. I've written a few posts about my experiences with the latest one here. I can give my strongest and unreserved recommendation to this technique. The British National Health Service has had Alexander Technique lessons eligible for limited reimbursement as an "alternative therapy" for many years, but after a major study recently proved its worth now is actively considering full therapeutic status for it. You can go to the Alexander Technique website at to find out where the teachers are in your area.

And lastly don't give up on swimming. There's no other sport or exercise which can match it's results and the ability to continue with it throughout one's life and stages of varying health. Keep working through this patch of hard times and twenty years from now you and the people around you will be praising the results. Good luck!