Monday, July 1, 2013

Training with Pain

I am slowly coming to accept/fear/realize that I might be living with chronic pain for the rest of my life. I wish I could clearly communicate how much this has changed my life. I know chronic pain changes EVERY life, but of course I only have my life.

It's summer and my usual summer routine for the past 9 years or so has been; get up early and go for a run or teach a bootcamp, then go for a run. Eat breakfast and then saddle up the bike and ride 25 miles to go see a movie and have lunch. Later in the afternoon we might kayak for an hour or so, or I'll meet someone for a second run. Two or three mornings a week I'd head to the lake before the crowds and swim a mile. That was my life. I loved that life! LOVED it! We lived and laughed and I just felt so free. Why? Because for many years prior to me getting my life together in 2002, I was obese and those things were only dreams.

Now I get up to head to bootcamp because when I planned my summer schedule, I thought I'd be rid of the headaches. I sit in the parking lot praying that no one shows on a day with a bad headache. If they don't I go home and either go back to bed, or go for a run if the head isn't bad. If I go back to bed I spend the day beating myself up for not going out. It isn't a lack of desire, it's that exhausting round of "How bad is my head? If I run, it's going to hurt more. Well what do I have to do today? Can I do the run and then chill and let the pain subside? It doesn't mean we don't kayak or bike, but it's one or the other, not both.

I think that because people see me doing things like teaching bootcamp and training fitness clients, they think it must not be that bad. I worry they think I'm 'whining' about it when I'm not. I am truly trying to hold my shit together long enough so that I can just get through the hour. Today I trained a client and had to stop my own demonstrations a few times to "monitor" but what was really happening is that so much pain was getting in the way of what I was doing, it was stop or fall down.

Today was a very rare summer evening session where no one showed up, and I hate to say I was glad, but I was. I got new glasses this morning and they took my headache from a "about what I deal with daily 4-5 level" to 11. It was so bad that I was in the garden store and I kept having to stop to keep from throwing up. Now that is NOT like me. It finally hit me that it might be the new glasses, and when I swapped them out it went down from 11 to about 7 which is better, but still is just craptastic. The rest of the day was just a cloud of pain.

I worry if I accept that this is it that I will either fall into a depression or I will stop trying. I know that I have the ability to make that choice, but I worry that if I say "Okay, this is it..." that I will let it define me. Until my brain bled, I was someone who was often called the Energizer Bunny. If you asked someone about me, they'd laugh and say I was crazy! I'd run marathons for fun, and my goals kept getting bigger every year. People who don't work out would accuse me of having "exercise bulimia" because they could not wrap their brains around someone who loves playing outside more than a 7 year old with a new bike. If I accept that chronic pain is going to be a part of my life, does that re-define me? I want to be known as the crazy, motivating coach who treats everyone like rock stars and makes them think they can do amazing things!

I just don't know. It's like there is no handbook for how to handle life when it changes dramatically in some fashion, but it is not something others can see. If I had an amputation, or a wasting disease, people would know and maybe I'd be able to see it and accept the difference. Now I look in the mirror and I see the same old me I've always seen with a tiny bit more muffin top than I'd like. But the inside isn't that person any more. The inside is scared and unsure and stops to think "Can I commit to doing that? What if my head is over the top that day?"

So I did a workout today but I didn't run and it's really bothering me, but the idea of getting my noggin a bouncin' up and down makes me nauseous. I want to go to bed, but I don't want to give into it and let the pain tell me how to live my life.

Okay, maybe I'm not to acceptance quite yet...

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