People who are passionate about fitness and exercise are not immune to injury and illness. We are all guaranteed to be put in a position where training takes a back seat to the different plans that your body has in store for you. In most cases, people will have to take a few days off here & there, possibly even an entire week, but will eventually jump right back into the swing of things doing what they love. In a smaller number of cases where injury has occurred, it can take weeks or even months to get your body to cooperate. And in my case, training was forever changed and the “road to recovery’ that so many people talk about after injuries, would be called my “road to rehab”.
I’m using this term because I know I will never be completely or even remotely fully “recovered”. The day I was diagnosed with Tarlov Cyst Disease was the same day I had to begin to accept I would always have limitations. Initially, I was completely devastated and the pain I was in for the first couple of months was close to unbearable. I felt as though I would never be able to get back to doing what I love. It was 24 hour pain and absolutely no medication offered any type of relief. During that initial cystic/nerve “flare up”, a good day was being able to stand up or get myself a snack in the kitchen. I was convinced I would never have the ability to lift another dumbbell my entire life.
By now I’ve either gotten used to pain always being present OR I’m just better prepared & equipped now for me to somewhat do ‘normal’ activities… like make dinner, bring my daughter to school (sometimes), run short errands, watch some of my daughters volleyball practices, work on recipe development, product/food photography work, and play with the dog outside. This is basically what life has consisted of. Some days are harder than others, nights are usually pretty difficult especially if I have been ‘too active’ throughout the day, but for the most part, I think I have finally found a new normal. It only took 4 months!!!
Last month when I visited the one neurosurgeon in the world who could help me, I basically only one question in mind:
“Hello doctor. Nice to meet you. Will I ever be able to lift again?”
This is more or less how my consult with Dr. Feigenbaum began and ended last month in Dallas. Up until that point I was either in too much pain to lift/train OR I would attempt to do something as simple as walking and throw myself back into a horrible flare up. Those usually lasted anywhere from 2-7 days and consisted of me laying down for 20+ hours a day in pretty much constant pain. Dr. F gave me the green light to incorporate LIGHT activity and Katie (his nurse) encouraged me to stay active BUT I would need to determine how far I can push things before my cysts & nerves fight me back. Dr. Rhoten (my local neurosurgeon) basically told me the same exact thing… I wouldn’t make my actual cysts any “worse” by doing light lifting/training, but I could send myself right back into a full blown flare up if I wasn’t careful.
It’s been so difficult to find a balance between doing anything remotely active and not pushing it too far that end up paying for it afterwards. What’s even more frustrating is one day I may be feeling amazing, hardly any pain or symptoms… almost like my old self. I get hopeful for the following day, tell myself I’m going to go for a longer walk or even try to do some body weight exercises, I’m excited and eager, I go to sleep with the promise of a new day, and then wake up and can barely move because the pain is so horrible for no reason at all. I usually end up crying out of frustration and anger which only makes the pain even worse.
So yeah. I’m not even at the point where I can think about “recovery”. It’s been a battle to simply take steps towards rehab! I need to be careful, I need to remain aware of how my body feels at all times, and I need to be smart. I’ve overdone it on more than a handful of occasions these past few months, so now I’m ready to tackle it all correctly AND safely.
Because driving is still challenging for me, I knew I would be limited to working on this at home. Also, I live up in some pretty steep hills/mountains so walking near my house is out of the question right now. The inclines/declines around me are far too steep and walking them for any length of time would certainly toss me right back to laying down on the couch. Luckily my amazing husband took matters into his own hands, went behind my back, and bought me a treadmill!!!
He’s hated me trying to walk outside by myself because there have been times where I’ve been close to falling because of recurring equilibrium issues so having the treadmill in the house eases his nerves quite a bit! NEVER in a million years would I have thought I would have a piece of stationery, boring cardio equipment under my own roof! My how things have changed!!! I’m glad my husband got a pretty basic one though. For my needs and limitations, this is perfect. I won’t need a steep incline or anything with fancy settings or workouts (although this one does have ones programmed in). The size is good also and fits in my workout room perfectly.
I’ve had the treadmill for about a month and a half now. The first two weeks it pretty much collected dust though. I tried to use it on a handful of occasions, but could never go more than 1/4 mile (zero incline, 2.0 pace) without getting dizzy and/or my back, legs, or feet hurting. I NEVER gave up though. Each day I was hopeful and would jump on, gave it all I had, but then ended up spending the rest of the day & night laid up, sometimes the next 1-2 days. Then I was hit with that Ebola (yup, I’m still calling it that) and couldn’t do anything for a couple of days. However, by the 4th of 5th day when my skin started to get better I started feeling SO awesome… EVERYWHERE! It was so strange. I had a couple of days with pain levels at 2-3 so I decided to capitalize on it! I jumped on the treadmill and got an entire MILE!!! The following day, I tried again and got 1.5 miles. Took a day off (gotta throw a rest day in right hahaha), jumped on the next day, and got a whole TWO miles!!!
I was so excited I had to document it…
And check this fanciness out! I already said my husband was awesome, but look what else he made happen in my workout room… a mounted TV! I wouldn’t have needed this before when I was doing HIIT, but now it’s a must! Training will never be as intense as before and most of my cardio will be done here, at least for now.
He’s such a good boy 🙂 I can’t even tell you how much I love this. I recently started watching ‘Dexter’ and was SO excited that ALL of the seasons can be found on DirectTV! I just got going on Season 3 this week. If I get through a couple episodes each week, I should be done in a few months. This TV is going to come in very very handy with this steady state cardio business that I’m NOT used to! At least my time walking will go by faster!!!
Smiling after a 2 mile trek and finishing Season 2 of ‘Dexter’… and yup, those marks on my chest are bruising from the ‘Ebola‘. If you look really close at my left arm, you can see some marks there as well. These are the faintest on my body as of right now. Stomach, back, and legs are still pretty prominent. Again, still smiling though!!!
Since I had my awesome Dough Bar tank on for this “workout”, I decided it was only fitting to have one of their DOUGHnuts for a post workout snack. Butterfinger was the topping of choice on this particular day! Their icing would have been plenty flavorful enough, but why stop there? Crushed Butterfingers, yes please!!!
I’ve mentioned this company many many times before here on my blog and Instagram, but I need to give another proper shout out to Marquez and Ondrea. Throughout the past 4 months, they have continued to be two of my biggest supporters. I feel truly blessed to know and support them. In a world where companies are driven solely by money, this is one ‘business’ that’s about so much more. I appreciate having them in my life and am proud to call them friends! A beautiful couple with hearts made of gold!!!
Despite my skin and this virus still running its course, last week was very very good! One of the best I have had in a couple of months actually. Unfortunately this week hasn’t started off as promising, but my spirits will continue to remain as high as possible. I’m looking forward to adjusting macros (hopefully increasing/reverse dieting for a couple of months) and I’ve even contacted my coach to help set me up with a new ‘rehab’ training program. I anticipate a slow learning curve since we will need to find that balance between ANY progression and overdoing it, but I’m up for the challenge!!!
As always, slow & steady progress is ALL anyone can ask for… especially me!