Thursday, November 28, 2013

Need... More... Elastic... Pants...

Thanksgiving is upon is. At this festive time of year we celebrate all of our blessings by indulging in a national day of gluttony. And why shouldn't we? Have you seen the sales that Safeway's been running on Thanksgiving food this week? It would be a waste NOT to take advantage of the savings!

You might expect to see an "I'm so thankful" post right about now. And to let you know that I'm not all piss and vinegar, I'll throw you a bone: I am thankful for my children, my husband, my family, my friends, my job, my home, and a real whole lot more than I can rattle off in a list. Don't get me wrong - I have much to be thankful for, and I do thank God every day for many counted blessings.

Now that that's out of the way, can I vent now? Once upon a time, not very long ago, I was a gym-dwelling zealot who took great pride in practicing healthy behaviors to make my body healthy and strong. Awash in the teachings of the Fat Acceptance movement, I was adamant that my body was amazing at any size and that as long as I practiced healthy behaviors, I was on the right track. I felt amazing and confident. It. Was. Awesome.

Then I turned 39. I had a friend at work who warned me that my body would start falling apart at 40. My body responded by saying, "Why wait? Let get this party started NOW!" For many years I had written off my intermittent back pain as a side effect of being too big for designer britches. When I embraced the lifestyle of a badass gym rat - working with a trainer and taking spin classes for Pete's sake! - the pain in my back got steadily worse. Did I take that as a hint that I needed to slow down? Or maybe ask the experts for some modified exercises? Hell no!! I was a badass gym rat. Pain was just part of the package. Pain was a sign of weakness leaving my body. Pain was my friend. (Shout-out to my Paris Island trained brother for that one.)

As it turns out, pain was my body's way of letting me know that my spine was screwed up in a multitude of ways, and I needed medical attention. When it reached the point that I couldn't stand upright without using my arms to pull myself up, I conceded to medical intervention. I ultimately learned that I have stenosis, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, and at least one disc that sticks so far from its assigned vertebrae that it is bent upward and pressing on a very pissed off nerve.

Why you gotta do me like that, L5?
Enter Dr. Smartypants, the very doctor who had saved Miracle Man's life. He gave me what medical type people call a facet block - which is fancy talk for slamming a needle into your spine and injecting a cocktail of fairy dust and dragon blood (or something) in there to make the affected nerve shut the hell up. The first time I had this procedure done, way back in June, I was amazed at how well it worked it. I could walk like a normal person, I could exercise (gently, mind you) without needing to take heavy pain medication, and I was so happy to finally be cured.

Then my damned gallbladder went south, which took me away from the gym even more. By the time my gallbladder was out of my life, the benefits of the facet block had worn off. I decided the pain of having a needle slammed in to my spine was worth another three months of relief, so I called up Dr. Smartypants and scheduled another injection. I was all excited to be on my way to relative normalcy again, and to resume my lifestyle as a badass gym rat. But this time, the injection only worked for a few weeks. Yes, weeks. About three weeks after that second procedure, I was back to experiencing excruciating pain every day.

You want to know the funny thing about excruciating pain? And by funny I mean seriously fucked up. Excruciating pain makes you want to find a comfortable position and stay there. It makes you want to cry a lot, and it makes you want to give up on ever being normal again. I don't know about you, but when I get all weepy about life in general, I start to need stuff like chocolate almost like I need oxygen.

So let's do some math. Sitting on my ass + Consuming therapeutic doses of chocolate = My clothes are getting tighter. As much as I would love to blame the tight clothes on my dryer, I've been down this road enough times before to know that the clothes are not the problem.

But Sassyfats, you say. What happened to all that talk about self-acceptance and loving your body just the way it is, no matter what?

Meh. It's easy to preach self-acceptance when you're taking positive steps toward improved health. It's not so easy to believe all that preachin' when you're sidelined and counting down the hours until you can take your next dose of Tylenol, which is barely worth taking because it doesn't work as well as Motrin but you can't take NSAIDs because your kidney doctor said so, and really the only thing that does work is Percocet and you can't go through life in a zombie-like state forever. And then you realize that the source of your pain is not an injury that will heal - it's a progressive condition that will never be better than it is today. And it makes you want to turn around, take out your spine, bitch-slap it a time or two for knocking you out of commission, then krazy-glue it back into place with the hopes that it has learned its lesson and will stop being such an asshole.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
What was I talking about again? Oh yeah. Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I will partake in the usual Thanksgiving tradition of eating until I hate myself. But hopefully I will not fall victim to the month-long stuff-your-face-athon between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Two years ago I was convinced that intentional weight loss was a bad idea because of the high failure rate. I'm still convinced that "going on a diet" will only lead to heartache and extra stretch marks. But here's the thing: Someday I will probably need spinal surgery. I need to start getting my body ready for the recovery period. The less of me I have to carry around, the less hellacious the recovery will be.

After Thanksgiving I am going to ask my physical therapist about going back to the gym. I'm not going to be able to hit it as hard as I used to, but maybe I can find a way to get my heart rate up without killing my back. And I'm seriously considering going to a nutritionist to help me get my head back into the game of eating natural, healthy foods in appropriate portions. I'm still not trying to reach a certain number on the scale - been there, done that, have the gravy-stained, stretched out T-shirt. But as long as I can shrink fat cells and build muscle tissue, I think I'll be on the right track to a stronger, healthier, able-to-stand-upright-and-live-an-active-life me. 

Till then, Happy Thanksgiving!





No comments:

Post a Comment

Go on, spill yer guts!