Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stasis and Pain

After two weeks, I had not lost or gained an ounce at my last WW weigh-in. That's okay, and actually more than I expected -- after last weekend's dessert extravaganza and scant attention paid to the Good Health Guidelines (I mostly stayed within points the whole time, but fell down on the job when it comes to making sure I got enough dairy, enough fruits and vegetables, etc.), it's more than I deserve.

So that's the status update.

The real point of this entry, however, is to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately -- PAIN. Serial, unrelenting, stupid pain. Not to complain-- I've had pain of one kind or another for at least 18 months now. In March of 2008, I saw my doctor and discussed with her wanting to lose weight. She was very encouraging, but cautioned me that diet was probably not going to do it for me. She told me that I needed to engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous, sustained, intentional exercise at least five days per week. I "enthusiastically" started -- exercising with children is not a lot of fun, but I did get some of Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds DVDs and began doing them religiously every morning. I mean, I can walk, right? Anybody can walk.

Wrong. By April, a few weeks later, I had a terrible pain in my left foot. A pain that wouldn't go away and didn't get better. I went to a podiatrist in late May, who diagnosed me with tendonitis and offered me orthotic inserts for my shoes (to the tune of several hundred dollars). That was not very appealing, so I decided to do things the old way -- let's wait and see and it will get better.

Wrong. By October, right before the 20th anniversary of my graduation from the best Catholic liberal arts university in the nation, I was complaining to some friends that I could barely walk and that I was going to be hobbling around campus like I was 142, not 42. A friend looked at me quizzically and said, "why haven't you gone back to the doctor?" Good question. After my return from the reunion (pictures from which make me cringe -- so much for my plans to have lost weight before the reunion -- I'll have to wait until the 25th to fit back into my beloved freshman year pants), I went back to the doctor, who sent me for an MRI. The damage was extensive -- not tendonitis, but a torn tendon. I spent 12 weeks in a "boot". The pain from the torn tendon has receded into background noise -- it's still there, but I can deal with it.

In November of 2008, I came down with a cough that lasted and lasted and lasted and lasted. I was diagnosed multiple times with bronchitis and given four different antibiotics, none of which helped. Finally, I decided I needed to find a new primary care doctor (whom I like very much). She told me that I might have pneumonia, asthma, COPD, or even a lung tumor!!! An x-ray ruled out pneumonia and a tumor (thanks be to God), but didn't solve the problem of the cough. She sent me to an asthma and allergy doctor, who worked with me over a period of months. Earlier this month, he told me that he did not think I had asthma, but that I had had a horrible, drug resistant case of sinusitis, which caused continual post-nasal discharge, which started me coughing and which eventually evolved into a condition that mimicked asthma (recurrent bronchial spasmosis or something like that). I'd been taking Symbicort, Nasonex, another nasal spray, doing sinus rinsing, and a bunch of other things. I feel so much better. I'm not coughing. It's hard to exercise when your lung capacity is at 70 percent. Now that's all over -- I can finally really start to exercise, right?

Wrong again.

Two months ago, I woke up with a horrible pain in my left leg, hip to knee. After a spending a weekend staggering around the house, I decided to see the doctor. She suspected a blood clot (which I also wanted to rule out since my father had just developed one and the pain sounded similar). I didn't have a blood clot, so she wanted me to see a vascular surgeon. After thinking about it, I decided that I didn't want to do that because I wasn't convinced the pain I was feeling came from varicose veins. I really thought (and think) it was from sciatica. So I began seeing a chiropractor recommended by a friend. It really helped, but I'm still not 100 percent better. I need to see him again -- it's just really difficult to make multiple appointments in a week with the chickadees. There is only so far you can impose on friends to babysit for you.
This morning, I woke up with a pain in my back.
I am falling apart.
So what does this pain mean? What is God trying to teach me? I must admit that I am very impatient with it. I am not cut out to be a saint. I think of all the martyrs who bore their pain joyfully, of St. Therese of Liseux who was so patient in illness, and I am ashamed. But being in pain for so long has clouded everything and colored everything with a kind of gray discouragement. I know that I need to lose weight to feel better. I need to exercise in order to lose weight. I can't exercise because I can't walk, can't breathe, or have sciatica (which is horribly painful if you've never experienced it). It's a vicious cycle that I can't seem to break. I think of all the Nike commercials -- just do it. How we valorize athletes who "play through the pain." And I have been trying -- I'm doing deep water running twice a week (all the babysitting we want to pay for right now) and am taking the very strenous "Against the Current" class. So, while three hours of vigorous intentional exercise per week is not five hours of vigorous intentional exercise per week, it is a step in the right direction. I even walked in a 5 K race, for pete's sake -- I should say staggered, actually, and came in dead last. Humiliating. But I "just did it." And I am not seeing the results I want to see. I feel like Sysiphus -- pushing that same fricking boulder up the hill. That same 10-ish pounds comes on and comes off, comes on and comes off, comes on and comes off. Searching for the meaning in all this. Any suggestions welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment