Natural Therapy

Last night I was digging through a giant box full of 35mm transparencies (slides) looking for specific pictures for a new class I’m teaching in a couple of weeks. Naturally, the effort took far longer than I anticipated, partly because I kept finding other interesting pictures, such as vacation photos. I finally did find what I was looking for, but once again, it was after midnight before I got to sleep.

One picture was of me back in 2000 when I was building our backyard pond. Kitted out in a tank top, a pair of knee-length boy’s cargo shorts, a pair of leather gloves and my hiking boots, I was hardly a fashion plate. But boy was I buff. I had muscles, and it showed because I was holding a very large chunk of limestone up above waist level. The long rock was about six inches / fifteen centimeters thick and wide, and stood on end it would have reached my hip bone. The piece weighed about 90 pounds / 41 kilos, which is less than I’ve ever weighed as an adult, so hardly something braggable in the world of bench-pressing barbells, but it was still a respectable lunk of solid rock to be schlepping about.

Nowadays the arthritis slows down the yard work considerably. I can’t work as long, and it takes me longer to get going in the morning because I have to eat before taking my meds. Continuing to do some form of weight-bearing exercise is important to avoid the osteoporosis that runs through my maternal line. But I also have to take care to protect my joints against non-Tennis-playing Elbow and the stupid shoulder subluxation.

I have to force myself to work out at home or the gym during the winter. Frankly, this winter I’ve been especially lax in doing so, partly because by the time I get off work I’m so tired and achey I can’t bear to go to the gym.

It’s funny though, how if you have a physical impairment, what would ordinarily be getting exercise somehow gets turned into Receiving Therapy after its trip through the “disability grinder”.

The last time I visited the “Physical Terrorist” was a few years ago when I went to the university clinic for something-or-another. I left with some over-photocopied handouts describing exercises, and a prize (better than any shiny piece of costume jewelry from the dentist’s “treasure chest”), my beloved rice sock for re-heating and draping across sore places.

The PT encouraged me to come back for more therapy, but I found the exercises to be sufficiently effective on my own. I’m not keen on people manipulating my body. Other people think that if my joints can move within the normal range of motion, that I must be okay. But in truth it means that I’m actually injured and stiff because they are reduced in range of motion from my usual hypermobile state. It’s also hard to convince them that I normally have oddly-placed or large bruises about my body, and that I really can’t remember getting them, and that “No, nobody is abusing me, thanks for asking.”

Any kind of therapeutic exercise is more fun, easier to do, more beneficial, and more likely to be engaged in and maintained if it is combined with one’s daily activities, rather than done strictly as PT or gym exercises. I continue to schlep my briefcase or luggage-size tote with my teaching references around campus (frequently switching which side I’m carrying it on), and try to get in as many staircases as the routes require during the day.

The turnabout is that even dull exercises can be more inspired or inspiring if I think of them as antecedants for doing the fun stuff. I need to start stretching out and doing dumbbell reps again, because spring lurks around the corner.

The daffodils are poking up through the mud and leaf litter, reminding me that I need to rake. And once gardening season starts, I can get in lots of stretching, range of motion exercise, weight-lifting, deep knee bends et cetera, just from fun things like turning over and hauling compost, digging, planting, weeding, deadheading and all those other fun “chores”.

I’ll just be doing them for an hour at a time now, instead of eight hours solid. I hear it’s warmish and sunny tomorrow …

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Random bits from bed (thoughts before arising)

I tossed and turned all night.

Well, not really. Tossing and turning implies far more bounciness and energetic mobility than I had. Rather, I woke up every couple hours when it was time to shift to another sleeping position. There were no comfortable positions to be had (there never really are), but with enough pyjama-straightening to remove the deadly little wrinkles pinned under my hips and shoulders, by shifting the spare pillows to completely pad between my bony knees and feet, and plumping up my head pillow again, I could reach a level of acceptable discomfort and fall asleep again.

I get plenty of REM sleep; in fact, it seems like all I do is dream because any disturbance wakes me from a dream. (An article in Scientific American describes just how more interrupted sleep results in longer and more intense dream periods.) I just don’t know that I’m getting enough deep, restful sleep. When I’m sick I’ll be in bed for eight to ten hours more-or-less sleeping, but I still seem generally stuck at six-hour nights. I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night, but it was several years ago.

The good news is that Read the rest of this entry »

Weights and Balances

Today I joined hubby for a short visit to the health club. I’d not been in a large number of months, but decided that this would be a good opportunity to scope things out with regards to what they had. I need to get back into the habit of getting some regular exercise. I figured that scoping things out ahead of time and figuring out what I needed, and when I was going to go, would be a good way of easing back into the habit. Why wait until New Year’s Day to make a resolution?

There are a number of good reasons for me to get some exercise, but an equally weighty number of reasons why it’s been increasingly difficult to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Circling Over O’Hare

I am in the waiting place. Again. Still. It’s annoying.

I can be patient; I’ve spent hours waiting and watching for things to happen when doing outdoor photography, waiting for the sun to be covered by a cloud so the light is not so contrasty, waiting for the eternal wind to not blow so hard, waiting for an insect to alight somewhere, waiting for it to quit raining, et cetera.

But at the core, I like to operate and make my decisions based upon facts. A lack of (what feels like) sufficient or useful data leads me to milling around, stuck until I can figure out where or how to get the information I need. I also like to know what I’m going to be doing, so I can be prepared and plan around the other things in my life. One of the ways that I reduce stresses in my life is by limiting these free-floating anxieties.

Merely being in the limbo of putting things on hold because I’m stuck waiting is annoying, but I’m an adult. I can deal with feeling like I’m stuck on a dreary flight circling over O’Hare airport, waiting for a runway to free up. There’s no point in having a hissy fit because that won’t change anything. So why am I grousing? Read the rest of this entry »

Time to get dressed

There I am, finally dressed and breakfasted and medicated and packed for work. A storm was coming in, so it was actually, finally cold enough to wear a jacket. I pulled my leather bomber jacket and wool fedora from the coat closet, then set my purse and lunch bag down to pull on the jacket.

Meanwhile, hubby comes by from the kitchen to give me a good-bye kiss and observes, “You look like you’re in pain, or tired, or both.”

I nod; it’s both. I’ve been slow getting up and ready in the mornings, hence slow to eat and then take my meds, and the dosage on the arthritis medication was halved to see if that helps the hypertension. My HRT was also dropped for the same reason, so I’ve not had a good night’s sleep the past month due to frequent hot flashes. Kinda sucks, but life goes on.

Then I’m slowly flapping my left arm, trying to get it into my left jacket sleeve, which is absurd because normally I can reach my arm around backwards so much that I can even scratch my own back. Read the rest of this entry »

Power surges and outtages

“Power surges” is the common joke phrase referring to having menopausal hot flashes.

Oh, yes. Because what’s life without something new to deal with? And naturally, it’s something inter-twined with everything else. Generally when women experience menopause, it’s because their hormones are going from the usual monthly oscillation to a damped oscillation, where the ups and downs get smaller and smaller. Mine aren’t — this is the thrill of quitting my HRT (hormone replacement therapy) that I’d been on after surgery five years ago. In a mere day’s time, I went from a low dose HRT to nothing. Klud.

First I had what my OB/GYN described as an ovarian cyst the size of an orange, which cyst+ovary she somehow managed to remove from a mere 1″ (2.5 cm) incision. (I suppose that pulling out large objects from narrow passages is the specialty of OB/GYNs.) Having been relieved of that painful annoyance, things went well for about a year, and then I started having the periods from hell again. They turned into the periods from hell with interperiods that were nearly as bad — now I had endometriosis.

That was bad enough, but the worse part wasn’t the surgical solution — Read the rest of this entry »

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