eat, move, think, feel

Listening to My Body: but what is it saying?? September 29, 2009

imagesThis ankle injury has been making me think a lot about this idea of “listening” to one’s body. On one hand, listening to my body got me into this trouble in the first place. But then part of me was trying to say something else. What if your body sends you mixed messages?

Today, the 3rd day of my injury, it is feeling a lot better than Sunday. I am limping just the slightest bit. It’s hurting about the same as it was 3rd-day-past, when I sprained it back in August. If I were “listening” to my body, I’d say I’m definitely ready to go to Nia class tomorrow, and running this weekend for SURE. But that’s not what the podiatrist said, and definitely not what I’m supposed to do.

It’s really hard to be compliant when your body is saying it “needs” something other than what you’re doing with/for it. Last night, I put my cast boot on at bedtime. At first (for the first twenty minutes) it felt comforting, like it was holding me in place. But I woke up around midnight and felt like I was encased in some medieval torture device. The plastic edge was digging into my toes, and my ankle was throbbing and searing in discomfort. I thrashed around trying to come into a comfortable position. But I am a diehard stomach-sleeper, and with that comes the position of having the top surfaces of my feet flattened into the mattress. I can’t do that with my ankle cemented at a 90 degree angle. I tried to negotiate with myself, but around 1am my body was shrieking, “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” I couldn’t take it.

And because I COULD, I sat up and ripped the velcro belts off the thing, liberated my lower leg – I told myself “just a few minutes,” fell back asleep, and the next thing I knew it was 6am, I was on my stomach and my ankle was in the Forbidden Position. (much like the illustration here) I felt guilty, sheepish and afraid. What if I had just stretched my ligament fragments even further apart?

Today, already I feel myself questioning the need to wear the dumb boot. Come ON! I feel FINE! It’s more of a pain to clomp around in what is essentially a ski boot, than to go barefoot and have a small limp.

Suddenly for some reason I am understanding why and how there are diabetics who pretty much ignore the fact of their disease because they can’t “feel” it. It was that way for me when I had high blood pressure.

I don’t know why it is that I feel that I need to be compliant re my diabetes no matter how I “feel,” but I am feeling more resistant about this ankle thing. Maybe because I don’t really believe that it will be harmful to go without the boot – because it doesn’t hurt. But diabetes doesn’t “hurt” either, not really. (not at THIS point)

It’s a short-term vs long term thing. Grasshopper and ant. I want to dance NOW. I want to run NOW. But if I do that, I could end up with debilitating arthritis. I can keep the vision of diabetic amputees, blindness and kidney failure at the front of my consciousness, because I’ve seen that, and I know it’s real.  Is it just that I haven’t seen people with debilitating arthritis who are saying, “Oh I sprained my ankle a hundred times, and never immobilized it, and look where I am now!” Do I have to see it to believe it??


15 Responses to “Listening to My Body: but what is it saying??”

  1. Foodie… don’t make me scold you! Be obedient to your doctors orders. You don’t want to make this something bigger than it already is. Take a deep breath and appreciate your body healing!

    XO angie

  2. jadepark Says:

    There is a lesson in every thing that happens to us–you have had great success with your weight loss and fitness (hoorah!!) and now this horrid ankle snap/ligament tear has happened.😦

    You have responded to every challenge in keeping up your fitness and you have been an inspiration to all of us–and I now know you will continue to inspire us as you navigate this obstacle!

  3. Mollie Says:

    Dear Crazy-

    Listen to your doctor before you foot falls off. I mean it. And wear your boot. Are you INSANE??? What would you tell me to do…. certainly not what you are doing. You are just going to have to suck it up and do what you know you have to do.


    Some mean person off the street who actually knows what is best for you

  4. MizFit Says:


    (eh or do. I wanna run away anyway :))

  5. terrepruitt Says:

    So I see now how you are. I am going to bring a chair and GLUE and rope if necessary. I see that I am going to have to glue your butt to the chair and tie you down. During the Jam.

    I love that all your commentors are advising you to listen to the doctor.

    I have a question. Do you think that because we have so many parts we have a lot to listen to? I think that sometimes I listen to the “parts” I want to listen to. As an example the arm says “move, I am restless” but my leg says, “wait I hurt”. Just a thought. I was just wondering if you were ignoring your ankle because the rest of you wanted to move.

    I love what Angie said. And Jade and Molly. Too funny!

    Please be strong—in the sense that it is best to what you KNOW is right. So be strong in your conviction that you need to rest and heal.

    I really believe that one can glean health and Joy from doing Nia in a modified way (I am going to keep pushing the chair way)!

    • LOL – so if anybody who doesn’t know us shows up to Nia Jam, they will know YOU because you’ll be the one with the chair, the rope and the glue. And they’ll know me because of the big ugly boot on my foot!

      I do think you nailed it on the head though when you said I was ignoring my ankle because the rest of me wanted to move. Today I drove past someone running and it made me want to cry.

      Tomorrow, I am going to see my trainer and I am going to ask him to give me THE WORKS – ANYthing that does not involve a certain ankle! He’s very creative so I know it will be good. And then I will feel better.

      • terrepruitt Says:

        Yeah, I think that a lot of us are good at listen to what we want to hear. I think that Listening to the Body means listening to what is really honestly good for it.

        (Ooh I tweeted and FB Debbie’s Blog about a conference and in one post she said she thinks she didn’t get injured because she would stop running when she started to hurt!)

        Anyway . . . this could be a lesson . . . I don’t know, but I do know that if you listen to your body and everyone else on this blog telling you to do what the doctor says you are going to find some other way to get your “exercise on”, you are going to find something else to add to your fitness routine, and you will be able to walk because you are going to take care of your ankle. You will be surprised.

        So swimming and biking is ok because you are not putting your weight on it, even though you are moving your ankle through full range of motion? Or are you talking about doing both without moving your foot through the full range of motion?

  6. Pubsgal Says:

    You’re probably going to smack me for saying this (I would), but this could be a good chance to do “chair bound” fitness experiments. Sometimes diabetic feet are a real obstacle for people, and this could be a way to explore how to get/stay fit anyway.

    Do you have any plans wrt alternative fitness activities to look forward to?

  7. Pubsgal Says:

    And write about it, of course! As you’re doing.

    I know what you mean about listening to your body being hard. I feel like mine sent me false messages…or, at least, I wasn’t listening properly, that I find it hard to trust now.

  8. terrepruitt Says:

    See? Pubsgal is thinking chair too. I think that you would be surprised!

  9. Oh yeah, all I am hearing is CHAIR. and (for later) SWIM and BIKE. Which happen to be my two least favorite activities ever, but I think I am going to have to change that.

    • Sue Dickman Says:

      I think you should listen to all these wise commenters, esp. the one related to you. You really, really, really don’t want this to get worse and to torment you for years to come. You need your ankle for a lot of things.

      I know it’s hard to make yourself love swimming if you don’t, but biking is easier to adjust to, I think. I never used to go on the bike at the gym–I thought I wouldn’t get a good workout b/c my heart rate wasn’t up as much, and I just got bored easily. But I started adding in short stints in addition to other things, and then for a little while last fall, after I tore my calf muscle, that was the only thing I could do (and with no resistance, either), and it grew on me. I don’t bike as much outside as I’d like to, but I now see the benefit of including some biking in my overall routine.

      I love to swim anyway, but my best advice is to learn to do flip turns, if you don’t know already. It makes such a difference to be able to keep going without having to stop at the end of the lane.

      Anyway, it seems that your challenge is to figure out how to be nice to your ankle while being nice to the rest of your body in a way that’s not mutually exclusive. Good luck with it all!

  10. Hanlie Says:

    Immobilization really is crucial, so don’t do yourself in… I know it sucks!

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