When I realized that this week was the 4th year anniversary of the Exposed Movement, originally started by Mish at Eating Journey, my initial reaction was to scoff and whimper, “No way.” I remember feeling pretty great about exposing myself when I joined the movement in 2010. I had been working on my health and fitness for about a year, and I was feeling confident.
This year, I could not be in a more different place. This week I have been debilitated by crazy, relentless pain, and the simple acts of showering or trying to eat a 10-minute meal sitting up have been excruciating.
But as I began to read – and be inspired and moved by- other “anniversary” exposed posts – Carla and Karen and Emily, Jules, Kate and Roni – I felt like, the biggest part of Exposing oneself is in the showing up. As is. And of celebrating what there is to celebrate.
This week, I’m celebrating the fact that I can still find a comfortable position in which to write (on my back, laptop propped on knees). When my writing is taken away, it’s all over. But I’m also contemplating where I’ve been SINCE that first Exposed post back in 2010.
Since then, I’ve:
completed two triathlons
managed to stay within 5 lbs of my goal weight, and remained on staff at Weight Watchers
kept on my committed path of trying to be as healthy and fit as I am able
been able to discontinue my diabetes medication completely (although temporarily back on due to all the anti-inflammatories I’m on)
These are all big victories to me. The greatest victory I see is that I have not given up, not taken a U-turn or stopped caring or acting in behalf of my health. I might not be the unstoppable, badass triathlete I was in 2011, but that’s okay. Here’s a picture I took this afternoon.
I’m still here.
What would it mean – what would it look like and feel like – to expose yourself?
So it’s been a rough couple of months out here. I’ve basically been having nonstop right hip pain ever since the Oaklandhalf marathon, and it’s been bumming me out big time. The hardest part has been not knowing for sure what was wrong – was it a muscle pull? Bursitis? For a month or so I thought it might be due to some pretty big fibroids I have. But although they are clinically classified as “huge,” they have not grown or changed in size since 2009. So my gynecologist was not ready to do anything drastic until I got a complete workup from an orthopedist.
I finally went and had that evaluation on Wednesday. First he did a physical exam. He said he was pretty sure that I did have hip arthritis, and also based on my symptoms, pretty sure I am going to need a total hip replacement.
(that was my heart falling out of my body onto the floor)
I had been sort of bracing myself for this possibility. I tried to recover myself quickly and then I asked, “But what about running?” I think I had this picture in my head, like, as soon as I can just get FIXED, then I can carry on with all my usual stuff, that has, been by the way, on hold for a long time. He said, you know, people are going to do what they’re going to do, but we really do not recommend it. Especially for a young person, we want that new joint to last a long time, and the more you use it, the faster it will wear out.
And then I started crying. And pretty much didn’t stop for about eight hours, until I passed out from sobbing. I had to go to my Weight Watchers meeting. I drove past the site of See Jane Run and totally LOST MY SHIT.
I thought, that was my last race. Of my entire life. I thought, I was going to do that half marathon. And now I never will. I was choke-sobbing all the way to the parking lot of my WW center. I tried to pull myself together. A few of my observant members noticed that I looked like hell. They asked me if I was having a bad day. I really could not even talk about it for fear I would start hysterically wailing right there. I went and hid in a storage closet until the meeting was supposed to start, and miraculously I got through it more or less. It was frankly a relief to talk about SALADS for half an hour.
I got back in my car. The waterworks resumed. I had this image of coming into the house and seeing my beloved medal rack with all my race bling hanging there. I was wailing as if the world was over. Part of my world WAS over. I went home and crawled into bed. I felt like I was seventeen years old and the love of my life was breaking up with me. The love that I had never thought I’d have. Who ignored me my whole life and then finally turned their attention to me and said I was worthy.
Mr. McBody came in and held me as I carried on. I told him that he was not allowed to utter the words “swim” or “bike” until I deemed it acceptable. It was like when we lost our first child. People kept saying I would go on to have other wonderful children. Which turned out to be TRUE, but at that moment it was the last thing on earth I was able to hear. So, I might go on to have a wonderful biking or swimming life, but at that moment I needed to mourn the running.
Sometime during all this melee, I received a text from my dear friend Carla. She texted, Have you seen hiprunner.com? They have an e-Book….
I took a look at the site on Thursday, when my head was throbbing and my eyelids looked like giant waterbeds. I made some sort of wild noise of disbelief and joy as I read about other runners who had undergone hip replacements and who were… RUNNING! WHAT!?!?!?!?!? I immediately posted a comment of OMG OMG OMG are you kidding me?! I received a very warm welcome and an invitation to join the Hip Runners Club. Did I want to participate? HELL YES.
So. I have dried my tears. I am dusting myself off and looking toward the next whatever-it-is. I don’t know when this will actually happen because I need to find myself a new orthopedist (the one I saw this week is retiring) and I am going to find one who believes that some form of running post-op will be okay.
“A health moment I regret…”
Write about alternative treatments / regimens / medicine. What do you support? What is crazy?
I’m choosing the first prompt because if I choose the second one I’m afraid I’ll alienate a whole bunch of folks. I don’t want to get all confrontational. I think it’s a matter of personal choice. I think lots of things out there are crazy. I support PEOPLE, not regimes or treatments. Some people I care about might make different choices than I do. Some people think I’m crazy because I take pharmaceutical medications. We all have to do what we decide to do.
So… a health moment that I regret? Hmmm.
I regret waiting so long to take care of my health. That wasn’t one moment, but a series of a million moments that stretched into years. I regret waiting, knowing that I wasn’t in the best of health. I was in my forties and I thought I was OLD. That’s why I was always exhausted and out of breath, why I had chronically painful knees and back. I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs without wheezing. But I wasn’t old. I was overweight and sick. I regret having blinders on. I regret not wanting to see what was going on inside me.
But.. it’s never too late to take the blinders off.
Questions I have for for other patients OR
Write about: Life and Death
It might seem melodramatic to say that losing weight and getting more active is a matter of life and death for me, but I think it is. I was on a downward spiral when I first started this blog. I had gone to Weight Watchers many many times in the past, but I didn’t think it was life and death. I thought it was skinny jeans or a high school reunion dress. So it didn’t matter much to me. Looks weren’t important. I thought, it’s what’s inside that matters. What I didn’t realize was that inside, my high blood pressure was out the roof, my lipids and blood glucose were out of control. THAT what was going on inside while I was scoffing at people who wanted to wear bikinis. It isn’t just about that.
It took realizing that it IS all about life and death. I can have a good life, or I can have a shorter, more difficult life. I know I don’t have 100% say. There are genetics and other factors to consider. But I also can lean towards the life part of it.
It wasn’t until I realized that my weight, my activity level WERE as important as life and death that I decided to do something about it. I’m glad it wasn’t too late.
Write about a time you had to take the high road
The only news I care about today is the election, but I’m too anxious to write a news style post, so I’m going to choose the “high road” post. But in order to do that I wanted to be really sure what that meant. I Googled it and found:
You may have faced moments when you want nothing more than to react loudly when somebody pushes your buttons. Taking the high road will keep the peace. It’s the best way to handle conflict and maintain your own moral high ground.
I’ve had my buttons pushed a number of times regarding my diabetes. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed that I realized that there are deep seated prejudices regarding especially Type 2 diabetes. When I began to participate in message boards and other diabetes communities, I read several posts from people (who either had Type 1 or had children with Type 1 – actually more parents of T1s) who were scornful and/or disgusted by any resources going to people with Type 2 diabetes. I quickly came to realize that many people view Type 2 diabetes as the kind that “fat people get” or people who just eat like pigs and bring it on themselves.
I felt that way myself.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed to have done such harm to my body and felt like I was unworthy of any sort of kindness or attention. Indeed, the same week that I was diagnosed, I attended a solo performance by a woman who had had Type 1 diabetes since childhood. She depicted an alarming/hilarious scene in which she is woken up to have her blood tested by an anxious mother several times a night. Sitting in the audience, I was thinking, oh wow, there’s my people!
And then she said, “I have Type 1 diabetes! Not the kind that people who eat tons of cheeseburgers get.”
I wanted to crawl underneath my theater seat and die. She was talking about ME, of course. I furtively looked from side to side to see if anyone was going to throw me out of the theater. Of course nobody had a clue what was happening with me.
But that was the beginning of seeing the bias that is out there. The conventional wisdom is that Type 1 diabetics are innocent, and that they have done nothing to “bring it on” themselves. And that Type 2s are to blame for their (our) conditions.
Since those early days I have learned that behavior and lifestyle are only partial factors in Type 2 diabetes. There are some elements of truth in that perception. But a lot of it is based in genetic predisposition, something that none of us can control. There are people who are very inactive and who eat fabulously unhealthy diets, who will never ever get Type 2 diabetes. And there are normal-or-underweight people who run marathons who might.
It’s been hard for me to not feel defensive and attacked when people make “type 2” remarks. And they do it all the time. Sometimes I feel like attacking back. Because honestly, I feel like I am doing the best I damn can.
But then I have to take a deep breath and take the highest road I can find.
Bottom line is, it’s good for ALL of us to make healthier food choices and to be active in our lives. Right?
This is Post #6 (WOW!) of National Health Blog Post Month.
Writing Prompts: Health Activist Soapbox.
OR Write a #ListOf3 Things that you’re thankful for / excited about / or inspired by
I really thought I was going to write about my three things today, and maybe I will as a post script. As late as yesterday, I thought I had nothing (or not much) to get on a soapbox about, but now I realize I do.
Last week, I was struggling with a bout of (pre-)shingles. I felt as if my bra strap was filled with burning thumb tacks. It was hugely uncomfortable, especially when I was driving. Which I do a lot. Any little bump in the road sent an electric shot of hot pain through the right side of my upper back. It was killer, and I was terrifying and depressed that it was only going to get worse. My back was going to break out into oozing pustules of painful, itchy yuck.
I had heard vaguely of shingles before, but I thought that they were something only suffered by Old People. I didn’t get the vaccine.
But a couple of weeks ago, I started feeling this… weird discomfort. It was limited to a very specific part of my body, as we learned in PT school, a determatomal patch. When I went to my trainer I mentioned this pain. I said, it’s not a muscle kind of pain. It’s my skin—or rather, UNDER my skin.
This is exactly what shingles is. It’s a dormant chicken pox virus that hangs out, sneakily, for decades, and then sometimes fifty or sixty years after the first outbreak, it wakes up! And attacks with a renewed and very painful life. Childhood chicken box tends to be itchy, but adult chicken pox hurts like hell.
This went on for about a week and steadily got worse. But nothing to be seen on the surface at all. After a week I went to see my doctor. She said it sure sounded like shingles. And that the only way of knowing was to take antiviral medication. If it got better, then it was probably shingles. And if it got worse, then we would have ruled shingles out and we could go on to figuring out other things.
For the first two days on the antiviral meds, the shingles pain seemed to get worse. I was getting depressed and frantic. But then it stayed the same. And then, slowly, it began getting better. And better. And now it feels pretty much normal.
I never got the rash. I WAS SPARED!
So what is my soapbox about today? It’s about… dealing with stuff EARLY. This happened with my diabetes when it was still in the Pre- stage. And I swear that this is one of the reasons it is still in good control. My endocrinologist echoes this. She says that if you catch diabetes before it has gotten to a severe state, then it will progress at a much slower rate than otherwise.
This just happened again with the Pre-Shingles.
I can’t tell you how many times people say, “I’ll just wait and see what happens.” Ie., I will see how bad it can REALLY get. Before getting it checked out. But the problem with that, is that if you wait until something gets REALLY BAD, then the damage is already done. You’re already going to be badly messed up.
I really feel like I dodged a huge, nasty, terrible bullet with this one. I’m staying with my aunt and uncle in laws this week. Their sister-in-law had shingles. It was horrible and painful and spread to her eye and blinded her. Seriously. BLIND in one eye. I am so very grateful I caught mine in time.
The second thing I am on my soapbox about it, take your medicine. Medicine is not inherently evil. A lot of people I know are all, “I don’t like to take medicine.” Who does? Sometimes medicine has terrible side effects. I myself admit that I did not take the Lyrica samples that my doctor gave me for nerve pain. Partly because I was holding out for it to get REALLY BAD (which it thankfully never did) and partly because I read that a side effect is: weight gain. Hahaha. Which I knew I did not want. So sometimes we have to choose.
In this case, though, I am very very grateful that I took this ginormous blue horse pill three times a day. I feel like it spared me an awful situation. I’m taking them until the bottle is empty.
So that’s what my (unexpected) soap box is about today:
Get it checked out in the very early stages, whatever it is.
Take your medicine.
Bonus blogette (second prompt):
I’m thankful for my doctor and my medicine.
I’m excited to be re-joining Team in Training, this time with the Run Team (my first time ever!) starting next weekend. I will be training to do the Oakland Half Marathon with my team in March, but also for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January.
I’m inspired by Juniorette, my daughter, who just ran a sub-2 hour half marathon at the US Half Marathon in San Francisco yesterday. I’m so proud of her! She is a rock star. We’re going to be doing the Tinkerbell Half together and all I can say is she is going to be waiting a LONG time at the finish line for her mama.
I’ll never forget the first time I did the Big Blue Test. It involves taking one’s blood glucose, then exercising for 14+ minutes, then taking it again. Simple. I first did it the first year I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had never done this particular before-and-after test before, and I remember my blood glucose going down a LOT after exercising. It was such an eye opener and it was THE thing that helped me make the direct connection between activity and health. MY health.
Last year I was fortunate enough to participate in the Big Blue Test video promoting exercise for people with diabetes. It was so much fun, such and honor, and to this day I do not fail to get goosebumps when I hear that song. This year’s video is pretty darn cool, too!
The deal is that every day between now and November 14 (World Diabetes Day) – you can take the test at the Big Blue Test site. You don’t have to have diabetes in order to help people with diabetes!Each test done will mean a donation toward much needed supplies for people with diabetes.
This morning I put on my BBT T-shirt. I tested, then got on the elliptical in my garage for 22 minutes, then tested again. The drop isn’t as huge as it was the first year, BUT that’s because I ate an apple with peanut butter less than an hour beforehand and I can tell you that without the exercise, it would have been a lot, LOT higher. So YEAH exercise, and YEAH Big Blue Test.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a comment that was left recently, in which Karen said, “I don’t ‘do’ challenges…” and I nodded my head. She’s not that kind of person. So many people aren’t. But then I had to think. I AM the kind of person who does a challenge. As often as possible. Who almost needs a challenge in order to get ANYthing done. Left to my own devices, I’m likely to sit around and watch TV shows on Hulu all day. But given a challenge – and suddenly I am capable of things I would never consider on my own.
I am currently in a ton of challenges, some private ones just with myself, and then others that involve hundreds or more people.
The Writing Challenge: I recently challenged myself to write as many consecutive days as possible on 750words.com. Blog posts do not count. I’m now on Day 3, which means I’ve earned myself a Turkey sticker. Yay me! Writing has been so important to me (so I say) and yet I do not make it as much of a priority as I’d like. So I’m just doing this on my own.
A running friend of mine has challenged me to run every day. Any time or distance. I am now on Day 5. Last night it was almost midnight and I hadn’t run. I put on my shoes and ran circles around my little street for 5 minutes. I’m saying that counted. But… no way would that have happened without the Running Challenge.
The Yoga Challenge: I have done one yoga pose a day for the past 15 days. Except for today. Tomorrow I will do two. I admit that I tried today’s pose in the morning and it scared me so I backed off. I will complete it tomorrow, with picture, as well as tomorrow’s pose.
Creative Process Challenge: I’ve been reading this bookwhich asserts that for successful writing to occur, you must do three things. Process, product and self-care. I count the running and yoga as self-care. The product is what happens with the Writing Challenge. But now I am also challenging myself to 15 minutes of non-goal oriented creative process per day. So far I have played with pink Play-Dough and done a drawing of a pumpkin. Two days down.
The Big Blue Test: from now until Nov 14th (National Diabetes Day) I am participating in the Big Blue Test. This very test helped me understand the link between diabetic health and exercise, and I will be forever grateful. I encourage everyone, diabetic or not, to participate, because every test done means that $5 will be donated for much-needed medical supplies.
SO those are the things I am doing right now. That’s a minimum of an hour (or more) committed to Challenges per day. I’m finding the time where it seems there is none. But I can say if I weren’t doing the challenges, that time would be lost.
I think I am the kind of person who NEEDS challenges. Interesting.
Have you ever participated in a challenge to get yourself going? Are you doing one now? Tell me!
One of the things I have loved the most in this past year has been bringing people along on their first official race. Mary joined me in her first 5k at See Jane Run; Sofia joined me in the Color Run (and went on to do her first half marathon and is now training for her first full marathon — WOOHOO!) and this past weekend, my friend Ericka threw her fears to the wind and joined me in the wackiest race of all – the Muddy Buddy. I don’t even remember how this happened; but I think it was via a Facebook post when I thought she was joking about joining me. Ericka has been my workout buddy with our beloved trainer DJ for several years now – we have sweated together plenty, but she has always declared herself “not a runner” and she was content to cheer me on from afar. I actually have no idea what came over her, but I was so psyched!!
Ericka and I have both had our health battles recently. We celebrated our 50th birthdays, and then I got diabetes and she was hit with Graves disease. Our combined age is 105 (!!!) which put us squarely in the “Women Masters” category for this race. I reminded her that we are in a tiny percentage of 50-year old women with chronic diseases who are participating in athletic events at this level.
I have done a few “fun runs” of 5ks recently, and they truly have been fun for me. But I knew this one was going to be tougher – including off road biking on a mountain bike, likely hills, and those crazy obstacles. If there’s one thing I don’t feel super confident about, it’s my upper arm strength. However, I told Ericka that our aim was to FINISH, and to finish was to win. I really believed that.
We are both writers, and we needed a team name. She came up with “Dirty Wordsters” (haha). I made us matching team shirts (thanks to watching my daughters make dozens of them for their crew team in the past 6 years) and she decorated the bike with dirty words like “filth” and “slime.” We so clever!
Mr. McBody and I picked up Ericka at 5:30am and we drove down to San Jose to this park. Lily’s husband, who grew up there, had already warned me it was “pretty hilly.” Since he was a varsity triathlete at Cal, this was something I took very seriously. Ack. HILLS. Not my favorite.
We got there, jumped around to warm up, visited the PortaPotty, and tried to relax. But I was hecka nervous. I heard the race announcer say that the first mile was “straight uphill.” NICE!
We were in the last wave to start, the “Women Masters.” (ie, the old ladies) I was relieved to see other women our age. It’s not often you go up to other women and ask, “How old are you?” but I did just that and when the other women said “53” I jumped up and gave them high-fives. Yeah baby, we rock. I was feeling pretty fierce and ready.
We moved on up and saw the other waves taking off. We saw some people walking their bikes right from the Start line. I kept saying, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna walk, but then when I was at the Start and I saw everyone on their bikes, shame took hold of me and I was like, well, I’ll ride, until I can’t. I’m actually glad I did.
The starting horn went off and I got on the bike. I was glad to make it up a few hundred yards before it just got TOO steep. At that point I’d say 90% of the participants were walking, pushing their bikes. Damn that bike was HEAVY. Pretty soon the “runners” were overtaking us (bike members went first, then runners). But they weren’t really running either. Like I said, it was hecka steep. And it went on. And on. I felt like I was eating dust, just heaving for every breath. It went on for a full mile. Just up. And up. And up. It felt pretty darn grim.
At the top of the hill was our first obstacle, and time for me to leave the bike in the “Bike Drop” for my buddy. Of course she had passed me by, walking! We climbed on this spiderwebby thing, up and over. I got a tad bit freaked at the very top, but managed it OK.
Then it was more rolling hills, run, bike, obstacle. Each of us had 3 bike parts and 3 running parts. I was jealous that her first bike was this gorgeous downhill section! But then I got to run that as well.
What can I say? It felt long. It felt really, really hot. We were out in open fields with NOTHING out there but for a dirt trail. But it was okay. There were lots of other people around us – ie, we weren’t being left in the dust – including what seemed to be many younger people (what???). We kept passing the same folks off and on.
The obstacles, which I had been nervous about, weren’t too bad at all. There was a mud tunnel, which I have to say we were very prepared for. We do a lot of low crawling and walking in our trainer workouts. The high things were not so bad. Until the very end (I’ll get to that).
The entire course took us about an hour and a half (OK, exactly an hour and a half)! Which had been my optimistic estimate. I’d looked at other race results and saw that many women our age were coming in between 1:30 and 2:00. So I was hoping for 1:30 at best, and well, whatever it took, as long as we finished.
For the final leg, Ericka was on bike and I was on foot. She had to wait for me for a while because we were supposed to do the final 3 obstacles, including the Mud Pit, together.
Eventually I showed up. We were both pretty tired, but stoked that it was almost over. The first obstacle was a some sort of giant ladder climbing thing. (I think) Not bad. The second one was a rope climb over this blue wooden wall. It didn’t LOOK that bad. I grabbed the rope. Then started to walk up. Hahahaha. The wall was covered in something very slippery — lard? butter? soap?? In any case, we tried and tried and after a few minutes just looked at each other and said, “Uh-uh.” We walked around it.
Then it was time for the infamous MUD PIT. Ooooh boy!! I will say that the cold wet mud felt REALLY GOOD after all that dry dusty heat. We crawled under the flag ropes like a couple of mud puppies. Laughing.
Then we had a little female mud-wrestling moment.
Then clambered out. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the word “clamber” until then.
Then we ran through the finish holding hands. Then we got our medals. We were PSYCHED!
Then it was shower (aka garden hose) time. Boy did we need that.
To say that we were filthy was an understatement. But that was the point, right? It was darn hard. It was challenging. We really, really pushed. But in the end I am proud to say that we came in with 43 other teams behind us, most of them younger than we are. That made me feel really good. Not bad for 52 and 53, huh?
So many people asked me, “WHY on earth would you voluntarily sign up for something like that?” And looked even more incredulous when I answered, “Because I’d never done one.” Ha ha, I know, most people haven’t, and have no desire to. But for me, it’s about changing it up, finding new things to do to stay active and most importantly to have fun.
What’s the wackiest, craziest or most fun race you’ve ever done?