Sunday, May 10, 2020
So it's been a while. I haven't had many positives to share lately...or lighthearted negatives for that matter. I've been Grinchy and depressed. The Negative-Nancy in me feels like anytime I try to do good or feel good or be good, there's something or someone or some regulation or some fucking SNOWSQUALL to knock me back down. This is by all measures a privileged rant; I have a warm house, a healthy family, an employed husband working safely from home, physical space to get outside, the time and equipment required to facilitate e-learning for three kids...the list of things to be thankful for is endless but I spiral nonetheless. If you're only looking for the cheerful stuff, a) why are you here? and b) skip to the last couple paragraphs. But if you care to let me vent, grab a beer and dig in.
We all have plights, and I'm going to share my biggest (at the moment).
I've suffered from lower back aches and pain much of my life. It came to a head in 2007 when I was rowing a single scull through Port Meadow in Oxford, UK. Sounds idyllic, but the herds of cows shitting directly into the Thames can quickly alter one's perception. About 3km downriver from the boathouse, I reached for the catch, grabbed hold of the water with my blades and took a less than perfect stroke. I couldn't sit up to save my life because of the lightning shooting through my back. It was nothing I had ever felt before, I was all by myself and I was scared. I managed to lilly dip back to the club all folded over, where one of the other coaches had to lift me out of the boat and into the truck. (Not my finest moment...he was cute...or as they say across the pond; well fit) It took days to get off the floor of my neighbour's flat and weeks to start walking, but I did recover - with heavy meds. I really didn't give this incident much thought until I started getting repeatedly pregnant five years later. Only a few months into each marathon, I was plagued with debilitating back and pelvic pain that no one understood. Sure, they feigned sympathy for the pregnant chick, but I was essentially told to suck it up. Regardless, I kept pumping out offspring. After our third - and last - I started trying to regain my fitness in earnest, but was struck down again by the lightning. I was stuck on the floor again, this time with three REALLY small kids to take care of. After a few days, when I was able enough to be all but carried to the car, I sought treatment, got myself walking again, started working on fitness again, only to be incapacitated again with my mystery of a condition. This cycle repeated itself five times in two years and our family doc was doing nothing to help so I pulled the plug and found another. During my first appointment we were barely into the exam when my leg collapsed underneath me. She booked an MRI on the spot and less than a month later I went in on a cancellation. And there it was; one beaut of a disc herniation pressing right up against my nerve roots. I call her Big Bertha.
FINALLY! Some concrete evidence, and an answer to what had been plaguing me for years. And a picture to throw in the faces of those who figured it was the natural aches and pains of pregnancy or aging, something I could walk off, or get over. Nope. Hard, irrefutable proof I was not a wimp. Hallelujah! That knowledge alone was enough to motivate me back to health, but what came next from Doc is what really saved me; "I don't doubt your pain." she said. "Nerve pain is torture but the pain is not going anywhere anytime soon, so now you're going to own it." That stung a little, but she carried on; "You said you can swim without aggravating it, so you're going to be a swimmer." There it was. Not "You're going to try swimming", or "You're going to get in the water so many times a week", or "We're going to up the dose of this med and try another med until we cut you open"..."You're going to BE A SWIMMER". Just the right thing to say to a has-been athlete. So over the course of next ~8 months I swam. A lot. I joined the Laurentian Masters Swim Club, I got my arse out of bed for 6am practices 2-3 times a week. In addition to chiropractic care, I started twice-weekly physio treatments and strengthening sessions with a Kinesiologist at CrossFit Sudbury. (Location alone should tell you it was no walk in the park). I was making REAL progress for the first time in over a decade. I felt human, I felt like mySELF. I was able to ski distances I haven't touched in eons, I could bike with my kids and hike with my husband and commit to photoshoots... It. Was. Huge.
The pool: shuttered. The clinic: closed. The gym: off limits. All the tools keeping me from going under the knife were ripped from under my feet. So I pivot. I did my maintenance exercises at home. I continued to ski my arse off until the trails were toast and the ice too thin. I eased into running - my nemesis - hoping for a short-lived shoulder season. Then the fucking snow and sub zero temperatures in MAY. If you know me, you know I hate the heat so when the one year I need a warm spring turns out to break every shit weather record out there, I crash hard.
I've been mopey, morose, unmotivated, hopeless and feeling quite sorry for myself as I lose the progress I worked so hard for and feel my back eke towards another failure...enter Mother's Day and those offspring I mentioned.
This morning the four year old served me a cold cup of yesterday's coffee with two slices of burnt toast and sour cream in bed. The 6 year old heard I wanted apple juice, but could only find oranges so he hand squeezed 'em for me. Literally. Filthy mitts and all. I received hand-crafted masterpieces from all three...and cash in the envelopes. Reid says I can buy a gumball from the store with the ¢25 one when Covid-19 is over. What more could a Mom ask for? Sean was in bed through all of it so I know it came directly from their beautiful, little hearts. Swoon.
So there you have it. My (biggest) excuse for slumping and my reason for starting the cycle all over...again. I will restart a million times over for this family, but I'm still going to cry when I have to because it's really fucking hard. Hopefully Big Bertha can keep the weight off until lake season. If not, Sean's installing a heater in Nepahwin for me. ;)
If you made it this far down the extenda-post, thank you. It helps to feel understood, and simply putting it into words for you has been cathartic for me - even if I'm the only one to read these last paragraphs. If you're struggling (you have to be struggling), what's your plight? Big or small, they all matter and from personal experience I've found that if I let them fester they can become a much larger problem. Have you been missing an outlet to vent your woes? Do you hesitate to put negativity out there? I'm happy to lend an ear or an inbox to anyone who wants to rage. You heard me out after all!