Updated: May 13, 2020
"When I need to dig deep, I remind myself what I am made of. I am an Ironman after all. I can swim 3.8k, bike 180k and run 42.2k. I would do almost anything to have that back again. Hopefully someday. For today, it will just have to serve as a reminder of what is in me."
I found today difficult. I had a restless night and had real panic set in that took sometime to manage. I have had panic attacks since my mid-twenties after the death of my grandfather. Loss seems to trigger me. I am sure that is normal. My way to combat them is through exercise. I do not have panic attacks very often anymore. The last one spurred my decision to change things in my life, because I had what I called 'a total effing meltdown' just before Christmas. Unfortunately, I have a lot of bone, joint and pain issues and sometimes my body won’t cooperate to let me stay as active as I would like, so my desired coping mechanism goes out the window.
Even though I am doing these posts to share the things I have incorporated into my life to deal with the isolation I have previously experienced, being impacted by a global pandemic is different. There are other examples of the world pulling together for a common cause, but in our lifetime, there has not been a situation that could impact every single person on the planet. I have not seen anyone for a long time now, and that is hard. At least before I could go be in a room with people to do yoga, or go to my group fitness class, or try to have a coffee with a friend. I also brought junk food into the house and ate it and then felt like I had a two-day sugar hangover. I am sure all of that is contributing to restlessness and stress. Like most people, I am worried about friends and family, work, the world, and it weighs on me.
Today I got a request from a friend to talk about movement and mental health. I have been injured for many years as the result of a car accident that resulted in a double disc rupture, back surgery and partial paralysis of my left leg and permanent nerve damage. I have done pretty much everything at my disposal to combat or decrease the pain, even two nerve ablations. Essentially, that is a procedure that burns a nerve to kill it. I had to try to stop debilitating pain in my neck and back.
When I started to address my mental and emotional isolation, I added more yoga and group fitness classes and they were really helping. I love to move and even though I am a ghost of the fit human I was when I was regularly doing Ironman distance triathlons and marathons, I still crave the benefits that movement brings. I don’t ever want to let go of that person because I am still her in spirit. I have continued to run, but not as much as I’d like, because I prefer outside to my treadmill. I hope to resume outside running once the ice is gone. I have also been riding my road bike a bit on my trainer in my living room.
I continue to do a lot of physical therapies as needed, although those are also on hold. Things that have helped me include, physio, chiropractic, massage therapy and acupuncture. I have also tried rolfing, graston technique, and shock wave therapy. I have tried so many things. I manage my pain without drugs, which seems to surprise some doctors.
When I first went for assessment from the pain clinic for my nerve treatments, they were not nice to me and made me feel like I was being assessed for opioid addiction. After the first treatment on my Si joint, I was told to “wean” myself off of pain pills by the nurse, even though she didn’t even ask me if I even take anything for pain. I don’t like the feeling of drug interaction, so I just prefer not to utilize that option.
Most recently, I have found a grief and trauma clinic to start working on the psychological effects of my chronic pain. I started EMDR sessions and that was another one of the new things I’ve just started. I feel I have done all the things, both practical and drastic to try to keep myself moving. I want to stop defaulting to a severe trauma reaction in my body every time I have any kind of physical set back. I cannot yet comment on the success of this course of action, but I am hopeful it will also help with my overall recovery. I refuse to give up.
When I need to dig deep, I remind myself what I am made of. I am an Ironman after all. I can swim 3.8k, bike 180k and run 42.2k. I would do almost anything to have that back again. Hopefully someday. For today, it will just have to serve as a reminder of what is in me.