I started this fitness page in 2012, one year after my journey began. In the fall of 2010 after learning I had 2 herniated discs in my back, I was told I would need spinal surgery within the next 10 years. I was getting injections that weren't helping. Something in me "woke up" and I decided that it was in MY control. My actions, my habits, my addictions were propelling me in the wrong direction. I dealt with a bout of nausea and stomach issues for about 6 weeks that had me losing about 10 lbs. I started to feel better and realized that maybe that was God's way of jump starting what I needed to do. February 1, 2011 I started working out to DVD's and purchased an air climber. I decided my plan was to take before pictures and measurements and record my progress every 2 weeks.
In the prior few years I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic kidney disease. I would go through bouts of being in bed for days at a time, barely able to do anything, walking to the bathroom made me short of breath and exhausted. My kidney specialist and rheumatologist decided that since both diseases wreaked havoc on my autoimmune system they played with each other. If one would flare they both would. My first few months of work-outs were NOT pretty! I pushed through an immense amount of pain, but I stuck to my plan. Every evening I would do about 15 minutes of the air climber using the DVD that came with it, and then would do a 30-40 minute circuit routine (usually a Jillian Michael's DVD) and then a good 15 minutes of stretching. Lent came and I decided I was going to do the Maker's diet, compromised of all whole foods, no bread, no sweets, no junk/processed foods, and no pork products. Between the 2 the weight started dropping quickly! In June I decided to train for a 5k. I picked my race 13 weeks later and started the process. On September 16, 2011 I ran my first 5K, taking with me some co-workers who also decided to run.
In the meantime, I found a bigger goal, to run a Spartan Sprint, a 4-5 mile obstacle course race. It just so happened to fall on my birthday of the following year, July 14. I kept myself busy by continually making goals of new races. I ran a new race almost every month. Finally July 2012 was here! I accomplished something I NEVER thought I would do!
After my race I started having more problems with my left shoulder. It was found that I had MAJOR arthritis, to the point where I had bone marrow edema, which is basically a swollen bone (if that makes ANY sense). It was decided that I would have surgery that September. I had an AC resection (they cut off the last inch of my clavicle bone to make more joint space) and cleaned out a bunch of arthritis.
After watching me run my first Spartan race my husband decided to run it the following year with me. He quit smoking (2-3 packs per day for 20 years!) cold turkey and started to run the following day, 1 week after watching the race. We started off training together and after my shoulder surgery he continued on his own, running a race by himself.
I bounced back fairly quickly from my shoulder surgery, but in the spring of 2013 I started having more overall joint issues, especially in my hands. My rheumatologist decided this was a much bigger issue than fibromyalgia and after hearing of my day and night difference in how I felt being on and off prednisone he diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. I was upset with the diagnosis, but at least there was a reason for all of my ailments. I was started on an oral medication and did pretty well. I was still taking fairly high doses of prednisone, but was doing very well. John and I kept training for the Spartan race and on July 13, 2013, John joined me in running the Pennsylvania sprint.
Prior to this race I really watched what I was eating again, and tried to train as much as I could. This is when I was down to my lowest weight. No crazy supplements, no diet pills, shakes, or starving myself.
Prior to running the 2013 race, I was having some really bad hip issues. I had been to physical therapy several times, a sports med doctor, and finally I went to see an orthopedist. I was told that I shouldn't do more damage by running the race. My pain never resolved and in November I finally pushed the ortho to look into things further KNOWING that there was something wrong. I had an arthrogram done (they inject dye into your joint space and then do an MRI) and it was found that I had a torn labrum (as I suspected!). Your labrum is the cartilage that lines the hip socket. By this point the orthopedic doctor thought there was also a possibility that I had some major bursitis and questioned whether I might need to have my whole bursa sac removed too. I ran the last race I knew I would be able to run, the Jingle Bell Run, which benefits the Arthritis Foundation, obviously something dear and near to me at this point!
Monday January 13, 2014 I had surgery to repair the torn labrum in my left hip, shave down a bone spur, and ultimately ended up having microfracture chondroplasty for a large amount of cartilage that was found to be completely pulled away from my bone. During that procedure they flap open the cartilage and make small pin hole fractures in the bone so your body recognizes it as an injury and will heal itself, building new (but not as strong) cartilage to the damaged area. This typically takes up to 6 months to completely heal. I was told by my ortho that running the 2014 Spartan race in July should not be a problem. I was thrilled. Recovery wasn't extremely painful, just annoying. I had to be on crutches with limited weight bearing for 4 weeks, physical therapy which started 2 days after surgery, and amidst all of this was one of the worst winters in years! (and yes...we live on a second floor apartment with outside steps!)
While my hip surgery wasn't nearly as painful as my shoulder surgery, it took much longer for my body to heal. By June I had also been back to my rheumatologist quite a few times and was in the midst of having a huge flare. I was constantly exhausted, my pain in my hands was getting much worse, and I started having pain in my wrists and feet. I was started on a stronger RA med called methotrexate which is supposed to stop the disease from damaging your joints permanently. I had come to terms that there would be no Spartan race for 2014 and my job was to slowly heal and work back up to what I could do. I was also slowly learning that what I could do was changing rapidly. John and I made our goal a 5k in September the Yes I Can 5k in Reading. It was the first race he had done 2 years ago. In 2013 we had recruited my sister to run, and 2014 John's sister ran it with us. Our goal now each year is to recruit someone new to run the race. We started from scratch again using the couch to 5k program. In the interim, my RA symptoms were NOT improving. I continued to push through my training, but my body was constantly rebelling. In August 2014 I was started on Humira, a biologic injectable drug for RA.
|2013 Yes I Can with my sister Gretchen|
|2014 Yes I Can with John's sister Rachel|
I had my story published on their website which you can find here. Spartan Racer Turns Obstacles Into Opportunities http://www.curearthritis.org/spartan-racer/
The last race we did was the 2014 Jingle Bell Run. Again, very important race for me. My friend Alicia started a team the past 2 years, The Flying Elves, and we were the largest team this year and came in 4th for fundraising. Alicia also has RA and it's been great having someone who shares a love of fitness who also has the obstacles of RA.
Overall this past year has been hell. Remember...this is REAL Fitness. I'm blunt and tell it like it is. I've gained back 25 lbs of the 70 total I had lost. Yes, I've been sedentary compared to other years, yes I have some major medical issues I've been dealing with, yes my meds can cause weight gain, yes I have lots of obstacles....I don't like excuses. There are things I could be doing and ways I could be eating that are much more productive than what I've been doing. But here's the deal...again...it's REAL. This is the real life of someone who has yo-yo dieted for years and years. This is the real life of someone who does struggle with health, and stress, and personal issues I could write a damn book about. This is the real life of someone who didn't start out as a great athlete and NEVER would have imagined to become a runner. This is the real life of someone who like all of you has flaws, who is too hard on herself at times, and who struggles with the everyday crap like everyone else. I can't stand blogs, websites, infomercials that show all the great and wonderful things people have accomplished without showing the behind the scenes struggles! I don't get much out of them except to be hard on myself and ask..well if they can do it why can't I? I started this blog/page to inspire people with my story, motivate through my actions, and encourage through my words. The biggest words wanting people to HEAR, I mean REALLY HEAR is that WE....ARE.....ALL....REAL!