Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Day My Body Yelled-- STOP!!!

"Go! Go! GO!!! Why are you stopping??? Keep fighting! Do...SOMETHING!!!"

He had me in a rape position-- face crushed into the hood of a car and legs spread out like a criminal about to get frisked. I knew I was done. The voices inside my head were screaming at me, "MOVE!!!" But my body was trapped, as if entombed in a cocoon, and no matter how hard I tried, the creature inside it was not going to be able to bust out.

The disgust and disappointment I felt was unbearable. Had this been a real scenario, that would've been it for me. The look on my instructor's face disheartened me even more. In his mind he was training a quitter and the worst part of it-- I'm no quitter! This happened around October 2011, and it marked the beginning of a three year journey that would leave me dumbfounded, at times discouraged, depressed, and finally, unable to care for myself, or the people I loved.

If you've read previous posts of this blog, I detail how I found Krav Maga, fell in love with the system, the challenges I went through to lose 50-60 lbs. before finally testing out as a Level 1 Krav Maga Instructor. Unfortunately, I never came to the full realization of teaching a class, because shortly after that my body gave me the big fat finger and said-- ENOUGH!

I haven't written since then, not because I was embarrassed...well who am I kidding? That's part of it...but the mental fog, depression, and chronic fatigue I fell into after that didn't give me the motivation to put thoughts into words and paint my words into pictures that were coherent enough for people to understand.

What I failed to chronicle was the incessant joint pain I felt on a regular basis through this process, despite having lost all that weight. I suppose it was pride that got in the way with that, after all, I fell into the trap that every athlete with the no-quit mindset falls into, which dictates one to take to heart the often called mantras of: "Suck it up PRINCESS...NO PAIN NO GAIN... Put on your big girl panties and KEEP going."

Don't get me wrong, it's a great attitude to have, especially when training, but when it gets to the point that you begin to ignore your body's signals, there is a real danger there that leads to devastating consequences. Those signals came in phases and they started much sooner than when I started training in Krav Maga.

It began with incessant allergies I never had before, but I blamed it on having moved to a different city in the year 2000 from a coastal salty air region to central Texas where all sorts of pollen dominate the air. Then came the unbearable swelling in my hands when I got pregnant with my first child. My first doctor dismissed it as water retention and promised it would go away once the baby was born. Baby came, breast fed and grew, but those hands never stopped swelling.They swelled and ached so severely I couldn't make a fist or close my hands. Depression and weight gain crept up on me and when I started having joint and back problems at 198 lbs. I said enough was enough. I joined Krav Maga because I felt I needed to do something drastic to lose all that weight.

Losing the weight took...FOR...EVER! But I managed to get down to 148 lbs. What dumbfounded me was
Intense bruising from instructor training
that the joint pain never went away, and I thought that at some point, being lighter on my feet would eventually make things better. Everything felt like a struggle, especially when it came to running, which by the way, led me to come to the solid conclusion that the only time running should take place were:

1.  You're running away from a pack of dogs
3. There's a zombie invasion in your city and you need to light a fire up your butt to get away.

My feet burned and my calves locked every time I tried to run, and I started tearing ligaments I thought would've torn when I was at my heaviest. Injuries and bruises took longer to heal and the weight started creeping back. My kidneys would ache from intense workouts and my ears started to ring.Then came the constipation that was simply--just---horrendous. Yes, I know...I'm over-sharing, tmi, etc, I want to help people who are experiencing similar issues, with it. Let me tell you, that nothing gets me crankier than being backed-up, not just one, but up to three days. Many of the women in my family have this problem, and apparently many women in general seem to have this issue. Nothing made me more green with envy every time my husband had a call to drop the kids off at the pool. My guy is so regular, he could probably do it on command. Grrr!!! Me...I was lucky when the time did come, and then utterly disappointed when it did happen. I don't know about you, but when I go, I'm not in the business of dropping deer pellets, but unfortunately, that was the extent, at times, when it came to going. There were times when I would have a smooth move, and it was as if the heavens had opened up in the sky, the sun was shining, and angels were singing. was a glorious day when those moments did come, but they were few and far between.

So, I was working full-time, playing single mom to a rambunctious little one, training about 2 hours every day, eating right, but nothing changed. When I woke in the mornings the swelling on my feet was so intense, I either had to crawl to the bathroom or grab on to the walls for support...true story...not joking...really happened.

"This shouldn't be that hard," I told myself. After all, there were women at the center where I trained who were in their forties and they made working out look so easy and pain free, all while looking simply amazing. These women didn't sweat, they glistened when they exercised. With three years into this, why... was I- not -GLISTENING? At this point, I should've at least been sparkling sweat. I mustered on, and told myself that it would only be a matter of time, and perhaps more weight loss would make things easier. 

Even my legs bruised easily
Despite not fully healing from a knee injury, I decided to test for instructor (See post). Had it not been for the steroid medication I took for inflammation, I don't think I would've survived the intensity of that test, which puts you under incredible amounts of stress. But little did I know that like most steroids, that same medication taxed my adrenals so severely that when I got back, my body-simply-QUIT.

Bed-ridden for three days, with terrible nights sweats, I was confused as to what was going on . "It's the age," I thought. "It's probably going to take me longer to heal than every one else." Three days turned into a week, and a week turned into a month, a month into a whole summer. Mental fogginess greeted me with a vengeance every day, and I couldn't remember what I did the day before. Everything taxed me; the littlest things would set me off, and the weight kept on coming back. Despite watching what I was eating, it was as if my fat cells were self-replicating through mitosis and having a free-for-all buffet lounging on my mid-section.  Needless to say, I spent the summer of 2013 performing the most basic and necessary functions just to keep my kid fed and dressed, but I spent most of it in bed. The day my little one found me on the floor outside my bathroom because I felt too weak to, that's an understatement... too weak to even crawl to my bed... was the day that I knew I needed to find a new doctor and do something about this. I questioned if I was depressed at the time, but I didn't feel there was anything to be depressed about, after all,  I now had a beautiful man in my life, who had just proposed, an adoring child, and things should've been moving forward, not backward. I refused to believe that this was all in my head, that the blood tests were normal, that there was nothing wrong with me. I knew myself, how active I was and whatever this was that was sucking the life out of me, needed to get resolved.

My mind and my spirit was screaming for answers and for the first time in my life, I realized I only had so much time left on this earth, and I sure as hell wasn't going to spend it feeling this weak. I've always been a person who was very driven. Any goal I set, I would accomplish. Nothing stopped me. But the summer of 2013 was the summer my body yelled--STOP-- and for the first time in my life, I was being forced-- to listen.

If you've enjoyed reading this post and would like to learn more, feel free to go to the next post, "How Chronic Stress Affects the Body."