The Exercise Conundrum

For years my doctors told me to exercise. In that "get up off your lazy ass and move already" kind of way. After a while it got silly. Here I was too sick to work, and I was just supposed to breeze through step class like some bored housewife with too much time on her hands? Seeing as I was in too much pain to carry the laundry down three flights of stairs, I ignored such frivolous advice. The pounds packed on, I gained even more weight from going on medications to treat the pain, and then the pain got so bad Vicodin became my breakfast of necessity. I was back to work, but barely, and every other aspect of my life was descending into total chaos. And still, my doctors told me to exercise.

It was blatantly insulting. Clearly they weren't of the same mindset as I, and didn't believe the fire racing through my muscles was real. They didn't get how much it hurt to do something as innocuous as blow dry my hair. They didn't get it, how miserable I felt in the aftermath of so many insomnia-wracked nights, and how many days they took me to recover. Days I was struggling to meet my obligations of work, home and family, and failing miserably. They didn't get any of it. They just told me to exercise and not be so unhappy. Like it was a switch I could turn on and off at the will of my whim! I recognize now that a person who hasn't experienced Fibromyalgia pain doesn't understand how acute, crushing, and all-encompassing it truly is. But back then all I could do was pray my doctors might try and help me a little bit, if I took their absurd advice and at least tried to exercise.

Today I walk a mile and a half five days a week, do 360 stomach crunches four days a week, bench press 45 lbs., squat 40 lbs., and have started wearing ankle weights to add an extra challenge to my yoga practice. I've gone from a size 18 to a 6. At this point in the game I'd rather give up Dos Equis forever, than renounce my triumph over exercise. It took me more years, flares, setbacks and determination to get here than I ever imagined possible. But I am not in pain anymore, as a lifestyle. Sure I have flares that hurt like hell, overdo it trying to be Superwoman, tweak ligaments while working out and can predict the rain with the distinctive stabbing pain it sends through my tender points. My life is not pain-free, but it's not pain-filled, either. I've achieved a far greater physical recovery than I ever expected. I don't know if any other patient would have the same result. After all, we may not even have the same disease, seeing as Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion. But I do know I somehow found the gusto to stick with it after every self-induced flare would land me in bed for a week. One day I looked back and those weeks had become days, days turned into hours, and my life was kinda mine again.

Thanks for joining,
Leah
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