Sunday, March 25, 2012

Illness and Exercise and Rambling

I am on a very interesting journey these days. In this case "interesting" happens to be code for "really dang hard" with a lot of good thrown in. It's a bit like beginning to exercise when you've been lying around for a while. You set out with enthusiasm (or not, depending on whether you like to exercise or not) and, taking deep breaths of fresh air, rejoice in finally being outside (assuming you enjoy your exercise out of doors).  You begin pedaling and a smile is soon tugging at you. Another deep breath of fresh air and a full on grin takes over your face.

Sooner or later though (Much Sooner at my house) you have to climb. And climb and climb and climb.

 If it's been a while I will have fiercely burning lungs long before I even begin to feel my legs (the airways tend to be my weak spot). That's the worst for me. I have a really difficult time getting past it. I find I have to take my time if I'm not going to become so discouraged I want to quit. I have to be really patient. I have to stop and walk sooner than I would like, and walk longer than I would like. Until the burning subsides completely, then I can have another go. Then next time I ride I'll be able to go a little longer before I have to stop the first time, maybe only a few seconds longer, but it's progress all the same. Progress that feels a whole lot like pain.

I am always shocked by how much mountain biking can hurt. When I started if I hadn't already been doing exercises that hurt and having someone who knows what they're talking about telling me that the pain was good, as long as it was in the right spot, I would have thought something was wrong. It's still shocking!

Another challenge I face is being in generally poor health. Between adrenal exhaustion and allergies my immune system is quite compromised. I seem to come down with every cold that's going around. There have been some changes this year. I haven't had a stomach bug about every fourth illness like in the past. I haven't had influenza (which thankfully I've only had a few times) or tonsillitis or bronchitis. My cold symptoms have been fairly mild. I've been struggling with ongoing muscle aches and sleepiness though. The other cold symptoms go, but those two stay. For weeks. Then about the time I'm feeling better I get another cold. It hasn't made for very good exercise motivation.

I've been struggling emotionally with the constant exhaustion. I have things I want to do! Things I need to do! I'm tired of this! I don't want to do it any more. Ever. I want my life back. Now would be good.

Very few people "get" that I'm not making it up when I say I can't exercise today. If I had a dollar for every time someone said "Just do it. Exercise will give you the energy you want..." And then look at me like I'm nuts when I try to explain that with adrenal exhaustion I have to pay attention to my body and not exercise if it tells me not too. If I do I will likely be stuck to the couch for two days, or three or four... I think they suspect I'm lazy or in denial. I think they're thinking I'm trying to get out of exercising, that I don't want to work and am making excuses. That's with the "you're nuts" looks. The blank stares I'm not so sure. Some people genuinely try to understand. But unless you've been here, it's really hard to get it.

I recently came across an article about "The Spoon Theory" that explains so well how I feel. Most folks don't think of getting dressed, fixing their hair, driving a short distance, and myriad other small things as being events that require thought and energy. Events that take a chunk out of "what I can accomplish today". I hesitated for months before cutting my hair short (fun new do:) because I knew how much the five or ten minutes a day to fix it would take out of me.

Another example that will take place today. I'm going for a bike ride with the team. You'd think I'd be worried about two hours on my bike being the energy drain. Not so. The things I'm most worried about draining my energy, before I even get started, include: the small maintenance things to get my bike ready to ride, putting my bike on the bike rack on the van, changing into cycling clothes, getting my water bottles and snacks ready, driving 25 minutes to the trail, my extremely introverted self being forced to great a dozen or more people and I am mostly barely acquainted with... All these seemingly insignificant things are major energy sappers for me. So much so that the thought of going for  a ride today seems almost impossibly overwhelming.

Speaking of the team, I never followed up on my post about my big decision. I joined, contrary to the Appearance of Common Sense.


Whew. Found out that the ride today was an hour earlier than I thought it was and had to dash off suddenly. I had a great and grueling time. My sweet hubby took a huge stress off me by driving me to the trail head and picking me up after.

So, speaking of going against common sense and joining the team. I mentioned I was very concerned about not being able to fulfill the requirements because of my health. Yesterday I was struggling emotionally. I was feeling crummy again after only a few days of feeling ok. The muscle aches were back and I had a sore throat. My nose was throbbing and stinging. I was extremely exhausted and discouraged. The boys were still coughing and having a really rough day. After they had gone to bed I was praying and reading my bible and just really discouraged. Did I mention I was discouraged? When I finally decided to join the team I had been praying about it and felt a lot of peace about joining. God gave me a verse from Psalm 23. In most translations verse 3 says "He restores my soul". In the translation that was in my room at the time said "He restores my strength". Another translation could be 'He restores my vitality to what it was meant to be'. I believed I had a promise from God that if I trusted Him He would come through for me. So, I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself and asking God if He was really going to come through for me. Maybe I heard Him wrong, I was thinking. I know He always comes through! Always. So, I must have made up what I'd felt and heard. Or God had some other lesson in mind for me. Or...

I got to bed at a good time and there I lay. Until at least midnight. *Sigh* The boys woke me just before seven this morning. I had some cooking and cleaning that Had to be done today. And you know what? I felt great! I got all the things done I needed to get done. And I went on the ride. Came home sore, tired, mud covered, and very happy. God came through for me, in the way I hoped He would.


Psalm 27 has been my "go-to" passage for some time now (parenthesis mine):

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?   (or what circumstance!)
When evildoers come upon me to devour
my flesh,   (illness)
My adversaries and my enemies, they
stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war rise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that
I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,  (in Every circumstance)
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me
in His tabernacle;  (in full view of my enemies, where they can't touch me)
In the secret place of His tent He will hide
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above
my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with
shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When you said, "Seek my face," my heart
said to You,
"Your face, O Lord, I shall seek."
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;   (in every way!)
Do not abandon me or forsake me, (since He says "I will never leave you or forsake you" don't have to worry about that one:)
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have
forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breath out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. (So true!)
Wait for the Lord; (need to get a grip on this one)
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.


This quote by Graham Cooke is challenging me this week:
"To really get the best of frustration, you must turn it into celebration. If you stop being frustrated and start celebrating, you enter a whole different space, and so will your circumstances. You can make your circumstances bow to the Christ in you! All it takes is a brilliant thought."

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