First, I would like to say Happy Summer to all, especially for the people that suffer severe Raynaud’s this is our type of weather for turning our purple fingers and toes into pink, normal looking digits again. Second, I would like to apologize for not writing more often. I have no excuse but life gets in the way sometimes and we have to concentrate on other things. It doesn’t mean my health isn’t important, nor does it mean I haven’t been doing things every day that relate to my health and MCTD but I just haven’t had a moment to write about.
I have been forced to stop and really take inventory of myself and my mind and since my mind is feeling very overwhelmed right now. My body feels fabulous and I’m increasing weight training each week but my mind isn’t following suit with my body yet. We are in the process of turning our house upside down this summer with remodeling and although this is something I really want and I know it will be wonderful when it is done, no lie this is seriously stressful. I have been living in chronic stress for several months now with just life.
My doctors are worried about my stress and blood pressure but it fluctuates so much to high and than normal that it is hard to tell if I suffer from high blood pressure or not. I can go days with normal and then it will spike to high for several days and back to normal. I do not want to take another medication especially for high blood pressure. I don’t eat processed foods, I exercise every day literally, and I do yoga 5 days a week. If there is a person out there that should not have high blood pressure I believe I’m that person so I’m watching every day and doing my own testing. I also don’t want to put unwanted stress on my largest organ, my heart, so I have to be careful with this as well. I have been able to decrease some of my other medication and have taken my prednisone down to 4mg and have decreased another medication by half which is my mobic or my pain medication. I do realize that these changes can add stress to my body and if my mind is stressed out most days that is mind working against body, body working against mind.
I was in Bikram on Thursday morning for an early morning class and as you may know you must look at yourself in the mirror for 90. I honestly didn’t know who the woman in the mirror was. I was tired, sad, sore, and out of whack. I’m surrounded by people that truly enjoy me, look out for me and care about me and none of them are family. I drew on their energy and just said to the woman in the mirror that she was OK. I wasn’t fond of her at that moment but she was OK. Friday morning I went right back in the woman in the mirror looked better to me. She didn’t look tired, and I actually had a moment of pride for her. I decided that I needed more time in front of that mirror and really focus on who I was looking at. Each day the woman in the mirror will be different but I cannot be mad at her. She is me, and I have done nothing that justify anger.
I have been back twice more and finding love for the woman in the mirror. Typically Monday is not my day for Bikram but I’m making the commitment to get in there and make an effort to keep finding moments of pride and love for myself and the one I refer to as the “woman in the mirror” this is only because I have lost her a bit and the stress I feel isn’t helping. Lifting heavy weight is awesome but it honestly isn’t doing much for my mind. Tomorrow is my cross-fit session and I’m sure he will work us very hard, I’ll feel accomplished but I think I’ll still feel stressed and I’m desperate for the feelings of stress to leave my mind, my home, my workplace, my car and my yoga studio. Be Gone Stress and Soon!!
I am finally making some progress in my health and lowering meds in regards to MCTD. For many years I have been stuck on 5mg of prednisone and although that doesn’t seem like a lot it is too much for me. This is the number medication I want to eliminate from my medicine cabinet. Beginning of May I decided instead of dropping to 4.5mg and cutting a pill I would just drop an entire mg. I didn’t really think my body would allow it but when I cut the pills I never really know how much I’m getting and therefore, could be getting more or less than the scheduled 4.5mg. Taking 4mg was making a bigger drop but I have more control over actually receiving the level of milligrams that I need.
I did it, I dropped from 5mg to 4mg on May first and here I am 6 weeks later still at 4mg, feeling strong and healthy and no sign of flare. This doesn’t mean I won’t flare but so far I haven’t and that is a huge accomplishment. I have noticed that my fingers are more swollen than normal but I’m hoping my body will reach a new base line and allow for the lower dose and accommodate the new dose by allowing things to go back to my normal. I have been increasing my Bikram practice as well since the hot helps eliminate some of the fluid from my body, the practice also makes my body strong and therefore I feel strong. The practice reminds me that everyday I get up flare-free I have accomplished something great and now reducing one of my major medications is another indication that this body and mind have the strength needed to keep moving forward and perhaps reduce other medications as well.
The key is I can’t get over excited and drop to quickly. My body does have the ability to flare when it needs to and by me adding too much extra stress I can push it into flare. Life in general comes with its own stress and by reducing medications that adds stress, as well as my intense fitness adds stress. Too much is not a good thing but the body is made to endure some stress, and it is my job to assess, reassess and keep pushing the limits to see what this body is capable of.
This past week during one of my cross fit sessions we were running. I haven’t really run in a long time. I do quick sprints on the treadmill for 30-40 seconds at a time but haven’t just run/jogged for a while. We did some running, some suicide sprints and lots of weight training. He promised I would leave there tired, sweaty and invigorated and he was right. Every time I’m able to do something else and look myself in the mirror and be proud it is a special day.
After 10 years of regular exercise, and doing it 7 days a week except for moments when I’m in flare I have never injured myself until yesterday. First, I must say I recognize the fact that the reason that I have managed my MCTD so well is because I do keep moving and if I get injured and cannot move I know that my management may suffer. My foundation are my feet and legs and without them the rest of me is a crumble mess so I take very good care of my feet and I work very hard to stay injury free. This doesn’t mean that I’m so cautious that I won’t try new things or that I don’t push myself but it does mean that I’m very conscience of what my body can do and what I prefer it not do.
Lifting weights used to cause me pain and stress in my upper body and small joints but I could still walk, run, use elliptical machines and keep my foundation strong. When I started cross fit, many people in my life said that doing cross fit was an injury waiting to happen. I would explain firmly that I’m not like other people and I really have a good understanding of my body and won’t get hurt. Well, here I am one year after starting cross fit to say I did have an injury yesterday.
I got caught up in the moment and the cheerleading of my instructor and thought I could plyo jump a box that was a bit too big. Ok, let me restate that the box wasn’t too big for my first round of jumping but as my fatigue went up I should have lowered the box and instead with a fatigued body, mentally tired brain, but the cheering going on I jumped and twisted my knee. Part of my foundation tingled and I knew that I was forced to stop at that moment. Not that I chose to stop, not that I recognized my ability was no longer ready for another jump but in fact I was forced by my own body to stop. This is the very position I never wanted to be in. I like to choose when my body can do something and when it cannot but this time it chose for me.
I obviously stopped jumping and spent the rest of the time using upper body until our 30 minutes ended. I then headed to treadmill to walk and see how it felt. It was ok until steps came into play and then I could feel the soreness. There was no swelling which was good so I avoided stairs as much as possible but walked again at lunch time and headed right into Bikram in the evening. That is when things really started feeling better. This morning I jumped back into Bikram first thing and could tell that I was stiff but no real damage done. I will continue to walk, avoid some steps and jump back into Bikram again to get some more stretching in. The heat was feeling good, the stretching was good and during “fixed firm” posture I laid there and really stretched as much as I possibly could. During this posture is when I realized I didn’t hurt anything but I am stiff and need to loosen it all up again.
Fixed firm is when you sit in between your feet with your ankles right up against your hips. With your hands on your feet you start to lay back until your back and head are on the floor. If you can’t get there you are instructed to go back as far as you but using your hands to take pressure off of your knees. This posture is incredible for stretching out the knees and when I first started Bikram many years ago I could not do this posture. Now I can go right back and lay there for 2 postures. I really like the way it feels but there are still some days when I’m tight and cannot go all the back, I listen and modify. This was one of those times but as I did a couple more times I could feel the tension in my knee give and I was able to get a good stretch.
This morning my knee is feeling much better and will do some walking at lunch time and will continue this a couple more days before I try a sprint workout again and may use the row machine for my first sprint workout just to make sure this knee is as strong as it can be before I try running and sprinting on it again.
This was a wakeup call to me that as I get older injuries are a potential fatal flaw in all my hard work and I need these legs to carry me into my extremely old age. If I can continue to walk and move around, I can continue to manage MCTD and I needed this minor but good lesson to remind me that I need to make sure I take extra care of this body.