Before I start this blog post I want to reinitiate that I am not medical person of any kind and this blog is strictly my experience and life journey with MCTD.
A couple of years ago I changed positions in my company to a much more stressful position knowing that my health would suffer some but the idea was to work a little extra harder right now so I could reduce my work load in the coming years and start a quieter life with much less stress. It was not an easy decision to make but one my husband and I made together. The last couple of years have indeed taken their toll on my health and one of the changes was I now had high blood pressure or hypertension. All my doctors were worried because MCTD can cause high blood as well as stress can cause high blood pressure and the two together were not the best combination. I didn’t want to go on a blood pressure medicine because I really thought I could handle it myself and bring it back to normal.
I was doing yoga regularly, working out regularly, my diet was clean but I still had stress in my life from 8-5 Monday – Friday. I got a blood pressure machine for home and took my blood pressure regularly. Sometimes it was high and sometimes it was normal. I was told I was in menopause which is stressful and just being hormonally out of balance can affect all kinds of things so it was no wonder I was restless at night, drowsy in the morning and having fluctuating high blood pressure.
Since seeking professional help with menopause, doing yoga, exercising regularly and eating clean my blood pressure is finally normal again. After 2 years I can get a normal blood pressure reading anytime at home and any doctor’s office I walk into. The feeling of knowing that that piece of this puzzle is behind me makes me so thankful. I realize I push this body to extremes sometimes and I don’t always have my own filter turned on high enough to let me know when enough is enough. This is where my family and trainer have really helped me. I am listening a lot closer to what my body wants and needs and I have even gotten to the point where if I haven’t slept well and my body is really tired in the morning I don’t get up early. I won’t work out first thing and I will stay in bed as long as necessary to ensure that when I do get up my body is fully ready to function and work properly.
I see my trainer 4 days a week for solo weight training and Insanity, therefore, he has a close eye on me and if I am not showing my full potential he is calling me on it and advising I modify. I have learned that even to modify doesn’t mean I’m not working I’m just working to my body’s capability that day. Sometimes I can give 100% and still have more but some days I only have 80% to give and still have to keep some energy for my husband and my career which means I cannot give all 80% at the gym. Why it has taken me this long to figure that out I honestly don’t know but I do think my mental thinking is changing along this journey. I am trying things I have never tried before such as buying a bike, riding and participating in a 30 mile road ride in 46 days. The world may not be ready for Nicole Richard to be on a bike but it better get ready because I’m out there.
I no longer want my health to take a back seat while I figure out my career path and working very hard to keep my stress down and have resorted to taking a relaxing type supplement during the day when I am at work to keep me more even all day and hopefully this will continue to help me keep a normal blood pressure reading and enjoy a happy healthy life.
Before I start this blog post I must say no one should feel bad for me as I don’t feel bad for myself and the reason I am writing this post is more to discuss how when we think we are doing everything right, things can still go wrong.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went on a vacation to Mexico and had a fabulous time. The beach was perfect, the food was good, the weather was incredible and my stress had almost vanished. Being away for a week and not really knowing what time it is other than when our bellies growled and it was time to eat is so good for the soul. I didn’t exercise that week but between golfing and walking I had logged over 140k steps on my fitbit. I don’t usually log that many when I’m at home making a conscience effort to exercise. I was feeling so good and upbeat about life and learning to play golf with my husband, which is what we want as we enter our next phase of life together. Things were incredible and even coming home seemed relatively easy.
After we had been home for 5 days and I will say those 5 days I was exhausted, I didn’t know why and just figure I needed a vacation from my vacation. I did work out as usual as soon as I got home and started weight training again and started my normal spin routine and Insanity routine but felt like my body was function fairly well. On that 5th day I was in my Insanity Class when my body suddenly didn’t feel ok and I truly mean suddenly. I can usually tell if something is off and other than the fatigued I had no indication. Some might say the fatigue should have been my clue but I live with a level of fatigue off and on in my daily life so it honestly was not an indicator for me this time. After my Insanity Class I was feeling the most incredible pain I have felt in my life all in my abdominal area and back area. I made it home to bed and there I stayed until Monday morning when I made it into the doctor. It seems as though I brought back some sort of bacteria with me from Mexico that does not make contagious to anyone but it certainly has put me in a new place.
I have finally gotten liquids into this body and I’m up and around but walking even short distances in the house is exhausting. I know my body is running on zero energy and therefore I’m struggling just to function. Every day I wake up thinking today is the day the pain will subside and I will get back to my base line. My base line is changing every day that I’m ill because I can feel my body getting weaker and weaker. Exercise is not an option but I am trying to walk a little bit more every day and eat a little bit more every day. I have noticed my strength has dropped a lot in a very short amount of time and I will be starting at the beginning once again when I get started with exercise and weight training. The good thing is that I have already spoken to my trainer and once I’m able to walk a fair distance without too much struggle we can start a beginners weight training workout until I build my strength back up. He is certain that once we get started it will come back quickly but it is amazing how quickly it has left.
I am not afraid of travel in the future and see this as an isolated situation since it has not happened prior to now and may never happen again. I get such joy from traveling with my husband and adventures we experience together that this even as annoying and painful is a mere blip in regards to the happiness and ease I feel when I’m with him traveling.
It is almost mid-April and in Maine it can go either way, we can either have snow still or more snow coming, but we can also have warm temps that peak the spring fever. Today is a spring fever day. It is nearly 70 degrees here today and the sun is bright and warm. I must admit that I went to my Insanity Class at lunch time which is unfortunately in the gym and took one look at my instructor and asked if in the coming weeks we could move this class outside. I cannot bring myself to be inside the gym on warm summer days and seeing how we are cooped up for 9 months in the year for a few months I want as much time outside.
My personal training session will be outside boxing in the park, running sprints, playing on the local playground and as far as Insanity, well we haven’t figured that out yet but he is giving it some thought. We use the music to keep us on track and the music is the hardest part to bring in the outdoor environment for a large class that is.
I am getting my bike as I have to start my training rides for the Tour de Cure and the more I ride outside and get out of indoor spinning classes will be better. I like to envision myself riding my bike to my training session during the day and riding my bike again at night to my yoga practice. My husband thinks that I just cram too much into every single day but these are things I really enjoy. At the very least I love walking outside as much as possible all summer long but with all my other activities I have to fit them in somewhere in the day and combining as many as possible will probably be key.
My husband and I just took up golf and did lessons inside all winter along. We are now ready to hit the course, the fresh air and see if our lessons have paid off. Where does golf fit in? Anywhere my husband wants it to. I am so committed to having a hobby we do together that anytime he says he wants to golf I’m there with clubs and sunscreen ready to go. Having a hobby we both enjoy has been lacking for us. I took up kayaking so I could enjoy the outside while he fishes but that is a certain meditation for him and don’t really enjoy long talks when you are meditating. He took up yoga but didn’t really like it all much so it was more of a chore than a hobby. However, he has been talking to some golfers who use yoga as a way to stay flexible and be better golfers. Is it possible I might get a 2 for1 one out of this hobby deal??? More than anything I’m looking forward to spending the summer with my husband and sharing some real quality time with him.