Those who know me closest know that I don’t like to slow down. I don’t like to skip workouts often, I don’t relax much and I don’t like being told I can’t do something. My parents and my husband will be the first ones to tell you I am insanely stubborn and push myself too much! This does not go well when you are someone who has been dealing with chronic back and leg radiculopathy since 14 years old. I’ve had 2 back surgeries, (one at 15 years old and one when I was 29 years old), gone through physical therapy, several types of pain medications and muscle relaxers and numerous epidural injections. Yet, nothing has completely taken care of the back pain or the burning, aching numbness I feel in my leg, all the way down to my foot almost every day.
The last few months I have been dealing with more intense pain again and kept putting off a doctor’s visit, even though I knew I needed to go in. I finally went to my doctor, then had an MRI done which showed multiple levels of disc degeneration, stenosis and arthritis. This week I had an epidural injection performed at 2 different levels to help with the inflammation around my nerves, in hopes that it will only take one procedure to take care of it. So, as I lay in bed, feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck now that the anesthetic has worn off, I felt like it was a good time to write about this.
Despite my pain, I don’t let it stop me from living my life and I don’t use it as an excuse to not be active. I have had to find some different ways of doing things. I will say that it took me a long time, but I am finally better at listening to my body and knowing when I should not push through the pain (most of the time), even though I know I can do it. One thing was giving up long-distance running because it was too hard on my body and I learned time after time, injury after injury, that it just wasn’t going to work for me no matter what my mind said. There are a lot of leg exercises I can’t do, such as loaded squats and deadlifts, or very heavy weight, so I have found alternatives to still work the correct muscles, but in ways that don’t make me hurt more. Focusing more on my nutrition and making sure I am eating well has helped me a lot as well. It makes me feel better knowing that even if it's a day I have to take off from training, I am still able to take care of myself by the food I eat.
You may be someone who is dealing with an injury, chronic pain or even just your overall health, but there is always a way to still do something. It could be a 20-minute walk over your lunch break, using light weights for upper body exercise, or even just some yoga or stretching. Your exercise routine doesn’t have to be intense or as long as what your friend is doing. Don’t stop living your life because you think you can’t do anything, or use your aches and pains as an excuse to do nothing. Find a way to make it work for you, despite your excuses. There is always a way!