Friday, October 25, 2013

32 Pounds Down 18 To Go

I am proud to announce that I am 32 pounds lighter. Even more proud to announce I have discovered a miraculous range of motion in my back that I never thought would be possible again after breaking my T10 to L1 vertebrae. I will attribute this to a combination of chiropractic and refusing to listen o my doctors. There are a few reasons my doctors all seem to think I should not be able to walk much less workout. For starters I have MS… Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Then there are the broken bones in my back that have resulted in more damage to my spinal cord and more pain. Since all of that wasn’t fun enough, I broke my foot (Lisfranc Fracture) which has left me $45,000 in debt after 3 failed surgeries. I am not looking forward to surgery #4, but know it is going to need to happen sometime in the near future. I share all of this for a reason. After being in a wheelchair for almost a year and being on bed rest I managed to gain 12 pounds. This left me weighing more than I have ever weighed, including being pregnant with my daughter. It was time to take charge and get rid of this weight.


Once the weight started coming off, I found a few other perks from my new routine. The more weight I lost, the less pain I felt in my back. I have decreased the amount of pain meds I am on. The increase in energy alone has made this journey worth it; I am getting more done throughout the day without having to plan my day around a nap. I was absolutely shocked and amazed a few weeks ago when doing my leg lifts and deciding to see how much further my legs would go before my back says no; I was able to put my legs on the floor above my head. I couldn’t believe it. I did it 15 more times and then sat there and cried like a baby for 2 hours, not because I was in pain but because I never thought I would be able to do that again. In the beginning, the weight began to come off rather quickly. The first 20 pounds were a breeze; the last 12 have been slow going with another 18 to go to hit my target.


There have also been a few pitfalls of this new routine. For starters, I have to force myself to take the time each day to work out and I have to remind myself often that I need to continue with this plan. Because of all of the injuries I have to suit up in order to start my workout which is a workout in and of itself. There is a mid-lower back brace, an upper back brace, and a foot brace. Most days I do not mind the muscle pain, as it reminds me of how far I have come, but I had to learn how to judge the difference in workout ache vs. a real injury and I have learned that the hard way more than once. Also because of all of the injuries I have had to adapt my exercises to not put too much pressure on certain parts of my body, there isn’t exactly an exercise routine on the net that takes into account all of the physical limitations. After my last experience with physical therapy, I refuse to go back. I was sent to PT when I broke the first 2 vertebrae, a combination of a worthless doctor and inexperienced physical therapist who was fresh out of the Marine Corps resulted in an additional 2 broken vertebrae. Coming up with my own routines and adapting them accordingly has taken a lot of trial and error, and has also caused a few injuries. One of the other issues I have had over the last few months is my own stubbornness. Recently I had the flu, when I was feeling better I decided to get back on the horse. Unfortunately, I forgot that it took me weeks to work up to the level I was at and going back in full throttle was an excruciating reminder that my body is nowhere near where it used to be physically. Both my muscles and my joints joined together in protest to force me to take a few more days off and then start back at the beginning.


Ironically enough as I write this I am overwhelmed by the scent of Joint Flex and Arnica Gel. For those who haven’t heard of Arnica Gel, I will tell you this is a little tube of awesomeness you can pick up at your pharmacy for around $10. A friend told me about it after I tore a few ligaments and ripped a muscle and had massive bruising. Within a couple of days I noticed a dramatic improvement of coloration. Also Joint Flex doesn’t work for crap on my joint pain, but it does work pretty well for muscle aches. Some people have found help with a foam roller. Personally, I question if these people are masochists. The few times I have used the roller (under the advice of my Physical Therapist) it has caused more pain than help. Before my foot injury, the greatest piece of equipment I ever owned was my inversion table. Some people hate them. With the spinal compression fractures, it really did help to alleviate the pain in my spine. Though it did take a lot of getting used to (inversion is a lot harder than I looks)I also discovered it was a great workout for your core muscles and was indeed worth every penny that I paid for it. Sadly, after I fractured the foot I was released from doc to start using my inversion table again and discovered the bar that holds your feet in place went right across the middle of my foot where the fracture was. I looked into the “gravity boots” and the adapter piece for the table to use them. The boots and the adapter bar costs more than the table. I would have been willing to come up with the money for it. However, a friend had the same set-up and allowed me to give it a try before I bought it. The boots also cut around the same area as the original bar which would put all of my weight on a bar across my foot where I had just had fusion surgery. There was no way I was going to be able to use this. I ended up selling my beloved table after the third failed foot surgery.


I have been asked to write up the exercises and routine and how I have adapted each to accommodate for my injuries, which I will be starting in my next post. I wanted to give a bit of a background and a warning beforehand. I am not a doctor, I am not a physical therapist, and I am not a physical trainer. I am a housewife, a mom, an MS patient, and a person who has worked her butt off (literally) to get to where I am today. I also wanted to share some of the other things I have learned along the way and things that I have found to help. You don’t need a lot of specialized equipment, or a gym membership. The only equipment I use is a stability ball and a set of resistance bands that I have accumulated over the years. Also I would like to ask for suggestions, if you have any tricks or secret weapons that have helped you along the way.