Monday, March 9, 2015

Fear and Pain

When we first got a Wii Fit, I did the yoga exercises daily.  Within a  week, I hyper-extended my knee and could hardly walk.  This lasted for well over a month.  My physician sent me to see an orthopedic surgeon.  I was initially seen by the physician's assistant (PA), who ordered additional x-rays.  Diagnosis:  osteoarthritis, probably as a result of a childhood injury.   Treatment:  physical therapy, Naproxen and a list of activities to avoid.  When I eventually saw the actual surgeon, he told me I would eventually  need a knee replacement and gave me a ten-year prognosis.  I was 39 years old. 

Why is my pain unceasingmy wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Jeremiah 15:18a ESV

In 2012 I joined Weight Watchers again and started going to the gym often.  I lost close to 40 pounds.  I was pumped and feeling good.  In July, I hurt my knee again, this time I could barely walk at all.  Recovering from a knee injury meant an MRI, an extremely painful cortisone shot, and the above treatment regimen.   The result: I stopped going to the gym and my diet went out the window.  I gained all the weight back and at least an additional 25 lbs.  It was out of control.

Stress and fear of re-injury held me back.  I felt trapped, like there was nothing I could do.  Last year, when I decided it was time to do something about my weight AGAIN, fear kept me from moving forward.  I did not want to fail AGAIN.  I did not want to be in that kind of pain AGAIN.  I was terrified of having a knee replacement.  I was 44-years old, my 10-year prognosis was closing in on me.  Fear is powerful.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
1 Timothy 1:7

It is hard to admit that I allowed fear to paralyze me, that I was not dealing with my stress levels at all.  As a Christian, I believe God's Word and I know it is there for me, but I was not applying it to this area of my life.  I would like to say that I turned to God for answers, but I did not.  

Working with a trainer taught me to exercise without injury and helped me to cope with the fear.  In September, when I did the Rugged Maniac, my knee became inflamed again, which lasted for months. I was in pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Sometimes the pain was sharp and severe, but most of the time it was a dull ache.  During this time, I took it easy on my legs and finally made an appointment to go back to the orthopedic surgeon's office.  In December, they took additional x-rays, which did not show any changes.  The MRI from 2012 did not show anything conclusive, so the PA recommended arthroscopic surgery as a diagnostic procedure to see what else might be happening.  I was terrified.  I had made so much progress over the last year.  I did not want a six-week recovery period to derail my efforts, as I had allowed it to in the past.

Knowing my fitness goals and my limitations, Dmitriy has spent considerable time with me focusing on strengthening my legs.  He also gave me different stretches to improve flexibility.  At each week's session, we talk about how my knee is, how the leg exercises are going and he makes adjustments (if needed) to the routine.  He has been amazing!

Here's a quick timeline to show you how much this helped:

December 9:  first meeting with Dmitriy (continued weekly thereafter)
December 16:  appointment with PA at orthopedic surgeon's office
December 22:  scheduled arthroscopic surgery for 1/29
December 25:  woke up in pain at 3 a.m., unable to sleep  
December 26 - January 15:  No knee pain!
January 16:  called to cancel the surgery, the assistant moved up the pre-op appointment
January 23:  pre-op appointment with the surgeon.  Surgeon cancelled the surgery!!!!!!

Let me be clear, osteoarthritis does not go away, but stretching and exercise make it manageable. It is a chronic problem, which I have learned to manage better.  I have to listen to my body and can't overdo it.  Recently, I decided to do both leg strengthening exercises and cardio during one visit to the gym, which resulted in several days of pain.  This was not smart.

Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9  (TLB)

I am so grateful to Dmitriy for helping me through this.  In spite of my fear, he helped me keep my focus and move forward, never pushing me to over-do it, teaching me what I need to do to strengthen my leg.  He'll say something like this, "We are going to do this to help strengthen the posterior chain.  Eventually we will build up to this (exercise).  You'll get there."  He is very good at explaining the physiology of it.  The clinical explanation, while over my head, is something I appreciate.  Of course, I probably drive him crazy. I am stubborn, I don't believe it will work, and I complain.  But I am learning to trust the process.  It's not easy.

This is a journey and I have not yet arrived at my destination.  Along the way, there have been side-steps and u-turns here and there, working through and pressing forward are key.  Keeping my eye on the goal.  While I failed to turn to God for direction in this, I do know He is with me every step of the way. He has guided my path even when I haven't asked him. Our God is an awesome God!

What is holding you back?  Is it fear?  Of pain?  Of failure?  Of success?  If something is keeping you from moving forward, be it fear or something else, it only takes the first step to start in the direction you desire.  Move the obstacles out of your way.  Achieve your dreams.  Make them happen.