Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One Woman's Journey to a Healthy Active Life

I'm going to start writing about this because my client, Vickie, has given me permission to do so.  My relationships with my clients are confidential and I take that commitment seriously.  With the hope that others may be inspired to lead healthy, active lives, despite being faced with chronic pain, I share Vickie's story and her journey; where she came from, what has brought her to this point, and where she is going.

As Vickie's personal trainer and coach for the past two years, I have watched a woman fight for her health like no other.  You see, Vickie's body is in chronic pain.  Her list of diagnosis', illness, injuries and medications is long.  Why?  What?  You name it, she has it, and the list continues to grow like roots twisted under the ground.  We cannot see what the "roots" are doing, but we know that, indeed, they are twisted, bulging, and deformed in spots. We also know that the roots are growing, demonstrating a desire for the "plant" to be strong.  Fine hairs on the root indicate health, and their growth, despite being twisted at times, indicate an ever-increasing hardiness for the "plant" above ground, the "plant" that we can see with the naked eye.  And, so it is with Vickie.

We may never know the cause of it all.  What brought Vickie to this point where she is today, sometimes just barely getting by?  As a lifestyle advocate, I could make some assumptions. "If you had taken care of yourself when you were younger, your body would be stronger today, and as a result, you may have been able to protect yourself from injury/illness today".  Or, "If you knew that you had all these problems, why didn't you do something sooner, like changing your lifestyle, opting for a daily habit of strengthening and stretching your body against injury, and exercising to decrease reliance on drugs to control against metabolic disease?"

Vickie and I have talked about this as part of her ongoing work towards healthy active living.  We talked about it, we accepted responsibility for it and we've moved on.  We've done this because it's an important part of the "recovery" process. It's not to beat yourself up over it, but to accept the fact that YOU are responsible for your choices and the consequences that you have made in the past.  And, if you recognize that, then, there is the possibility to accept responsibility for future change.  And...that's where we are today.

But, Vickie's chronic pain is not just from "lifestyle disease".  Genetics have dealt her a bad hand too, and the list is long:  inflammation, arthritic knees, torn meniscus, hip replacement, degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, bulging disks, sciatic, and shoulder impingement to name some of the more significant issues.   And then, there was the fall down the stairs, injuring her back and knee fairly severely. And it all hurts.  Pain sometimes requires pain medication.  Pain sometimes requires cortisone injections and spinal blocks.  Pain sometimes requires rest.  And...that's where we are today.

When it hurts to move your body, you tend to minimize activity.  When you minimize activity, you tend to gain weight and your other metabolic profiles change.  Your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels increase.  And...that's where we are today.

Vickie, throughout all the pain over the last two years, has persevered and has fought for her life like no other client I have ever worked with.  She has opted for water exercise as part of her regimine towards a healthy active life and we do this twice a week.  She and I did yoga and pilates as long as her back could tolerate it.  She walked by herself until it made her sciatic flare up.  She attended a Women's Health Summit for inspiration and education.  She bought a bike, but hasn't ridden it yet.  She set a goal to attend two of my trips this year as part of a healthy active lifestyle.  She was going to attend the week on Sanibel Island to "Walk It Off" (with healthy doses of water exercise, yoga on the beach and a bike ride).  However, an upcoming surgery on her back, fusing her spine in two places, will keep her away from that trip for now.   

She is now more determined than ever to attend the Rocky Mountains trip next September.  This trip is just 9 months away, post surgery.  While the doctors and nurses will have her up and moving just 1 day post surgery, she and I have already set up a schedule of "gentle moving", in accordance with Dr.'s orders.  She has her back brace and has requested a brace that is water durable, so she can wear one in the water once she is cleared for water exercise/movement. 

Vickie also knows how to eat for health.  She has armed herself with foods full of vitamins and nutrients for optimal healing during this post surgical period.  She knows that processed foods will only add to her inflammation.  She is not restricting her calories, because she is healing, but she is making nutrient dense healthy choices to help her repair her body.

Tomorrow, Vickie will have her surgery and I will visit her in the hospital.  With her continued permission, I will keep you posted on her activity level post surgery.  We both have high hopes that, post surgery, her chronic pain, that has limited her ability to move as she wishes, will be minimized.  Her doctors have told her that she will still have pain (because of the other degenerations), but that her pain will be manageable.  

Living 365fitt, even through pain,
Coach Kathy


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