A year ago, September 2010, I started an exercise program called CrossFit. One attends the gym for about 20-30 minutes, 3 times a week minimum, and run through a gauntlet of exercises which resemble early tortures by Savonarola, designed to made you fit…
Box jumps: Jumping up on a box from the floor. A bunch of times.
Burpees: squat thrust, jump back to plank, push up, jump back to squat, jump up! The exclamation point is to let you know it is really, really, exciting!
Push press: pushing a bar bell over your head. No explanation.
Kettleballs: its bad. Swing that weighted puppy from between your legs to over your head. Whistle Dixie.
Wall balls: start in a squat. Throw a medicine ball up unto the wall and catch in a squat! More exclamations.
And the regular stuff: pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, walking on fire.
Sometimes the torture has instructions:
*do as many as you can for 20 minutes
*do ascending rep groups of three things until the medics come or
*run 5k, etc.
All of this was pretty exciting for me. I have resisted hardcore exercise most of my life. What I do like to do is swim, walking is great, hiking is okay, biking is great (not uphill) and dancing is the best. So, clearly, I am not a jock.
But I entertained the thought that I could do this program and so on into the fray… after a couple of weeks I noticed that I was firming up.
Wow, okay, good! After age 40 my body seemed destined by gravity to begin to gently fall. For example: facial skin (whatever it is that your neck does to make you look like a turkey,) breasts, and finally, last but not least, the ass. And what is it that happens with skin around our knees??? Whatever it is, it is not part of what makes the vanity monster happy.
Yes, I was on my way into toning, firming, and becoming part of the “fit-over-fifty” club.
The endorphins kicked in and I get excited about seeing my eyeballs bug out of my head while a sucking in as much air as I can manage for my 20 minute blast off. Whoopee! That feels so good..especially, when I stop.
The love affair with extreme exercise lasted 2 months.
On the destined day the menu was:
21, 15 and 9 reps of push-presses and pull-ups (I did use an elasto-band to bounce off the floor.)
BANG! SCREECH! RIP! something in my body said: NO FRICKING WAY!
And my left arm froze.
Okay, don’t panic. I know how to take care of myself. Ice, ibuprofen, massage, more ice, OW OW OW. After weeks of chronic pain I begin to worry. I can’t lift my left arm over my head without real tears coming to my eyes. I can’t snap my bra in the back. I can’t use my left arm! I have 2 TaKeTiNa workshops and a half-dozen drum classes left in my fall series. Can I drum? Is this the end of my career as a drum teacher? Of course, given the situation, my dress is starting to rise inexorably over my head. Got through the series alive and hurting.
In Mid-January, Terrance and I left for 6 weeks in Bali. Arm is still hurting, mood is grey, imagining the worst. Any movement can produce big pain. Pain over time is depressing. And in the big picture only have a small amount of acute and chronic pain… . Nevertheless, it is my pain and am having a personal relationship with it.
Bali is lovely… warm and humid. One of my first forays is to a Balinese healer. He really got into my shoulder and Bali-rolfed it. He said it would be okay and for me not to worry (!) Gave me a lotion to rub on it and exercises to do. I started to swim in the pool at our guest house and by week 3 in Bali could do a crawl type stroke. The water mitigated the pain and the warmth of the air helped.
We returned to Seattle and the longest onset to spring in the history of the NorthWet (according to the old timers.) The damp cold settled into those muscles and any kind of progress halted. And so depression came back to bite, chew, and swallow.
Good news: I found help.
When you have been in the alternative healing modality scene long enough, you know when you have found the right match…the person who reads your situation correctly AND also devises the right treatment protocol, AND has the right skills to execute the plan.
I found the right combo in a pair of people! A man and woman acupuncturist(s).. and the only problem?
Had to travel over 3 hours round-trip for treatment (including a ferry crossing.)
What is time when it comes to healing? Nothing… As I began to get relief from pain, and the anxiety around the pain, I would have traveled further. Once pain begins to leave, you don’t remember it. You don’t remember the worry, depression, anxiety, and limitations you felt. I feel myself, I feel normal, and even better, with on-going acupuncture, I began to feel stronger! Invincible! Resilient! Sexy! Exclamatory! Thank gods and goddesses for the needles, for my acupuncturists. Thank you body, for the slow and steady building of strength and chi! Thanks to all and everything for having guided me where I needed to go to continue….aging with grace.
Beats the alternative.