I decided that I am staying on the low trail until I can afford the boots I need. Coming back down the Little Mountain hill yesterday was a little rough in athletic shoes, and the last thing I want right now is a turned ankle or a slip and fall. I’m a little sore, but I got up and kept moving today. I am really glad that I did. It gave me the opportunity to bypass previous limits.
For the last decade I have not been able to walk much for exercise. By now you all know there was a time that I couldn’t even stand up. Ever since a fall that I took that injured an SI joint, I have been very limited on time spent on my feet and especially when it came to walking distances and creating impact. Any time I have pushed those limits, I paid for it dearly. I am remembering right now that a few years ago a friend treated me to Disneyland, and so I probably walked a lot of miles that day – all on a hard surface – but I will also tell you that I really hurt myself. By the evening, I was so done and it was an agonizing walk back to the hotel room. I could barely move and the next morning was not much better. This is the reality that most Lupus patients learn to live with – you play, you pay. The more it happened, the less I wanted to do it. About a year ago.. maybe more now… I was diagnosed with left ventricular hypertrophy. With the left ventricle of my heart enlarged, it was not pumping efficiently, and I was feeling it. I was not well and I didn’t know why. When they told me why, I heard the word “permanent” again and it was devastating to me. It seemed like the hits just kept coming. This is after a Systemic Lupus diagnosis, after a Fibromyalgia diagnosis, after finding out I had Raynaud’s syndrome, and now I have heart disease??? I could not have been more crushed and lacking emotional balance. I literally left the Dr’s office and sobbed in my car for 10 minutes. I spent a few days reeling from it, and then started looking for a center again. I asked to be referred to a cardiologist so that I could better evaluate my situation with a specialist, and started researching my condition and available medication and treatments. Once I realized this could shorten my lifespan and restrict activities, my level of panic actually drove me to start working on a solution. I started walking again, wanting even more than before to drop the weight I had been struggling with for so long. In short, I did start to turn things around.
That was one of the hardest things I have had to do. I started walking to the corner and back, just one block. It was painful. My joints hurt, my muscles hurt, and I was fatigued to begin with so it was unappealing beyond belief. I did that each day until it began to get easier. When it eventually got easier, I walked it twice. If I had a very bad day, I took a break and felt no guilt over it, knowing I was doing something – more than where I have been before. When walking to the corner and back twice became easier, I walked it three times, and then four. By the time I was walking it four times, I realized I didn’t have to worry as much about how far I was from my house anymore (which in my mind was something I could crawl if I had to). I decided to walk to the corner and cross the street, and walk down the next block too. With that progression, eventually I was walking between 1 and 3 miles a few times a week. At some point I was able to actually head into the forest and go hiking again, within reason (check my You Tube videos), but it wasn’t easy. I had to go slow. It was just nice to finally DO once again the thing that I thought was forever lost to me.
My limit has been four miles. That’s the top end, and I haven’t done it very much. When I did, I hurt. So in reality, I could only do 2 or 3 miles WELL and not have a crash and burn to pay for later. Even that has been a challenge at times, and that one mile is the only thing I have been able to consistently rely on being safe. I know I can do 1 mile, and so I kept doing 1 mile. If it’s something you can do, then do it. I am now pushing my boundaries, as you have read, and expecting more from myself because I have goals that are deeply meaningful. I won’t be able to reach them if I don’t push myself a little harder, and so that is what I am doing. I have been testing the waters, and doing more, and I have made more progress than I realized. I will openly attribute a lot of this to the radical changes I made in my diet over the last couple of months. I was already eating healthy, but I stepped up my game and chose to do more. It doesn’t matter to me that it’s extra work. I am after a result. I got it. Something shifted and I have more energy now.
So what did I do today? Five miles. Five miles on trail, not sidewalk. That is so far beyond doing 2 or 3 miles on sidewalk that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it right now. I can remember not all that long ago getting winded walking on flat surfaces, and now I am climbing inclines. Although it does put me out of breath if I walk long enough on a grade, the fact is I can DO it now and I don’t always have to stop to catch my breath. The only reason I stopped today was the sun – I still have to be careful about my UV exposure even though the photosensitivity has improved a little. That and… the shoes. (I have a new pair now, so tomorrow will be better!) Other than that, I felt like I could have kept going a while longer. That I did that 5 miles and I don’t feel like crawling into a corner right now is even better. Oh, I have sore muscles. The climb yesterday is catching up to me. It’s okay though. That’s not the same kind of pain that the autoimmune junk causes. This is my body regaining strength. I can deal. I have been through much, much worse.
I think Yosemite is not so far away now. I think my pace is better than I estimated it to be. If it doesn’t happen for 4 years, that’s okay too, but I am totally open to reevaluating the whole thing. Let’s see how long it takes for me to be able to tackle Icehouse Canyon first. 🙂 That I look forward to – next year, I hope.