I wanted to take a moment to thank all the people who have read and written to me regarding my post on Fibromyalgia, written a few years back now (https://homeopathytoronto.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/fibromyalgia-from-someone-whos-been-there-2/). It seems there are a lot of people searching and seeking for answers, and in my experience, this is exactly what we need to do in order to move forward, through any challenging situation.
I also wanted to give an update on my own health and healing, but with a footnote to say that while we can draw upon each others’ experiences, no two people walk exactly the same path; what worked and works for me may not be the perfect fit for you. This being said, I feel a need to share a bit of my own story since, as a wise friend of mine once told me, “people love stories of transformation.” I think this is true – stories, irrespective of how directly applicable the details may be to our own lives, can serve to inspire, and draw out larger universal truths and patterns, from which we can learn, benefit, and take heart. So with all of this introductory preamble, here is an update on my own condition/diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
Two years ago, on the 1st of April, one of the best days of my life as I look back, I felt in a good enough place physically, at the ripe age of 40, to start playing tennis. I cannot adequately express to you, the joy I felt, stepping out onto the tennis court, after living through 12 years of physical pain that overtook my life in every way.
Growing up I had always been very athletic, strong, physically free in a way. At age 30, during my illness I had fallen in love with tennis but was relegated to watching and just being a fan. I never even dreamed that I would someday be playing. It is a tough sport physically, quite demanding. One of my primary issues during my experience of Fibromyalgia had been the recovery process after physical exertion. I was strong and could do things, but immediately afterward would suffer tremendously and I would have to spend the next 2-3 days taking time out for self-care and recovery. I was inflamed, sore, irritable, miserable, incapacitated.
The first couple of months playing tennis, I was always alert for that feeling of discomfort afterward. I would attend to my body sensations with trepidation – would the discomfort come back to haunt me? Where was it? Amazingly, it just never came. Certainly I would feel a general soreness, and indulged in many Epsom Salt baths, and much Arnica and Rhus tox, but the pain was a normal kind of recovery pain. Especially normal considering that I had been inactive for so many years. I felt a kind of disbelief in my body’s response to the exercise. I began to realize that I was going to be ok.
After a few months of feeling ok playing, it dawned on me that I had my life back. I had choices. I could do the things I wanted. I felt my inner child rising with the sheer joy of being able to play. Just to simply play and enjoy. For those reading who are suffering with pain, I know you know what I mean. For those of you reading who have never suffered from chronic pain or restrictive ill-health, please be thankful, and use your time wisely. Don’t waste it.
Learning the sport has been a new kind of challenge, to be sure. Not least of all is the awkwardness of being a middle-aged person fumbling around on the court, hoping to make friends with some generous souls who would play with me. It is a humbling experience to be a beginner again, and to be vulnerable to making mistakes and looking a fool.
As a side note, an interesting bump along the way, I broke my wrist last April, about one year in to my would-be illustrious tennis career, on the day of my Dad’s birthday. The break itself was not so painful but the recovery process was hellish for me. I only had the cast on for about 4 weeks – the minimum time (thank you Symphytum and Arnica), but it was like a flashback to my worst days with the Fibro. I couldn’t manage even small tasks. My mother, angel that she is, came by once a week to wash my dishes for me. The cast was so tremendously uncomfortable that it inflamed my neck and shoulders. I couldn’t do my daily stretches which have become instrumental to my overall health. I could not find a comfortable resting place for my arm in any position. I was never at peace. It was so much like I had been in my late twenties and early thirties. It was a disturbing and sobering reminder, and, thankfully, a temporary one.
After the break, I had another great summer playing tennis, though my left arm was atrophied from the cast. I think it is difficult to overstate the healing influence that joy can have in one’s life. Having fun, playing, and just being out among friendly people is transformative in itself. If there is something that brings you joy and you have the opportunity to do it, I would encourage you to go after it with abandon. Our passions in life are gifts to us. We must do what we love. At any rate, the opportunity to pursue those passions may be fleeting. This is something I have really internalized from my experiences.
By the end of last summer I was at the tennis courts 4-5 days a week. Who would have thunk?! For someone who was unable to even go for a damn walk some years ago, this is really stunning. As the weather started to turn cold, I began to wonder how I would get by once the courts closed. Winter tennis is a whole lot less free and easy than summer tennis. What would I do with myself?
So, I joined the YMCA. With kind advisement from the trainers and my big brother, I began lifting barbells. Braving the free weight section was yet another opportunity to practice humility and ego-dissolution, but I had a good foundation for this from all the awkward months of being a beginner at tennis.
This winter, I reclaimed a whole lot of my strength and power, both physically and emotionally, doing weight lifting. I’m not talking about sitting on the machines looking dainty and contained. I’ve surprised myself by doing squats, bench presses and deadlifts. That’s right, deadlifts.
So, what is the moral of this story? It’s actually ongoing, and I intend to write more, in particular, to share some of the treatments I have used along the way as I get numerous requests about this. At this point, I just want to say, look: things can change, and they can change in a HUGE way. Just keep going forward. Keep going.
Also, it is paramount to use our chances when we have them, for they may not last forever, especially because life is change.
Some of the worst, lowest points in my recovery weren’t from the pain as much as the frustration. There was so much frustration for me in just not being able to craft my life how I wanted it, because of the restrictions of chronic illness. But then, would I have put the effort into improving myself and my life in the same way had I not fallen ill? Are not the challenges that face us, the tools we use to overcome and improve?
I will leave this thought hanging since it wants another blog, and if you have read this far, I commend you. Please take what good you can from my story. Thank you for reading…