Flexibility Friday!

Yesterday I was engaged in an “interesting” series of texts from a friend. It went something like this:

“Friend: My back is hurting. I can’t get in to have it adjusted until next week.”
Me: I’m sorry you are hurting so badly and that is such a long time! I am exhausted; I just got done driving almost 3 hours and I didn’t sleep much.”
Friend: Well, you just have to keep on moving, that’s what I do.
Me: It’s true! Whenever people ask me why I walk so much I usually tell them it’s because if I don’t walk so much, I won’t be able to!

Me: It’s funny, I was thinking about how I used to dance. I miss doing that. My bones are so bad though; the doctors tell me my x-rays look like they’re from an 85-year-old. I don’t know if I can do that again :’-(
Friend: Well, I hope you can find a new hobby to fill your time.
Me: Hahahaha there is ALWAYS more to do!”

I bring up this conversation for two reasons:
1. As my mother said when I mentioned this conversation to her (I was laughing hard because I could live 20 healthy lifetimes and still not accomplish the things I want to do in this lifetime!), “I don’t think I have EVER heard you say ‘I’m bored!’ Not even as a little kid!” It’s true – the only times I find myself “bored” are when I am very ill for a prolonged period of time and that is more of a state of “angst” than “boredom” and when I find myself HAVING to study things / topics in which I have no interest (to me, that’s just a waste of time). Sometimes I get the feeling of “boredom” from the steroids, but I know it’s the whack-a-doodle chemicals and not a “REAL” feeling.
2. I did use to dance. I miss it terribly. The Halloween “party” I attended this year (that’s a story unto itself!) was funny and sad because one of my similarly disabled friends (she walks with a cane – there are times she does need it) was showing me all of her “dance moves,” especially from her line dancing days … and she was jumping up and down like crazy! I tried doing a little hop but I just couldn’t physically do it. I’m not there yet. I CAN STILL DO A HEEL CLICK – IMPRESSIVE FOR SOMEONE IN A BACK BRACE! – but I think the force landing is different than a straight up and down jump.

At any rate, I have been thinking a lot about stamina and endurance physically recently (mostly due to Chopin) but I have also been thinking about the poor shape this body is in after being ravaged by steroids and the many implications / manifestations of that (such as the compression fractures, osteoporosis, &c.). I am working on gradually increasing the stamina in my arms and fingers (that’s somewhat different), but I was thinking about how much less flexible I have become over the last few years (and especially last year!) thanks much to the broken and twisted T6 and T7. However, speaking to the first point, I have decided to put myself to a NEW challenge (not that I lack any – I never have enough time to do anything which is RIDICULOUS!) – namely, to increase my flexibility to the state it was in BEFORE THE LAST HUGE STEROID DOSING. I do not expect my body to be as flexible as when I was a dancer; I do not expect my body to be as flexible as when I was very young and in gymnastics. I do not expect my body to be as flexible as it was in my early 20s before I got so sick and I was doing 60-90 minutes of yoga 5 days a week. HOWEVER, I do not see any reason I cannot achieve the level of flexibility I had as a slightly “healthier” person a few years ago. And so I have named today, FLEXIBILITY FRIDAY, the start of my new “FLEXIBILITY CHALLENGE!” I am giving myself a month to see what results I can achieve in that period of time and I will report back here at that point (right around Christmas!).

For all of you who are mobile and have chronic illness of some sort, I ALSO IMPLORE YOU TO JOIN ME IN THIS FLEXIBILITY CHALLENGE! It is really important for our bodies to be MORE flexible (perhaps not hyperflexible – numerous physical therapists have told me that is just as bad as being “hypoflexible” / inflexible). If you happen to be in the state I am in, that is, you are young with osteoporosis and perhaps also have compression fractures in your spine, it is good to at least have flexibility in your shoulders, neck, and legs and the muscles in your core that support your spine because building up muscle necessarily decreases flexibility (without stretching / working on flexibility) and you need BOTH the core muscle support (as well as the other muscles for support and especially for proper posture which is CRUCIAL to supporting your spine!) as well as the FLEXIBILITY in all of those areas in order to properly support your spine to minimize the chance of further fracture. I think it is a worthwhile challenge and it is a great time of the year to start something like this because it can act as a “jump start” to any New Year Resolutions you might have physically and because it can help you get into a better “exercise” routine NOW when the holidays tempt you with a wide array of terribly unhealthy foods! At any rate, please join me – and if you are comfortable doing so, please let me know how you get your body to become more flexible (or how you have done so in the past!) – those kinds of tips and tricks can help us all!

And with that, I will end this HAPPY FRIDAY / FLEXIBILITY FRIDAY post! I, for one, am VERY glad to see the end of this week (I know it has been a rough week for a LOT of people … I wonder why??) and very happy to see the weekend and the upcoming “holiday” week! *Note: if you did not know this about me, I am ethnically a mutt, but a high percentage of that “muttness” is Lakota “Sioux” – as such, I do not find “Thanksgiving” in the traditional sense to be a particularly “celebratory” time of the year … HOWEVER, I HAVE LEARNED TO EMBRACE IT BY THINKING ABOUT IT AS A TIME JUST TO GIVE THANKS FOR WHAT WE HAVE NOW AND THE THINGS WITH WHICH WE HAVE BEEN BLESSED. I have been too sick to “partake” in Thanksgiving for several years (I think I had a brief bout of being “okay” enough to eat dessert with my family two years ago and we all said what we were thankful for. BUT I have a lot to be thankful for this year … and on that, I WILL END, because that is for another post!*

I hope you are having a happy and healthy day and weekend wherever you are in the world!

❤ Always, Beth


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