Commence Operation “Reduce Elephant”

Way back when I was diagnosed with The Collection, an intense, varied exercise regime became an important part of my life.  Hydrotherapy, weight training, cardio, boxing, Pilates and yoga, core work and resistance exercises;  I was at the gym four times a week.  And I loved it.  Suddenly I turned from a tiny weak weed to a tiny buff and muscle-y dynamo – I even earned the nickname ”Pocket Rocket” at my workplace.   

[When I met Tuxedo I looked like a Mini-Me version of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2,  right down to the black combat pants and tank-top, but sans uzi.]

Over the years of course, my health and thus my routine had their ups and downs, but I always managed to keep some kind of exercise going.  Even when the situation got really bad – like last year where thankfully I had Tux around to look after me so I didn’t have to be hospitalised for months –  I managed to do daily stretches, leg lifts, sit ups, push ups, basic Pilates core work and resistance stuff.

At the start of this year, after The Year Of The Shite, I knew I had to get some serious informed physical therapy and rehabilitation to get me back on my feet.    But that wasn’t the only obstacle I faced . . .

. . . In the last few years I had turned from a slender muscled little thing into an increasingly-inflating blimp. 

All the procedures I’d undergone in 2006 and 2007, and the medication I was on, caused swift major weight gain.  The first time I tried to get into my loose fit jeans, after living in nighties and pj’s for six weeks, and couldn’t get them past my thighs I bawled like a baby. 

The weight gain horrified me, especially as I couldn’t do anything about it, and I kept getting wider and wider.  I was already on anti-depressants, and have always had major body image and self-esteem issues, but add in the weight gain and my emotional condition went from bad to abysmal.  Just as with the physical therapy and rehab, I knew I needed some serious professional help with “the heid”.

* * * * * * * * *

First stop was my GP.  I know I’ve said this before – and I will say it again – he is possibly the most understanding, thoughtful, holistic [without being airy-fairy], kind and generally awesome medical practitioner I have ever encountered. 

He got me into a fantastic Physical Therapy / Rehabilitation Programme, run from a private hospital.  This not only means I have access to exercise physiologists, physios / physical therapists, masseurs, even surgeons!;   I can keep coming unlike the public rehab clinics where you get kicked out of your programmes after six months regardless of your condition or status;  and the facilities are awesome.

I have already had two great sessions, and will be going twice a week [the last couple of weeks were cancelled due to damage done by a massive freak storm that rammed through Perth; the clinic’s roof crashed down, windows shattered, carpets flooded, equipment damaged].  I’m champing at the bit for more more more.

My first session was the usual first-time appointment with any new medical professional;  The Collection and its effects take a while to explain.  My personal [!] Exercise Physiologist is a real sweetie, I can see she “gets it”, and is going to design a gym programme and get me in the pool.

I adore hydrotherapy.  As well as the really well-equipped gym, there is a gorgeous hydrotherapy pool.  Heated, of course, with a ramp to walk down for shaky people like me.  The shallow end, where people practice walking, comes up to the chest;  to me, being somewhat Lilliputian, it’s way over my boobs.  Thus progress against the resistance and movement makes me work even harder.  This is a good thing!

There are lots of exercises; leg lifts with a weighted ring placed around the foot;  the usual kickboard – both holding with arms and kicking with legs, and holding between the feet and doing freestyle with arms;  “running” and “cycling” in the deep end with a noodle float to keep my head above water.  No water wings here, although there are paddles and various other accoutrements for different kinds of exercises.  I’m certainly not going to be bored!

Best of all the atmosphere is really relaxed and friendly, so I have a great time working out and look forward to my sessions.

* * * * * * * * *

Part Two of my 2010 Resolution to lose weight, get fit, and get my head straightened out, started with my GP referring me to a couple of psychologists who were recommended by Pain Specialists, so they are familiar with chronic diseases and disabilities and the mental and emotional issues that arise.  While my GP was scribbling down names, I asked him to refer me to one of the Pain Specialists, just for the hell of it, like.  He was shocked and horrified my rheumatologist hadn’t sent me to one, given that extreme chronic debilitating pain and attendant fatigue are  my main issues.

I haven’t made any appointments yet [slap on wrist, I know] but I will.  I’m reluctant to talk to the psychologist but I know I have to, there’s too much horrible stuff going on in my head, it’s building up and I know that is not healthy.

I need strategies and resources and all that jazz, but most of all I need someone – an outsider – to talk to and make sense of the mess I’m in, and the baggage I am still carrying, from years and years ago, that I should have let go by now:   But it’s the kind of memories / problems / issues that lie dormant and then rear their ugly heads when I’m most vulnerable.

So, on with the motley!  I’ll keep you all updated on Operations “Reduce Elephant” and “Straighten Out The Heid” as I go on.

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