Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Delusions of Fitness

It has been month since I've worked out!  I've gained 7 pounds!  I'm not married to the scale but man I hate that!  I've had a ton to think about though in these last 30 days!

I really need to get back into things, so I created the Facebook support page for this blog!  Thanks to those who have "Liked" me, if you haven't please do .. (shameless plug)!  look to the right for the LIKE button.

I started to look at next year's schedule.  I put myself down for a half marathon in March and a HALF IRON in July! I need to find a Marathon, then more importantly I need to figure out HOW TO RUN!  I had this same problem last year, I set my schedule and had all these plans for the year and then suddenly spring was here.. I hope to not let it happen like that next year!  Delusions.. I hope they aren't all Delusions!!

Some of you know that my tri-coaching partner was hit by a car while I was on vacation.  She also owns a bootcamp in town!  She was due to have surgery yesterday and I agreed to help with the bootcamp while she was recovering.  I've coordinated fitness groups before with no problem, specifically swimming/tri groups, but I'm knowledgeable in the other areas too. I spent a few days at bootcamp with Alexis,  where the women were introduced to me as a "workout leader"." As most of you have probably gleaned, I am up to any challenge, so even though the number of women was a little intimidating, I was ready for it!

WELL, yesterday, while Alexis was supposed to be in surgery I get a text from her. At first I thought someone stole her phone, then I thought she was just high on the drugs :).  Turns out that her clavicle was healing nicer than expected and NO SURGERY NEEDED.  Awesome!  I was looking forward to the challenge, but also relieved and happy for her to not be opened up!

Since I had already planned on getting up at 4AM, I decided to ATTEND bootcamp.  I totally felt like a male gynecologist (no equipment, yet all the knowledge).  I felt like all the women were looking at me &  looking at how pathetic I was doing the exercises. I felt like saying "hey, even though I may look pathetic, I DO know what I'm talking about :)"

I've been reading a ton about my Ehlers Danlos Syndrom (EDS) and many things are making sense now. This was my first workout since the diagnosis.  The first revelation was the mountain climbers.  I've always hated them, but today realized WHY!  Every time I brought my left leg up, it would click OUT OF PLACE!  ouch.. all of these years I totally thought I was just out of shape and couldn't make this work!

Another issue was with push-up and planks.  I've always had "weak wrists" and it really frustrated me. I thought "am I really that weak???" Well today I realized it's simply because of the EDS.  I had a hard time making sure my wrists were straight and stable.  (they move a LOT).  Also, if I had to drop to my knee at all, my knee caps would simply MOVE over..  again OUCH!

My last revelation was in a shoulder-weight exercise.  I was only using 5lb weights which were no problem 'muscle' wise, but I noticed that every time I got to a certain point that my entire shoulder would just move out!  I have to now figure out a way to do these exercises without pulling the joints out of place!

I'm now pumped that I'm not as pathetic as I thought!  I really did think that I was a slacker and just wasn't working hard.  I may have to re-learn some exercises, but I'm up to the challenge!  Plus, I have to figure out how to run, and at this point, there's not much wrong with my legs.. other than my brain :)...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A reason for the Migranes: Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

As many of you know, I have migraines.  I've had them for 30 years or so. Throughout my life I've figured out different reasons for some of them, and have reduced the severity and/or frequency of them. (eyesight, blood pressure, hormones, etc).  I've seen every specialist under the sun and had every test imaginable. Most doctors have just given me the shrug and I almost started to believe I was a hypochondriac. 

It was TRIATHLON that brought me to this answer!  During the Cohassett Tri, I met a woman during the run.  We got to chatting and she also had migraines.  We discussed the very similar symptoms, drugs,  and the fact that no doctor could figure out what the heck was wrong with us.  Randomly we also started talking about our hypermobility (aka my bar tricks).  I never in a million years thought the fact that I can bend my fingers backwards past 90 degrees, or the fact that my arms flip around would be a MEDICAL problem. And  that problem would  cause my migraines.  I never once thought to even tell my doctor about this!!!

Meeting this woman made me think "hm.. could they be related,  we both have migraines and hypermobility."  So I started to research, discussed with my doctor and he sent me to a Rheumatologist. Friday I was finally given an answer: Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - type 3 (hypermobility). **EDS is a Genetic Disorder of the connective tissues**   Unfortunately this is a diagnosis that doesn't have a genetic test, it has just symptom testing.  I will never be 100% sure, but no one with this type is.  I do have all the signs though.

The more I read about it, the more I have "AH HA" moments.  So many things are making more sense to me.  My back and hips always hurt; the bones always "fall out of place" (this is what causes my migraines).  Occasionally my hip will literally dislocate and I have to put it back. As a kid I used to use the screen door to do put the hip back.   Also on occasion the bones in my feet slip out of place and I have a really difficult time putting those back. This just makes me have to sit down for a while and massage my feet.  I just thought I was "super-flexible." 

I see a chiropractor weekly and during times of intense working out, I see my massage therapist often.  Turns out the myofacial releases are very typical and good for EDS.  Also, everything I have been doing has preserved my joints.  There is no cure nor is there a treatment for EDS.  Being athletic is helping and will allow me to stay at the pain level I am now.  Unfortunately there are others out there with EDS that are in constant joint pain and premature osteo-arthritis that can't be stopped. They continually dislocate their joints and can require braces and/or wheelchairs!  This is just more motivation to me to stay in shape (and now get the weight off the joints).

I suspect I will write a lot more about this as I continue on my journey.  I now have a reason for my pain other than "I'm a wimp" or "I'm out of shape" - I don't plan on using it as an excuse, but its nice to know that I'm not insane, or a hypochondriac- just a little odd :).

***updated 2/21:  This post gets a ton of search hits from Ehlers Danlos + Migraine people.  Please see this post as well for additional info, I wrote more info about me and my plight!

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Connections and a Storm

I  took a little break from racing after the 50 mile ride  and went to Jamaica.  I thought it would be for a relaxing trip.  I would get to swim and dive and just hang out with friends in the sun.  Mother Nature had a different plan for me!

We arrived, checked in and I immediately went to the diveshack to meet the friends that work at the resort.   I made arrangements for John to take a kayak out super early in the AM so I could swim a good distance.   I prefer early in the AM so I don't get run over by a jetski or boat.  After the arrangements were made we left for the bar.

The next day I swam 1.17 miles along the coast. It was amazing to just swim straight, no real waves, boats, and relatively clear water.  I could see eel grass, starfish, the occasional fish such as a puffer.  I didn't even notice the distance and I'm sure I could have done 2 or 3x the length but I didn't want to bore John to death on our first full day of vacation so we returned. I figured I'd have 8 days to swim lots of miles!  I did notice that the quantity of fish seemed to be lacking and it was a little more murky than usual but didn't really think  much about it until a couple days later.

We also went on a dive that day too, it was a nice dive to about 60 feet.  We didn't see much except coral, some adolescent fish and TONS of lionfish.  The waters of Jamaica tend to be over-fished but I think the lionfish invasion is really decimating the coral reefs!  It really makes me sad!

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the dive because my camera broke.  I KNEW as soon as this happened that we were in for SOMETHING - Silly me, I just figured it would be a really cool dive such as seeing a Hammerhead shark, or a whale shark or something like that, I didn't even fathom it would be a tropical storm and I would be taking pictures with a Blackberry!

The next day we woke up early and went for another swim, this time with another friend.  He had only swam 1/4 mile up until this point so we set out for 1/2 mile. (I know I'm mean).   Half way through the swim the swells started to pick up and if you would breath to the outside you would get a face full of ocean.  This half mile was definitely harder than the 1.17 I did the day before!  Little did I know, that was the last open water swim I would have for the YEAR.

We watched the weather report and noticed this large weather mass "tropical depression 16" just SITTING on top of Negril.  This storm eventually turned into Tropical Storm Nicole and really put a damper on our vacation.  It just POURED the whole time, the ocean, which is usually flat calm, was a wreck, and there was so much devastation to the sealife.

We entertained ourselves with lots of silly games, and no real working out.. except one day Kevin and I went to a spin class!  Kevin was speaking with the instructor and she was a new triathlete!  She talked about doing "just a mini" tri, and I sorta yelled at her to be proud that its not "just a mini", it's a sprint and she should be proud.   In that respect I told her about this blog and she said "ya know what? I've actually read that!" (!! seriously??? how cool is that?). -

We eventually returned from Jamaica, NOT rejuvenated, NOT rested, and NOT ready for work.  BUT on a good note, I had a Sorority reunion the following weekend so I was getting BACK on a plane in a few days to go party it up with some old friends!

Partying and vacation really will take a toll on your EATING and EXERCISING habits!  I know that anytime I go home to Pittsburgh that I'm going to have a Primanti's sandwich (or two) and if I'm lucky, some Perogies! This is a large pile of greasy heaven! YYYUUUUMMM!!

I was pretty excited to see my sorority sisters after 15+ years, but it was like we never missed a day.  The thing that got me AGAIN (I'm not sure I'm going to get used to this), is the people who came up to me and recognized the blog.  Sisters who told me it was inspiring and that they were doing something because of it, or were just simply proud of me.  Awesome, simply awesome!  --Really, I don't think I'm going to get used to that, but its going to keep me writing.

I do know that I have to get back on the horse, I'm sure I've gained weight and lost muscle in the last month.  I'm going to be helping my training partner with bootcamp over the next few weeks so hopefully that will get me started. It will at least get me up long before the sun!

Here we go......