I’m writing tonight with jello-arms. My exhaustion level has reached new heights. Yet I feel proud to have worked out in a concentrated way for the first time.
Not just the first time since I got sick. More like the first time ever. My previous exercise activities were: swimming in middle school, gym class in high school, an aerobics video that I did on and off in college, occasional softball games, attempts at running short distances (less than 3 miles), and lots of yoga. Each of these had its merits, but none was a concerted effort to take care of my body on a regular basis. And other than yoga, I never stuck with any of the self-directed activities very long. My other past experience with physical activity includes a few rounds of physical therapy, whose exercises lasted only as long as the therapy treatments.
So today is day one. Given how little I was able to do and how much my body needs to rebuild from osteoporosis, I’m dedicating myself to a long term commitment.
After talking with a trainer a few days ago who told me how to use the machines, I anticipated that the entire workout would last about 30 minutes: 10 minutes to warm up and 20 minutes to make the rounds on the machines. Ha! It took me an hour from start to finish.
The first thing I did was an 8 minute warm-up on a recumbent stationary bicycle. This by itself was evidence of how much better I’ve gotten using the coil machine. I gave away the one I had in NY back in January, the one I barely used because I got too winded within 5 minutes. Today, I sat with my hands on special handles to measure my heart rate. I got up to 128 beats per minutes without having palpitations or chest compression. But by the end of 8 minutes, I was starting to get winded. I knew it was time to stop that activity so I would be able to work on my bones.
Before getting to the machines, I used a brace for my legs and did 2 sets of 12 sit-ups. They started out easy. By the last few, I was feeling pretty worn out. Then I went over to two contraptions that exercise the stomach and low back muscles. For these, I put myself in stress positions to tighten the intended muscles. I was able to just barely get started before I found myself shaking. I give myself credit for trying.
Then I went into the weight machine room. My goal on each machine was to do two sets of 12 repetitions on the lowest setting. I was able to do this for many of the machines, but some will require me to work up to that many reps. I started with a machine to work my calves and the backs of my thighs, then one to work all the muscles in my thighs. Next, two machines that work the front of the arms, the muscles around the shoulders and the pectoral muscles. Then I moved on to two machines that work the upper arm muscles, the shoulders and the upper back muscles. The last three work the arms in isolation. In all I used 9 machines and worked on building support for all the joints except my neck and head.
Part of what took me so long is that I’m still learning how to adjust the machines so that the seats are at the appropriate height for my size. When they are too low or too high, it generates a risk of pulling a muscle or straining muscles that aren’t intended to be used by that machine. So I took my time getting it right. Adjusting the machines included cleaning off the handles and cushions since I was following a very sweaty person around the room.
The other reason I needed so much time is that it was hard. I needed to rest between sets on a machine and between machines, and on a few machines I had to slow down during sets to be able to complete them. I had to psychologically gear myself up each time I started a set. I found them tiring and, in some instances, painful. The pain was in my joints more than my muscles. I’m guessing that I’m fighting inflammation in my joints. I’m also increasing circulation and oxygen to these areas. Beyond tired, I expect a possible Lyme herx reaction in the next day or two.
I was progressively tired as I moved around the room. By the end, my breathing felt slightly labored. I had reached my limit. I was glad not to have anything more to do. At the same time, I felt a little high, more alive and more present in the world. I wanted to go outside and enjoy the sunshine by walking in the slough near my home. My legs were not interested in this idea, but my mind was active and seeking stimulation.
After I finished the machines, I got into the dry sauna for twenty minutes. It felt hotter than usual when I entered. It took me a moment to realize that I had perspired while working out and that my skin was pretty cool. Within a minute or two, I was hot, hot, hot, as usual.
Before I entered the sauna, I stared at the hot tub. That’s where I wanted to go to loosen up all my recently worked muscles. I decided against it because the sauna works better when I go in dry. However, it has me reconsidering my workout plan. It seems like way too much to be going to the gym every day. But it might make sense to schedule my workouts on days when I’m not planning to use the sauna and can hop in the hot tub for five minutes before I leave.
I went to the gym at about 11:30. I got home a little after 1pm. Fortunately, my husband dropped me off and picked me up because my arms were turning into jello. Joe made my lunch, too, because all I wanted was to sit and drink.
I put myself to bed at around 2:30. I was too exhausted to do anything. Even sitting up felt like a strain. Then I lay down and my mind was everywhere except sleep. So I rested for about 20 minutes before I dove into dreamland, awakening at about 5pm and needing another half hour before I could move. I woke up with my arms and hands clenched across my chest. When I released them they hurt.
Healing as a Job
This evening, I’m very tired. VERY TIRED. I’m tired in all my muscles individually. In this state, I am unable to do much. Even writing this blog post feels like too much. I feel a movie coming on and a dinner prepared by someone other than me.
I have been reluctant to start this part of the healing process. I don’t like the idea of having pain and fatigue rule even the good days, the days when I can exercise or could potentially do other things. But for now, this is my job. With any luck, I will heal enough to get my body working again so that pain and fatigue are memories rather than present-time struggles.
On a side note, my abdomen has been growing and shrinking each day. I’m not sure what’s going on in there, but it doesn’t correlate to bouts of gas or constipation. My abdomen gets big and hard. Then I go to sleep and it shrinks. Then in another day it blows up again.
Well, two days ago, it got big, like I was starting to show a pregnancy. Then yesterday morning, as I was getting in the shower, I looked like I was 7 months pregnant. I shouted for my husband to come look. Then I asked if he was a vampire because my belly was growing faster than Bella’s in the movie Breaking Dawn.
This morning I was back down to looking swollen rather than pregnant. I don’t know what’s going on in there.
Yesterday I did morning and evening Babesia coiling sessions.
Today I did morning and evening Babesia coiling sessions. I also coiled my upper body for Bartonella.
- skin brushing
- dry sauna
- lemon water
Besides the workout and fatigue, I have my recurring aches and pains. Like right after I left the gym, I had extreme light sensitivity, so badly that even with my granny-sunglasses, I got a headache.
My abdomen is slightly swollen today. I have pain in my lower abdomen in the front and in my kidneys in the back. My joints are loudly popping, including my left TMJ. I’ve got floaters in my eyes. I had a night sweat last night.