Friday, June 22, 2012

Week 28 & 29 Updates

I've gone from slacking on eating right and exercising to slacking on blogging about my slacking. Fantastic.

I hit a mini-milestone two weekends ago, which which I thought would really motivate me to get back on track. That weekend I had my roller derby assessment - a test to see if I could move up from the beginner level and start hitting people and actually scrimmaging. I did a lot better than I expected on the endurance portion, especially considering I hadn't been as consistent about showing up to practice in the last couple months. Here's my progress over the last 5 months:

January: 16 laps in 5 minutes
March: 20.5 laps in 5 minutes (needed a minimum of 19 to pass the test)
June: 23.5 laps in 5 minutes!

Like I said, I thought that would motivate me to get back on track. But I'm still not going to the gym or keeping myself from binging on tortilla chips and ice cream (not together - yuck!). Even after I got my test results - I passed! - I still didn't go to the gym. I even skipped practice. It's like I'm in a rut that I just can't pull myself out of right now.

Week 28
Total weight loss: 17 lbs. (down another 1 1/2 lbs., but that was probably just a fluke)
Number of workouts: 2 (2 roller derby practices)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 2

Week 29
Total weight loss: hell if I know
Number of workouts: 0
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 0

See? Rut. Downward spiral. Bad.

I think part of it is my shoulder injury. It's just not getting any better; if anything, it's hurting more. I see my physical therapist weekly and do what she tells me, but it isn't helping. I have an appointment with a sports medicine specialist, but that's not for another couple weeks. In the meantime, I find myself feeling more and more frustrated and less and less motivated.

A friend pointed out that just because my progress has slowed doesn't mean it's stopped or that I've lost all the progress I've made so far. And I know she's right. But it's still just so frustrating.

I know what I need to do: I need to do what I'm able to do. I need to go to the gym and focus on cardio and strength training that doesn't bother my shoulder. I need to go to skate practice and participate in the drills I'm able to, and opt out of the ones that are too potentially dangerous for my shoulder. I need to stop splurging all day every day and eat healthy foods. But mostly, I need to stop feeling sorry for myself, because that's the real reason I'm skipping the gym and practice and eating like crap. I'm pouting over my shoulder, and instead of making me feel better, it's making everything worse.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You Live Inside the Mistake

A recent episode of This American Life opened with a conversation with Ryan Knighton, a Canadian writer who is also blind. The interview focused on one of Knighton's most disorienting experiences as a blind person: while staying in a hotel, he mis-imagined the layout of his room so thoroughly that despite tracing every wall repeatedly, he couldn't find his way back to the bed. He fumbled around the room until he discovered his mistake, a wall he had missed and failed to incorporate into his mental map, and eventually made it back to the bed. He described the situation incredibly succinctly: "You get a picture in your mind, and if you get it wrong you just live inside the mistake."

The last bit of that sentence struck me: " just live inside the mistake." It wasn't what Knighton meant by those words that caught my interest, but what they evoked in me. I immediately imagined what it would be like to live one's life inside a mistake: an intense feeling of stuckness, unable to navigate your way out of a situation. I reflected back on my own mistakes, and my marriage in particular. It was almost claustrophobic at the end; it felt oppressive, weighing me down and sapping my spirit. The idea of living inside that mistake for the rest of my life was almost unbearable.

Like Knighton, I groped around for a while, trying to find my bearings and reorient myself. Finally, I found what I imagined to be my escape and got a divorce. I immediately felt freer and congratulated myself on my triumph, but it was only later that I realized the truth: there is no escaping the mistake. Ever. Instead, it's always there, every day, shaping my life and informing my actions and decisions. I will live inside the mistake for the rest of my life.

What the mistake doesn't do anymore is constrain me. Like every other part of my life - all the mistakes, as well as the accomplishments and other experiences - it shapes me, but I also shape it. At first its walls felt rigid and limiting, and I bumped up against them constantly. Slowly they began to give way, and as I grew and pressed against them they took my shape more and more often. It became a give and take, and my focus shifted from living inside the mistake to truly living inside the mistake. Instead of letting it limit me, I decided to live the best life I could inside it, and I discovered a funny thing: my life inside the mistake is better than it ever was before it.

Mistakes are an inevitable part of life, and if we're lucky we avoid the truly catastrophic ones. But the idea of escaping any of the mistakes we make, big or small, is illusory. The best we can do is hope to grow into them, learn from them, and eventually, define them as much as they define us. And hopefully, when we're not looking, we'll realize that while we can never truly escape our mistakes, we wouldn't want it any other way.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Week 27 Update

Ugh. This must have been the week of backslides or something. Traveling for work, eating out, hanging out with friends - it all resulted in way less healthy eating and working out than it should have. It was - what's the word? - oh yes: sad.

Week 27
Total weight loss: God only knows - never made it to a scale this week.
Number of workouts: 1 (1 roller derby practice)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 1

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Day Forward, Four Months Back

The good news: on Sunday I finally settled on a roller derby name. I'll henceforth be known as Dirty Bombe. A bombe is a type of ice cream dessert, and as anyone who knows anything knows, I fancy myself an ice cream maker. Hence, the name. Thanks to my derby buddy Mean Streak for coming up with the name.

I settled on a name the same day that I finally felt like I'd more or less completed the beginner level of my roller derby league. I decided I was ready to take the test next Sunday and try to move up to the next level, which would bring hitting and blocking and scrimmaging: real roller derby! I was pumped.

If I sound a little less pumped now, it's because of the bad news.

I fell during derby practice back in March, and it didn't hurt much, at first. But over a period of a few weeks I developed a sharp pain in my left shoulder, and in early May I finally went to see my doctor. She took an x-ray, scribbled down a diagnosis I couldn't quite read, and then referred me out to a physical therapist. I assumed physical therapy would fix whatever it was. 

I was wrong.

I had my consultation with the physical therapist yesterday. She translated the doctor's diagnosis for me: adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder. In essence, the ligaments that surround my shoulder joint and hold it all together have seized up, limiting my range of motion and causing sharp, stabbing pain whenever I try to do a bit too much. It was probably brought on by my fall in March, although doctors don't really seem to know what causes it. 

And that was just the beginning.

According to my physical therapist, they also don't know what really fixes it. Physical therapy generally revolves around pain management (most people with this condition have constant, debilitating pain, while mine only pops up when I move wrong) and improving range of motion (my range of motion is pretty good compared to most people). In short, I have a relatively mild case that physical therapy can't do much for. It should clear up on its own in about 18 months. So far, so good, right?

No. Not good at all.

Another fall on my left side could further damage my shoulder, delaying my healing time even more. Worse yet, a fall on my right side could cause the same condition in that shoulder, leaving me more or less unable to use either arm for anything more than the most basic functions. Then the physical therapist gave her "strong recommendation:" no more skating until the adhesive capsulitis heals itself.

18 months off skates. 

Which was about the time I burst into tears.

She tried to comfort me. She said that she understood that roller derby offered camaraderie, but I could still go to the scrimmages and cheer on my friends! I smiled, but it felt more like a wince. That sounded like as much fun as being told I couldn't have sex anymore, but was still more than welcome to cheer on my friends as they got just as much action as possible. It sounded awful.

She mentioned another option in passing: "manipulation under anesthesia." Essentially, they put me under, wrench my arm into all the positions that are too painful for me to tolerate now, and break up all those adhesions and scar tissue. Follow that with a week of post-op pain and a couple months of intensive physical therapy several times a week, and that might fix the problem. No guarantees, though.

I know I'm not a medical professional, but I'm seriously skeptical. Are these really the only options available to me? Do absolutely nothing and quit an activity I love for a year and a half, or get knocked out and then go through serious rehab? There's no middle ground? No cortisone shots to reduce inflammation in the joint? No taking it easy in skate practice, avoiding hitting and scrimmaging while I wait for my shoulder to heal? Nothing?

I'm frustrated, and I'm angry. This feels unfair. One bad fall and I lose a sport I've come to enjoy so much over the last few months. I've never had a physical activity I enjoyed before, and I was really excited to finally discover one. I found a whole new community I didn't know was out there, and now I feel like it's been snatched away from me. Not to be too melodramatic, but I feel a little robbed.

Anyone who knows me - really knows me - knows two things: 1) I'm tenacious as all hell, and 2) I'm the queen of Google. So I got on the interwebs and read up on the condition, and then I talked to a friend who has a fair amount of experience dealing with doctors and specialists and diagnoses. Eventually she and I wound up on the same page: go back to my primary care, ask for a referral, and get a second opinion. I want to see a doctor who specializes in sports medicine, who's used to dealing with this condition when it's brought on by traumatic injury, and more importantly, who regularly deals with patients who want to get back to activity as soon as possible. 

I made an appointment with my primary care doctor for early next week, and I'm trying not to feel too sorry for myself in the meantime. Until I'm told differently (again), I'm just going to assume that I'll find some middle ground and be able to skate and heal at the same time. In the meantime, I'm going to skate smart: no risky behavior, but no pouting in the stands, either, because I really don't want to lose everything I've gained in the last four months.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Week 26 Update

I finally feel like I'm hitting a groove again - consistently working out, eating a little better, and losing bit by bit. And on Wednesday, two women in the locker room commented that they can tell I've lost weight. I'll take it.

I also bought a summer dress this week - nothing fancy, just something light and breezy and perfect for hot summer afternoons. I couldn't decide between red and blue, so I bought one in each color. The catch: they're two different sizes. The blue one fits me perfectly now, and the red one is just a bit snug. The goal is to fit into the smaller one by mid-summer. 

Week 26
Total weight loss: 15 1/2 lbs (down another half pound)
Number of workouts: 4 (2 workouts on the elliptical, 1 roller derby practice, and 1 circuit training session)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 3