I’m Getting Old And That’s Good, Right?

by on August 6, 2014
in aging

This is how I travel now

Wow, it has been so long since I’ve written anything!  There are several reasons actually, but the biggest one is that I am falling apart.

Not in a bad CF kind of way.  Actually, since withdrawing from the trial of the miracle combo drugs (not a miracle for me), I have felt remarkably well…at least as far as my lungs are concerned.  So that’s good.  I think my lung function is back to baseline for me.  I would actually know that today had I not had to reschedule my clinic visit because I can’t move.  But that’s another story.

When I say I’m “falling apart,” I’m referring to basic body biomechanics.

The problem for me is that when I feel good, I act like a crazy person and overdo almost everything that I attempt.  I got away with this habit in my twenties and thirties.  And you would think that the sudden absence of this ability in my forties would have affected my decision making processes.  But that is entirely too reasonable.

Alas, I am still “learning” about aging in my fifties.  The first little blip in my happiness about being out of the hospital for a sustained amount of time occurred a couple of months ago, when I felt so good jogging that I foolishly thought it would be a good idea to try some short sprints.  This doesn’t sound stupid, but I didn’t have on my running shoes.  I had new “minimal” trainers on when I decided to try short jogging intervals, just to see what it felt like.  It felt great!  So jogging intervals turned into sprint intervals, and two or three jog/walks to test them out turned into ten sprint/walks.

If you run, you probably know what happened.  The next morning I had searing, and I mean searing pain upon putting weight on my left foot.  Plantar fasciitis.  The bane of any runner’s existence.  I’ve had this before (in my twenties) when it lasted for months…only to go away after I purchased several hundred dollars worth of orthotics and wore them in every shoe for weeks.  I also took massive doses of NSAID’s (oh the joys of youth) and iced and stretched like a fiend.  Eventually, it went away, but it took forever.

So, running was out.  Actually, even walking was out, much to the chagrin of the boys, who suddenly had extensive dog walking duties. But ever the optimist, after a few days of pouting, I thought, “No problem.  I can do kettlebell training for my conditioning!”  Kettlebell complexes, I’m almost positive, can be just as effective at inhibiting my epithelial ENAC channels as running.  This is why running works in CF (I think).  Besides the obvious jarring and increased breathing that makes one…ahem…”clear” one’s lungs, it also inhibits a sodium channel that works overtime in CF and contributes to the dryness of the airways.  Normal CFTR inhibits ENAC, but mutant CFTR (ours) lets it run amuk, and this is bad.

So, kettlebell complexes it was.  That is…until I couldn’t lift my right arm above my head anymore.

This little issue had started to rear its ugly head in January, during 2014 Pneumonia #1, (I should call it Vertex Pneumonia #1, but I’m being nice).  I had to take oral Levoquin after hospital discharge, and it left me with a touch of shoulder tendonitis.  The shoulder pain was minor at the time, and mostly stayed that way, since the sudden arrival of Pneumonia #2 and Pneumonia #3 kept my right arm immobilized with PICC lines.

But with the foot problem, I attacked my kettlebells with a zeal I hadn’t approached since my RKC training three years ago.  Cleans and presses, swings and snatches, Turkish get-ups before every workout.  I was a maniac, certain that Pneumonia #4 would be upon me if I didn’t suck serious air with every workout.
That’s when my right arm decided that it was not going to rise above my head, or around my back, or go anywhere, really, other than beside my right hip forever more.  After a steroid injection did nada, an MRI showed supraspinatous tendonopathy and a superior labrum tear.  Yikes.  Option one:  try another shot of steroid.  Option two:  surgical consult.  I’ll take shots with extremely long needles into my shoulder joint any day.

So that happened, and I’m not doing much with kettlebells.

My next brilliant idea was to do the Stronglifts program.  My thinking was that if I couldn’t run, and couldn’t swing or snatch or press KB’s, I would lift HEAVY weights three times a week and try to make it a “conditioning” workout by using short rest periods.  Not really a bad idea…if you are young and don’t already have a bulging disk between L5 and S1.

This program emphasizes squats…you squat every workout, and you increase your weight every workout until you can’t do five sets of five repetitions…then you keep increasing, but more slowly as you are able.

You would think that an educated person such as myself would not undertake such a program given my history, but hey, my back hadn’t been hurting in at least six months, so I was sure I’d be ok. Besides, I was doing front squats instead of back squats.  Surely, that would make a huge difference.

And I was hanging in there…until I hit the 105 lb day.  I weigh 105 (ish) so my goal was to get to this weight and be able to do the 5×5 workout without missing a rep.  I had tried it for two workouts before and hadn’t been able to do it, so this was my third attempt.

Later, when I was lying on my back under the squat rack, wondering how I was going to get up and if anyone around me had heard my scream, I realized that maybe this was not a goal that a 53 (almost 54) year old woman with a previous back injury should have.  I’m afraid to even know what happened to the disk.  All I know is that it hurts to sit, or to walk, or to bend over the slightest amount.

What is a girl with CF to do?  I would swim if I could move my arm. Without that, I’m pretty sure I will drown. I would walk fast, uphill, if I could stand up, and oh yeah, if my foot would heal.  I can’t even think about a kettlebell right now, or any other heavy object, without psychic pain.

A normal person would stop exercising, right?  I gotta go now.  I’m off to the gym.  Certainly there is something there that I can do!

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