Quitting Is Not Giving Up: Learning Your AxSpa Limitations

I used to be a runner, a golfer, ice hockey player, and could stay up all night laying down floor tiles.

I once created 12 six-foot tall plywood letters, and 3 bright and colorful circus themed photo boards. You know, those things you pop your face through and it kinda looks like you're an acrobat? Cut them, painted them, and set them up!

I look back at all of those sports and projects and I wonder where that physical and mental ability went. Part of it is age, I can’t deny as any of us get older, doing things we did when we were younger becomes more difficult.

However, AxSpA clearly also plays a big part in this. And, yes, I do often mourn all the things I have lost, but at the same time, I am kinda okay with it because with age has come the realization that...

Quitting is not giving up

I hope you all realize that in the following paragraphs, I am not going to try to convince you to give up on your dreams. Just because something you love has become harder does not mean you absolutely need to stop and strap yourself into your massage chair for the rest of your life.

This article is going to be more focused on changing your perspective when it comes to doing the things you love, and letting go of the things that no longer spark joy.

Love hurts

Go ahead...You may take a moment to sing the song, as I’m sure it just popped into your head.

As we get older, and/or our condition advances, things we love start to hurt. Going for a run no longer gives you that high. Ice skating makes you want to slam into the boards. And, while knitting, you start to wonder if stabbing your hand with a needle would hurt less.

Yeah, you start to feel that the activities you once loved have turned against you. It brings you psychological pain along with physical pain.

When I decided to quit running in the middle of a 10-mile jog through nature, I really struggled with this choice during the 5 mile walk back home. I ended up sitting on a log punching my thigh trying to beat the pain out of it. (by the way...this does not work). I was afraid one of my former teammates would find me sitting, clearly in pain. Even though, in my head, I knew I was done, I didn’t want anyone to know I was done.

However, after about an hour on that log, I found myself at peace. Running was hurting me, I didn’t want to hurt, despite my initial struggle, I knew quitting was the right move.

Peace and substitution

I want you to know, there is nothing wrong with quitting. If you know it is the right move, then it is the right move. You aren’t giving up something you love, you are simply taking that love and making a substitution for something that brings you equal joy, but much less pain.

Fortunately for me, the substitute for running was walking and enjoying nature. For me, what I actually loved about running was going places on my own two legs. I didn’t need to get to those places quickly. Going slow allowed me to take in my surroundings and enjoy what I saw.

If playing ice hockey was your thing, what did you enjoy more? Playing, or being part of the game? Perhaps coaching can be your substitute. I am sure no matter what your painful pastime might be, there is a much less painful substitute that will still fill that part of your soul.

When it comes to home renovation, I have found that drawing out an idea and letting someone else do it, can carry a lot of the same satisfaction. (As long as they do it right, and actually show up to work, hypothetically speaking!)

Come on, just try it again!

As a teacher who is still really young at heart, surrounded by students who want nothing more than to egg me on, I sometimes face a lot of peer pressure. I know very well that I can run 200 meters faster than all of them while in dress pants. The problem is, I will pay for it shortly after and for days following.

It’s not always the people around you. Sometimes, we create our own peer pressure. I believe anyone reading this can understand that primal need to reclaim our youth. You see the thing you still love, but your body hates, and you want to see if maybe your body will allow you this one pleasure. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.

In these cases, be your own boss.

Unless your doctor has told you, “No, no more base jumping! Your spine can’t handle it,” the choice is up to you.

I mean, there are some real superstar athletes who do incredible things with AxSpA. Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons still tours and doesn’t show an ounce of pain. Mick Mars of Motley Crue knew it was time to hang it up. But, he still played guitar in the studio. He knew his limits, and made a substitution.

I’m okay with that

I’m not going to sugar coat things and say we weren’t dealt a bad hand. We were. AxSpA/AS sucks!

Even the best of the best eventually need to slow down and stop. (Unless you are one of these Spondy’s that treats it with lale and goes off to run a marathon, then more power to you!)

But, for me, I have become more comfortable with letting the painful things I love go by the wayside. I will never run again, but I would love to start coaching cross country.

Quitting is not giving up. Don’t give up on the things you love, just find a new way to show your love.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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