Finding a Way to Move
Last updated: October 2022
Over the years, as job and life became more sedentary, it got more difficult to move and flare ups with my back and other joints became the norm. With my 60's looming, I wanted to be more active and shed some of these pounds that had crept on, but every attempt resulted in pain, stiffness and even less activity. I knew I had arthritis going back to, at least, my 30's but when symptoms would ease, I would get back on the same merry go round without exploring what was really going on with my body.
Fast forward to age 55, I was in a job sitting at a desk, tied to a phone for 8 hours a day. When time for breaks came, I would be too stiff and it was painful to get up, so, by the end of shift, I was a wreck. I used a sit to stand desk and ergonomic tools, but even that wasn't enough. Pain in lower back, neck, hips, knees and feet kept me from wanting to move. Sleep was not restful, I started sleeping in my electric recliner just to get anything resembling rest. At least I could adjust it through the night to help. Brain fog and memory issues became the norm and my job performance went from top performer to not meeting expectations and my boss began to talk to me about my job. Disability became my reality.
Braces for every joint, waking sticks, a cane, every pain cream known to man, ibuprofen to choke a horse, chiropractor who realized something big was up, but I wasn't making a dent in the issues. We had to give up our dream of taking our camper to Alaska (from GA), I couldn't travel. Time and activity with my family was so limited. So, with my chiropractor's encouragement, I gave up, went to my primary care who got me in quickly with a new rheumatologist. The diagnosis was Ankylosing Spondylitis, visible on x-ray and we started treatment as soon as Humira was approved.
I wish I could say life became a bowl of cherries but, coming up on 2 years after my first rheumatologist appointment, I'm still not there. I still sleep in the recliner, I couldn't figure out how to increase activity without flares, much less lose weight. Walking makes my feet, ankles and knees hurt, my back can only handle 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Gym activities flare my neck and back. I'm only 5 feet tall and the stationary bikes are hard to use with short legs. I couldn't even crochet without pain!
Fast forward again, my rheumatologist has switched my biologic to Simponi Aria, I've found Autoimmune Strong, an exercise program designed for people like me and I've discovered the joy of an electric bike. It has flat foot technology, (yes, it's a thing), and I am very slowly fighting my way to a little bit more. Relearning how to ride a bike at 60 has been interesting, to say the least. I find joy in little things, I have a new, flashy Neo-walk cane that's pretty and it makes a yucky thing fun. I'm not winning any races, daily life is a struggle, my house is a wreck, I tip over at the drop of a hat and I'm slow as molasses, but I embrace every positive change and I'm thankful for all the good things in my life, especially hubs and family that get it, (most of the time). I do a little bit, rest, do a little bit, rest.
Haven't lost a pound yet, but all in good time. In the meantime, as the song goes, feeling stronger every day!
Have you ever had to take a leave of absence from work due to your symptoms?
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