When I look in the mirror, I can’t believe what I see. Tell me, who’s that funky dude, staring back at me? Broken, beaten down can’t even get around without an old-man cane, I fall and hit the ground. Shivering in the cold, I’m bitter and alone.
Excuse the bitchin, I shouldn’t complain. I should have no feeling, ’cause feeling is pain. As everything I need, is denied me and everything I want, is taken away from me. But who do I got to blame? Nobody but me…
… and I don’t wanna be an old man anymore! It’s been a year or two since I was out on the floor. Shakin’ booty, makin’ sweet love all the night, it’s time I got back to the good life. It’s time i got back! It’s time i got back and I don’t even know how I got off the track. I wanna go back… Yeah!
As many of my readers know, I’ve had some health problems over the last several years. It all started way back in 2001 when I was playing ultimate. I knew I had a lingering adductor problem and running on it was difficult. I knew that continuing to play ultimate wasn’t good for the injury, but I figured that I could rest and get healed up in the offseason. I quickly found that it was a lot worse than a run-of-the-mill groin injury, however. Even thought I was running with an injury, I figured that I should be seeing cardio improvements, but instead, every time I ran, I felt more and more out of breath. Whatever was going on had spread well beyond a simple injury and progressed to something much larger.
Over time – even after I had stopped playing ultimate – my condition continued to deteriorate and I couldn’t figure out why. Despite carefully followed stretching routines, my hamstrings kept getting tighter and tighter. My hip flexors were even worse. Heck, just about everything between my knees and my shoulders more or less seized up. All this also pulled one of my ankles into a state of being constantly twisted.
Being seated for long periods of time was difficult. Driving long distances became an exercise in patience, as I would have to stop to get out of the car and walk around every hour or so. Standing was even worse. Lines at the grocery store became a nemesis and the DMV was a nightmare. Walking was less problematic, but even the slight slope of DC sidewalks made me conscious to always be walking on the left-hand side of the street, where the sidewalk supported my bad ankle, as opposed to the right-hand side, which exacerbated the problem. I also felt nauseous frequently and had a diminished appetite. I could even feel the effects of the full-body torque in my ears and began to notice that my vision was becoming blurred when I would look at pedestrian timers.
I probably hit a low point sometime around late 2007/early 2008. Anything beyond getting out of bed was awfully uncomfortable and my main motivation at this point was simply not being in pain. I was genuinely concerned about my continued ability to keep showing up for work and otherwise take care of myself.
Around this time, I went into my PCP to have them check out one of these ancillary problems. While I was there, I mentioned the whole “everything is broken” issue. By this point, I had seen doctors of all different types to try and figure out what was going on, I had tried a few alternative-type therapies and been tested for celiac disease, all to no avail. The medical profession had basically completely failed me. Anyway, the doctor thought my symptoms sounded familiar and referred me to an associate in her office who specialized in lyme disease. With him, I had an MRI and some neurological tests. Once again, we couldn’t find anything wrong, but I did have one test (out of eight) come back positive for lyme disease. I think we both thought it was a false positive, but I went ahead with a regiment of antibiotics anyway. The whole time, the drugs felt like a placebo to me. Fortunately, placebos at least make you feel better, and the mental aspect of it at least made me feel good enough to be more physically active again.
Shortly thereafter, I started going to yoga classes. One day, I might do a post on how much I think a good yoga teacher can benefit almost anybody (preview: a lot!), but suffice to say that some of the instructors at the studio I went to were absolutely top-notch. Eventually, however, I felt like the structured class regiment wasn’t working for me, so I stopped going. I did, however, continue to see a rolfer – basically, a specialized type of massage therapist – who has proven to be extremely helpful over the years. Between the stretching and alignment principles I took from my yoga classes, the individualized feedback about what wasn’t working right that I got from the rolfer and perhaps a little bit of useful information I picked up off the Internet, I managed to concoct my own style of stretching and movement that’s tailored to my particular situation.
Since I implemented this unusual bit of “rehab” about a year ago, my overall condition has greatly improved and as I refine my techniques, the week-to-week changes become even more significant. Just last week, my rolfer even said she was impressed by how substantially better shape I was in from just a couple months prior.
Unfortunately, this saga has been the overwhelming storyline of my life for the last decade or so. For a good part of that time, that was the primary driver of so many of the decisions I made on a personal and professional level. Heck, the biggest reason my previous blogging efforts failed was probably because I was spending so much time rolling around on the floor trying to figure out how to stretch just the right way and whatnot that I didn’t have time to keep up with any meaningful posting schedule.
The improvement in my health is also one of the reasons why this blog has more or less worked so far; I can devote time and energy to something besides not being in pain for a change. I’m still not nearly back to “normal” yet, and I’m still susceptible to having some bad days, so I’m not going to be hanging any “Mission Accomplished” banners anytime soon. But as I get better, I see how far I’ve come along and realize just how messed up I really was. As bad as I might have suggested things were over the years, they were assuredly much, much worse. In light of this story, it should be easy to see how Weezer’s “The Good Life” has been something of a mission statement for me over the years. I still do want to get back to the good life, and hopefully, that’s not too far away.