Posted in photo101

Triumph

For our last assignment with Photo101, our subject (and celebration) is the theme of Triumph. Personally, when I think of Triumph, I immediately think of finishing three half-marathons in the past two years. For some people, that’s a piece of cake, for others they say they’d only do it if being chased! For me, it started off to be nothing short of a miracle.

Why did I do it? I did it simply because for the first time in my adult life, I was healthy enough to actually DO it. My family remembers back when I struggled to walk again after a really bad health crisis. Walking again started with a walker – then a 4-pronged cane – then a regular cane. The years of pain, years of meds, years of inactivity – that was my life.

When I think Triumph, I think of the celebration and joy I felt each time I crossed the finish line. The best way I could think to represent that in a photo was to snap a shot from my “sacred” room where my medals are, as well as the photo when I crossed the finish line the first time.

It’s not the greatest photo in the world, but the meaning behind it is what is important to me. To me, that is my Triumph.

Medals of my half-marathons
Medals of my half-marathons
Posted in Ankylosing Spondylitis, Blogging, Living with Pain, Writing

Socks, Marathons and Dis-ease

Spring finally arrived in Wyoming and I’ve managed to get out and walk nearly every day lately. My friend Trudy and I are getting ready once again for the half-marathon coming up June 1st. As we walk, I’ve noticed my feet a lot more than I used to. I’m not sure if there is something new with them…I can’t imagine that my feet have morphed in to something different than they’ve been the past several decades (minus the size change of course). My heels hurt all the time right now, which unfortunately can be signs of my Ankylosing Spondylitis rearing its ugly head. I’ve had this issue before, so I recognize it. 

Heel pain as a result of a disease that affect the spine just seems weird to me. I’d rather think my feet are hurting because I’ve managed to pack on some pounds over this very long winter and my feet are telling me to keep moving and burn it off! But with the tell-tale morning pain and stiffness in my lower spine, and now some hip pain as well…I guess it’s time to consider going to the doctor. Considering….that’s all for now.

What does any of this have to do with socks I’m sure you are wondering…well, I decided part of my challenge when doing our 2+ mile walks is my socks don’t fit right and my feet sweat (gross!)…these are things that can lead to blisters as well as my inability to get through my half-marathon without a great deal of unnecessary pain. 

On a whim, I decided to Google “running socks” and was rewarded with nearly 31,000,000 results in .28 seconds. “Googling” totally beats the old days of going in to my dining room, plopping on the floor in front of the bookcase filled with the entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica (raise your hand if you grew up with those!) sliding a heavy book out and flipping the thin, crinkly pages looking for an answer. Actually, I do miss those books. I loved sitting on the floor just flipping through random pages, finding out about amazing things I never heard of. Anyway, I digress. Being a relative newbie to the world of people that exercise, I never expected the topic of “Running Socks” to be so popular! Of course many of the listings are for websites that sell socks. Imagine – entire stores and websites devoted ONLY to socks! How is a gal going to find what she needs when a cornucopia of sock options are presented to her???

Thankfully toward the top of the list was a reference to the website for the magazine Runner’s World which contained a story – cue the dramatic entry music….da da dummmmm…. Choose the Right Running Socks – Brilliant!!! A helpful article with socks for different types of running, how they work and why. I never knew socks could be so complicated! 

I visited the sites that had the socks that seemed to meet my requirements (fit my size 10s comfortably without slipping and wick away sweat for 13 mile walks/runs). I don’t think my needs are that complicated, but it still took me two a days of visiting websites, analysis and a final decision this morning. For the girl that usually buys a 10-pack of socks from WalMart for $5.99 – buying a pair for $15 was a bit of challenge.  I took a deep breath, got on the floor to stretch my back a bit, rubbed my sore heels, thought about my impending 3 mile walk tonight…and clicked “Order.” I have enough time to test these socks out a few times before the half-marathon to decide if I like them or if I need to visit my second choice. 

Time will tell…. 

In the meantime, I’l keep moving and walking and wait anxiously for Fed-Ex to show up with my new socks!

Posted in Ankylosing Spondylitis

New Spondylitis Support Group Starting in WY!

I’m so pleased to launch the Northeast Wyoming Spondylitis Support Group next month! As a Spondylitis Association of America Support Group, I hope to reach out to people in Wyoming living with this disease.  After writing my story last year and having it published in the Fall 2013 “Spondylitis Plus,” I think I finally feel brave enough to step out of my disease shell…and hope to meet others like me.

When I was diagnosed in 1997 with Ankylosing Spondylitis (try pronouncing it like this: “ankil-lo-sing” “spon-dil-eyetis”) I felt very alone and confused. Trying to find resources on the web was still a very new phenomena…and very slow. Hello…remember dial up and Ding……”You’ve Got Mail!” Yeah, that in an of itself was painful!

Thankfully now we have high-speed internet and Google. However, that doesn’t replace the personal experience of being with others…developing a rapport and support network. I’ve lived with this disease a long time and thankfully, it doesn’t rule my life anymore. Maybe that’s why I’m doing this, to help others get to a place where it doesn’t define them or rule their day.

Empathy is nice from friends and family. But understanding – that comes from someone who’s walked in the same shoes. It is my hope that this new group will form, grow and flourish over time. Where new relationships will develop and we work together to figure out how to Kick AS together!

Click Here For More Details on the Group: NE Wyoming Support Group

Posted in Ankylosing Spondylitis, Crohn's Disease, Crohns, Hope & Inspiration, IBD, Living with Pain, Meditation, Reiki

The lesson in Freezing your Fanny off

A year ago for the first time, I participated in a local fundraiser for our ambulance service called “Freeze Your Fanny.” It’s a four mile route that can be walked, or you can join the runners racing each other. I seriously thought my friend Trudy was crazy when she suggested we do it. Seriously – 4 miles?? When it’s 20 degrees out there? What did we do? We signed up and we walked it!

This time last year I hadn’t really begun my exercise program yet, and didn’t believe I had it in me to accomplish something like this.  However, encouraging each other, we decided to give it a go. Not only did we live to tell the tale – we then signed up for our first half marathon – the Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, SD. It was 13.1 miles (at least it was warmer because it was in June) and you can read my experience about it in my post Putting One Foot In Front of the Other.

Well, it’s one year later and today was our second time in the “Freeze Your Fanny” event. Last year we got a purple sweatshirt. When I wear this year’s sweatshirt, I have no fear of being lost anywhere….IMG_6468

When we had the opportunity, we ran. Yes….”She who has Ankylosing Spondylitis” ran!! It was six below zero, my legs were cold and I definitely froze my fanny off somewhere in the first mile (I really should go back and look for it but I’m happy to have lost a little of that junk in my trunk!)

What really surprised me about this experience? It was fun! I had fun – walking, running….it was all fun! Seriously, in my entire life, I never would have thought running out in -6 weather would qualify in my category of “Fun stuff to do in my life”….now I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Last year, getting through those four miles was a struggle – simply because walking four miles was so new to me…and everything hurt while I did it, and when I was done! I was exhausted at the end of it, and pretty useless for the rest of the day….but I did it, and that was enough to give me courage to keep going.

I began an exercise regime, changed my diet a bit by paying better attention to what I ate. I added supplements to help with staying healthy which can be a challenge with Crohn’s Disease and only one kidney.  I continued with my daily meditation practice and resumed my Reiki treatments; for myself and others as much as possible.

In one year, my life has changed radically. Changes like what I’ve experienced don’t happen overnight, it doesn’t seem like it’s been a year already in fact!

Patience, dedication, and a belief deep down in your core – that’s what can help you achieve what you think is impossible. What is particularly exciting for me about accomplishing the walk/run today is that we got out there in spite of it being -6F….yes, that’s SIX BELOW ZERO…it was so cold my ponytails got frost on them from my breath!!  Rather than being upset about it – we laughed!

FYFO

Go ahead and choose to go out there for a walk or run and Freeze Your Fanny off!! Have fun with it and try to do just one thing you always thought impossible – you might just surprise yourself!

If I did it….you can too!