English: Jump! Deutsch: Spring! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes you have to move on. Not because the person or situation has been resolved. Not because you have been heard or because your feelings and concerns have been violated. Sometimes you have to move on simply because it is the best thing for your health. This decision must be made when emotional stress manifests itself physically.
Today, as I sat stewing about a situation at work I realized that my RA symptoms had gone from background noise to loud and intrusive. It seemed the more I agonized over the problem the more physical pain I found myself in. I have always known that stress was a trigger for me, but today really hammered the lesson home. I went from slightly stiff to having joint pain that made me catch my breath when I made certain movements. It was in that moment that I had to make the decision if being vindicated about a work altercation was worth hours or perhaps days of pain due to prolonged flare brought on by stress.
So I had to let the situation rest. Not because I wasn’t right, or I felt that my grievance was unfounded. I instead chose to preserve my life outside of the work environment. I want health and a full life. And for right now, this means that some skirmishes will be conceded so that I may win the war and achieve my goal of a healthy life!
I decided to go back to my gym today. The game plan was to kick up my exercise routine by starting Couch to 5K on the elliptical. I figured the structure of the program would give me goals to reach while at the same time allow me to go at my own pace-something I wouldn’t be able to do in a group class. I was actually pretty excited at the idea of returning to the gym. Even though my walks around my neighborhood are a form of exercise I always feel like working out in a gym setting has its own energy-which I love.
I was excited until I woke up skating on the edge of real pain. Like many patients that have chronic pain I have my own personal pain scale that takes into account some pain is “normal” for me. But this was the kind of pain that registered on my adjusted scale as abnormal. Not unmanageable but the kind of pain that would make everything difficult today. Suddenly my dreams of a triumphant return to working out seemed to fade. I knew that the picture I had in my mind of working up a sweat and burning tons of calories was not realistic anymore. The dream of giving my best at the gym seemed to be crushed until I remembered something my mother always says.
My Mom has always told me from the time I was a child that I should always do my best, but that my best effort would not always give the same results. Giving my all will result in different outcomes each and every time. The best you can do with 8 hours of sleep and the best that you can do with 3 hours of sleep are two different things. The best you can do on a project with 3 weeks’ notice and 5 days’ notice is not the same. She always told me that as long it was the best I could do, no matter what the outcome, I could always be proud that I had given it my all.
It was this thought that prompted me to get dressed and go to the gym. I had seriously considered postponing the Couch to 5K thing until I felt better. But instead I purposed in my mind to not compare my current performance at the gym to any of my previous efforts. I decided to go for my best today and nothing else.
I would love to report that once the workout began something miraculous happened and I was able to have that workout I had dreamed about. But that’s not the truth. I averaged a less than stellar 16 minute mile. But I didn’t care. I was moving. I was doing something good for my body. I found out that once again my body was capable of doing more than I thought it could. And best of all I once again told the RA beast that while you affect my life you do not control it!
Here I am exhausted and swollen. And why? Because I am pushing too hard at work. Eleven, twelve, and thirteen hour days tire me out for days. I spend my off days in bed too tired to do the things I need to do- like cleaning my house, doing laundry, or cuddling with my cat. But that all ends very soon. I have made the decision to no longer work like this. I need to spend my time focusing on my health. Right after this string of overnight shifts I’m going to say no to overtime an yes to me time.