Lifestyle choices come with punishments or rewards – I am finally convinced of this! Painful, swollen knees that “locked”, rendering me immobile on a regular basis, a bad back, dodgy (c)ankles, carpel-tunneled fingers, non-functional arms, I had them all and more. Punishment for years and years of incorrect choices, corrected only by medication that only eased the symptoms, and not made me feel better physically…the emotional being safe in the knowledge that the meds were doing it’s job..
A chance meeting with an old colleague from 22 years way back then, on a cold wet day in the Sleepy Hollow of KwaZulu Natal, this week, inspired this blog entry, and a chance meeting it was indeed….had I not recognized her, and called after her (yes, I remembered her name!), she would have walked right past me. After we were done with niceties, and gosh, how different you look small talk, we decided to have coffee to catch up on the past few years. Here first question to me thereafter, was “how’s the rickety knees?” I smile as I type this, as memories of some of my mis-spent youth, brings them back as though it was yesterday.
Reckless “endangerment” to myself is what it seems now, when I recollect my days and months recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, caused by my being over-weight, where my knees could not support my body bulk and even then, I was somewhat powerless to stop gaining weight in its’ tracks. Ms S, my then colleague was witness to my weeks spent on the couch recovering from surgery at the young age of 22. Osteo-arthritis is what the orthopedic surgeon termed it, and it followed me into my late 30s when I had a second series of operations to clear out the gunk deposits that had calcified and broken off, like the stalagtites and stalagmites in caves! All I need is to look at my battled-scarred knees which offer painful reminders of those days.
|An illustration of arthroscopic knee surgery|
The complications of diabetes attacked me in many ways, some I don’t discuss or think about as the memories of the interventions make me miserable. Three complications besides the osteo-arthritis, worth mentioning are (1) carpel tunnel syndrome which left me unable to use my fingers for certain periods of time, often requiring painful cortisone injections between the fingers which literally had me hitting the ceiling. My last bout of this debilitating affliction was in August 2013, a few weeks after embarking on a whole new health regime…fitness training had not kicked in then. Recalling that this was an every 2-3 month scenario, I battle through the few days on muscle relaxants and vowed that this wasn’t going to get the better of me. My orthopod advised that the only way to ease the pressure was to do a tendon release, through surgery that would offer me fair levels of comfort. I thanked him for the consultation and haven’t been back to his rooms in the past 8 months.
Number (2) on this list is neck and shoulder inflammation that had me between my Chiropractor and Physiotherapist for 2 years, for treatments of this other debilitating and sore ailment that rendered me helpless to lift my left arm. MRI scans and e-rays showed nothing, no tissue damage, no nerve damage, no bone damage yet I continued to gobble up muscle relaxants and pain pills in every effort to stop the pain – which had weakened my arm to such an extent that even writing became a task that I avoided as far as possible. I took my last medication for bone and muscle inflammation in July 2013.
You may ask why did I stop visiting my orthopod an why did I stop the medication which I needed to help me through my inflammation and pain? After I mention the third “affliction”, the why will be revealed.
The eyes are where you can tell if a smile is genuine or not. Tyra Banks invented a word for it, “Smizing”- smiling with your eyes. I guess smiling with your lips closed can be authentic too, as long as you are conveying a real emotion with your eyes – real smiles are produced with their eyes, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it! Seriously though, when I or anyone looks through my pictures, there is never one where I give a huge teeth-sharing grin, which brings me to affliction number (3) , my dental woes. My past poor management of my diabetic status rendered me with Periodontal disease which basically is infection of the gums and the bones that held my teeth in place. Diabetes also caused the structure of my blood vessels to be altered and this in turn weakened the bone density of my jawline and teeth in general. I have had copious amounts of dental work, which over the years has also eroded my ability to share a toothy smile with confidence. These days I prefer to smile close-lipped, with my eyes, the windows to my soul.
Back to the here and now, my choices over the past almost 8 months have set me free from rickety knees, the debilitating carpel tunnel syndrome and the neck and shoulder inflammation – I now lift weights and use both my arms comfortably and effortlessly in upper body strengthening routines. Choosing to eat Paleo , real, wholesome foods and exercise regularly, has relieved me of my inflammation and osteo-arthritis issues up to this point in time. Processed, store bought foods with unhealthy additives have taken a back seat in my journey to a better, healthier me. My research before embarking on this journey led me to choose a lifestyle that will ease my chronic medical burdens and allow me a reprieve to live a more comfortable life – I am glad that I have taken up this challenge, as not only am I transforming into a health-conscious individual, this journey is constantly being defined and refined by the choices I make, choices that can only bode well in helping me overcome and put right the past health mistakes….punishments of the past, rewards in the future?
So, see the KEY below? it’s there to remind us, that self-belief is key to conquering anything you put your mind to. Let this be both my and your keys to unlocking all that potential. Keep on, keeping on – because we CAN!