Saturday, January 3, 2009

You can take the girl out of the race, but you can't take the race out of the girl

Its 9:18 on Saturday morning. I should be two hours into a ride right now. But I'm not. I got up, struggled out of bed and took a handful of Advil, made some coffee (1/2 decaf) and started stretching. My pain level was high enough to effect my mood and the air was cold enough for me to want to crawl back into bed to stay warm and wait for the Advil to kick in. That was over two hours ago. I'm warm, but it still hurts. Its been a difficult couple of weeks.

I was diagnosed with Lupus when I was a freshman in college. It was a diagnosis received with mixed feelings: No F***ing Way! ... and ... I guess the pain wasn't all in my head as some people suggested. I used to joke before that that I was like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz and would mumble out of the corner of my mouth, "Oil can. Oil can." I always had a hard time getting going and seemed to be a bit more "stiff" in the joints than those around me. My doctor put me on a regimen of steroids and NSAIDs. The steroids made me loopie and I decided to go off them about 6 weeks later (yeah, I was found by my boyfriend at the time handing out flowers in Westwood near the UCLA campus trying to make peace as a USC freshman - now that would have been funny to see.) But I did get back into the pool ... low impact exercise was part of the prescription.

Ok, so ... I was a competitive athlete at heart, dealing with the possibility that my days of competition were over at age 19. I'm not sure why, but I thought that not being an athlete meant that I would be sitting on the sofa the rest of my life knitting. That was the kiss of death for me. Sitting on the sofa knitting the rest of my life (in my fantasy, the sofa was cream colored and the scarf I was knitting was blue.) I'm also not sure why there were no "grown-ups" trying to shatter this fantasy of knitting blue scarfs the rest of my life instead of running 10k's. But there it was.

The first day I was allowed to swim, I was told to swim no more than 10 minutes and to use a kick-board. I think I did 20 minutes. 2 swims a week quickly became 4, then 5 ... then 6. 30 minute swims soon became 2000 yards. 2000 yards quickly became a warm-up, a main set, an endurance set, a speed set ... get the picture. Prescription strength Naprosin was my friend and my spirit was my fuel. By the spring of 1983, I was a walk-on on the USC swim team. Sitting on a sofa knitting the rest of my life? No way in hell.

And with that, I am going to get out of bed and go for a walk. Who knows, maybe it will turn into a run.

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