Stronger

What-doesnt-kill-you-makes-you-strong

 

Disclaimer:  Always checks with your health care provider before starting any exercise program.  And then take their advice with a grain of salt.

AGMA has issues.

I think some of you know that by now.

For the most part, they are charming foibles that only endear me more to my good and extremely patient readers.

Some, not so much.

The quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”  has always been a favorite of AGMA.

Honestly, I didn’t know that it was from Nietzsche.  The first time I heard a version of it was on WLW radio in Cincinnati in the 1980s.

There was a DJ named Gary Burbank who created around 17 incredibly funny radio personas during his nearly 27 years with WLW.

One of Burbank’s most interesting characters was Smilin’ Blind Muddy Slim, the 60- Minute Jelly Belly Toejam Man.

Seriously.

Smilin’ Blind was a Blues man who had had a rough life but stayed optimistic.  His favorite saying was, “What does not kill you, will only make you stronger.”

Be it Nietzsche or Smilin’ Blind, there’s a lot of wisdom in that phrase.

Some of AGMA’s issues are not strictly “Oh my God, is she crazy?” type issues.  Yes, I like young men in spandex on bicycles, fantasizing about my next tattoo and sharing stories about my latest colonoscopy.   To name a few.

But I also have been having more physical issues.

This does not make AGMA happy.

But I’ve decided that I am just going to ignore them.  And it’s kind of working in a weird sort of way.

I have a disintegrating L3 vertebra with a compression fracture, significant multi-faceted spinal stenosis between my L4 & L5, a variety of bulging discs and scoliosis.

AND a partridge in a pear tree!

But I love to run and I’m training for a marathon (my 7th) in 2 weeks.

How is this possible?  I’m really not sure.

AGMA is a very slow runner which helps.  Actually, I’m a run/walker.  I use the Galloway Method of interval training and do 15 second intervals.

I started having pain in my right leg/hip last year.  Went to an ortho-pod for a diagnosis and a PT who helped me do as much as I could to mitigate the issues through dry needling and making some changes in how I sit, sleep, travel, etc.  It worked!  I was able to do the Chicago Marathon last fall – very slowly – relatively pain free.

Fast forward to AGMA’s starting to run this spring again after several months of being ill  and lots of traveling.  And very little running.  The occasional pain I felt in my right leg/hip now became a steady pain and started making it difficult to sleep.

Ouch.

A trip back to the ortho-pod and an MRI revealed the source of the pain as the previously undiagnosed significant multi-faceted stenosis between L4 & L5.  Basically I have stuff poking out from my vertebral body in the back and the facet joints in the front that is compressing the L4 nerve root that runs down the middle of those vertebra and goes into my legs.

Double ouch.

The doc said as long as I can stand the discomfort, running isn’t going to make the condition any worse, so have at it.  So I took her at her word and amped up my running.

But here’s the weird thing…

And as I increased my mileage, AGMA’s leg pain decreased.  Now, about 80% of the time, I have little or no pain in my leg.  But the pain consistently comes back when I don’t run for a few days.

It doesn’t make any sense.  But I’m going with it.

Last week, I tweeted my back on the left side.  But I kept up with my running and it started to improve a bit.  It really got better over the weekend when we were out of town and I didn’t run for 3 days.

But damn – it came back the day after we got back.

AGMA thinks it’s our pricey ($$) Sleep Number bed.  I tried adjusting my “number” last night to hopefully make things better.  I got up this AM feeling worse. It kinda hurt to even walk.

Oops!  Wrong number I guess.

But, it was a running morning and I was going to run come hell or high water.  Even if I had to limp my way through it.

Foolhardy, you say?  Stupid, you say? I don’t disagree.  I was second guessing myself for the entire 2+ miles of my run/walk thing this morning.

BUT…

My pain level before my run was a 7.  It was a 2 after I got back home. I realize it sounds crazy and counterintuitive but something happened during those 2+ miles that “corrected” whatever was ailing my poor back.

I don’t understand it.  I can’t explain it.  It doesn’t make sense.

But I’m going with it.

Is AGMA advising everybody to “play” through pain?  Not really.  As we age, we really do have to be more prudent.

And understand that I would never encourage anybody with any serious medical issues to go against their doctors orders.  That would be irresponsible and cruel.  And dangerous.

BUT…

I think what AGMA has learned is that, sometimes, we – people of a certain age that is – can be too careful.  Because we’re told that getting older is supposed to bring on more aches and pains, we passively accept that we can’t do X or Y anymore.  We let those aches and pains dictate our level of activity.   When sometimes, X and Y activity is just what our body needs to strengthen it and make it more resilient.

Inactivity can actually make things worse at times.

And to those of you who are still aghast that I ran with a sore back, AGMA did ice it for 20 minutes later on in the morning.  My nod to being prudent.  Feel better?

What does not kill us, will only make us stronger.

Aging gracefully my ass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 thoughts on “Stronger

  1. Well that was a lot of math for my brain. Lol

    But you are not alone. My 50yo fiend in Europe currently on track to lose at least 50 pounds has discovered long aho that inactivity makes things much worse. 🙂

    Anyway, keep going AGMA. 🙂

    You’re a good influence on me. I’m on track to no such thing as physical activity and whined about killing my blog instead. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the encouragement!! And I’m glad you didn’t kill your blog! It’s a great outlet (in my humble opinion) when things are not going well. And in life, that’s about 50% of the time… I’ve reached the point – FINALLY – when I recognize that when the rollercoaster is going downhill, it’s just a matter of time before it starts to climb again. And sometimes it takes quite a while before the climb starts. But it WILL go up again. Eventually. (Now you know that AGMA is anything but a sickeningly sweet optimist and this isn’t that. It’s just how the journey goes.). In the meantime, blog. You have friends “out there” who want to encourage you!

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  2. Hmm, I am also an old (73), slow runner, probably older and slower than you! And I also started to have pain in my right leg and thigh about 6 months ago, which hurts far more when walking than when running. I have to admit that I had decided a few weeks ago that I was being foolish to keep running when my leg was giving signs that this wasn’t a good idea, but now you’ve got me thinking! I’ve definitely given up marathons for 10Ks, but now I’m missing even that. If I can stand the discomfort, then have at it, eh?! Hmm. 😏🏃🏽‍♀️

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    • I would say have at it UNLESS your body is sending you messages like FOR GOODNESS SAKE, STOP IT!! If it doesn’t scream at you, keep running. It might turn out that, the more you run, the less intense the pain is when walking. But then again it might not. I guess all I’m saying is that “motion is lotion” and maybe the answer isn’t always to decrease your level of activity. Funny, I realized last night that now I have zero pain at night in my hip and leg. Now it’s my shoulder and mid-back (if I am in the wrong position!) But it doesn’t keep me awake like my leg and hip did! Honestly, if it ain’t one thing, it’s another!! Ha!

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  3. I’m with you AGMA, exercise, or at the very least “activity” is the thing for aches and pains…oh and a hot water bottle works wonders too!
    I’ve never been a great runner, hated it with a passion though I had to do it for fitness and stamina in my rugby playing days! These days, brisk walks with our dogs and doing other exercises works well for me, oh and riding motorcycles too!!!!!
    As we only live six miles from the beach now, I really should get surfing again too!
    Dookes

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good heavens – you’re a surfer Dookes?? You are a Rennisance man for sure! Most people don’t like running when the HAVE to do it. And many times it ruins them on running for life which is sad. But there are plenty of other things you can do – brisk walks, riding bikes (motorized and not) and…surfing!! Thet thing is to do SOMETHING! Hope you’re getting settled in to your new place. Cowabunga!

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  4. I’m not at all surprised that running alleviates the pain. A good long brisk walk does it for me (I hate running; never been good at it; had a hard time coming in last in high school race meets). Keep it up, girl, you’ll outlast the b****s yet.

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    • Ha!! The more I hear about how people hate running later in life because of something that happened in high school or college, the happier I am that I was not athletic in my younger years. I can run (slowly!) with no bad taste at something that happened earlier. But there is a lot of other activities that people can get involved in – like brisk walking! Not sure I’ll outlast ’em but I probably can out run them! 🙂

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  5. My motto is “What does not kill us…is only waiting around for the right time.” No, seriously, I get what you mean. I do Zumba classes three times a week and lately have been also taking 40 min. brisk walks around town with my little long-hair Chihuahua in tow in his pet stroller. On days when I can’t do that I do two miles on the elliptical at my gym. A lot of the time I will feel slow and achy when I start out, but by the time I’m done I’ll feel much better. As the other saying goes “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” And yet another one “The human body was designed to wear out, not rust out.”

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    • Wow! You are amazing!! Not sure I could do all that. I’ve never done Zumba but it sounds like fun! So what’s your Chihuahua’s name? OMG it must be adorable in that stroller! I’m like you in that there are days when I everything creaks when I get out of bed and I don’t want to run. But I am so energized afterwards! 70% of my reluctance to move is my mental attitude. And lately I’ve been have “come to Jesus” moments with that attitude. If I just ignore it and just do it, things work out so much better!

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  6. The first time I heard that phrase was when my mother said it, while I was a teenager. I always assumed it was something she came up with. I doubt if my mother ever read Nietzsche, so who knows where she originally got it from? Anyway. I don’t run, never have and never will, but I can say that giving in to those aches and pains once you’re over the age of [ahem] 30 or so, is probably not the way to go. Just a couple of years ago, I could barely get out of bed and could only manage to walk from the door to the car because of the pain. Now I can stroll all the way around the park, if I do it at my own pace, and I can do it pain-free. A good bed definitely helps, but sometimes sitting up in a comfy recliner works, too. And wine, of course …

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    • Always wine… That always makes everything better. Wow! You certainly overcame a lot – congrats! How did you do it? I wish I could sit in a recliner again. My spine PT only wants me in straight backed chairs with a bolster at the small of my back. And I do have to say that it really does work. I even bought an inflatable bolster type thing (at his recommendation) for long flights to give my back better support. I really missed sitting on my comfy couch when I started doing the straight back chair thing, but now, the couch isn’t so comfy for me! But the most effective thing is just moving my body! Motion is lotion…

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      • Well, one of my long-time readers basically told me to just get out there and do it no matter how much pain there was. So I did, slowly. Mostly, I think I was just sitting around too much and giving into the cramps when I did try to walk. Taking magnesium helps, too (suggested by a different reader). Of course, I still walk like a little old lady, but at least I’m trying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey -walking like a little old lady is better than not walking at all! And I take magnesium every night (a product called Ionic Fizz) as well. (Ah magnesium, how do I love thee? let me count the ways…. ) I’m impressed that you listened to your reader and went out and just did it! It takes a lot of mental toughness to “play through the pain”. It’s sooooooo much easier to just sit around (but it’s soooooo bad for you!). Bravo!!

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  7. You mean Kelly Clarkson didn’t make up that phrase? Damnit! I’m always the last to know.

    So sorry for your various alphabet ailments. I have a sister who has similar “L-like” symptoms and has struggled with them for years. Unlike you, she’s opted for a more sedentary lifestyle, which I think has only exacerbated her problems (but I keep that opinion to myself and/or share it on other people’s blogs). Indeed, my wife and I both have noticed that if we miss the gym for anything longer than two days we start to feel aches and pains. So there’s definitely something to the phenomenon you’re experiencing with the pain disappearing after a workout. Keep moving, AGMA! – Marty

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    • So we seem to have a lot of anecdotal evidence to back up the claims that physical activity can help ease aches and pains in the 50+ demographic. I mean, aside from my post, like 6 other people said they noticed the same thing! Now I don’t feel quite as “against the grain” as I did before. Darn it! I’m a rebel you know… :-). But seriously, I’m glad that others have noticed the same thing too! As I’ve said many times…motion is lotion!!

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  8. I was recently diagnosed with stenosis in my right leg. My right calf would start burning and cramping when I would walk for a certain distance. Much to my surprise, the Vascular Surgeon said, “We shouldn’t do the surgery now. Just walk everyday until it hurts, and then keep walking.” So, that’s what I’m doing.

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    • Thanks! It’s a real mind game when: #1. You just don’t feel like running and #2 Things hurt. But if I can give myself a good talking to and get out there and do it, everything gets better! My mental outlook gets much better and the aches and pains diminish! Funny, I realized that for the last week I have had zero pain in my hip and leg at night now. I’m good with that and it only encourages me to keep on keeping on!

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  9. For years it drove me crazy when my Mother would repeat that quote. There were several times when I thought “I am tired of getting stronger, just kill me already”. But life had other plans, so I plugged along and got through every disaster and I truly am stronger – not necessarily physically, but definitely emotionally. Enjoy your runs – you know your body and you are right about pushing through when you can.

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    • Thanks for your comment! And you’re right – making it thought tough times battered but in one piece does make you stronger and more resilient and (for me) less tolerant of people whining about stupid 1st world problems. I am far more sympathetic and tolerant of people who have truly had to struggle in their lives – the disenfranchised – than those who have been given everything and are not appreciative. Okay – I’m getting off my soapbox now… 🙂 Thanks again!

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