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The life and times of a chronic pain sufferer.

I am a runner. I can say this because according to Nike, even joggers, sprinters, and really fast guinea pigs are runners. edit1

Let me tell you about my running achievements. They mostly exist in the distant future. I started running because, well, I was tired of laying down. The past couple of years have greeted me with a steady decline in physical strength, stamina, and happiness. I want to blame this on a lot of things, but it is because I have traded in my gym  membership and active lifestyle for a couple of new favorite TV shows and a candy-bar-a-night habit. That and three autoimmune disease diagnosis. Oh, and also, depression. After what felt like day #927 of laying flat out on my bed on a heating pad, in the type of pain that I consider ALMOST excruciating enough to warrant a suicide attempt if it weren't for that dang cute puppy and amazingly loving husband of mine, I guess you can say I snapped. I remembered that my mom had always told me that exercising causes the brain to produce endorphins, hormones that can be as effective at combating pain as the newest pharmaceutical death sentence. Tears trickling down my cheeks and half-stooping over, I put on some shorts, knee socks, Nikes, running jacket, and beanie. I own really nice running gear. I have worn it to the movies but I have never worn any of it to run.

I attached my ear buds to my iPhone and leashed up my ever-faithful companion Milly, and we headed out towards the front door. It was my husband's day off and he looked at me with a sort of fear in his eyes when he asked what I was doing. I had just been crying to him that I couldn't take living in pain one more day and that maybe dying would be a better option than cooking dinner. I told him simply "I'm going for a run," and I headed out the front door.

I desperately wish that I would have started keeping a journal or blog immediately, but I am the Queen of Procrastination. And I mean the type of Queen with a really big castle (that rarely gets vacuumed) and a really cool moat to keep out any sort of motivational invaders. So here I am a month later blogging about this.

Where was I? Oh yeah, dressed to run, dog leashed up, suicidal tendencies pushed aside and heading out the door. So, on that first run, my shoe came untied twice, my dog stopped to pee and also to try to attack two German Shepherds three times her size, my ear buds fell out of my ears at least four times, I actually dropped the iPhone (being used as a pedometer and walkman for my fellow 80s children) one time. I did about 30 steps of actual jogging before my lungs felt like they had been filled with a toxic gas and set next to a campfire. BUT I RAN. Something I hadn't been able to do in a year. My thought was that if I could just make it around our block without calling the husband unit to come rescue me and toss us in the back of his Dodge, then no matter how long it took I would have accomplished something. After fast-walking and being half-dragged by Milly around the next third of our block, I started to jog once more. Again, only made it about 40 steps of actual jogging, but I remember on about step 30 I raised my face to the sky and smiled with the biggest smile I've had since my wedding day. I said "Thank you" out loud (probably yelling unbeknownst to myself because of the ear buds, possibly causing my neighbors to think me even crazier than I am).

On a side note, on every subsequent run, when I hit that exact same spot, I make it a point to look up to the sky and smile as big as I can and say THANK YOU, because I am SO thankful that I have two feet, two legs no matter how out of shape they may be, two lungs that are able to somewhat pump oxygen in and out of me and that I'm not laying on a heating pad crying. Some days, I'm looking at the sky crying, some days rain is pouring into my eyes when I look up, one time I was so hot I yanked my beanie off at that point, and sometimes I have to truly fake the smile because I am in serious pain. But the pain is in my feet, my ankle, my hamstrings, my lungs, and my head. Never is it endometriosis or IC pain. I am thankful.

I believe that running is saving my life. I burst through the front door that day panting, slightly embarrassed about my seven and a half minute half mile, but smiling from ear to ear. "It took the pain away," I told my husband. I spent the rest of the day painting our living room, getting ready for Thanksgiving, no heating pad or pain medicine involved.

UPDATE:

That first day I "ran" a half mile in 7:38. I have run 13 times since and my time is now at 5:20. I consider this an earth shattering achievement. The last two times, I have gone an extra half mile after the first, which means that twice, I have actually gone a mile.

My ultimate goal (besides being talked down from the ledge and pursuing non-narcotic pain relief) is to be able to jog a mile straight without stopping, no matter how long it takes me. My interim goal is to be able to run a half mile without stopping. I figure that's a good step. Yesterday, I ran 2/3 of my half mile without stopping. While this might be an embarrassingly small achievement to others, to me it means that I am alive, I am working very hard, and I am IMPROVING.

This is my Key West.