Pages

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A New Start

Hi everyone,

Four years on from the start of this blog, I am, finally, ready to begin what will be a long, perhaps very long, journey toward the always intended charity challenge.  But, I've decided to discontinue blogging about it here and will instead be doing so on my Creative Thoughtfulness blog, where a page has been set up with some of the background information. 

That said, I won't be closing this one, because I'm not copying everything over and this will effectively be an archive of the original. 

Thanks for all your support, and I hope to see you over there.

Em

Monday, January 9, 2017

Step by Step - Baby Steps



Hello everyone!

Firstly I want to wish anyone who has stuck with me over this punctuated journey, or indeed new readers, a very happy, if belated, New Year!

It's hard to believe that I only got ONE post up during 2016, but while so much happened for me (I'll say more about that in a moment), there really was nothing that warranted a blog post.  Before I go into a bit of a recap of that last post, I want to promise you that things WILL be very different this year!

So, let's recap, starting with the reasons why this blog was started WAY back in March 2014...
In short, having been through a number of health issues, it was to chronicle my progress as I Battled Back to full fitness.  You can read the full version here.

Challenge announcement...
On April 4th, 2014 I announced that the Battling Back challenge would involve swimming the equivalent of a marathon.  You can read the full announcement here.

Bicep injury and eventual postponement...
Very early in my swim training I sustained what I initially thought was a strain of my left bicep.  But it didn't stop me, despite what others, including my unofficial coach, told me.  Eventually though, having come to terms with the fact that the injury was being made far worse with every stroke, I made the decision to postpone the challenge and attempt to rehab what I then believed to be a tear to the muscle.  You can read the full announcement here.

So what's happened since then (to early September 2016)?
The biggest thing of note is that more than 2 years after the postponement, I am yet to get back into the pool.  No, I didn't seek the suggested medical advice for a very long time, but I did try and immobilize the arm as much as possible.  While I'm right handed, complete immobilization proved to be impossible.  But I did and still do try.

I've had general health issues, including severe anemia (caused by a vitamin B-12 deficiency), which has resulted in significant fatigue.  While I've not been swimming, I tried other workouts, but many of those were painful, due to the arm injury.  Indeed every day tasks were up until the time of writing in September 2016.

To that end, knowing that as stubborn as I am, I could not go on without medical  attention, I mentioned it to my doctor.  After he poked, prodded and pulled his diagnosis came as somewhat of a surprise; severe tendonitis.  Immediately he referred me to orthopedics, who in turn, without seeing me, referred me through to physical therapy.  I await that initial appointment on September 12.

Physical Therapy
Well, I endured and I truly mean that, the initial assessment appointment, four sessions of invasive ultrasound treatment.  It's a similar procedure to a regular ultrasound done in pregnancy, only this time pulses of electricity are sent through the gel in an attempt to break up the scar tissue.  It warms the gel and literally pummels the bad tissue into submission.

Arriving for the first treatment, the therapist asked me to turn my chair away from her and after a puzzled look from me I asked why, and pointed to my elbow.  Cue similar look from her and a hasty look at my notes!  "Oh!  Sorry, I thought it was the shoulder tendon!"

Nope!  As someone said when I recounted the events, "It's a wonder you came out with your tonsils!"  I had to agree!

Immediately following that and subsequent sessions, I was in as much pain as I had been since the injury.  I tried to keep up with the prescribed exercise "homework" and rest, but a hectic schedule meant that I couldn't rest it as much as I'd liked, so for the first few weeks there was little if any improvement.  I know.  My bad!

Following the course of treatment, I returned for another assessment in late October.  Where, after discussing the potential further treatment plan with the Senior Physical Therapist it was agreed that he would conditionally discharge me for three weeks, so that I could, hopefully, get back into the pool to see how the bicep responded.  Yep, I'm still referring to it as a bicep injury, despite the updated diagnosis, because the affected tendon is the one that attaches the muscle to the elbow.

I fully intended to get back into the pool, but as any writer knows, November is a no-go for most things with the exception of NaNoWriMo!  So, I let the weeks go by and didn't contact the department again.

What now for 2017?
As I write this, it's mid afternoon on Monday, January 9th.  Despite not getting into the pool yet, I am determined that I will, as soon as my schedule allows.  It might be a while off, but it will happen.

Because of so many set backs, my overall health has gone backwards, possibly to the point where I was right at the start of the blog in 2014.  And as the title of this post suggests, it's baby steps for me for the foreseeable future.  But I am taking action!

This time last week we were enjoying the last day of our vacation, and admittedly the associated over indulgences!  Instead of getting straight back into my former workout schedule of Monday - Wednesday - Friday, I had planned to ease myself in gently and do Tuesday and Thursday instead.  Nope!  Last minute changes to the plan meant a reversion to plan A and a Wednesday workout!

Workout?!?
As I said, it's baby steps for me right now, so I'm starting off with Leslie Sansone's 1 Mile Happy Walk...

Unsurprisingly, after so little intense activity for way too long, my calves screamed at me on Thursday, and after being a lot worse on Friday, they did ease up after that repetition.  

And I'm really happy to report that there has been no adverse reaction from my bicep!!!  I did, admittedly take it easy in terms of the injury, but with each repetition I'll slowly increase that, while listening to my entire body.  

It's still far too early for me to think about a charity challenge.  I've got to Battle Back first to a point where that's possible, but when I get there, there will be a challenge announced!  

I'm at the point where no pain equals no gain, but I'm determined to do things properly this time.  As determined as I am, I also hope that you'll join me on my journey, as I blog weekly.  Your support really does mean the world to me.  

Thank you!

The post Step by Step - Baby Steps first appeared on the Battling Back blog

Monday, August 29, 2016

It Truly is Step by Step

Hi everyone,

It's hard to believe that this is my first post to this blog since the first days of January 2015.  So much has, inevitably, happened since then, and it's my intention to use this post as an update.

But first, let's recap why this blog was started...
In short, having been through a number of health issues, it was to chronicle my progress as I Battled Back to full fitness.  You can read the full version here.

Challenge announcement...
On April 4th 2014 I announced that the Battling Back challenge would involve swimming the equivalent of a marathon.  You can read the full announcement here.

Bicep injury and eventual postponement
Very early in my swim training I sustained what I initially thought was a strain of my left bicep.  But it didn't stop me, despite what others, including my unofficial coach, told me.  Eventually though, having come to terms with the fact that the injury was being made far worse with every stroke, I made the decision to postpone the challenge and attempt to rehab what I then believed to be a tear to the muscle.  You can read the full announcement here.  

So what has happened since then?
The biggest thing of note is that more than 2 years after the postponement, I am yet to get back into the pool.  No, I didn't seek the suggested medical advice for a very long time, but I did try and immobilize the arm as much as possible.  While I'm right handed, complete immobilization proved to be impossible.  But I did and still do try.

I've had general health issues, including severe anemia (caused by a vitamin B-12 deficiency), which has resulted in significant fatigue.  While I've not been swimming, I tried other workouts, but many of those were painful, due to the arm injury.  Indeed every day tasks were and sometimes still are painful.

To that end, knowing that as stubborn as I am, I could not go on without medical  attention, I mentioned it to my doctor.  After he poked, prodded and pulled his diagnosis came as somewhat of a surprise; severe tendonitis.  Immediately he referred me to orthopedics, who in turn, without seeing me, referred me through to physical therapy.  I await that initial appointment on September 12.

Why and what now?
The timing of this post comes at the beginning of my personal year.  I celebrated my birthday last Friday and as such have been reflecting on a lot of things...

Yes, it's over 2 years since I sustained the injury.  Yes, during that time I came to realize that my swimming days were over.  But I've never lost sight of the ethos of the challenge I set myself.

I don't mind admitting that I've put some of the weight back on that I lost during the training.  Given the injury, I'm likely in a worse state physically than I was as I began the training.  But today marks a renewal of the determination I showed then.

Yes, I will be and indeed am already in pain before my next workout, which I'll do soon after this post is published.  But what I am and will go through is nothing compared to what some of those closest to me are going through.  I will BATTLE BACK.


In time, I will announce a new charity challenge; taking into account any and all physicians advice and my own capabilities.  Will it be on land or in the water?  Only time will tell.  But I assure you that it WILL happen, and I'll once again use this blog to document my progress; step by step.

Thank you.
Em

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year Begins


Hi everyone,

It's a little hard to believe that my last update was over four months ago and I'm so sorry I didn't get another post out after announcing the postponement of the Battling Back 2014 Challenge!

Very, very sadly one of the men, the heroes, who had inspired me to Battle Back, passed away just days after my last post. Dr. William Lee Graham, my best friend's father and the man I know and love as Dad, lost his courageous year-long battle with cancer on August 9, 2014.

Dr. Graham had joined the US Navy on Pearl Harbor day, the day the US joined WWII. A great American Patriot, a great American Hero; faithful servant of his country and his Lord and Savior, at whose side he rests; an inspiration to his family and all those who's lives he touched, including mine.

After rightly taking some time out to focus on him and his beloved family, I returned to my workout regimen. However, the injury that had caused the postponement was proving as stubborn as I was in recognizing it's existence and I soon realized that only total rest would allow it to heal. If I hadn't taken a complete break I risked needing surgery to fix the muscle.

Complete immobilization of the arm was out of the question, but I rested it as much as possible. I moved house the first week in November and I was pleasantly surprised how the arm held up, despite all the lifting I had to do.

In the weeks since then I've continued to rest the arm as much as possible and will now slowly, very carefully begin what will be a long rehab. To that end, on this, the first Monday of 2015, I've this evening completed my first workout in around 3 months. I'm understandably a bit tired, but the arm seems fine as of this moment :)

I'm not yet ready to reveal any of the details of the rescheduled challenge, but what I will say is that due to the injury it won't now be water based. That decision was one that took some time and indeed a lot of prayer to make, but I know that it's one that had to be made, just as the postponement did. Even if the arm heals completely, a single long distance swim would be too risky.

So, as a new year begins, I reaffirm my commitment to you, to my Lord and Savior, to my heavenly inspiration and indeed to me too, that I WILL continue Battling Back. At this very moment I'm unsure how often I'll update this blog, but I'm aiming to do so at least weekly.

Thank you so much for your continued love and support. It truly means so much to me!

God bless,
Em

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Important Announcement ~ Postponement

Hi everyone,

I'm honored to have you here today, thanks for stopping by.

It's with a heavy heart that I announce that after much thought and indeed prayer on the matter, I've taken the very difficult decision to postpone the Battling Back challenge that had been scheduled for this coming October and November.

As regular readers will know, I've been nursing a niggling injury to my left bicep pretty much since I started training in late March for the challenge. As the weeks have gone by I've been determined to carry on and if need be bring the start date forward. I felt that that decision itself diminished the tough challenge that I'd set myself, but it was made for a few reasons, notably my stubbornness and determination not to quit.

However, with the intended start date now just over 11 weeks away, and the fact that in the last month I've only been able to train in the pool once each week because of the discomfort/ pain that even as I type this post I'm feeling, I know that this is the right decision, albeit a very difficult one to have made.

What happens now?
I will take the break from the pool that my friend and honorary coach Sarah has been trying to tell me to take for months, so that the muscle can repair. During the break I will be keeping up with the cardio sessions and will maintain the 3 times per week workout schedule for those.

Then, when the time is right, I'll begin rehab with gentle swims and work up from there towards the rescheduled Battling Back challenge.

Although posts may be infrequent for the time being, I WILL continue with the blog, so I hope you'll stick with me and perhaps consider subscribing to updates via email so you don't miss anything.

New date?
As of right now, I don't have a new date for the Battling Back challenge, but I promise that it WILL happen next year, quite possibly following the schedule I'd planned for this.

There ARE so many positives
Despite my obvious disappointment at having to postpone, there are SO many positives from having gotten to this point. Here are some of the highlights...

My first workout, on March 28 was only 15 minutes long and afterwards I was exhausted, but it was a first baby step back to physical fitness. I've come so far from that point, including...

Swimming a mile during my first pool session in more than 4 years on April 9.

Apart from the injury that's brought about the postponement, I'm a lot fitter than I was at the beginning and indeed I'm around 15 pounds lighter now.

I am determined to continue Battling Back, becoming even stronger physically and more prepared for the undoubtedly tough Battling Back Challenge.

AND...
The mile I did in the pool last week took the total to 26 1/4 miles/ 1260 laps ~ The marathon distance I'd aimed for during the challenge, so I DID achieve my goal, albeit in training. I'm so proud of what I've achieved!


Words cannot truly express my thanks and gratitude to each and every one of you for your support and encouragement. You have been and continue to be my inspiration, and without you and my Lord by my side, I wouldn't have gotten this far. I give you my word that I will continue Battling Back. THANK YOU!!!

God bless,
Em

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th!


Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by, I'm honored to have you here. Just a quick post today to wish all of you who are celebrating a very happy, very safe Independence Day, especially to all of you on the east coast of the US as Hurricane Arthur roars by. Special thanks to all those who are serving in our Armed Forces and who serve and protect us, especially those who are away from home today.

God bless America! God bless all of us!
Em

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Step by Step 2014 ~ Halfway There

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by today, I'm truly honored to have you here. In today's post I'll be sharing my training notes from the last couple weeks and also giving some thoughts about where I'm at. If it's your first time here, and/or you'd like to catch up with everything about this year's challenge, you can find all the related posts HERE.

I can hardly believe that I've been training three times a week for almost 14 weeks, having started on Friday, March 28, 2014 and there are now 14 weeks until the start of the challenge. I'll say more about that a little later, but first here are the training notes...

Friday, June 20, 2014
1 mile/ 48 laps completed. I decided not to push myself too much today. I know, that's rare for me, but as the weeks are flying by and the challenge getting ever closer, I have to listen to my body. Especially because a friend of mine who has been both a national level swimmer and then a coach, warned me that if I were to get the troublesome left bicep checked (which I'm not going to do) and there is a tear, I'll need to rest up COMPLETELY for six weeks and then slowly rehab. That would mean that I can't do the challenge this year, but I'm determined that it WILL go ahead.

I KNOW it's a risk, but at this stage I'd rather bring the start date forward, if need be and turn the training miles into actual challenge miles, than to take a complete break and have to start over. Cumulative totals: 21-3/4 miles/ 1044 laps. I'm finally through the 1000 lap barrier! YAY!

Monday, June 23, 2014
I felt well rested after a really relaxed weekend and the niggly bicep seems to be behaving. Yay! The weather is finally warming up and so today's cardio was a bit harder than others, but I got through the 4 mile Walk At Home workout and still felt great afterwards.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
1 mile/ 48 lap swim. Not many people manage to fall UP the stairs, but it seems I'm one of them LOL. On my way to bed last night I missed the top step and fell pretty heavily into the bathroom doorway. I was carrying my laptop at the time so my first concern was for that! Only when I'd checked it was ok, did I see and indeed feel all the grazes and bruises, including one on the left bicep! Typical LOL!

I was understandably very sore when I woke this morning. As a result I didn't even know whether I'd be able to do much in the pool at all, so for the first time I got into the water with absolutely NO target distance. It was in effect a "free" swim and whatever I could do would be a bonus and would get me closer to the challenge itself. As I progressed I decided that I'd get to a mile and then stop, no matter how I was feeling. Yep, I truly am listing to my body!

The prayer I said while still in the water was even more thankful than others. I'd felt not only everyone who is supporting me, but also my Ultimate Lifeguard's presence by my side encouraging me. Cumulative totals: 22-3/4 miles/ 1092 laps.


Friday, June 27, 2014
Because I was still feeling the effects of the fall and also having an early meeting this morning I decided to swap today's usual pool session for a 4 mile Walk at Home cardio workout. It went well and I'm pleased to have gotten through what has been the roughest week yet since I started training.

Monday, June 30, 2014
After a well earned restful weekend, I was pumped for today's cardio workout and felt great afterwards.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Thankfully the soreness from my fall has eased and I'm feeling great, and even the sometimes niggly bicep feels good! The bruise on the bicep from the fall is still looking angry, but because of my underlying autoimmune condition I take a long time to heal, so I'm not concerned about that at all.

I still don't want to push myself TOO much, but having taken it easy for a few weeks and because I'm feeling so much better, today's aim was to complete 1-1/4 miles/ 60 laps in the pool. I'm very pleased to say I DID it and by the end I STILL felt great!!! Could I have done more? Perhaps I could have, but yep, I am still being careful!

Today's swim also rounded out the cumulative total to TWENTY FOUR MILES/ 1152 laps! Am I proud? YES! Am I determined to give this my all? HECK YES!

Taking a SHORT break!
Last weekend when I looked ahead to this short working week, I had thought that although it's a very special holiday for us Americans on Friday, July 4th, that I would still hit the pool early and do a session. After all I've worked out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the last 14 weeks, including on other holidays, so why should this be any different?

I mentioned it to a friend, Mike, and as we talked, he told me how well I'm DOING, how well I've DONE and how he and indeed everyone know how DETERMINED I am to give this my all. It was then that I decided that I WILL take Independence Day off! I deserve an extra rest day and the fact that it is America's birthday and I've reached the half way point in my training means it's a doubly good time to do so.

There will be a celebratory post made to the blog on Friday, but I'll write it and schedule it for publication tomorrow.

To end this rather long post, I once again want to thank all of YOU! Your encouragement and support truly does mean so much to me. Each of you is an inspiration! THANK YOU!!!

God bless,
Em