Today I want to take you back in time, and share with you a little bit about why I thought I wasn’t able to exercise. Why I thought I would never need a gym membership. *cues Wayne’s World Flashback sound effect*
I suffered a broken hip twice as an early adolescent. The first time I walked around on that busted hip for several months before I saw a doctor. I would trip and fall several times a week and never know why. No one actually knows how or went the moment I first busted my hip was, but we do know it was a long time before I went to the doctor. The first doctor I saw didn’t even see a problem with the x-rays. Eventually they found out I fractured the growth plate in my right hip. Surgery to fix it was scheduled by a specialist at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, it was marked EMERGENCY they added me to the end of the days list as there was great concern over loss of blood flow to my leg. It was scary, but I survived. A year later they took the pin out, and a year after that I broke the same hip a second time. I tripped and slammed into an upright freezer, and my body didn’t cushion the blow as well as it could have! 3 years, 3 surgeries, 2 scars that I am fairly self conscious of on my right hip.
Those surgeries were not accompanied by any rehabilitation or physical therapy, in fact, they were accompanied by a letter sent to my school declaring that I was under no circumstances to do any physical activity at all. No Gym Class. WOOHOO!! Fat girl gets out of gym class, I was happier than a pig in shit. No joke I thought I had hit the lottery. As I got into high school the notes from my Orthopaedic Surgeon continued to roll in every year reminding the school that I was not to have gym class.
I needed to have “Gym Credits” to graduate. I hated the fact that the state required a certain amount of physical education to graduate, but I did what I had to do. Mom took me twice a week 30 mins away to do water aerobics for 50 mins. The school board disputed this as appropriate for gym class, but since I had no alternative available there was no choice but to accept it.
My weight steadily increased as I went through school. I bounced in and out of weight watchers. I think I still have the booklets at my parents house. They had little check boxes where you had to eat certain things every day. It wasn’t working for me, the only thing I watched was my weight go up!
I did as little activity as possible. I would get dropped off at the door to wherever we would go, for example if we went to the mall, or out to dinner because I was always falling I would get dropped off at the door. The thought of going out for a walk was awful. I spent 8 weeks on crutches for at least 3 years in a row. That is a lot of time in a kids world.
Kids were cruel to me spending all that time on crutches. I couldn’t help the fact that I had problems with my bones. When they operated on me at one point they said my bones has a spongy texture. They also noted that my bone development was almost 2 years behind where it should have been. It was a scary time to be me.
So as I moved forward into my late teen years I got used to looking for the closest parking spot to the stores. So I could walk as little as possible. The idea of going out for a walk or a run was just plain silly. It just made me hurt. When people would ask me why I never did anything I would explain that I wasn’t allowed to be active.
The doctors told me for so many years “You cannot play sports, you cannot take gym class, you cannot do XYZ or you might break something, hurt something or injure yourself” For so many years I listened so intently to their words that they became an excuse. I can’t take gym became I can’t do anything active. I wasn’t a fast enough, or by any means skinny enough swimmer to be competitive, so why bother with that. I could no longer ride a bike because of the mobility issues after they cut though my hip so many times so why try anymore. I couldn’t run, that hurt my hips. I lacked the ability to do so many things, but what I lacked more than anything else was the confidence to push the envelope a little bit.
I am not advocating anyone to ignore a doctor’s advice, so please don’t think that is what I am saying. What I am saying is just because something is one way at one point in your life it doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever. I started getting healthier in 2009 and my doctor was shocked and appalled to find out that I had never obtained any physical therapy for my hip surgery. They understood the no gym thing, it was more about contact sports and the possibility of my bones which were likely much more brittle at the time of being broken again.
I amaze myself now when I think back about how excited I was to miss out on gym class. I wonder what happened to the chunky little ballerina who danced on the deck. I wonder where the chubby gymnast who took sixth place on the balance beam went. What went wrong in my youth to make me hate gym?
My best guess is the cruelness that can be other kids. Now I know that fitness, a healthy lifestyle is SO important. I wish I could go back and talk to the old me. Tell myself, that sixth grader with the broken hip, not to give up hope that change will happen. To tell that ninth grade version of me that after bowling leagues on Saturday mornings maybe a walk would be a better choice than that lunch at Perkins. I wish I could find the 12th grade version of me and tell her that the surgery that landed her in the wheelchair during school hours isn’t the end of the world either. Those wounds all heal, and you will be stronger because of them.
More surgeries happen through my life. Broken bones, muscular injuries, torn cartilage and ligaments, and tendons are my battle scars. I fight through all those things. I fight every day to remember to use my joint protective measures when I work out so that I don’t injure myself even further because of my ehlers-danlos.
I will not and can not let the thoughts of what I was told for so many years be gospel anymore. I am standing up to fight every day to make my body stronger and whole again.
I challenge anyone out there who says they can’t do any exercise because their doctor says so to push their doctors. Push for physical therapy, push for activity. There are SO many things available these days, from pool therapy to anti gravity running that there has to be something that you can do. Even if it is just some arm exercises to get the blood flowing! Do it for yourself! No one can do it for you.