Saturday, July 19, 2008

Getting old bites

I know I'm not even forty, but lately I've been feeling old. I first developed arthritis in my thumbs in 2001, during my last year of college, in which I spent insane amounts of time on my computer typing research papers (and apparently hitting the space bar far too often). For some reason, it disappeared during both my pregancies—there seems to be some evidence the pregancy hormone relaxin alleviates arthritis pain—and returned within a few months after.

Since December I've been feeling arthritis in my hips as well as my hands, but just in the last few weeks it's become extremely painful after I run. In training for the triathlon I was planning to do at the end of August, my runs are up to almost six miles, but lately it takes me two or three days to stop feeling joint pain after I run, even when I take large doses of ibuprofen (as suggested by my doctor) both before and after. The long recovery time has effected being able to do my regular workouts, and I've started to worry the pain could be indicative of greater problems.

On Thursday I got in touch with the nurse at my doctor's office and she confirmed what I feared: if I continue to run and cause pain, I'm doing irreparable damage to my hip joints. It devastated me to hear it, because I love running, and I was really excited to do another triathlon. I've been in a bit of a funk for the past couple days as I've tried to process this information, create a new mindset about working out (I can still swim and bike as before because of the low-impact nature of those sports), and move forward with a positive attitude. I'm also holding out with a faint hope that if I drop a significant amount of weight, it would alleviate the strain on my hips and maybe I could run again. But I'm not counting on it. In the meantime, I'm so very grateful I have come to enjoy biking and swimming and have already developed a fair amount of endurance in both. I'm also thinking it's time to investigate yoga and take advantage of the increased flexibility and strength it offers.

I'm realizing more and more how much I've taken my body for granted and been cavalier about my health and fitness. Those days are over.

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