Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Special Anniversary

This is a special anniversary for me.One year ago, I woke up not feeling right. Everything on me – especially my legs and lower back – felt sore, stiff, heavy and tired. The soreness and fatigue lasted throughout the day, and while I didn’t feel sick, exactly, I must have sounded it. Everyone I spoke to asked if I had a cold.

At first, I thought I had simply overexerted myself, since I had been packing up my family’s things in a move to a new house. But after two weeks of constant fatigue and soreness – which had spread to my neck, shoulders, arms and hands – I realized that something more serious was going on. Then, after work one evening, I took the socks off of my aching feet and saw that both my ankles were swollen badly – as if I had swallowed two whole oranges and each had dropped down to an ankle. To me, ankle swelling registered as a heart/circulation problem. After a terrible and sleepless night, I called my doctor.

It turned out that I had come down with an acute form of Sarcoidosis, which is basically a lung disease. Swelling in vessels of my lungs caused arthritic symptoms and fatigue. Fortunately, the prognosis was good, and with medicine and rest, I recovered in about 6 months. The disease will most likely not return, but I am always paying attention to my body now and certainly don’t take feeling good for granted.

This past March, I had a different kind of “just woke up one morning” experience. Seemingly out of the blue, I got up and felt totally committed to being more fit. The interesting thing is how the decision and the dedication were there before I even opened my eyes. Of course, I had been frustrated for some time at how heavy I was getting, how bad I looked in my clothes, how slow I had become, how fragile my back and neck always seemed to be, how easily and often I seemed to come down with sniffles and headaches, and how meek and unconfident I always felt.

But that morning, it was as if I had always been prepared to eat clean and exercise. I immediately started making better choices in meals and food shopping, and I started a home strength and conditioning routine. Every day, I followed along with videotapes of abs and either an arm or leg toning workout. Eventually, my workout needs grew and I got some dumbbells, a bench, a jump rope, a standing punching bag and gloves, and some new running shoes. I have since lost 25 pounds, run 2 road races, and improved considerably in strength and stamina.

This weekend, my two-and-a-half-year-old just woke up and said that she wanted to wear underpants and no more diapers. Just like that she became a big girl. Honestly, I am a little sad to lose another of the baby aspects of my daughter, but I am more proud of her than anything. Who knows what other decisions she’ll announce in mornings of the future.

I guess that momentous changes and life-decisions can happen by just waking up.

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