Going into this journey I knew somethings would be unavoidable. One of those things was pain. In all honesty, the anticipation of the pain is what kept me from restarting my journey for so long. I could so vividly remember the muscle fatigue and the stiff days and night in the first few weeks. The back spasms and pain of deep tissue massages to work it out. To top it off my recollection of that pain was at about 40 pounds lighter so I did not even want to imagine how bad it would be now. But like with any breaking point the pain of not doing anything began to outweigh the pain that I would endure by making those changes.
Just as I expected those first few days, and weeks if I am really honest, were hell. I could barely walk, my lung capacity was next to nothing so any type of movement had me gasping for breath, and the pressure my body was under by supporting my body weight was torture on my back. That was just the beginning. The muscle pain I felt was ridiculous. I wanted to quit the first day. I had to use everything in my body to not walk out the door 10 minutes into the workout. I was embarrassed and hurt that I had betrayed my body through all the years of neglect. I was mad that I had to start all over when I should have been close to my goal weight at this point had I not stopped three years ago. Through all that I knew I could not stop. I would drop my kids off at school and then go to the dojo and sit in the parking lot for 90 minutes until T arrived to open the doors. Why? Because I knew as bad as I felt if I went home I would talk myself out of coming back.
As the weeks progressed I began to notice that things didn’t hurt as much. I began to notice I had a little more endurance. My soreness was diminishing and I was feeling good. With all of these great changes, there was one thing that was not getting better at all and that was my back. The pain is difficult to describe but in an attempt, I will say it is a burning sensation in the lower part of my back that gets more intense the longer I stand. In its worst moments, it feels like if I do not sit down my back is going to snap in half and my upper body is going to fall backward and I will be folded in half. More times than not I am on the verge of tears due to the pain. We had the idea that a back brace might help ease the pain so I searched for a bariatric back brace and purchased it. The back brace, while uncomfortable, did bring me some relief…enough so that I was able to increase some activity and make more progress. However, the curve of my lower back was bending the metal rods (really just cheap thin metal that I could bend by hand) that served as support in the back of the brace. Eventually, the brace became more of a hindrance than a help.
I kept trying to push through the pain and one day I could not take it any longer. I could barely walk and was in so much pain I thought I wasn’t going to be able to walk. I went into the dojo long enough to tell T that I was going to the doctor. I went expecting to hear the typical response that I needed to lose the weight and that would cure my pain. What I got were a surprise and some mixed news. It seems that as a result of my pregnancies I have developed Diastasis Recti. Diastasis Recti is the separation of the horizontal abdominal muscles that are on either side of the belly button. These muscles act as a “belt buckle” for your core muscles which include your back muscles. If you have a separation in these muscles it’s like walking around with your pants unbuttoned and trying to hold them up…there is no support. That is what is causing my severe back pain. This is a common occurrence in women who deliver a high birth weight baby or have multiple pregnancies. It also occurs in people with abdominal obesity. In most cases, the gap between the muscle is no more than 4 inches and can be repaired with special abdominal exercises. My gap happens to be 6 inches wide and with the amount of extra weight I carry in my stomach no amount of exercise will bring them back together to give the support I need to completely relive my back pain. The solution I was provided is to get the weight off and then have surgery to repair the muscle damage. The surgery will require them to stitch the muscles back together again like a corset. There is no way to effectively perform the surgery at my current weight because of the amount of fat I have on top of my muscles.
This means I am faced with a long road of back pain and modifications until I reach a weight that is reasonable enough for them to perform the surgery. This is not the news I wanted to hear…but it is my reality and I have no choice but to push through. It’s a bit frustrating to know that I will be sitting to perform certain exercises or will not be able to do them at all even though I feel totally capable. This is going to be a huge mental hurdle to clear…the feeling of being weak…I am not good at dealing with those feelings. I am making an effort to focus on the goal. If I take it day by day eventually the days will fade together and before you know it I will be on my road to recovery…that’s what I am telling myself.