Exercise is something I am good at. I have always been active, but since moving away from my home state and becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I have forced exercise into my routine. I do not need exercise buddies or people to encourage me. I do not need gym memberships to motivate me. I just need a few essential items, and I am good at being motivated to get it done.

My exercise involves walking/running (pushing 50-105 pounds of jogging stroller, depending on who is in it), biking (dragging a bike trailer, again 50-105 pounds), rollerblading (with jogging stroller) and weight lifting. I do all this mostly because I get bored doing just one thing. Our housing development has about fifteen miles of exercise trails, and I know every nook and cranny of them. I have created different routes that I take to fill up the allotted time so I have the chance to see different things each day. Most of the time I have no problem getting four 1-hour+ workouts in each week, and sometimes more. (The more depends on my schedule, which is tight.) My point is that I get it done. I do not make excuses; I just go and exercise.

However, I have not exercised regularly since the end of last November. Since Chicklet’s birth (more than four years ago) and subsequent first year of misery (for Chicklet and me), my exercise has involved a weight loss goal. Since I am not a dieter (I eat quite healthy most of the time, but I like eating), exercise is my key to weight maintenance. When I stopped exercising last November, I was within four pounds of my goal. I do not even know where I am now, but it is a far cry from four pounds!

December made exercise impossible because Chicklet and I both got sick. It was cold then, and when we are coughing, it is not reasonable to go out and exercise. Unfortunately, my sickness turned into bronchitis, which lasted until I finally went to the doctor for it at the end of March. Thus, all winter long I was not exercising. (I plan this winter to try to find a gym that will let me join for four months so my exercise is not weather-dependent in the winter.) In mid-April, I started exercising again, but could not get back into the routine of it. School was nearing an end. There were constant field trips (which I faithfully chaperoned having a daughter in Kindergarten), Science Fairs, Art Shows (I am the volunteer art teacher at my daughter’s school, grades K-8), etc. Not having an established routine, it was too easy to not establish one then. I managed to exercise enough to damage my ankles a little, though. I had encountered this injury before, but it got better, and then it happened again. My body does not like it when I run. I personally do not like to run, but walking does not seem like enough exercise, so on “walking days,” I tend to run a lot of the time, which ultimately messed up my ankles royally.

The ankle pain was actually debilitating. I should have gone to the doctor. (I should have gone to the doctor two years ago when I first noticed it.) I resisted because not all of my medical experiences in New Mexico have been worthwhile. I thought that they would tell me one of two things: 1) Deal with it, or 2) You need surgery. I was already dealing with it, and I had no interest in surgery. (Recovery time from surgery would mean an even longer period of no exercising which would fully derail my exercise momentum, etc.)

In late May, while in Missouri, I reinjured the ankle twice. The second time I was running in an emergency situation, barefooted, and actually crumpled on the ground because the pain was so bad. (Thankfully, the emergency fixed itself.)

After returning home, I reinjured it repeatedly, 2 or 3 times a week. It got to the point that I was falling a lot because the ankle was so weak. If I would step on something uneven, it was not strong enough to hold me up. It would hurt less to fall than to strain the ankle more. Each injury would mean about a day of basically no walking. I finally decided to go to the doctor before our trip at the end of July. I was going to be walking in a Convention Center (totally forgot about hiking), so I could not be worried about 2 or 3 bad injuries a week. I walk better on heels (which is what I wear at Conventions) because of the angle at which they put my foot, but a fall from heels is worse. So I went. My General Practitioner referred me to a podiatrist, but I could not get in until after my trip was over. But she gave me a splint that she thought would make it possible to hike while we were in Zion. It worked! (Obviously, if you are a regular reader, you have seen a few of the pictures.) We hiked about half of every day, and I had very little trouble. I could not believe how much difference having the stability of a splint made. It was then that I decided I had been a true idiot in not going to the doctor sooner.

old splint in Zion National Park

old splint in Zion National Park

The podiatrist gave me a different type of splint. It has a little bubble in the arch area that can be inflated to comfort level. This is a much better splint than the first, but it doesn’t work well with sandals at all.

So Monday I decided to try walking again for exercise. I had managed to hike half-a-day for three days in Zion (albeit at a 4-year-old’s pace). Surely I could do it here. I went on a level, shorter trail–a loop around our development that is two miles, and starts about 1/4 mile from my house. There are lots of places on this loop that I could cut it short if I was having trouble. I DID have trouble, but of course not until past the last short-cut. My ankle did not hurt, but this time it was my foot, because I use it differently due to the ankle injury. It was not horrible, just tired. The worst thing was that I forgot to take my camera.

new splint

new splint

Today I went again, and the foot was better. I remembered my camera and think I got some nice photos, but have not checked yet. It just feels so good to be actually moving around again. I really do not LOVE exercise, but I love how I feel when I do it. I cannot go tomorrow, but I will go again Friday, and if all goes well, I might try roller-blading next week. I cannot bike right now because the hitch on my bike trailer broke right at the beginning of this problem, and I need to shell out some big bucks for a new trailer. (Which I am willing to do because I use it a lot, and it is worth a lot to me, but I have not researched well enough what I want/need. The last one was only $99 at a resale sporting goods store. A lucky find.)

What is the point to this story? When I had bronchitis, I should have gone to the doctor sooner. I waited four months. After going I was cleared up in two weeks. When I hurt my ankle, I should have gone to the doctor. Even with just a splint, I would not have continued with new and repeated injuries. (I have to go back in a week to see what the next step is on the ankle. The splint is not a permanent fix.) I am all flabby and feeling less-than-perfect and have lost all my momentum, just because I did not want to go to the doctor. I am the opposite of a hypochondriac and never want to rush to the doctor at the slightest problem, but maybe there is some good ground in the middle somewhere.

Ya think?

by Louise Cannon