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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pity Party

Yesterday morning I joined friend Maryann in the pool for an Aqua class. It went well, with the instructor I like better, Kerry, and I realized I'd do better in the future if I stay in the deep end. Little by little we learn these adjustments to take the stress off our joints.

We decided after that we'd try the "Active" class this afternoon, at 4:30. I was a little reluctant to try it on the same day because it just might be too much but also reluctant because I figured it would be a problem for my arthritis. I had no idea what it would be but I knew it was a floor class and the information didn't say anything about chairs, for example. Still, it is listed as a class good for people just getting started so I thought maybe it would be okay.

I arrived at the class to find friend Peggy there and Maryann chatting it up with somebody else, sitting on a balance ball. Peggy has a way of taking over things and she took me in hand, and I got my equipment out: steps and weights and a mat. I was a little concerned that it was a step-type class but I didn't know, again, what to expect. Peggy said the steps are not complicated and you don't have to use the step, of course (which I knew I would not do). When the instructor came in I went to talk to her. I said I had arthritis in my knees, hip, and shoulder and she said just take it easy, don't go on the step, use lower weights.

Turns out that wasn't enough. My legs and knees were in pain just about immediately and stayed there through the cardio section. I felt pain in my knees, tightness and discomfort in my calves, pain in my right hip. As the section progressed I felt less and less able to do the simple steps. Then came the weights. We had to lie down on the steps to do the weight work. Nothing I haven't done before. The weight work was not difficult except that my left arm could not do much of it. I ended up using my right arm most of the time. Then, getting up again was difficult; Peggy offered me her hand but she has no idea how much of my weight she would have had to take; I simply worked my way up, somewhat painfully, from my knees (not good) to standing. Finished the weights there, again only my right arm.

Balance work was tricky with my pronated knees. Of course I knew this situation and I did what I could. Balance work is good for me. Finally, there was floor work. I ended it there. I wasn't going down on the floor to do abdominals. I can do abs other ways that don't require that I rise painfully to my feet afterwards.

So when the rest of the class was doing abs I methodically took my equipment back to the storage room and put it away, then left the class. I went downstairs to the showers and found myself crying in there, tears joining the hot water that felt so good.

I felt a mixture of pity for myself along with a kind of anger at others. I recognize that it isn't fair of me to assume or hope that one of these type instructors would understand my limitations. Other people have arthritis but it isn't always painful in the same way. Believe me, I knew when I looked at the step and heard of the 20 minutes of cardio that this would not be a good thing for me. Yet I indulged in my feelings of sadness and self-pity and anger at the misunderstanding world. I hate it when people assume I am having trouble because I am new at something or out of shape when it has nothing to do with that.

I felt this minor depression last night, as my body accused me of overdoing. My back hurt, my legs hurt, everything arthritis hurt, and I wondered how I'd sleep. With drugs is the answer. Acetaminophen pm. Then this morning, as I rose creakily from bed I decided to help my chances and took two acetaminophen tablets before heading out to do my usual little workout and then went to my sewing class.

Right now I feel recovered, as much as I usually can be. My right hip is not bothering me and I am getting up without a lot of pain. I think doing the simple workout this morning was a good thing because it loosened the joints a bit and gave my body some little bit of work to do that, as the Arthritis Foundation says, is "the best medicine".

As I sit back, a day away from the worst of it, I think my venture into the Active class does have a purpose: it sets a baseline of sorts. I can look back later, probably much much later, when I try the class again, when I feel more stable and comfortable on my feet.

photos are generic, do not represent the actual classes I took but look similar

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