I am trying to be smart about this running thing that I am currently doing, so I have set limits for myself, limits that are based on things I have read online and conversations with my mother, because I don't have a physical therapist right now and I haven't been in to see my rheumatologist recently. I know that even if I want to go above 2 miles I should give it a little bit of time, and my hips, knees, and ankles have certainly been confirming this gradual pace. After five years of dealing with this condition, I can confidently distinguish between muscle pain and joint pain, and 95% of what I am feeling when I run and afterward is joint pain. It it frustrating, because I know that I am strong enough to run more, but I must remember that my joints cannot always keep up with the rest of my body, and so I have to work with it and appreciate the situation for what it is.
|Congratulations to Emily for|
committing to UNC-Chapel Hill!
This girl is going places.
When I told Emily that my rheumatologist might give me some running rules at my next appointment, which is in mid-February, she laughingly but very seriously offered to help me break those rules enough to make me feel in control of my life but not so much as to induce a flare. As always, I am thankful for friends who offer their support authentically and compassionately. I appreciate sarcasm and use it frequently, but I also think there is a lot to be said for conversations that are honest and genuine, and I value people who know when and where to draw the line. Sometimes I hunger for something concrete in a world that seems full of ambiguity, and Emily managed to be realistic, optimistic, and understanding all at the same time.
Last year during this show, the high schoolers had a big number where we all ran on stage and then did a lot of physically intense choreography. Obviously, I want to be treated like every other student there, so I did not tell the choreographer about my health. He placed me at the front of one of the lines, meaning that I would run onstage first, all the way to the other end, and my speed would be crucial to the timing of the song. Everything went fine in rehearsal aside from the normal pain caused by running, but when I ran across the stage during the actual show something felt incredibly wrong with my ankle. I am shocked and grateful that I did not collapse, but I was keenly aware something was very wrong. I knew it was arthritis related, but the show must go on, and so I smiled through clenched teeth and did all of the choreography as I normally would have. I maintained my composure, even though I was frightened by the prospect of knowing that I could fall and find myself unable to stand back up at any moment. When the song finished and I struck the final pose, I was proud of myself, but extremely startled and shaken up by the entire situation.
As soon as I returned to my school's designated dressing room, I removed my character shoe and found myself in tears, gently trying to coax my ankle back to comfort. Everyone was concerned and my friends inquired about what was wrong, but I tried futilely to explain that it was more the fear than the pain that had me all worked up. I was glad when the entire show was finished that night, and I was also starving, so my parents took me and my sister to Chipotle to celebrate the performance.
So there I was, in Chipotle, at 9:30 p.m., in my flashy, red show choir dress, with full stage makeup, slightly ripped pantyhose, and beige character shoes, standing behind a tall man with a clerical collar who was also waiting in line to use the restroom. I realized that I looked like a walking disaster, but my curiosity about religion and specifically about various Christian denominations got the best of me and I timidly asked the man if he was a priest and where he worked. I am 100% sure that this guy thought I was absolutely crazy. He answered my questions succinctly and dismissively, talking in brief, broad sentences and not even revealing which church he worked at. As much as I wanted to know, I could not blame him, because I have to admit that his visual assumption that I was a train wreck was completely correct. We did not have a long conversation, because as soon as the restroom opened up, that priest dove in without even nodding his head toward me. Looking back on it, the situation was hilarious and embarrassing, and I get a good laugh thinking about how uncomfortable he felt and how out of place I was.
Even though it sometimes makes for moments of disappointment or awkwardness or both, I am going to keep running and hiking and dancing and singing, because those are things I enjoy doing and I do not want to take my ability to do those things for granted, even if that ability is only granted to me in random doses on random days.