Saturday, January 16, 2010


My feet weren't killing me, so I went to the gym.

I'm a relatively fit person (don't get me wrong, I'm not superwoman, but I do work out regularly), and I've been to the gym precisely once since RA hit.

The first time I used the stationary bike. That was an experience. I sat down, set off at Level 1 and thought, Hey, this isn't bad! Then Level 1 actually kicked in, and I thought, You have seriously got to be kidding, this can't possibly be Level 1!!!!!! It was freaking hard!

I've read about fatigue with RA (which, luckily, I've escaped huge levels of), but weakness is something that has been seriously debilitating with me. I've even had to resort to removing the duvet cover from my down duvet to make it lighter and easier to manipulate, that's how weak I've been at times.

But not being able to bike at Level 1 when I'm feeling pretty good? That made me realize even more just how weak I am.

Today, I tackled the elliptical machine. Getting on it was a little shaky, but once I got going, I was pretty good (again, Level 1, even though I was used to doing Levels 8-10 for 30-40 minutes). I did 10 minutes, then decided to push it to 15. Wasn't sure what I'd feel like tomorrow, but decided it was worth the experiment. If I don't push, how will I know? Plus, exercise is recommended for people with RA.

Happy! I did some strength exercises, too, to top things off. I work with an excellent personal trainer, who always emphasizes proper form, so while she wasn't with me today, I focused on simple exercises like bicep curls that I know I can do properly without screwing things up. Abs were next.

Then I actually lay down on the mat to stretch. You have no clue how big a step that was. I've gotten together with my trainer just to stretch about three times since this began and each time getting up from the floor has been a major effort. I can't use my hands or wrists, and trying to figure out how to get up without hurting myself or having her pull me has been like some crazy turtle on its back/science experiment!

Then reality hits. I've got a foam 1/2-tube thingy on the mat that I use to lie on lengthwise to open up and stretch my chest muscles, and I can't manage to maneuver myself onto it without it wiggling out of position. I have to ask the woman next to me to hold it steady. I don't have any problem at all asking her to help me, but after I get onto it and I'm lying there, I start crying. I have random moments of emotion like this. Something I used to be able to do myself without a thought is now impossible. I'm banking on the meds to help me.

If not, adapt!

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