Let’s talk about what’s really bothering me:
I’ve been hard on myself over the years. Two broken ankles, two broken wrists, sheared ligament on my finger, torn rotator cuff, ripped bicep muscle, sprained back, and assorted lacerations, puncture wounds, and burns. My job requires me to be on my feet 8-12 hours a day, which has strained my arches, wracked my knees, and jacked up my hips. And my back, it has ruined my back. I’m still overweight, and the decline into maturity has only amplified problems that were already developing. I had an x-ray a couple of years ago that suggested I’m getting arthritis in my neck and upper back. My neck tilts a couple of degrees to the left, off-setting my head from the center of my body. When I stand up, my knees pop like fingers snapping. When I get out of the car, my hips are so stiff I sometimes have to limp across the parking lot. I have to work the kinks out of my back before getting up in the morning. I once read that John Kennedy used to prefer the bottom position because of his crippling back pain and I thought: “I feel ya, brother”.
It is no exaggeration to say that I am in some kind of pain all the time. All the time. I have been in some kind of pain so long that I cannot recall a time when there was no pain. It is not the kind of pain that puts me in a wheelchair, or keeps me bedridden, or makes me retreat to a darkened room for hours on hours. It is a chronic, but manageable pain.
Never the less, it overall diminishes my quality of life. And I want to do something about it. I currently pop aspirin on a daily basis to ease the aches. I’ve been reading a lot about anti-inflammatory foods that decrease inflammation in joint tissues, and this week I’m drinking only green smoothies. I’m also slowly getting back into circuit workouts, but it hurts.
I don’t believe it is normal to be in some level of pain at all times. If this is the onset of RA or one of its cousins, or the steady, irresistible decline of age, then there are things I can do. I can exercise more and change my dietary habits. But it is hard. Fried chicken wings, beer, and salty fries don’t suppress inflammation, it seems. 50 squats devastates my ability to walk, and discourages further exercise. The pain I am about to endure is not worth the long range success I’m seeking to achieve. I want a bag of Tostitos so bad it gives me a headache (more pain…).
Gone as of this week are sodas and fruit juices in favor of at least 2 quarts of iced green tea every day. Added to my daily routine are a daily vitamin supplement and a multi-omega oil tablet. Open the door to coconut milk beverage, organic red palm oil, flax seed and almond butter. Out are glutens, dairies (except for greek yogurt), meats and sugar. Well, sugar is almost out. I have some raw honey and raw palm sugar (which tastes awful on its own, btw). And I put sugar in my one cup of coffee each morning. For now. Don’t judge me.
Losing some weight will definitely help with the pain in my weight-bearing joints. I already know I have to improve my posture. I can’t go on extended smoothie diets (might as well not set myself up for failure), so I’m on a rotation of vegetarian, paleo-style, juicing, and raw diets as well. Keeping up the variety will help prevent me from caving to pepperoni pizzas and deep-fried ice cream bars (crap, I shouldn’t have even thought about that…).
On this point, on the matter of pain, it is not enough to maintain and improve. I have to rid my body of its aches, stiffness, cracks and pops and moans. Or at least reduce the impact it has on my life.