Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Standing Strong: Resolving to Take Control

Do you know how to advocate for yourself, when it really matters?

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It was one of my mom's favorite stories to tell, and it was not because it was particularly funny or embarrassing. Rather, it was a story of will and knowing what was right. It was a story of sticking to my principles, even if it didn't seem to be in my best interest.

I was in second grade. Precocious and self-assured. And definitely a mother hen to both my brother and cousin, who were in kindergarten.

It was Monday, and we were riding the bus from school to daycare. It was the start of a new drop-off for us. No longer would a day care helper meet the bus several blocks from the site but the bus would drop us at the center. I knew this, having been carefully instructed by my mother, as did my brother and cousin.

The person who didn't know? The bus driver. He pulled up to our old stop and waited for us to get off. But we did not. I told him that we were supposed to go to the daycare now and no one was there to meet us. Still, he insisted we get off. I held my ground, making sure the boys did not budge.

The driver called the transportation office, and the school, daycare and parents became involved. Still, I stood on that bus and refused to get off. It wasn't until some time later, when a daycare worker met us, that I willingly moved.

Even though I caused a great many headaches that day, I often look back to that story and almost revel. It's not because I think what I did was awesome but because I wonder what happened to that girl. How did I go from self-assured and almost indignant to meek and unwilling to stand up for myself?

Case in point: My most recent experience with physical therapy. When I went to my first visit, I shared that I was going to a new-to-me place that specialized in women's issues, e.g. pelvic floor strength, pregnancy. I was hopeful that going to such a place would not only be beneficial but speed along my recovery. I left cautiously optimistic that my case of piriformis syndrome could be treated and I would see consistent improvement from session to session.

But that optimism quickly faded after the second session. The hourlong appointment, which began nearly a half-hour late, was spent learning how to squat, pick up tables and carry shopping bags. Once I had adequately demonstrated proper form (on the first try), there was soft-tissue therapy for 10 minutes and I was left to stretch on my own. I limped out in more pain than I left.

No pain, no gain? Right? It's how I tried to reassure myself as I headed in for the next appointment, resolving to be positive. Again, the appointment was late and most of the session was spent learning to do every day tasks. This time, it was vacuuming – which I had told her that I don't do. Seriously, I don't. Feel free to nominate Mark for husband of the year.

I had another 10 minute soft tissue treatment, during which I listened to her talk about her dog escaping an invisible fence. It was boring but better than the previous session's conversation that was about a "difficult to please" patient. I contributed politely but the whole time I wondered about why I couldn't speak up and take ownership of the session. I was, after all, paying for the therapy and I deserved to get out of it what I needed. I didn't need to learn how to vacuum. I needed my butt to feel better so that I could walk and feel good and be a good mom. I didn't need her to tell me about dogs or patients; I needed her to advise me about additional solutions for my piriformis pain and how to cope until I found relief.

I walked out that day frustrated and limping, still. The  pain stung with each step, and I resolved that I was not going back and I haven't. But I could not help but wonder: Where was that girl who could stand up and say no? Where was she when I needed to say, "I don't think what you are doing is right, and I deserve for it to be so"?

I know she is there, I do. I just need to learn how to find her, and I intend to spend the next six weeks doing so. As I embark on a VBAC, I will have to be my own advocate. I will have to be sure of myself and what I'm doing.

And though this post seems like a long-winded way of complaining about my PT experience, it's more of a plea – to myself and you. There are times when we know things are not the way they should be. It is up to you to demand better and, not only that, but to be prepared to do so.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Five for Friday

It was a milestone.

On Wednesday, I walked down the hallway to the far away bathroom and I didn't feel a pang until I was halfway there. I almost stopped to do a happy dance but I figured that it would not be socially acceptable to pop, lock and drop it in a place of business.

Also, I don't think I could get up.

1. So, yes, after two weeks of frustration, I am starting to see improvement with my piriformis. I still have discomfort even just walking but the pain is less severe and my gait is improving. As Mark told me, my waddle isn't so gimpy.

2. I changed up quite a few things this week to see whether it would improve the situation but I would be hard-pressed to say that X, Y and Z helped but not F, G, H. I'm even hesitant to share because I don't want anyone to mistake what I'm doing for actual advice.

But, for the sake of honesty, here's my self-prescribed therapy: I quit going to the actual physical therapist, stopped incorporating pigeon into my stretching routine and eliminated sugary treats. I added cherry juice, epsom salts, Deep Blue doTERRA oil and began using my Tiger Tail before doing my new stretches.

3. Thankfully, I've been able to teach my classes and the regulars have been understanding if I'm doing a modification or switching things up. Last night, though, I had a HILARIOUS moment. A newcomer to boot camp gave me the strangest look and just sort of stared. I asked if she was OK and she seemed hesitant to answer. Then, almost stuttering, she asked if I was pregnant.

Why yes, yes I a.m. It's sort of obvious at this point, especially with a Fort4Fitness tee strained over my belly and being relegated to wearing Mark's sweats.

"You're not doing this are you?" she asked.

No, no I'm not. But only because of my bum bum, I thought. There's nothing in this particular workout that I couldn't or shouldn't do. (It was a fun 30-20-10 workout, AMRAP style. Six minutes to complete as many sets as possible of three exercises. The first exercise, a cardio style, had 30 reps; the second exercise, large muscle group, had 20 reps; and a balance or core exercise was last with 10 reps. I think we got through four different groups of exercises in the 45 minutes.)

Anyway, it just made me laugh that people see the belly and think I can't work out.

4. While I'm anxious to be 100 percent and resume all physical activity, I have to say that this down time has been nice. I've been able to sleep in, relax (somewhat) and do more with the family. Novel, I tell you.

This morning, for example, Mark wasn't feeling great and stayed home. He and Miles played video games while I hung prints and curtains in baby boy's room.

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5. And because babies are more fun to talk about, I am *this* close to being done with the room. I just need to touch up the paint on the dresser and bookshelf and get a few more decorations. The theme is dinosaurs but I'm trying not to be overly cutesy. On the book shelf, I want to display some 3-D dinosaur puzzles and I might get one more thing to hang.

Also, I need to buy baby socks ... because I had a dream that I didn't have enough.