“Do you exercise?”
Doctors ask me this a lot. They don’t seem to reserve their judgement, either.
Well, it depends on what you consider exercise. Something that’s not necessarily exercise for someone else could be considered exercise for me. Do I bust my balls at the gym? No. Do I run at the ass-crack of dawn every morning? No. Do I dress like Lance Armstrong and ride my bike in the middle of a busy street like an asshole? No. Do I carry in groceries? Yeah, sometimes. Do I walk the dog? Yeah, once in a while. Do I take the stairs instead of the elevator? When I’m feeling up to it.
I guess I don’t know how to answer their question. Do I do something that’s considered exercise by societal standards? Am I in an exercise class? Does what I do have a fancy exercisey name? Does what I do require a fancy exercisey machine?
Don’t take what I am saying the wrong way. I don’t dislike exercise. I come from a pretty athletic family. My mom has been teaching Jazzercise and dance aerobics my whole life, and I was able to learn proper fitness technique at a young age. My older brother was on the track and cross-country teams in high school, and has extensive knowledge in sports medicine. My younger brother just started a new exercise plan at the park and also hikes regularly, and he played baseball for the Y.
I myself use to be on the track team before the lupus days. The 400m and high jump were my main events. I wanted to do what my brother did, run for the high school team and do 5ks on the side. I didn’t get to do that, though. My freshman year of high school I had to get a PE waiver because I was sick, and so I had an extra academic class in place of PE, which meant extra homework. Oh boy.
It’s not as if I don’t try. There are exercise activities I’d really like to enjoy regularly, but I’m just in so much pain all the time that I can’t. I’ve tried tai-chi, and yoga, both which I liked well enough, but I was so sore for the next three days I couldn’t move. The pain affected my sleep. I seem to have this soreness from exercise that is exacerbated by Lupus inflammation.
I also have limits with my range of motion, and high blood pressure. Because of the damaged blood vessels in my brain, I can’t do anything that requires bending over without getting a migraine, especially during exercise that raises blood pressure. Sometimes doing anything even remotely exertional gives me a headache because it makes my blood pressure so high. When I already have a migraine, it’s so sensitive to my blood pressure that I can’t get up to go to the bathroom without making the throbbing worse.
The pain and soreness I get from exercising makes it even harder to do daily activities. I never seem to “get used” to exercising. The amount of inflammation people with lupus experience can actually result in significant muscle weakness.
I’ve explained all this to the doctors yet they still act like part of my problem with how sick I am is that I don’t exercise. Or that I don’t do what they consider exercise, rather.
So if anyone can explain to me how I am supposed to exercise with high blood pressure, a fever, daily migraines, and a disease that causes its own inflammation, and makes existing inflammation even worse, I’m all ears.
In the mean time I’ll keep exercising my patience.