Well, it’s been approximately 10 weeks since I put in to action my habits that would take me towards one of my health and fitness goals. My vision was clear, my body was going to be in the best shape of it’s life, at 51, my younger self would have been so envious.
Oh dear (screech of brakes), it started off so well, I was mostly walking to and from the gym (1 hour in total) and doing 1 hour at the gym 4-5 times a week, including a weekly Yoga class (I love Yoga, not great at it, but love it). This was in addition to my 30 minute walk (in total) to and from work. Unfortunately, I have had a few setbacks and have one more to come.
My First setback was in week 6, I was diagnosed with ‘Posterior Vitreous Detachment’ (PVD), a condition of the eyes where the vitreous gel detaches from the retina. Apparently, this is not uncommon in the over 50s and even more common in the over 65s. I started seeing black ‘floaters’ in my vision for a couple of weeks before I went to the Opticians. I guess I thought they weren’t serious and would go away. I have to say these floaters were the prettiest things, like delicate firework sparks cascading down slowly and from side to side in a distinct pattern (I’m soooo weird).
“So what?” I hear you say, what’s that got to do with your fitness journey. Well, let me tell you, I was absolutely gobsmacked when I found out I could not exercise for 4-6 weeks from when the detachment happened, no strenuous exercise, yoga, pilates or weight lifting, these were the exercises I had mostly been doing for the previous 6 weeks, although walking was still fine.
Although PVD is not serious in itself, there is a risk following PVD that the retina/s can detach, this is quite serious and apparently happens in 15% of people who experience PVD. This will usually happen within the first 6 weeks and some exercises are not recommended during this time period. If the retina/s detach, it requires an emergency operation to save your sight. This was a major setback, I was not prepared to risk losing my sight, hence, the sudden halt in my healthy exercise regime.
This was a real shame, as I had started to feel slimmer, my legs were toning up, I went on a bit of a ‘downer’ with this news and hid myself away for a few days, because it took me a few days to accept it. On the plus side, my low mood made me realise just how exercise affects your mood in a positive way, not only is it good for your body but your mental and emotional health, I had been feeling great up to that point, my confidence was soaring.
I did manage to pull my self out of the low mood quite quickly, as I rationalised that it was not the end of the world, merely a setback, because the best thing about PVD, it can only happen once, so 4 more weeks then I could exercise without restrictions, even if it was like starting from scratch.
Great, I started again at the gym on 16th July, it was hard, almost like starting all over again, but on the plus side, I definitely did more than my first time at the gym because I knew my capabilities this time around. I was pretty determined to get back to where I was, but did I over do it?
My bubble was about to burst again, after the second session, whilst walking home I felt a sharp pain in my right buttock and down my thigh, yes, you guessed, I now have a flare up of sciatica. I have never had sciatica in my life, and yes, you guessed it again, many of the exercises at the gym are out of bounds. I understand a flare up usually lasts for 4-6 weeks on average. This means no ‘cross trainer’ (I was starting to warm to this machine), no leg extension / curl machines, no pulling weights down with my upper body. On the plus side, I can do bicep curls, fly machine and the treadmill, although I do so much walking, I don’t see much point in the treadmill. Not quite, the all over body workout I want to do.
I did do an 8 mile walk on the Thursday 18th July, which I really enjoyed, the sun was shining and I was in good company. All that, after doing an hour walk in the morning and an hour gym session, no wonder I could barely walk the next day. I should have gently eased into my fitness regime, but patience is unfortunately not always one of my virtues and I felt I had a lot of time to make up.
The icing on the cake has to be from 29th July, I can’t exercise again for a (hopefully short) while, I have been waiting for a minor operation, I will be having some surgical stitches.
I have my first holiday since 2015 coming up in September, I’m feeling like everything is working against my fitness goal at the moment, but I do know these are only temporary setbacks and although I said in a previous post, ‘No More Excuses’, I have got some genuine, if unwanted ones at the moment.
The best thing is I can still walk, although my walk home from work this evening was slow because of the pain and my right leg keeps going weak. But, apparently walking won’t make things any worse. So I have started to do some special back exercises for Sciatica as recommended on the NHS website. I am also doing a number of core exercises that are safe to do with a bad back, so at least I am doing some form of exercise, I will continue to do these daily, until I am back into the swing of things.
There was nothing I could have done to prevent my PVD or operation, but I vow to continue to do core strengthening exercises, and not wait until I have back pain before doing them again, as the saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure!’
I now realise my core muscles are weak and the focus for now will be on strengthening them before I head back to the gym and make them part of my fitness routine on a permanent basis.
Despite this ridiculous (almost unbelievable) saga hindering my fitter self, I will continue to visualise my fitness goals of having an active life!