T Nation

Help - What Would You Do if You Were Me?

Some of you may remember my dumb little EMO thread last August in which I expressed suididal thoughts:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1219665

I’m still alive and kicking, but unfortunately things have gotten quite a bit worse since then. I really didn’t know how good I had it when I posted that stupidass thread before.

When I posted that thread in August I had just found out that I had early degenerative joint disease in all of my weightbearing joints (feet, ankles, knees, hips) and at the time I thought it was the end of the world because it spelled the end of my athletic career (I was a collegiate track athlete) and I knew that it would eventually lead to disability.

Obviously millions of people get arthritis but, being very much somatically oriented, it was particularly devastating to have it happen to me at 23. My physicality really was everything to me.

Nevertheless I managed to get a grip on things and push on with my crappy life. I started increasing my activity level, walking 3-5 miles a day, doing a little bit of cardio, and started upper body weight training again. I was also planning to get on a bike this spring and give cycling a try to fill the void.

So basically my only limitation was that I couldn’t participate in athletic activity anymore, but I was able to stay healthy and fairly active. The arthritis wasn’t going to own me and I wasn’t doomed to ride the furniture for the rest of my life.

It was actually kind of a special thing; I caught a second wind and was able to move on with a much greater appreciation for life than I had when I was young and invincible.

Then in mid-October, everything went to shit when a single incident kicked off a degenerative cascade that left me far worse off than I was previously. My leg joints worsened significantly, and the arthritis spread to my upper body as well.

In addition to my weightbearing joints, my shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers and neck are now affected also.

I cannot do any type of heavy lifting or cardio anymore. I still try to walk 30-60 minutes per day, but my feet are in bad shape and I doubt that I’ll be able to keep this up for more than another year or two unless I get a transtibial amputation and trade my feet for some prosthetics (which I will do if it comes to that).

I also do a little bit of light resistance training daily, but it’s pretty much grandma ass shit- 10-20 lb. dumbells, pushups from me knees, bodyweight half squats, etc. Very unfulfilling, but all my joints can take right now.

My physique is quickly going to shit. I eat as clean as anyone can eat, but my BRM must be plummetting since I can’t use my muscles anymore. My body is just wasting away and I’m experiencing every T-Man’s worst nightmare: becoming skinny-fat. And it’s every bit as traumatizing as you thought.

I seriously can’t accept this shit. I have always been disgusted by people who are fat and inactive; both of my parents are obese and probably have every chronic health problem known to man (except arthritis, ironically) between them.

It’s nothing genetic, they’ve always just been amazingly careless with their health and frankly have reaped what they sowed. Their lifestyles disgusted me so much growing up that when I was 12 years old I swore that I would never turn out like them no matter what happened in my life. The thought that I may now be doomed to follow in thier footsteps is terrifying.

I want to fight this as hard as I can and have no no plans to give up doing what little physical activity I can do. Nevertheless, I feel like it’s a lost cause to continue trying to stay fit. As long as I continue to care about my physical condition, I’m doomed to be miserable becuase my body is destroyed.

It seems like the only way I can ever hope to be anything other than paralyzed with depression is to divorce myself from the need to be physical and do that whole stupid thing that fat people do to feel better about themselves by learing to be “happy with my body” (AAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!)

So what am I gonna do? How would you proceed if you were in my situation? What’s the right perspective to have on this?

What is your actual diagnosis? Rheumatoid or osteo arthritis, Cushing’s, etc…?

[quote]Bri Hildebrandt wrote:
What is your actual diagnosis? Rheumatoid or osteo arthritis, Cushing’s, etc…?[/quote]

polyarticular osteoarthitis. i had all the tests done and it’s nothing systemic.

“learning to be happy with you body” is exactly what you should do. However that doesn’t mean you just accept your condition as reality and not try to change it. Still if you are happy with your body, it will help lift your feelings of depression, and discouragement. Which will help you deal with the situation better.

That’s the only advice I can give, I really cant relate to you since I dont have that problem. That I just recently started to give a shit about my body.

I had to however accept the fact that I am fat and come to terms with it, before I could become consistant in the gym.

[quote]iflyboats wrote:
So what am I gonna do? How would you proceed if you were in my situation? What’s the right perspective to have on this?
[/quote]

Obviously, the situation you’re in isnt the best. But it sure as hell isnt the worst, either.

As for what you’re going to do? You should be telling us that.

What would I do? I’m not sure.

The right perspective? Life gave you lemons, now make some fuckin lemonade and better yourself from a shitty situation. Thats what inspirational stories are made from, you know.

I can relate. At 20 years old during Marine Boot Camp I injured both of my ankles. The Marines discharged me, I got to watch my platoon graduate sans me, for what the Navy Docs termed Bilateral Talo-Navicular Stress reaction.

In other words they had no clue why my ankles swelled and became extremely painful every time I put a load on my shoulders, so they booted me out of what I had thought would be a 30 year career after only 184 days of service.
I tried to stay fit as I could in hopes of retrying the Marines, but my injury classification deemed me permanently disabled.

Even though I could run several miles(without a load)and could walk forever (I still take ten miles hikes throughout the summer). I also loved to play soccer and rugby any chance I got.

As the years went on I started having knee and hip problems related to the twisted up ankles and every time the humidity gets up high (doesn’t matter if its hot or cold) my body from the waist down feels like its going to shatter to pieces at the molecular level.

I eventually learned that this was arthritis, paired with serious joint dislocations and stretched ligaments. It has since spread to the lower back and shoulders as well.

Now my knees are too painful to run for very long without taking a mass of aspirin, but I still walk long distances all around Anchorage Alaska.

18 years has passed since then and the one thing I have learned in dealing with it is that if you don’t continue to use the joints, to get the fluids pushed around and move those nasty little arthritic crystals out from between the bones and cartiladge you will only suffer worse.

Work through the pain, learn to distinguish between arthritic pain vs. actual joint/muscle pain. Stop when the wrong kind of pain starts. If you find a particular position or angle at which you simply cannot seem to work out due to the pain, just stop doing that and find another way to work that muscle, or use lighter weights.

I am now 38 and working my butt off, literally, trying to lose weight and keep it off without running. It is hard, my family seems to be genetically “svelty” fat men (buff cowboy types with wide shoulders and big bellies), but am doing it as long as I stay active. You can do it too. I’ve been dealing with it for nearly twenty years now, and expect to live to 120. Think positive, get through the pain and you will find yourself stronger in the end.

Nothing is impossible for those who trust the Lord and are willing to apply themselves to it.
Matthew 6:33

[quote]iflyboats wrote:
So what am I gonna do? How would you proceed if you were in my situation? What’s the right perspective to have on this?
[/quote]

It’s just about impossible for someone not in your situation to fully appreciate it.

One thing that comes to mind in reading your post is that your focus on physical activity is both a boon, as it helps you stave off the debilitating effects of the disease, and a source of frustration, since you’re comparing your present performance with what you could do before.

It might help if you have other, less physical, passions in which to focus your energy. Or you might be able to stay involved in physical activity in a teaching or coaching role. Using your passion for physical activity to inspire and help others, which in turn might help you deal with the situation, as you wouldn’t be entirely cut off from what interests and motivates you.

I remember your first post and you definitely come across as less desperate in this one, even as you say the situation has actually grown worse. Hopefully that’s an accurate depiction of reality.

For one thing I would get on PubMed and research my own disease as thoroughly as possible. You won’t be able to understand a lot, but you can get the gist from the article summaries. For example, some arthritis, particularly rheumatoid, responds excellently to antibacterial therapy (with Minocin), but very few doctors know that. Ultimately, you need to be in charge of your own health.

I think the previous idea of researching it as much as you can sounds good. I don’t really have any worthy advice to contribute, except don’t give up. Accept what you have and find a way to make it better. I know that is said a lot easier than it is done. Whenever I have a problem I find it is best to just try to fix it and not think about it much. I know your problem is really tough, tougher than anything I’ve had to deal with. I hope you get better and find a solution.