Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Back is my Boss. At least for right now: "Unfriending Fitness"

A week and two days have passed since my surgery. I had a Lumbar Microdiscectomy. I’ve reached the point now where I still have to stay at home and finish healing, but I feel well enough to get up and do some things while I’m healing… like sit at the computer and write.

I haven't written much in a couple years, really. People have asked me about any new writings and I’ve just answered “I haven’t really been inspired to write anything.”  That actually is a false statement. I had been “inspired” to write about a great many things. I always have an on-going list of things that I’ve encountered or experiences that I felt inspired to write about. But, the writing ideas simply hung out on the note pad in my iPhone and never made it past there. Sadly, after they are on there for months after months, I will eventually delete the list. And the cycle will then repeat itself.

The thing was, once I got home after being gone all day at work, I simply did not have the mental effort that it took to think about something enough to write about it. Or, often, the physical effort it took to simply sit some more after doing so for eight hours at my desk at work. My body just hurt all the time, and it’s just so very tiring.

It really wasn't until this past week that I’ve truly thought about and realized just how much my screwed up spine had affected pretty much every aspect of my life these last few years.  Sadly, my younger years were screwed up a lot because of the flaws in my mind. Now I’m 40, and darned if my body isn't trying to screw up the rest of my time here. Like the “mind flaws” were, my “body flaws” are a constant and every-day struggle.

I sat here quietly for a while, not typing, just staring at the computer screen, wondering if I should even continue writing. “People that have never had chronic pain never really understand,” is what was running through my mind. “They’ll just see this as an attempt to validate all of my “excuses” I have for not being more fit.”

Back to writing… I have to say, I don’t think I've ever written anything for anyone else. It’s always been for me. Releasing things from my own thoughts to the written word and allowing it to float anywhere to land wherever it shall land (someone else’s eyes) is what helped to recognize, evaluate, and heal my own “mind flaws.”  So, why exactly am I even considering what people will think about what I have to say? That has never stopped me before with the book or anything else. So, moving on…

That last sentence above of what I was thinking when I stopped typing, “They’ll just see this as an attempt to validate all of my "excuses"… brings me to where that actually comes from…
In November, my pain had started slowly getting a little worse and a little worse. That past year, I had been going to a chiropractor, instead of an MD, for my back and other pains that my scoliosis caused. It had been keeping the severity at bay, meaning I still had pain all the time, but I had not had the “severe episodes” that forced me to miss numerous days of work, etc. But, now the chiro visits had stopped helping at all.

By, the first week of December, John drove me to the first of five visits to the Emergency Room due to the severe and  extreme pain that would surface by simply moving a certain way. The fifth visit to the ER was by ambulance, though I have very little recollection of that trip.

Sometime between November and that first visit to the ER, I had unfriended anyone on my Facebook page that was in the fitness industry, or that posted physical fitness motivational stuff, etc. (Of course, this did not include my body builder husband, John, who is a personal trainer and a weight loss inspiration to many.)

I just couldn't subject myself to the posts anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that bitter person that hates anything they can’t do, etc. It’s not like that. I realized that it simply became unhealthy for me to follow them. Let me try to put it in a different way by telling an unrelated story where I made a change for kind of the same basis as my Facebook changes.

I used to be a pretty avid watcher of the TV show Long Island Medium. I’ve always been drawn to any shows  (whether fiction, non-fiction, or what have you) about our world somehow connecting or communicating with the dead, including detective shows that find the “voice” of and “communicate” with victims by solving their murders, etc. Now, knowing my back-story, you know why that makes complete sense. (My back-story is the header of this blog, so I won’t go into detail.)

Several months back, there was a special live presentation of Long Island Medium, and there was a chance to win a free reading from  Theresa Caputo, the star of the reality show. All you had to do was watch the special show, and post tweets on Twitter and tag her and the show/ network in the tweets.

(I know, I know, it’s a great marketing trick, right? Yes, I fell right into it and ate it up like a starving orphan at their first Thanksgiving meal. And I know alot of you are saying to yourself that the whole medium act is a crock. That is neither here nor there.)

I was posting Tweets like a freaking idiot. After the show was over, I realized what I was doing to myself was unhealthy. And I knew this because I’d had the same feelings in the past, and I knew it was something that could literally take over my life… again. I knew I was not going back to that. I deleted all of my tweets, deleted the related Facebook pages that I followed, and I haven’t watched the show since.

The past feelings that I’m speaking of is when I was obsessed with finding out what happened to my Mother. The feeling starts out with a simple hope, but grows into a severe longing. The longing for all of the answers... Longing for something even though it has been proven to be all but completely unattainable. This is what I am speaking of.  And also envy. I’m sure envy can be thrown into the pot, as well. Envy of those who heard words from their dearly departed, via the medium. And also, I wanted to protect myself from disappointment. What if I actually did get a reading, but I didn’t hear anything that I was longing to hear?
The longing was something that lived in my heart and grows well past hope, and goes into an obsession. So in the end, you have all three of these things and they all feed off of each other. Once you reach that point, there’s not room in your life for “yourself.” Instead, you live and breathe and work only to enable and feed the hope, the longing, and the obsession.

Now, I am no psychologist or therapist and I have not and will never claim to be anything of the sort. Whether this trail I speak of is in an actual documented progression of emotions, well I’ve already established I’m no professional, so how should I know?  This is simply how I feel. It is how I see things, as it pertains to my own past experiences as it is compared to my own present experiences, and is not in any way related to anyone else’s.

I’m not sure if that entirely explains why I deleted the fitness people, or if it explains it even a little. I will come back to it later. Simply put, I just needed to do what was best for ‘me’ and this was something that was part of the process.  I try to nip things in the bud as best I can.

Speaking of nipping things in the bud, I’ve been wondering to myself how long I actually had this severely herniated disc and how much damage I may have caused myself by not seeking medical attention sooner. I mean, I had seen doctors, but just the symptoms were treated.

In the last few years, I have to admit I had kind of lost faith in doctors when it came to my chronic pain. It was never really looked at as a “whole”. When I first saw an x-ray of my spine, all of my pain and fatigue made perfect sense. It wasn’t just lower back pain, it was a multitude of things that were a result of my scoliosis. Some doctors have said, “Well, comparatively speaking, yours isn’t as bad as it could be.”   (umm ok? And? Yes, there is always someone worse off than you no matter what you are talking about, but that does not devalue the severity of “your” situation.”

Some people have told me, “Well, I have scoliosis, too, and I’ve never had that problem.”


I understand doctors are human, too, and sometimes make mistakes.  Sometimes they say the wrong thing or just don’t fully understand. Or, they are just get aggravated with a patient that is always in pain and crying that they can’t seem to help. And sometimes I didn’t speak up and say what I should have said. Or maybe I said something in a way that didn’t truly convey what I meant. I don’t know.

I am grateful to the second ER doctor that I saw who fought to get an MRI done and found what was causing the horrible pain. It had become so excruciating it left me a crumbled version of myself that could at times literally do nothing but writhe and scream out in pain. I am sorry that my husband had to endure these episodes with me. But, I don’t know what I would have done without him being there by my side.

All of the nerve pain was completely gone after the surgery on my spine last week. It was truly amazing to me to have that lifted away immediately. It was such a relief to no longer be afraid to simply move. The relief may be temporary, or permanent. Just like the numbness in my leg and foot from the nerve damage – only time will tell.

But, one thing that I am sure of is I have to do what is best for me, in ways that are best for me that is best for my body and the way that I was made. I know now that I can’t follow the lead of someone who is not like me. I have to find my own way and make my own path and create my own goals.

Someone once told me I had been trying to live and go about life as if I was normal and just like everyone else even though I wasn’t normal and like everyone else.  This was one of the first people I had encountered that I felt understood my chronic pain, because they also had to deal with it. When you just want to be “normal” it’s hard to not want to follow the fitness leaders that tell you that you should do this, and you should do that, exclaiming that you “have” to “push yourself” physically and if you don’t you’re not doing it right.

You see, I believe them. And I want to follow those leaders. And I want to be like them! And I DO want to do what they do! Because I love it! At least, I did love it. Before. For a brief time. 

But, that is not what is best for me.

So, I removed that out of my newsfeed on Facebook.

About four years ago, I started going to a gym regularly and I started pushing myself. And I liked the way that it made me feel. The muscle soreness afterwards was confirmation that I had worked hard and that I had, indeed, accomplished something. I lost thirty pounds and I liked the way that I looked in the mirror when I was exercising. I took cardio kick boxing classes and step aerobic classes and lifted weights and did the cardio machines.  All of it just made me feel good all around, mentally and physically, and I felt better about myself. But, slowly the chronic pain began to show itself.

After just a few months, I didn’t go anymore.Even the simple repetitive motion of doing just ten minutes on a recumbent bike would have my back in severe pain for a week. Other people just didn’t understand how that could actually happen.
Once when I was standing in the bathroom blow-drying my hair, I just moved and took a step and felt something weird in my back. A few minutes later I found I could not put any weight on my legs without having such extreme pain that I had to throw myself into a completely horizontal position. I literally threw myself from a standing position to being flat on the floor. I was home alone and I could not get up and had to stay there until someone got home to help me. That first episode was a few years ago and it lasted a week. And all I was doing that caused it was simply blow drying my hair, and I just “moved.”

By then, “pushing myself” had changed from just one more set on the exercise machine, to going to both Wal-Mart and the grocery store in one day. I mean, seriously. Think about that.  Just that much walking… that’s all that it sometimes took to cause extreme episodes of pain. So, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that I stopped trying to do any kind of exercising. (But, I still longed to be ABLE to.)

I’m not really sure yet what exactly “is” best for my body the way that it is in order to be “better.” After I’m healed enough, I’ll start with physical therapy and will just have to go from there.

Well, I’ve been sitting here for a long while and my back is saying it’s ready for a break.  And the back is my boss. At least for right now.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

He touched us. Why didn't I tell?

This is something that was omitted  when I was writing Little Misty. I'm not sure why. Either I just didn't think about it when I was writing, or I decided to leave it out. I don't remember either way. But, for whatever reason, I was thinking about it last night and realized I hadn't written about it.  

When I was about eleven years old I was taking gymnastics at a dance studio on the west side of Evansville.

It was located in a small strip mall-type set up and for a while the store that was next to the studio was vacant and the they were able to use the empty space for some of the classes.

It must have been either late fall, or winter because I remember when we walked from the studio down to the empty space we wore jackets.

This particular class, I remember watching the male instructor that was teaching our class lock the door behind him, which I'd never noticed him doing before.

At some point during class the instructor told us to all lay down on the mat on our stomaches and to flex our buttocks. He said he wanted to do this because we weren't flexing right and added he was going to make sure we were, by touching us.

Every other girl in my class quickly laid down in a row like they were told and I was left standing there, alone and dumbfounded. I didn't understand why no one was questioning this. I looked at the door, as my first instinct was to just run out and go back to the studio where my Mom was waiting. But, I remembered I had watched him lock the door. 

The instructor started at the far end of the row of girls, touching their rears, and slowly moving on down the line. I remained standing there alone, looking at the front of the empty store that we were in. The whole front was glass, but the glass had always been completely covered with paper since we'd started having class over there. I realized we were completely cut off.

My friend from school, who was also in the class, said something to me to coax me to do what I was supposed to do and lay down with the rest of them. She asked why I was just standing there.

I opened my mouth to say something, and just closed my mouth again. In my head, I must have been the one that was wrong. Because everyone else was complacent without question. 

So, I took my place on the mat.

I still think about this periodically. Angry at myself that I never said anything to anyone about it. And still wonder why I was the only one that remained standing. Maybe it was because I was always a little non-trusting of men, in general, because of the void of a father figure in my household? 

I don't know. But, makes me sick to my stomach now.  I know there are so many children who endure so much more then something like that, and feel they are not able to tell someone. And that makes me so sad.

So, there ya go. I don't think I've ever told anyone about that.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I'm back!

I have realized I have not posted a new blog since 2011! What is up with that? I guess I have been busy simply living life and haven't felt the urge to write much about anything. I did write some articles for Hitched magazine, but that was just a handful. And then the urge to write was gone.

I think I'd also lost the urge to write when the computer we had back then crashed and I lost everything I'd been working on. It was very discouraging and just very saddening, really. The articles I wrote for Hitched I actually wrote on my iPhone.

Oh the beloved iPhone! I have never really picked out my own cell phone. I've never been one to lust after the newest and latest technology, but when I got John's hand-me-down iPhone a couple years ago I grew to love it and to need it. I love my iPhone. It houses all of my STUFF.

A lot has happened since 2011.

I don't even know where to begin. So, I will leave this first new blog with a big HELLO! And a "See you again very soon!"


P.S. Look me up if you are on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest- my username is EmmelleW  (there is a story behind that name. I'll save it for a future blog.) ;)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do you struggle with the "It's not good enough" complex when trying to find a gift for your love? This might help.

I was recently delighted with a special surprise evening. For our 20-year wedding anniversary, my husband insisted on planning a "Johnny Walker Surprise" that was not revealed to me until we reached the destination. (Yes, my husband's name really is Johnny Walker).

"A surprise? But, I don't like surprises," I replied. I say that, often, yet I have never actually encountered a surprise of his that I didn't like.

So, why do I whine that I don't like them?

Maybe because he is far better at making special plans than I am? He is a prodigy when it comes to planning special evenings or presenting special gifts.

When I try to think of things to plan on my own, or gifts to buy or make him, everything I come up with in my head simply withers beneath the towering shadows of the awesomeness that is Johnny Walker.

Simply put, my brain says, "It's not good enough."

I have struggled with this dilemma for years. Some years, I may overcome this delusion I've somehow created for myself, but I still struggle somewhat. But, at times in the past, I'd become so overwhelmed by attempting to plan something special or trying to come up with a special gift that I wasn't even able to pick out a simple greeting card.

I had become cursed with the words that the "Misty mind" was insistent upon repeating, "It's not good enough. It's not good enough."

Don't get me wrong. It's not at all about trying to compete with his plans or his gifts. It's all about my head saying, "It's not good enough... for him."

The "Misty mind" complex began when our relationship did, 23 years ago. He is the world to me, and it's hard for me to come up with a surprise or a gift that can stand up to something so profound.

What's interesting is that for my friends, picking out a card or a gift is easy. Of course, they are special to me as well, but they are not my dear husband.

Devastation Through Paralysis

Without knowing the reasons behind the non-actions for special days, you can imagine the hurt that this can inflict on one's spouse; the husband watches his wife quickly and easily pick out special gifts for friends, and for him, there is nothing when it comes around to his special day.

Without communication, one spouse's internal complex can inadvertently subject the other spouse to their own internal complex. A lack of communication breeds assumptions of what the other is thinking or feeling and assumptions are, more often than not, incorrect.

If you have difficulty thinking of special surprises or gifts for your spouse, don't let yourself become overwhelmed with the decisions and just take it one step at a time. If you have issues with "Misty mind," as I do, allow yourself plenty of extra time to think about it. Putting it off until the last minute will only make it harder for you.

If your spouse is one that seldom buys things for themselves, but you often hear them say, "Oh, I like that!" You can simply keep a running list of things you've heard them comment on. By the time a special day rolls around, you'll have a whole list of things to choose from and can choose one that would be appropriate for the occasion at hand.

Some spouses may be quite hard to buy for simply because if they want something, they've already bought it for themselves by the time a special occasion comes around. So expand your options.

Your running list can also include places your spouse has mentioned they would like to go or maybe specific activities that they've expressed an interest in doing.

"Doing," rather than "buying" may also be an alternative option for you when you want to do something for your love on a special date or occasion such as anniversaries or birthdays.

The Big Reveal

For my special "Johnny Walker Surprise," I was only given a suggestion of appropriate attire for the evening. (Of course, that's one of the first things that I asked when I was told it was a surprise. "Well, what should I wear?")

Our first stop was dinner at a restaurant that I had been wanting to patronize. At the end of our meal, I was presented with a special anniversary cake for dessert. On top was a beautiful porcelain topper of a husband and wife that, together, formed the number 20, the number of years we've been married.

In secret, he had gotten the cake and topper separately and took them to the restaurant earlier that day. I also received a nice anniversary card.

Following dinner, we were off to our second destination of the evening and I was surprised with a special overnight getaway at the Hilton. Our room was adorned with rose petals on the bed, champagne, grapes, strawberries, and chocolates (as well as chips, salsa, and soda in case I wanted a snack later). He had even secretly packed an overnight bag for me.

When you put it all together, it could be seen as just dinner and a room at a hotel. I would have been happy with a picnic in the park and a trip to Target to grab rainbow socks for bowling. It's not the amount of money you spend or where you go, it's the effort, and it's the surprise.

Don't let the "Misty mind" fool you... it is good enough.

Article published by Hitched Magazine November 2011
Click the title to view the article on