Tag Archives: Physical exercise

Summit

I’d forgotten the exhilaration. The heart pounding, the sweat pouring, the lungs breathing oh, so deeply.  The oh, so alive feeling. The crescendo, up and up and up, to that mountain peak, that climax so delicious when reached. My legs working at maximum expenditure, my arms reaching, my hands grabbing on so very tightly, holding on to that life-giving force.

No, I’m not talking about sex, though that does have its virtues. Especially with someone you love. I’m talking about exercise. It used to be my almost daily routine, more so than not. I looked forward to it. I longed for it. My stationary bike called to me, come, come, come.

And I would come. And then stay, for a long while, an hour, an hour and a half. I pushed and pushed, faster and faster, to find the limits of my endurance. I wanted to know how far I could I go, how many miles on my bike that went nowhere. It would keep track for me, if I so requested. Sometimes I didn’t want to know distance; just time and it would comply. I wanted to know how long it would take to hit my summit.

But, I never reached that climax, that peak. I found I could go on and on and on.  The only thing stopping me was will. How long I wanted to ride. It was a race against myself that I could not lose. No matter how hard I tried.

Until I stopped. I don’t even remember the exact reason. Some emotional upheaval. Some physical flare-up. Something I let beat me, suspend me, interrupt me. And that led to a very real flare, a flare we all know only too well, those of us who can claim RA as an unwanted companion. It took my hand, my right hand. Tried to claim it for its very own.

I gave in to the pain. For a little bit.

I let myself be led into a big dark hole. For a little bit.

And then, I fought back. And I will continue fighting back. Forever.

I’m back in the saddle and wondering about a little nugget I picked up during my daily reading.

What’s this about women reaching orgasm during exercise? Interesting. . .

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In The Zone

Tai chi show on Kung Fu Corner in Kowloon Park...

Image via Wikipedia

Standing tall, I take a deep breath as I raise my arms straight out to shoulder height. My open fingers mimicking a falling rain, I lower my hands to waist level. They float toward each other, palms down. My right hand then slices the air like the flat of a blade leading me to pivot on my right heel in that direction. The left foot adjusts its angle and I “drop” into position, bending at the hip and flexing my right knee.

Poised in a protective stance, I sense strong energy pushing back on my extended right hand, pressing against my outward facing palm.  I am holding it back away from me, keeping it at bay. My left hand, palm down, hangs low in front of me, guarding my center, shielding my core. I hold this position for a moment, letting the opposing force know I am ready and prepared for it. I am invulnerable.

Standing tall again, my right arm gravitates down while my left arm rises towards it; they cross at the forearm, as though suspending something in front of me, something round. I visualize a delicate sphere, it is my world; I am hugging my world. I am the unbroken shell surrounding it. No harm will come to it as long as I cradle it, making it invincible.

My weight resting on my right leg, I lift the left foot and step out on the diagonal, advancing against the unseen force. The motion is fluid, my left hand leads; my body follows, turning to confront that which comes at me from yet another direction. I allow my body to flow with the motion. I concentrate and think of nothing but continuing with the synchronized moves. I am part of a formation, a phalanx, performing a silent ballet. I am in the zone, the Tai Chi zone.

The dance progresses; the right hand moves up by the left shoulder and forms a fist. The left hand retracts against the body gathering energy then pushes back as the fist lashes out. The fist continues its momentum coming to rest by the right hip; the body follows its arc, swinging to the right, back foot pivoting on the toe. I am now crouched and ready to strike. I push that invisible force back once more and step forward with purpose, delivering my right-handed thrust.

I do not fight any one person in these pseudo matches, though I do face an enemy. Locked in a pitched battle against my personified disease, I withstand and do not cower. It is a contest I engage in daily, this struggle to gain and maintain my equilibrium, to meet the challenge of life’s burdens and its inequities.

When I practice Tai Chi, I achieve a level of serenity and all around peace no other form of exercise can give me. My worries succumb; my stressors evaporate. The poetry of the motion is beautiful and graceful, the camaraderie of performing it with others comforting and soothing. Performing it in solitude becomes meditation in motion. I withdraw to my innermost self and find medicine for my soul.

I have RA, but RA doesn’t have me

Fingers

Image via Wikipedia

I woke up this morning, thinking. I do that a lot. Both wake up  and think! I consider myself lucky; I have the ability to do both. My hands are the first things that enter my consciousness. Can I move them without pain, can I flex my fingers normally? I hold hands with myself. I exercise and manipulate my fingers, get them to loosen up. It takes a few minutes, sometimes more than a few minutes.

This is a daily ritual for me and I’m sure for many RA sufferers, but this morning my hands took second place. I had something more compelling on my mind. Writing. Words. Lots of words. 15, 000 glorious words.

Tapping on my keyboard is a good workout for my fingers, but more importantly it is a good workout for my brain. Writing is therapy for me. It is a creative outlet. Writing about my illness helps. I find that if I personify it, it is easier to deal with. I can face my enemy and laugh in its face. I am the Black Knight who, though armless, refuses to give up the fight, “It’s just a flesh wound!” (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975)

Yes, RA, you are just a flesh wound to me. You may stalk me while I sleep, but you cannot hold me captive for long. I slither from your insidious grasp with morning’s first light. And I hold you at bay all through the day. You cannot keep me from doing what I want to do.

And what I want to do is write those 15,000 words, complete my work in progress. I will concentrate on exercising my vocabulary as well as my fingers. I will throw myself into my work and let it suffuse my mind and spirit. I will go where you can’t reach me, RA, for my novella is not about you.

I may have you, but you don’t have me!