After my last post celebrating five years since my last surgery, I received several, what can best be described as, nastygrams. In fact, these individuals sought me out on Facebook and Twitter so they could privately upbraid me for “encouraging patients to ignore their doctor’s advice” and “making other RA patients feel bad they can’t do what I do”. So, as I often do when I feel bullied by my own community, I went radio silent on social media for a bit. Somedays it’s just easier to unplug than to engage with people who’ve already made up their mind about how I choose to live with my RA.
I’ve cooled off since then, and I’m ready to respond.
- What’s right for me isn’t right for everyone.
This one’s so simple I can’t believe I even have to say it. Not only am I not encouraging other patients to ignore their doctor’s advice/orders, I’m painfully aware of the fact that my hip replacement journey is different than others too.
When I first discovered the incomparable Titanium Triathlete on Instagram, I was in awe of Dina. But, after the initial awe wore off, I felt pretty lame by comparison. She’s my age, has both hip replaced and does TRIATHLONS. It took me a while to shake it off and remember that my surgical journey is unique and just because she’s running triathlons and I’m not, doesn’t mean I’ve failed. Dina, who’s now my good friend/warrior sister/titanium twinsie, embraces our individual journeys and encouraged me to try Aquabike events to protect my hips accordingly!
- I’m still scared.
Was that last post pretty f-ing defiant? Yup! That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid that running and racing and everything in between will cause my hip replacements to fail. This fear is so all consuming at times that the slightest twinge of hip pain puts me into a DEFCON1 meltdown. It wakes me up in the middle of the night forcing me to question every decision I’ve made in the last five years. Worse than being scared is feeling selfish because I know another hip surgery and recovery affects Vin and my sisters and friends in ways that hurt my heart deeply.
- I reserve the right to change my mind.
Today I registered for 2 races, mentally bookmarked five more and looked at flights to L.A. for the Spartan Sprint weekend in December. I can train hard and I can train smart, but whether or not I’m able to race is a precarious balance of roughly a million other factors. Last year I chose to skip a race even though I’d registered and paid months in advance. It stung to miss it, but I knew that it was the right decision. And even though I’m beyond excited for the 2016 race season, if it came down to it I’d walk away in a heartbeat if I really had to. I hope I never have to make that decision, but it’s mine to make.
- I don’t run between races.
Not that it’s anyone’s business, but let’s clear up one thing: I’m not out there pounding pavement every day. Not even close. Occasionally I’ll work in some sprints or intervals, but my training plan is designed to strengthen my muscles and joints while protecting them from any impact. For this reason alone, I’ll probably never run better than an 11-minute mile. Instead, I focus on jumping rope, HIIT, kettlebells, and other strength training to build not only muscle but cardiovascular endurance.
- I can’t please everyone.
This last one is a reminder for myself.
My patient story is just that: mine. And while telling it has afforded me incredible opportunities and connected me with even more incredible people, there will always be people who have to shit on the happiness and accomplishments of others. Nothing I do or say will change that. And, forgive me if I sound like an asshole, but I feel sad for those people. Because even on those DEFCON1 meltdown days, I’m living my life on my terms – without compromise or regret.