It is almost as if, this 'companion' extracts, special pleasure, by waiting until I begin to achieve rewarding results before he swoops in to do his damned best at stomping all over my efforts. Who is this 'friend' that I speak of? He is not one, but two separate auto-immune diseases that reside within my body. These two 'partners in crime' like to tag team me when I am at the peak of my game.
These diseases go by the names of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Ankylosing Spondylitis (or AS). They are alike in the fact that they attack joints and connective tissues. RA isn't real particular about which joints it attacks, but AS is a specialist that attacks primarily the lower back, fusing the spine in place as it travels upward. In severe instances, it enjoys targeting the rib cage around the lungs, making it difficult to breath very deeply (I am not at that point, yet). When I was diagnosed with these conditions, in my mid-thirties, I genuinely believed that I could just push through the difficulties that would arise, when they arose. And, for a while, I am able to do, just that.
In Tae Kwon Do, I began to experience nagging injuries to my knees, ankles and finally my back that, essentially, retired me from the sport. While jogging, I was able to avoid repetitive type injuries by a technique of 'fast walking' as opposed to a pure 'jog' for nearly two years. But, my lower back eventually had its way, knocking me out of that activity, equally well. I have been able to replace that activity, fairly well, with hiking. I do enjoy hiking, but it does not have the cardio advantages that running does. So, I have not been particularly successful at dropping the weight that I need to.
Not too surprising, I suppose, I have become susceptible to some levels of depression, as a result. I currently take a low level anti-depressant, which has been pretty effective, along with some thought exercises. I have also transformed my 'passion to write' into a self-help methodology. Nevertheless, this Ankylosing Spondylitis is a cunning, insidious bastard; he can strike in the most unexpected ways. As I was writing and putting words to paper, I noticed that my right eye was beginning to ache and the white of my eye was radiating, beet red. When I looked in the mirror, I saw one normal eye and one very angry eye. I hoped it was simply an allergy that, perhaps, eye drops or anti-histamines could remedy.
But, I will recover. I will pick the pace of writing up again. This posting is not really about my infirmaries, I want it to highlight that I am going to persevere. I will not let auto-immune disease define me.
So, please bear with me for a while. I will post some of Kat's wonderful photos soon. I cannot possibly keep up with her.
Until next time.
See you on the trail,