A Love Letter

By Chanda Alicea

Sometimes I write slow, sometimes I write quick.. 😉 See what I did there?!? Well I have to say, that I have been sitting here for the last hour trying to figure out what to write about. My mind has been going back and forth about 2 different topics that have been weighing heavy on my mind lately. This blogging thing isn’t always easy which is hard to admit when usually the words just flow right off my fingertips.

So here I am, facing a little writers block. Trying to decide what I want to share with all of you. I guess I will go with the topic that I didn’t start writing about to begin with. This is special and isn’t meant for everyone. This is a LOVE LETTER for all my people who wake up every day and do their best to just make it through because they are suffering from a chronic injury or disease. This is my hug to you. This is me saying I support you because I know your struggle. And whether you have no one to support you or an army of support, count me in that army, or count me as your army of one. Either way, just know that some stranger is out there rooting for you.

I know that some days are harder than others. I realize that sometimes your biggest accomplishment might just be getting up, getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, washing your face and getting dressed, and you know what? That’s totally okay. Don’t beat yourself up if you are in pain and had to cancel plans. Don’t feel guilty because you couldn’t go to the gym. Don’t freak out and overthink things if you don’t seem like yourself and your energy and personality isn’t what it normally is, and people notice (I go through this ALL THE TIME).

The people who love you will accept that sometimes this is a thing and they will be there for you to provide words of encouragement, love and hopefully some hugs. On the flip side of that, don’t waste a second feeling guilty or worrying about people who don’t seem to have any support to offer or empathy for what you are going through. Those people aren’t your people and you don’t need them or that type of negativity in your life. It’s not easy letting go and cutting people out (I know from experience), but sometimes you have to walk away and there is nothing wrong with that!

Okay so I have digressed a little, but it happens. Now you are probably wondering how I know so much about chronic injury and disease. Well let me tell you. I am a woman with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and truth be told, I am not an anomaly. One in three women have this awful disorder and it affects us all in different ways. PCOS increases the risk of anxiety and depression, and I go through pretty terrible bouts during that time of the month, and sometimes I don’t. Every month is different. Sometimes I’m okay, and sometimes I am not, but for me, exercise helps me keep things level and I’m very thankful and fortunate for that because I have had some pretty terrible experiences with anti-depressants in the past since having my daughter.

Speaking of exercise, I love with working out. But since having my daughter, I have been plagued with issues that have sometimes prevented me from working out on a regular basis. I recently found out that I have degenerative disc disease in my lower thoracic spine, hypermobility (fancy word for explaining that my bones move in ways they aren’t supposed to because they aren’t being stabilized by my muscles) and arthritis in my facet joints in the bottom of my lumbar spine. So here’s how this affects my workout routine: my hypermobility affects my lower my back, so say I do a lateral side lunge and I don’t stop myself from going farther than what I am supposed to (because my body has TOO MUCH flexibility), my bones and joints shift rubbing against the nerves in my back and suddenly my entire left leg and hip is either numb (like it fell asleep), tingling or has a burning sensation (good times!).

Sometimes I don’t even know what I have done wrong until I wake up in pain the next day. Because of this, I go to physical therapy on the regular my PT is FABULOUS! She reminds me to not get discouraged as we work to strengthen and work through 7 years of pain and weakness. Since these limitations have affected my routine, I’ve had to find new things to get into in order to keep active. Sometimes that means doing things out of my comfort zone. For example, I’ve recently taken up spinning and I LOVE it! Staying active hasn’t been easy by any means. Some workouts are great, some are done with great difficulty, and yes there are times where I have wanted to give up, but I keep going because my daughter is watching me. I want to teach her that when it gets hard you don’t quit. And that’s my message to all of you. DON’T QUIT!!

We are not our chronic health issues. We might have days where we feel like our chronic problems have more control of us than us of them, but we persevere. We keep going. We REFUSE to live this one short life that we have being dragged down and defined by medical conditions we did not choose.

In closing, I want to tell you this. Every day that you wake up, remember that you’re amazing, strong and phonomenal. Be aware that while you may never know it, someone somewhere is watching you overcome your struggles and not only are they inspired by you, they’re rooting for you.

Sending you all my LOVE,

Chanda

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