I have noticed improvements in my skin and overall energy, as well as the shakiness of my body—though I am still not eating enough, and it comes back on days that I fall behind. I attribute this mostly to the types of restrictions I am on—the overall inconvenience of food-timing, and my still-learning self just needing a lot of help these days.
Shakiness aside, at this point I’d like to mention just how special my network is. I have many relatives and friends who are going out of their way, feeding me, housing me, reaching out for favors, buying me medicine, advising me in health matters, and helping me to construct a life-plan in which I can continue to prioritize my physical and emotional well being. Ha, this has been especially hard for those who are actually AROUND me, with the mental chaos and depression I’m experiencing from Prednisone. Thank you for your patience, I am truly thankful for all of you.
Moving on, I want to share a bit of what I’m going through fitness-wise, as I’ve had a pretty interesting journey and the physical feedback I’m getting in response to triggers, training, and treatment is something I think can help other people.
My body is a bit of an anomaly in an interesting way in that, despite serious chronic conditions, I’ve been a focused athlete training 5-6 days/week essentially since childhood. In the last decade this became even more disciplined and alignment-focused as I developed a deep yoga practice. But all this time, working “oh-so-hard” to have a balanced body, I have fallen short for several reasons: 1.) An gnarly, uneven scar across my lower abdomen from a decade-old GI surgery, and 2.) intermittent inflammation in the small intestine, which connects to the SI joint. Depending on the day and triggers, this creates a “heavy” sick feeling in the bowl of the pelvis, and quite a lot of pain in my lower back—echoing out into hips and spine and everything from my toes to my fingertips.
My PT Jodi laughs at this dichotomy, but it’s quite strange that I have managed to find a way to intricately climb ropes and trapeze, but yet have trouble standing straight on one leg. My grounding became uneven as my inner hips and certain pelvic floor muscles weakened. My hip flexor muscles took over responsibility for my swollen and scarred lower-core, and lack of hip and spine stability. In the thread between psychology and the body, this has meant quite a lot of fear and fight-or-flight response, which is easily triggered and I would say constant on a low level in my body, breathe, and mind.
Over the last 10 months I have re-built these areas with a variety of accessible standing and floor exercises based in yoga and PT, and have found interesting ways to challenge myself as I seek to stabilize the weak threads in my body back to “acrobat strength”. I have a lot of restrictions still that center at my navel and lower belly, but the recent reduction in inflammation and acupuncture from Xiaolan treatment has been giving me an edge in unraveling these immoveable areas that effectively sliced my body in half. I believe the Chinese meridian work is what’s helping me root more effectively from base to crown—though I am still a re-construction zone since there are lines of energy that have been blocked and shut down for many years.
As far as practical advice goes, what I know is true is that it’s uber important for anyone dealing with chronic belly inflammation to focus on building and mobilizing their core and pelvis. The strength of those muscles are what’s going to support the organs that are housed there, and twisting and lengthening keeps tissues and organs building and moving in a tangible, manual way. It is easy to want to close down, to soften and fold to the pain and lack of energy that something like IBD creates. But to do so is to invite instability to set in over time, and let’s face it—none of us needs any more pain than we already have. It's not hard, it just takes commitment to yourself and your health!
My own alignment-heavy conditioning involves simple resistance bands, my favorite balance-buddy the BOSU (which hammers roots and midline), hand-balancing exercises, and a balance ball. This is combined with yoga-based flexibility work, which in my case and the case of anyone who’s had a small-intestine resection, C-section, or other abdominal surgery, needs to be extremely carefully focused with props and modifications to consider the particular nature of scar tissue, as well as anything that might be actively inflamed. I will also mention that since I work out at the YMCA, I end most days in the sauna, which is a great relief to my often-aching joints that have been out of alignment for many years, and this body that has a hard time staying warm. It’s my intention over time to put together a simple program that I can pass on to help others manage and come back from current and past traumas in this area of the body.