Behind the curtain

Originally, I intended to keep this blog anonymous. But I have a story to tell, a personal one. What is better designed to accompany my story than a picture of myself?

Thing is, I have had a tough time these last months and I am still not done. I keep smiling and I keep having fun, but I hope what I have to tell will make you pause and think. Sometimes we think that others are having it easy, but honestly, we are just not letting it on. We all have our struggles.

These past two and a half years I have worked very hard on myself. I disciplined myself to become healthier. It is not easy for me to lose weight and I don’t believe in radical diets so I took the long way round and eventually lost as of today a total of 55 lbs / 25 kilo / 4 stone – not only to look or feel better, but primarily because I felt that I was giving my body a hard time carrying around all this extra weight. Ever since my mother put me on the village’s athletics team as a child I was into sports. I never excelled at any discipline, but I was in love with each of them: six years of swimming and lifeguard training, close to eight years of soccer, aerobics, cycling, cross fit… and ever since I became a soccer player I found my true passion: running. There is nothing more freeing for me than to put on my running shoes, feel the wind, sun or rain in my face and the ground beneath my feet. The rhythm of my shoes hitting the track fitting perfectly my carefully crafted playlist, my breathing accelerating whenever I come to my speeding tracks (I love interval training). When I run I put all other things aside, leaving my frustrations and problems literally behind me. It clears my mind and heart and gives me joy that I can hardly describe. No other sport was ever able to give me that.

Unfortunately, ever so often I faced problems like runner’s knee and other issues, which is the primary reason why I finally decided to really lose weight. That’s why I fought for a better body. Albeit loving sports I was never slender, in fact I was not only chubby but actually slightly obese. I am a bit ashamed to say this so openly, but there was no excuse. I simply love good food and I missed the point where I should’ve stopped and became fat. Simple and painful as that. I paused running to go easy on my knees and hip, started tracking my food and reading a lot about nutrition to get a better idea of how to come up with a diet that fits my metabolism and my lifestyle – I wanted to lose weight, not fun.

A few months into changing my diet I started sports to strengthen in the right places: a spinning course for my knees and a bodyweight course for back and stomach muscles. I became fitter, thinner and stronger. Six moths later I went back to running. I was so happy. I signed up for a 5k and worked hard on my pace. Suddenly I started to feel uneasy in my hip region, I thought an old injury from my soccer days was causing problems. I paused. I went back. Still there. I paused. I went back. Even worse. I am not a very sensitive person when it comes to pain, I can take a lot, so I just waited. But it didn’t get better and I even stopped my normal sports courses. Then one morning at my parents house I felt such a searing pain that I started crying every time I sat down or got up. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t move, I only felt this pain in my back. I was scared as fuck. How could this be? I am 27 years old and took so much care of myself already.

I was taken into hospital, but besides pain killers they couldn’t help. Everywhere I went looking for help I got nothing but pain killers. I always avoid taking chemical medicine if I can help it, but three doses of 600mg ibuprofen a day soon became routine. I had to put up a fight to be taken seriously. My age and my rather polite and reserved manner towards doctors made it hard for them to believe me. Eventually, I managed to convince them of an MRI scan. The result came as a shock.

Intervertebral disc protrusion. Barely escaped a slipped disc.

I might never run again.

This is a lifelong problem.

WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO ME?

I cried a lot. I grieved. A few days into my diagnosis I looked at myself and I finally got my sh*t back together. I am NOT a quitter. I started pestering my doctors and health insurance into admitting me to physiotherapy. It is hard work, but I got back from barely making it through the day to walking 5k a day and religiously going through my therapy programme. I am barely ever without pain or pressure and on bad days it is especially hard to get up and get moving instead of curling up with my meds in bed. But to be honest, they only take away the symptoms, the only one who can make me better is me.

I am not writing this for pity. I have gotten a lot of weird looks for being the only one in the library in running tights and using a high desk. People have approached me, asking why I do “weird” stuff. Weird meaning that I am not doing what everyone else is doing. This is me taking care of myself as good as I can and not taking shit from people. But on bad days it is hard to handle this – literally – standing out. So I am asking you for benevolence instead of judgement for the stranger who stands awkwardly when everyone else is sitting or walks when everyone else is driving. Maybe they’ve got good reason.

If you yourself have experienced or are experiencing issues like that I’d love hearing from you, sharing your story with me 😊

Keep moving 😉

XOXO

Sarah

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