RA journal
Comments 2

Stronger with exercise


October 2019

I am amazed that I feel so much better. It has been a gradual process, a yearlong process. Recovery from the treatment of a rare uterine cancer is long, discouraging at times and scary at others. I say scary because the fatigue and the use of a brain that seems murky and sluggish is not something I would want to live with permanently. My fear was that this mental and physical slowness might just be permanent. So, I am relieved, quietly jubilant. My spark has re-ignited and I feel alive again.

I am now able to go to the gym without being worn out for the day. My legs are stronger. I am becoming sturdy. I am reading again. I just finished Educated by Tara Westover and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her evolution from a brain washed, isolated child into a creative, educated and accomplished woman is inspirational.

In the last few months I have found a comfort zone in riding the recumbent bike for 45 minutes three times a week at Planet Fitness. I have more energy to manage my day. I have more endurance. My PF gym is down the road and around the corner from my house. Easy access. The gym is inexpensive, and it accepts Silver Sneakers.

When I regained enough strength to exercise again after my cancer treatment, I returned to the gym where I had been swimming laps. I love swimming. I am an endurance swimmer. Good form. Steady. The smoothness of the water as it passes over my skin feels ever so good when I am swimming. It is a feeling lodged in my mind as a pleasure to be repeated. I swim free style.  Yet, I found that the effort it took for me to travel to the gym, change clothes, swim, shower, dress and travel home too much to keep doing. I stopped exercising. It was simply too much too soon.

My primary doctor recommended the recumbent bike. I was skeptical. But I decided to give it a try. My son thought it was a good idea and he recommended Planet Fitness since it was nearby.

Using the recumbent bike was so much easier to do than pursuing my swimming regimen. It was doable. The adjustment I made paid off. I exercise regularly now.

Since I have joint damage and neuropathy  in my feet from RA, exercise with the recumbent bike doesn’t bother my feet and I am able to get my weekly dose of cardio easily. Walking is not a good choice. Exercise on the recumbent bike builds strong hamstrings and quads. Better to get me through life. It is a good exercise vehicle for the likes of me.

I also noticed as I grew stronger that I was no longer thinking like a sick person. I had been putting limits on myself. These limits started to fade as I grew stronger and moved farther away from the sessions of chemo and radiation. I hadn’t realized what I was doing. But then I probably was weak and infirm at the time.

Eventually I will return to swimming. It is my first love. In the meantime, I will continue on the recumbent bike. I will get stronger and I will add minutes, maybe days. And then, I will add swimming back into my practice when the call of the pool beckons me again.


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