Back in the Saddle (Figuratively)
It has almost been 2 years since the worst health scare of my life, and looking back, I am so proud of the growth I’ve made over the last year, especially! Many of you already know that I had a spontaneous spinal fluid leak which caused my brain to sag in December 2017. You can read all about that experience here.
A Little History About My Restrictions
Because my spinal leak was “spontaneous” and was not caused by trauma such as a car accident or spinal injury, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused it. As you can imagine…I don’t ever want it to happen again! But where do you begin to say “I can’t do that, or that, or that?” Well, my doctor has advised me to live the rest of my life protecting my spine. I have Ehler Danlos Syndrome which causes my connective tissue to be weak. The dura that surrounds our spinal cords is made of connective tissue, so my lifelong goal to never re-leak involves protecting that tissue. I permanently can’t lift heavy items, bend over at the waist, twist my spine or stretch my spine. I’m also forbidden from riding roller coasters or go karts or anything jarring. I can’t do yoga or running or high impact sports. This will be for the rest of my life, and I’ve made peace with this by focusing on what I CAN do rather than what I CANNOT do! It also helps that my husband and I can joke about my disability. He caught me dancing in the kitchen while I cooked the other night, and yelled over the music, “Kara! Don’t spring another leak!”
I have now been through 2 full rounds of Physical Therapy, for different purposes each time. Spring/Summer of 2018 Physical Therapy was to get my body moving again, within my restrictions, to come back from being in bed for four months. If you’re healthy, you’d be shocked to see how fast our muscles atrophy when we are bedbound! This most recent round of Physical Therapy in Summer 2019 was to improve upon my POTS symptoms, and work through my exercise intolerance to build stamina, a more stable heart rate, and a more active lifestyle.
I have noticed such a huge difference in my energy levels with this last round of PT! I was able to walk around 2 entire days at Disney World and not have any symptom flares! I now walk 2-3 evenings a week a distance of 2.5 miles at a very speedy rate, and can allow my heart rate to get up into the 170’s, whereas before I had to stop when it got to the 150’s. I can now keep up with my family, show up to all of Jake’s events, and be an active member of my community at my son’s school and our church! I’m even back to working full-time again!
As for my migraine update, I haven’t had a full-blown migraine that lasts for days in many many months! I think a lot of this can be attributed to a few things: our plant-based diet, along with my new exercise routines, and my special migraine sunglasses. I don’t ever leave my home without these on…they are from Axonoptics and are specifically for migraineurs. They block the blue and violet UV rays which are known to be a migraine trigger.
All in all, I feel strong, healthy, happy, and balanced. This makes me feel grateful each and every day! I’ve come a long way in 2 years! So glad to get to be “back in the saddle”, even though we all know I won’t be riding horses anytime soon!
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