Dear CrossFit Lowell Community,
Let me tell you why I love you. You don’t judge me. You expect the best from me. You lift me up and all you ask in return is that I leave it on the floor. You believe in me.
I’m with you because I want to get better, be stronger. But if you know me even a little, you know I have some recent health issues. Osteoporosis (in my damn hip). Bad knee that fucking hurts all the time (aka patella-femoral syndrome).
I’m trying to take care of those things because I am trying to take care of myself. I’m listening to my body. It’s all part of my master plan to be squatting heavy at 90.
But let me tell you. Not everyone believes in me. And I’ve been subject to a lot more judgement than normal. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about how I should limit myself.
For me, osteoporosis is a scary diagnosis. I’m too young for that shit. But here I am. I went to see an endocrinologist who reviewed all my treatment options. Medication, medication and medication. And let me tell you, the side effects of the medication are scary as shit. Devastatingly so. Like… increased chance of fractures (?!?!), a rotting jaw bone, chronic irregular heartbeat or ya know, esophageal cancer. Or how about the warning that I can’t lie down 30 – 60 minutes after taking one such treatment option, for fear that the acid reflux from it will be so bad it might wash the pill back up. Now, I know what you’re thinking: side effects come with every med. But go google side effects of osteoporosis treatment and then come back and tell me it doesn’t scare the shit out of you.
When I asked the doc about the possibility of weight bearing exercise, she hemmed and hawed a bit and said yes, that can help -but you WILL be treated medically at some point in your life for this. Ok, ok, I said. But why right now? It’s just starting, let’s see if I can up the exercise and my calcium/D intake. She wasn’t pleased. So I asked again, what kind of weight bearing exercise would be good for me. After vaguely describing what a squat might look like, she looked at me and said “Ya know, you’re not 18 any more”.
I’m not 18 any more. No fucking shit. And that’s an excuse not to work harder? It’s my body, I know what I am capable of.
Unfortunately, she’s not the only one concerned with my age. Aforementioned knee has received it’s treatment option: physical therapy. My therapist is nice enough, but while he was stretching my leg today I started asking him questions. “What muscle did you say I needed to strengthen?” Gluteus Medius. “Why do I need to strengthen it?” Some half-assed-I-don’t-feel-like-I-need-to-explain-it-to-you mumble. “So, do you think the weakness in my hips can cause trouble with my lunges and squats, because I often have trouble getting up or I fold forward?” Well, you know, when we get to be a certain age…
When we get to a certain age. Followed by the I’m-damaging-me-knee lecture chased down with the there-are-better-ways-to-gain-strength lecture.
I’m not saying medication and physical therapy don’t work. I’m saying: listen to me. Hear my goals. Work with me. I know and listen to my body. Let’s try and heal things together. Stop judging me and hear me.
I’m not 18, no, but I’ll put in the damn work. I will work so hard at what you tell me to do, docs, so let’s figure this out. Listen to me. Help me. Believe in me.
It occurs to me that if this were five years ago, I’d blindly listen to what I’m told. I’m too old. I could hurt myself. I shouldn’t push myself. I am now relegated to the weight machine portion of some cheap gym for the rest of my life.
But rather, I am just steaming mad. Why can’t I take an active role in my healing? Why can’t we discuss this and come up with a plan together that doesn’t involve me losing my jaw or sitting on some damn machine pushing five lbs.? Why should I do less when my body knows it can do more?
And here is where I circle right back to CrossFit Lowell. Because no one is going to cheer me for doing less than I can – ever. If all I can do is less than everyone else, you still cheer for me. You still push me. Our Coaches are always helping us improve or scale. They work with us to improve our bodies wherever we are in the grand scheme of ability.
You don’t give up on me. You don’t judge me. You believe I can do it.
And for that, I thank you all. I want to let you know that we have a damn rare thing. A precious thing. A magical place time and place that has all come together to create an amazing experience that I want to be part of for as long as humanly possible. I’m going to savor every damn second. So, thank you.
Your Fellow Athlete,