Top Performance to No Performance

Since the age of 3, I knew that I was gifted with the ability to physically do anything I wanted to do and I did just that. I started with pee wee football cheerleaders and blossomed into a very competitive athlete. In grade school, I was always chosen to participate in whatever sport event we were playing in gym. I was the first to go because everyone knew I was good at whatever we were playing. This became the rule for me throughout my athletic journey.

I didn't know how good I was to become, but I knew I had what it took to get to the top of my game early. I went to college and played basketball and decided to enter the military after college. From basic training, I was the female that got all the great comments during physical training. Especially when we had to throw the grenade as far as we could. I remember the drill sergeant saying, damn girl, you slung that grenade like a softball. Anything that required physical ability, I was always in the forefront.

When I was stationed in California, I immediately tried out for the Military Post Womens Softball and Basketball Teams, and I always made first string. I traveled and enjoyed my life in California. I went to Germany where I continued to play basketball, volleyball, softball and began to run and lift weights. I played softball and when I was 3 months pregnant, we won the National Womens Softball Championship, and I played 3rd base (hotbox) in the championship game.

I returned to play basketball 6 weeks after having my son. During this pregnancy, I was toxcemic and had alot of lower back pain. During delivery, the umbilical cord was around my sons neck and forceps were utilized to pull him from my womb. I will never, ever forget the feeling of all that stainless steel in my vagina. For months after my sons birth, I suffered from sharp pains that ran down my lower back and inside my pelvic area. I tore from the forceps, as was stitched back up.

Since that time, I felt as if something was no longer as it once was before my sons birth but I continued to participate in sports after leaving the military. At the age of 35 through 40, I remained at the top of my game in basketball and softball. In 1997, I suffered a rotator cuff tear and stopped playing softball but continued playing basketball. But after the rotator cuff tear really took over my right arm and shoulder, I stopped playing basketball as well. I began to lift weights and continued to run. I was very disappointed by this time. The top notch athlete no longer existed. I was devastated to say the least. I was also in denial for years.

I moved to Atlanta in 2000 and this is when all of the aches and pains that I suffered while playing sports took a turn for the worst. I have been to all types of physicians and have been told that I have lupus, fybromialgia, stenosis, arthritis, tendonitis, spondylosis, cysts in my lumbar, sciatica, pinched nerves etc. All of this spells chronic pain.  Every day. Never a day that I don't have some degree of pain. I can't work out, I can't run, I can't lift weights and I can't even clean my 6 room apt in one day due to lower back pain and stiffness.

Everything has to be scheduled so that I can give my back time to rest. Anything activity that requires use of my back is not an option anymore, and that would pretty much mean everything that I could possible to as a human being. Injections, pills, tens, massage, knee pillows, heat packs, cold packs etc.  Nothing helps.  No surgery yet, since I truly fear the outcome. I also fear that I will not be able to walk at some point.

I am 50 years old and people don't believe me to be that age. I don't look 40, my body still looks like the athlete I used to be, but not to me anymore. I have lost muscle tone in my legs, I have gained weight in the mid drift area, my legs are weak at times, my back just has no support from my abs. I can't find a comfortable sleeping position most nights.

My blood pressure is always elevated when I am in chronic pain. I can't dance and do alot of the physical activities that I use to be able to do. I also have nummular eczema, which I believe stems from the nerve pain. Its only on my limbs, especially my legs, where most of my pain goes.

So when I look at myself today, I can only wonder, what would my life be life today, If I didn't have all of this disability. I can't go shopping very long, I lean over the shopping cart to get back relief. I can't wear sexy heels anymore, I can't ride the amusement park rides anymore for fear of being jerked around and causing more damage. And running is totally out; my pelvic bones won't allow it.

So here I am about to turn 51 in April, looking 38, feeling 90 on some days. I will be trying acupuncture soon to see of I can get some relief with the pain. But many nights, I wonder where would I be if I had never had any of these disabilities?

-  Shaun

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