People always say to take care of your body because it is a temple and you only get one. My body is trying to self-destruct, so I really don't like it. Unlike many, it's not the outside I don't like, it's the inside. My nerves, my organs, my veins and arteries. While they keep me alive, they almost my nemesis, but more on that later.
For now, I want to talk about martial arts. Martial arts is the ultimately expression of your body. It is especially unique because everyone's body is different. Anyone with motivation can do it, whether it be a seasoned marathoner or a professional couch potato. If you are motivated and willing to put the work in, you can achieve your personal goals.
Not everyone is going to physically be able to do a full split. Some people don't jump as high or run as fast. Hand-eye coordination is not everyone's strong suit and balance is often something many people aren't good at at first. That's okay, because martial arts accommodates all.
I'm kind of the happy medium. I'm definitely not a marathoner, but riding the couch is the most boring thing ever. I control my excess energy by channeling it through skiing and martial arts. It works out well for me, because I have a sport for every season. I'm never without an outlet for my stresses and energy. Sitting in the classroom for hours everyday builds up energy in a person like me, so the opportunity to release that energy is very much welcomed.
I also have an extra challenge. My body fights itself. I go through my life everyday looking perfectly normal on the outside, while my insides are just burning, stabbing, aching, etc. When I do martial arts, I forget about it all. Yes, it still hurts. Many times, it is much worse than I let on. There is so much internalized, physical turmoil that no one can see that surges through my body and threatens to knock me to my knees. No doubt that the pain has knocked me to my knees in training, skillfully disguised as "just getting tripped up".
I am always striving to be a better martial artist, so it really frustrates me when I have to lay in a hospital bed for 10 days with my legs essentially paralyzed. Because I am unable to consume a substantial amount of food during that time, my body starts to weaken. It is further weakened by pain and dehydration. Lying in bed for an extended amount of time less to extensive muscle wasting all over my body. Therefore, I have to put my body back together again every 2 1/2-3 months. It is frustrating to have your body be worn down and waste away just to be able to recover and build it back up again. Try relearning how to walk at least 4 times a year and keeping up with martial arts. It isn't easy.
I have a personal goal of being a combat weapons state champion in my gender, rank, and age division. Sometimes I wonder if I would be a better martial artist if I wasn't constantly fighting my body. I probably would be a physically better martial artist, but I wouldn't be nearly as mentally tough. At the same time, would I have come back to taekwondo and would I be the same person today without my medical conditions? I sincerely doubt it.
While fighting my body is tiring and often threatens to crush me, I wouldn't be who I am without it. Because of my chronic illnesses and martial arts, I am a much stronger, mentally tough young woman today.
"Deaf" and "lifeguard" are never heard in the same sentence. They are not synonymous at all. One of the requirements of being a lifeguard is being able to hear and communicate. So how did a completely deaf individual land a summer job working as a waterpark lifeguard?
Both her mom and her dad were lifeguards as teenagers. They both enjoyed it for many summers and took it very seriously. When their first-born was diagnosed with moderate-severe hearing loss at age 4, which progressed to a complete loss of hearing over the next 9 years. She would never be able to talk right. She would never be a lifeguard. She could never be in the military. The list of "nevers" and "can'ts" goes on.
Then technology got better... A lot better! Hearing technology that previously wouldn't have been used in water could be used with the help of water resistance and waterproof covers. A new door full of opportunities opened. And lifeguarding was one of them. When her mother asked her to get a summer job as a lifeguard at a waterpark, she laughed. "Seriously?! A lifeguard? What about my implants? The waterproof covers work well, but the devices don't stay on my head." After some contemplation, she decided to go for it. She completed her guard training and got a lifeguard license. Now, she can be found watching over the kids in the waterpark. It's wasn't without its challenges and it is still challenging, but it is worth it to her.
This individual has risen to the challenge of not only learning a new skill, but I am proud to be that individual I am talking about above. It wasn't easy. It isn't easy, but again, it was never easy. But never count me out, because as a close friend of mine always says, "I'm allergic to the word 'can't'."
"By helping them, I can forget about some of my own problems." -Patch Adams
By now, it's no secret that I have problems... A lot of them in fact. Between my deafness, CRPS, joint hypermobility, dystonia, dysautonomia, and several other problems, I spend every minute of every day battle pain, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, joint subluxations and more. It's a constant stream of non-stop symptoms. While I don't let it affect my life and the way I live it, it doesn't change the fact that my symptoms are still there and I feel and deal with them everyday.
Enter the part of my life where I am a lifeguard and EMT. Both are giant passions of mine because I have the opportunity to help people in their moment of greatest need. Sometimes the situation could be as simple as a nosebleed or a bandaid. Other times, it is much more serious. If I make the wrong move, this person will die. If this person's spine gets moved, they may never walk again. It is serious business. However, it is my passion. It allows me to help other people in the medical sense. I get to forget about my own problems and help others through theirs. Not many people get to say that have saved someone's life or that someone is alive because of their actions. I'm thankful to be one of the few that can.
Medicine is not just a passion. It is a place I find solace in.
As I write this, I am in the midst of what I refer to as a full blown CRPS flare. Right now, the pain is so intense that I can barely concentrate and function at the most basic level. I usually watch a lot of Netflix during my flares, but I can't even focus enough to follow the episode of Grey's Anatomy I am currently watching.
For some reason, it doesn't get any easier watching yourself slide down the hill time and time again. In the days before the inevitable hospitalization, I fight. Hard. It wears me down. I may go days without being able to keep some food and water down. My muscle twist and my body shakes, but I hate how my treatments at the hospital make me feel so much that I do everything in my power to keep myself from going. Eventually, the sleep deprivation gets to me and I give in.
There is a difference between living and being alive. For me, living means going to work, practicing my taekwondo, skiing, and being with my family and friends. Being alive is watching life pass me by in excruciating pain. Laying in bed trying so hard not to move. Crying in pain and praying for the end of the pain to come.
Before my treatments, I am lifeless and debilitated by pain and dystonia. Afterwards, I am a new person and able to live life to the fullest until the never-ending cycle repeats.