A month ago I was diagnosed with degenerative Spinal Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Disc Disease. Initially I was devastated because there is no cure. I have had daily pain for about four years and have noticed some challenges this year in taking care of my garden. For example, I have not been able to maintain the behind-the-fence garden as well due to the pain in my upper back and shoulders. An orthopedic discovered with x-rays that there is very little padding left between the vertebrae in my back, my spine is already starting to become malformed, and I am an inch shorter than I was before. I was completely blind-sided by the diagnosis. When the doctor told me there is no cure my heart sank. I knew I could not continue at the current over-the-top active gardening lifestyle level I have with severe arthritis.
Motto to live by – #NeverGiveUp
I was horribly upset the first few days of the diagnosis – cried all day – because I was totally worried about the garden and the fact that I’d still have pain every day of my life. I’ve always been the adventurer and pride myself in being a very hard worker, both physically and with photography and writing. This will change the way I can approach all the things I do in life. After a few days of well-deserved self-pity I put my big girl panties on and started to realize that I had two choices: 1) I could wallow in self-pity and become a giant slug of unhappiness, or 2) I could fight this and turn this big ol’ lemon into lemonade.
Knowing I’ll suffer pain every day for nearly my whole life has been the most dramatic aspect of the diagnosis. I can and will continue gardening, but it will be a lot different than in the past. When I think about my future, I see myself fighting with a new motto – #NeverGiveUp – because giving up is not an option. My goal is to try and find ways to reduce inflammation in order to survive every day with lower pain with arthritis. I have started physical therapy, walk 7,333 steps daily, and am working with an awesome nutritionist to change my diet to be more anti-inflammatory. This change is closer to a paleo diet with more proteins and less sugars and carbohydrates. If I sit like a slug, gain weight, or do too much digging, my daily pain will increase. From now on there will be no more hefting 50 pound bags over my shoulders, carrying a purse on my shoulder, heavy garden digging, ridiculous high heels, or backpacking in the Andes. I’ll just be over here with a smile on my face wearing my #NeverGiveUp t-shirt, a fanny pack and sensible shoes thankyouverymuch.
Join Me on the Journey!
This is where YOU come in as I could use your assistance in helping me figure all of this out. I began thinking about all my friends and readers and how many of them have health issues they struggle with daily. I need you, love you, and am tremendously grateful for your support now more than ever. Some of you have been with me from the very beginning of my writing a blog in 2008. You have supported me and loved me and encouraged me to continue teaching healthy green lifestyle ideas and I would like to take this friendship of ours to a new level of healthy.
I dream that you might like to join me on my journey to get healthier, whether you have arthritis or some other condition, because I will #NeverGiveUp and I do not want you to give up either. You can walk along with me (in person or via social media on the interwebs), we can rediscover new types of exercise, we will seek out more healthful anti-inflammatory recipes that will make the foodie’s drool, and most importantly – we can continue gardening. I want to teach ideas for healthier physical habits in the garden and in every day life so that everyone can learn to have less pain in their lives no matter what their condition or level of health. I want to make a difference and turn this asshat arthritis lemon into the biggest glass of lemonade ever. Forget the lemonade, let’s make it a beautiful herbal lemon martini, shall we?
If you would like to join me on this journey I could really use your help. Please leave a comment below with questions, ideas, and comments on what food and health eating, safer low-impact exercises, and gardening information you would like to know to improve your health condition. It doesn’t need to be about arthritis – it can be any concern or question about any health topic. I’ll delve into the questions over the next year, immerse myself in research,speak to all the experts, and do my best to answer them in a helpful and inspiring #NeverGiveUp way.