I don’t know what’s happened to me! Over the past year my body has decided it’s done feeling young, especially in the mornings. It’s not like it happened all of a sudden – truly I’ve felt periodic bouts of tiredness for a long time – but what’s different now is that the exhaustion never seems to go away.
I’ve developed several health problems that I’m sure most people would consider minor issues in their present stage. They’re all manageable, but when they’re all ailing me at the same time it can be super annoying. Alright, so now I’m ready for you to hit me with the well-worn comment heard at most gatherings with large age spans: “You think that’s bad? Just wait ’til you get older!” But I don’t want to feel worse than I presently do. I don’t want to be chronically tired. I don’t want my back to become so warped that I have to walk bent over when I’m 70.
My longest running problem is back pain. I’ve had recurring pain in the lower left side of my back since high school. In the past it would flare up for a week or two every couple of years so I never gave it much thought after it was gone. But in the last year I’ve woken up every morning with pain in this area. As soon as I try to sit up my back stiffens. I’ve made several attempts at doing different exercise routines but every time my back ends up hurting worse than when I do nothing at all. So I’ve given up on any treatment besides stretching upon waking and getting up slowly. Luckily, since my work schedule usually starts at 1:20pm, I have plenty of time to get it loose before the day begins. However, on bad days I have to pop a couple extra-strength Ibuprofens before heading off to work.
I’ve also had painful problems with my wrists for the last three years. Periodically, one or both wrists will feel so weak. At these times it hurts too much to push open doors or carry a pan of food by the handle. I’ve been very scared about this issue because there’s a history of osteoarthritis in my family. But I realized a while ago that my wrists hurt the most on days when I wake up and find myself sleeping on my stomach. Somehow as I sleep I tuck my arms under my body or my head and this restricts the blood flow to my wrists and hands, causing the weakened feeling.
Another very noticeable symptom that gave me a lot of pain for about 8 months straight starting last sumer was an annoying dull pain in my chest that felt like I always had a burp stuck at the top of my esophagus. It’s a terrible feeling! Sometimes when I’m laying down I’ll have to sit up quickly because I feel like I’m going to throw up. Other times I’ll beat my sternum sharply with my fist in order to free trapped air bubbles. I went to the doctor in Korea to have it diagnosed because it troubled me all the time. The doctor gave me an endoscopy and diagnosed me with GERD (gastroesophagial reflux disorder).
Next problem: I’m not getting restful sleep. I used to have problems getting to sleep back when I lived in Kentucky. These days I can’t keep my eyes open after 2am. The problem isn’t that I can’t sleep, it’s that no matter how many hours I sleep I always wake up feeling like I was beat up during the night. My neck always feels uncomfortable so I can’t lay still for long.
As if these internal issues weren’t enough I’ve also noticed that my face has started looking older this year. The crow’s feet around my eyes are getting much more defined. And I now have permanent lines around my mouth demarcating where my skin bends whenever I smile.
I’ve done a lot of research and thinking about my issues and I’ve come to believe that they all stem from the fact that I have horrible posture. For most people, when they stand up straight, their vertebrae form a smooth ‘S’ shape. In my back, however, three vertebrae stick way out about half way down. Because of this it’s always been very difficult for me to sit upright in hard backed chairs. I always either slouch back or lean forward when I sit because it’s so uncomfortable. Whenever I’ve done sit-ups the skin over those vertebrae gets rubbed raw. I went to an acupunturist a month ago and he audibly grunted his surprise when he felt them.
But all hope isn’t lost! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that Jessie and I have started trying to live more healthy. We’ve begun a two-pronged attack on infirmity. First, we’ve been experimenting with many natural products, such as brushing our teeth with the Orawellness HealThy Mouth Blend, teeth whitening with baking soda and peroxide and no pooing. On top of this we’ve become flexitarians (we eat a mostly vegetarian diet with occasional meat). It’s been extremely hard to keep this diet while here because almost every restaurant in Korea is meat-centered. Plus, the free meals at the school where we work always very heavily consist of low-grade meat, white flour and white rice products with very little vegetables or fruit. Second, we’ve started hiking once a week in the mountains behind our apartment and taking several long walks during the week. Jessie’s been doing heaps of yoga. And I’ve started doing these easy ‘do-anywhere’ exercises I found online to help correct my posture. Check the short video out here!
Once we finish our traveling and arrive home in late November we’ll initiate the next steps in our plan to get back to good health (after Thanksgiving, of course!). First, we’re going to start making green juice for breakfasts. After watching the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead we’re convinced that above all else this will help us regain our energy levels. We’ve also found several vegetarian/vegan blogs with delicious looking recipes that we’re gonna try out. And finally, we’re also going to make a more concerted effort to stick to diets that benefit our blood types.
Thirty-two was the year of feeling unhealthy. Hopefully a year from now I’ll be writing a post about how thirty-three was the year of feeling great! If you’ve tried one of these or any other health improvements, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment!