One of the reasons I came to the realization that I can't have a desk job is because I was diagnosed with arthritis about five months ago. Yeah, I figured I shouldn't be spending hours on the computer every day, because I was in pain, but then in January, my neck locked up and I found myself at the doctor's office. I couldn't turn my head from side to side, so after a series of x-rays, a diagnosis was made that I had bony changes in my neck -- arthritis.
I resisted the idea of taking drugs, but being unable to turn my head from side to side, as well as having horrible headaches, I finally relented. For awhile I was taking seven pills a day, but after a few changes, we wound up with an anti-inflammatory (2X daily) and a muscle relaxer that I could take up to three times a day, but I tried to only do two. The physical therapist convinced me that I wasn't going to make much progress in physical therapy if I didn't take the medication to get the swelling down and to get the muscles relaxed. So, I had nine weeks of physical therapy, and finally I had some decent mobility in my neck. I was released from physical therapy with daily stretching exercises and a home traction unit. The physical therapist told me that part of my problem was ridiculously weak muscles in my upper back.
He was actually thrilled when I told him that I live on a farm and have started doing more chores. When I was in grad school, I pretty much let the girls take over all my chores, not realizing that I was causing myself to have some problems as a result. The physical therapist gave me ideas on how to gradually increase my strength using water buckets and other farm chores as "therapy."
After the semester was done, I gradually weaned myself off all the arthritis drugs, and I've been feeling so much better. I'm stiff in the morning, but once I do my stretches and use the traction unit, I'm ready to take on anything. Another thing I've noticed is that I am in a much better mood when I spend the whole day working outside with the animals or in the barn or doing something physical.
Then two days ago, Katherine and I spent the whole day in town at Margaret's new shop. I foolishly spent six hours knitting. I should have known how bad that would be for me. I was making a conscious effort to stretch my neck regularly, but that was obviously not good enough. Now, I've been in terrible pain for two days, desperately trying to not start taking the drugs again, but remembering what the physical therapist said -- maybe I should take them for a few days to get the swelling down and get the muscles relaxed again?
I've discovered so many benefits to living out here -- so many more benefits than I ever thought existed. Humans weren't made for sitting around. I think it's funny that when we lived in the suburbs, I'd drive my car to a gym to lift weights that were meaningless, bike to nowhere or walk to nowhere, staring at nothing but exercise equipment and other people going nowhere. It's more meaningful, more fun, and more interesting to carry water buckets or walk around 32 acres of wooded pasture land. And I think it's probably more beneficial to me, the animals, and the environment.
Our newest addition! Butterfly gave birth to this beautiful little girl two days ago!