Sometimes people with arthritis and other physically disabling issues feel like they can’t do anything. Life is limited and we don’t have much say in the matter. We feel exhausted and strained and well . . . it sucks.
But sometimes we are able to push ourselves past our perceived limits. Sometimes we achieve the impossible. Those times are what keeps us going – knowing that we are able to move and groove like the rest of ‘em.
I’ve mentioned in the past that one of my biggest complaints is that I am physically unable to keep up with others my age. I often pass up opportunities to go out with friends for fear of being stuck in a situation where I can’t keep up. Since moving to Hawaii, there have been a lot of outdoor activities that are calling to me, but I get afraid to really jump out there, especially with other people.
Recently, my husband and I were invited to go on a hike with some of our new friends. A big group of people, all in our mid 20s, going on a hike and then to lunch. Sounds like a wonderful Sunday, am I right?
It was wonderful, until I saw the mountain we were about to climb . . .
The guys of our group were all going up the back side of the mountain, which was said to be significantly harder to scale than the front side. I would go along with my girl friend Katie on the front side of the mountain, where most sane people made the climb. I was told that it was a bit of a hike, but we should make it up before our bushwhacking friends. I was ready.
Fast forward to me standing at the bottom of the trail. Looking up. Waaay up.
This mountain wasn’t just steep, it was crazy. But lots of people were headed up the trail so I figured I’d be able to make it. My legs were tough, right?
A little less than halfway up the hill I was huffing and puffing. I was way more out of shape than I thought. But beyond that my right knee was killing me. Luckily my friend was very willing to take breaks with me, and I love her for it. I took those moments, between gasping for breath, to really fill her in on my joint troubles and why I was having such a hard time. But I slapped a smile on my face and kept going.
Halfway there. It’s getting steeper. I’m hurting even more. At this point it wasn’t that I was too tired or out of shape to keep going – it was that I was afraid my knees weren’t going to get me there in one piece. The aching got worse. The pain was building. But I couldn’t stop there. I kept going.
Three-quarters of the way there, I stopped completely. Holding back the tears out of frustration, I cursed my bad knees. I was angry at my arthritis for giving me such a weakness. I knew I couldn’t keep going. I was at the point where I had to make every step up with my left leg leading because my right knee couldn’t hold my body weight. Each step was killing me. And I was sweating and stinky and generally gross.
I told Katie to go on ahead, that I would catch up with her, and she reluctantly headed up. I wasn’t sure if she was thinking the same, but in my mind I wasn’t going to get up off of the stump I was seated on. There was no way I was going to make it to the top. I knew that a smart person, someone who knows her limits, wouldn’t push it anymore.
But I kept going.
I’m not sure what made me do it. And I have to state that I absolutely DO NOT recommend going so far past your limits. I knew it was stupid and dangerous, but somehow something clicked in my head. I couldn’t just sit there and wait for my group to head down the mountain.
I thought about how impressive it would be if I got to the top. I thought about what must be the beautiful view. I thought about spending a few moments with my friends enjoying our success.
But most of all I thought about how proud of myself I would be if I made it.
And so . . . against my better judgment . . . I kept going.
Eventually I made it.
And it was a glorious day.
I’m not gonna lie, it was a stupid thing to do, but at the same time I am thrilled that I did it. I overcame this obstacle and through the pain and the tears, I succeeded.
And I iced my knees for the next two days.