I had another appointment last week with my osteopath as I continue to try to recover from having pleurisy almost a year ago. It is incredible the things that she has figured out that my conventional doctors would have never asked me about and definitely never attributed my pleurisy too. As I mentioned in my first post about my experience with osteopath experience, my osteopath does think that there is a structural component to why this happened. Something is definitely off with my ribs. I can still feel that something is off because my ribcage feels weird, for lack of a better word, on that side especially when I’m laying down. I also feel a slight pop when I exhale while laying on that side – an indication that a rib most likely was out of place and did not go back into place completely or correctly.
At my appointment this week, she asked me what was going on in my life when this happened. Have you ever had a doctor ask you that question? I never have. They want to know your physical symptoms so they can make a diagnosis, but they usually don’t want to know anything about your personal life, your emotional state, etc. That question is actually something I’ve been learning about myself in one of my nutrition school classes.
Anyway, back to my answer to the question – The biggest thing going on at that time was that I had Ezra in late December 2012. At 6 weeks postpartum, I started running again and immediately jumped into training for a half marathon that was in April. Her follow up question – was I pushing my body hard despite being exhausted? Yes. It wasn’t just the exhaustion of having a new baby either. I had not gotten a full night of sleep since I got pregnant with Zain (he’s not the best sleeper obviously). Over 3 years of sleep deprivation was wearing on my body and I was pushing myself to train for a half marathon because I was itching so badly to get back to running. Is it a coincidence that my pleurisy diagnosis came just a couple weeks before that half marathon? Now I know that it wasn’t.
I’m not saying that training for the half caused my pleurisy. But I do think the training was probably too much on my body at the time. I see women all the time who bounce back from having a baby and immediately start training for half marathons, marathons, an Ironman, ultramarathons. We want to get our bodies back in shape. We want to get right back to chasing our goals. Maybe jumping back in so quickly isn’t healthy for our bodies. Pregnancy, giving birth, sleep deprivation…our bodies need a chance to recover without being pushed so hard. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get back to exercising when we get the all clear, but it’s just something to think about. I think of it this way – I plan to be a lifelong runner so I don’t need to wear myself down trying to run all the races, beat all my PRs, and train for longer distances right this second. I have my whole life ahead of me to chase those goals and dreams.
My osteopath told me that it’s like everything in my body is completely tight and tense. My soft tissue doesn’t move the way it should. My body is not functioning in the fluid manner it is supposed to. It has improved since I started seeing her in January, but it’s not better yet. She said it’s like there is a wall in my body. That is exactly how it feels when I try to take a deep breath. It feels like there is a wall and the air can only get in so far before it hits the wall. The good news is that the problem with my breathing is starting to get better. She told me at my first appointment that with osteopathic treatment, you generally don’t notice an immediate difference. It may be a few weeks or months later that you realize that you’re feeling better. That is exactly how it is happening for me. I realized in the past couple of weeks that I’m breathing better. I still have quite a few moments during the day where I can’t take a deep breath, but they are far less frequent.
The thing that she said that really struck me was that if I don’t allow my body to heal (the pleurisy plus exhaustion) from this now, it will come back in another form in the future – presenting itself as an autoimmune disease or some other kind of illness. Since everything is tight and tense in my body, she recommended that I get massages and that I take a nap every day. I had my first massage with a massage therapist at the same wellness center where my osteopath is. The massage therapist recommended I come weekly for a while then every other week and eventually monthly. My osteopath was a bit surprised that the therapist recommended coming so frequently but she said the reason was because the therapist could feel how tight everything in my body is. I don’t really have the time to go weekly right now, but I am going to try to go monthly.
As for napping daily, that’s a hard one for me. Aside from the obvious that I have 2 young kids so I can’t just go lay in my bed every afternoon, I have always sucked at napping – I struggle to fall asleep then I feel groggy when I wake up. Ezra just takes one nap in the afternoon and Zain usually doesn’t nap anymore. He is good about quietly reading books though in the afternoon. She suggested that while the baby sleeps, I should lay down with Zain. If he doesn’t want to nap then he can just read books so I can rest. I tried it once this week, but then I had trouble sleeping that night because I napped so I don’t know if it’s the best idea for me. I think that I will be more mindful of when I am feeling very tired and rest on those days if I can.
Seeing a holistic health practitioner has been really eye-opening for me. I am not going to be a doctor, but as a nutritionist, I will work with clients on more than just what they are eating. One of the benefits of attending a school where they teach an integrative approach to nutrition is that I am learning how the mind and body are really one when it comes to our health and wellness. There are so many other factors that affect our health other than just what we eat, our physical symptoms, and what test results say.