Quest for Better Health

Personal Training at a Gym - Cable Crossover

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“It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival, and the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger…”

As the Survivor song boomed down through the speakers, I intensified my workout. The clank of the weights tapping the stack and then releasing, completed my set. I was feeling pretty good after my 15 minute weight session. Grabbing my bottle of water, I gulped down a small stream of wet heaven and proceeded to the stationary bike, to ride for 30 minutes.

A year ago I was practically flat on my back in bed, with sciatica. Today I am a regular attendee of Vision Quest gym, exercising almost daily. Since I started two weeks ago, I have worked out with weights and cardio. I hope to add some light load free weights to my routine, soon.

I credit my health to God, for directing my path to this fitness center. And with my personal trainer (Patricia) helping me, I am finding the right routine to relieve my back pain. Although it hasn’t been a total walk in the park, I like the fact that I sleep better and am not sore or in constant pain. I can really feel the difference! My chiropractor also noticed the difference during my last adjustment. He said my body wasn’t moving as much, because it didn’t need to. That was the best check up in the past year! What an exciting thing to hear!

As I look forward to throwing off much needed body mass and adding muscle, I am setting some goals for this New Year. First of all, I am going to lose 40lbs and keep it off, and secondly I am going to start running again (leisurely). It may take me the good part of the year, but I am determined to press through and make it to the finish line.

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” –Phillipians 3:14

Roller Coaster Companion – The Ups and Downs of Sciatica

The Scenic Railway at Luna Park (Melbourne, Au...

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Up and down. Side to side. Slow climb up. Now curve left, then plunge. Straight away with increasing speed, then upside down and straight through to do it all over again.

The previous descriptions may sound like a typical roller coaster ride at any amusement park, but I am actually using a word picture to describe what the last four months of my life has been with Sciatica: with a pinch in my back, I jump up out of bed, and then lay back down, because I cannot stand or sit for too long. I try to position myself on one side, but then feel a pain in my hip and have to switch to the other side. A slow climb to prolonged sitting after chiropractor adjustments gives me confidence, but then the injury comes back and I plunge back into bed. Again, I continue with chiropractor, massage, stretches and walking. With my constant routine I begin increasing speed, even up to walking 3 miles per day (for over a month) and holding steady to sitting as much as I would like. But then all of a sudden, I find myself upside down with hurt and starting my ascent all over again. I’m tired and discouraged, not willing to go this route again, and having to fight my way off the roller coaster before it gets up to swiftness again.

In a previous post I explained what Sciatica is and how it affected my daily routine. I am writing this because I am finding myself, once again, racking up “frequent roller miles.” Don’t get me wrong, I love a good roller coaster ride! I love the thrill of going fast, whipping around bends and then anticipating the next plummet. But when it is involuntary, it freaks me out. No one likes to do something they don’t want to; forcing them to get on a ride when they are unwilling is not a pleasant thing to do. It can cause anxiety, distrust and bitterness. And I admit I can be that way when I am in pain – unpleasant and restless.

Traveling Companion

If you had to go on a trip from point A to point B, while suffering, would you rather go it alone or with a close friend? I would guess that most of you would say that you would go with a close friend.

Any road that is traveled alone is long and tiresome. But with a comrade, you are encouraged and uplifted.

When you are weak, they become strong. When you fall, they lift you up (Ecclesiastes 4:10). True friends will go the distance. Loyal friends will help you when no one else will dare to cast their glance upon you. And a faithful friend will carry your burden, even if they have to ride beside you in the same car on the same track to the same place. They never leave your side!

I have one of those friends. My friend sympathizes, because He walked a similar path of suffering. The anguish and pain He felt puts my complaints and unwillingness (to walk this road) to shame. Because Jesus took my chastisement upon Him and willingly suffered stripes upon His back for my healing (Isiah 53:5), I can be confident that there is nothing I will go through that He cannot identify with. I can look to Him with confidence that I will not go through anything that will over through my faith or derail His plans for my life (even Sciatica).

So for now, I sit buckled to hope, anticipating the next stop, knowing that my faithful Traveling Companion will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), as I ride this roller coaster called Sciatica.

Red Skies In The Morning – Pharisees Take Warning

"Red sky in the morning, ...

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He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.  A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”  [1]

As I awoke with ocean view in sight, the sun splashed its rays past the beachfront deck, spilling onto the water. Pinkish-red light accented thin white clouds. My thoughts drifted to the saying: “Red skies at night, sailor’s delight, red skies in the morning, sailors take warning.” I heard this saying much as a little child, and it has always stuck with me. But what I didn’t know back then, was that Jesus coined this famous phrase thousands of years ago.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus to perform a sign, to demonstrate that He really was the Son of God, Jesus gave them a warning from scripture. He toyed with their perception of discerning the present, because they refused to accept that God was with them. They fixed their gaze to the skies and played the hypocrite, demanding that He entertain them with a sign. Satan tried this tactic in the wilderness, by telling Jesus to perform a miracle. But just as Jesus refused Satan, He also refused the Pharisees. The Messiah is not a puppet on a string, waiting to entertain unbelievers at their beck and call. But rather, He is the Son of God, freely proving Himself by working miracles and wonders, as the Father instructs. “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me (John 10:32)?

Had Jesus performed a sign for the Pharisees, they would have discredited Him by saying He was of the devil. But instead, He gave them a forewarning from the scriptures (Matthew 12:38-41), signifying that just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, so He will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. What was written in the Old Testament was a shadow of things to come – the Messiah’s mission was to fulfill the anti-type of ancient times, by proving He was the Son of God. He did this on a daily basis. The Pharisees, of all people, should have seen Jesus as the Christ, but they were so caught up in their self-righteousness that they could not put two and two together. Studying the scriptures and then teaching God’s people, would have put them in perfect alignment with the Living Word. But as Jesus walked among them, raising the dead and forgiving sins, they became short-sighted and blind. They had zeal for the scriptures, but denied that this miracle worker was the Son of God. They did not have a heart to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, therefore “seeing they did not see, and hearing they did not hear (Mark 4:12).”

The Bible says that one must first believe that God exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Because the Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, He performed no miracle. But for those who will believe in Him today, He gives the greatest miracle of all – eternal life.

What about you? Do you doubt that Jesus is the Christ? Has hardness of heart kept you from fully committing to Him? Would you like to know with clarity that you will go to heaven?

The starting point to salvation is faith, because without it, it is impossible to please God. The Bible says that “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame (Romans 10:8-11).”

Don’t miss out on salvation because of unbelief. Learn from the Pharisee’s warning – believe today and see the salvation of the Lord.

1] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 16:2–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Hope Beyond Sciatica

“I hate to tell you this, but I will have to take a week off.” With my cell phone to my ear, I waited nervously for my boss’ reaction.

“A whole week?” he said, surprised.

After a short discussion, my employer digested the news and we hung up.

Amid my health slowly declining – not being able to sit or stand for any certain amount of time, I found myself reduced to lying in bed. I was diagnosed with a pinched sciatic nerve – commonly known as Sciatica.

Replica of my scan.

Consulting my chiropractor, he performed a medical exam. The red and yellow markings on the screen showed obvious pressure on my lower lumbar, as well as my shoulders. My right hip was pinching the nerve, causing me to suffer pain in my back. We immediately started on a regimen of three adjustments per week (rather than my normal routine of twice per month), plus massage therapy two times a week. The pain, at first, was unbearable; the 10 ibuprofen gel caps I was swallowing throughout the day didn’t even touch the hurt.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is pain that travels the sciatic nerve and its extensions – from the back down to the buttock and leg. Starting at the spinal cord, it runs the length of the hip and buttock area down the backside of each leg. It is important to note that, “Sciatica is a symptom, not a disorder.” [1] (The Mayo Clinic’s explanation of Sciatica, is defined on their web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sciatica/DS00516).

Riding a roller coaster of unwanted warning signs lead me track by track to painful places I didn’t want to go. I had to focus on one day at a time, keeping my emotions in check. One thing I did recognize well about this symptomatic distress – it was by no means predictable. I didn’t know from hour to hour how my quality of life would be affected. Would I be able to sit all day at work or go walking? Would I be capable of writing as long as I like or prepare a meal? Even though I felt good from time to time, I wasn’t completely healed, so I guarded myself against a false sense of security.

Chiropractic adjustments aided to relieve the nerve from tension on my hip and continued to slowly release me to a stable condition. Massage therapy helped alleviate muscle stress that built up in-between adjustments. Through pressure point assistance (not trigger point) and lightly stretching the muscles, I received great relief.

(I did not get an MRI to see if I truly had a disc problem, which is the number one reason for Sciatica, because I was not going to consider surgery. It would have cost me too much money out of pocket to have the imaging just to see if I had a disc problem. I already knew I did.)

Self Care

Self care can help ease Sciatica, which you can discuss with your doctor. In my case, I am not completely out of the woods yet. I am doing a lot better since I went to physical therapy (after two months with Sciatica) and received instructions for stretching my spine, as well as sitting with a lower lumbar roll and walking every day. Because everyone’s body is different as to how it reacts, each person should consult a doctor or chiropractor before seeing a massage or physical therapist for Sciatica.

With these tools I have been able to keep the symptoms at bay. My disc in my back still hurts from time to time, but that is normal for the healing process. When nerves flare up, that’s when I know I need correction and take appropriate action to adjust the cause (usually chiropractic adjustment).

Prayer

I know that ultimately I would not be where I am today without the support of praying friends. God ultimately is my healer, and although He uses humans to help with the process, He will always get the glory for making me well. “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:10).”

I am confident that with endurance, guidance, and prayer, there is hope to live a normal, active life, beyond Sciatica.

*UPDATE: Since I started writing this blog, I have been virtually pain free for over a month! I have been walking up to 3 miles per day, able to work all day and sleep better! Praise God for His healing!