Tag Archives: fear

Pain Therapy


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I’m slow just like an elderly person crossing the street, like any home turtle in the fish tank and basically similar to a suicidal giving up on life. Except, I enter the physical therapy office with an open mind and clear objective — to make gains, to obtain lasting results, to prosper and to walk on two feet correctly (again). I have a lot of work ahead of me, but that’s okay because I like work — and because what is life without work? Or sweat? Or tears? Or blood? Or pain?

And speaking of pain: I’m pretty aware that if they called it Pain Therapy rather than Physical Therapy — the majority of people wouldn’t show up. Related: This has been the most painful PT session (the 6th one so far) yet. I inhale and exhale like a pregnant woman giving birth wildly, but, with control. I shut my eyes tighter than my thermal water bottle, pinch my eyebrows together as in “what the fuck?”, grind my teeth with grit, mush my lips together in grumble and sometimes (whenever possible) I hunch my shoulders like a white collar man over a desktop — all because of pain.

Somewhere buried in my bones and muscles fibers, I’m frightened and I’m nervous about every PT session as if I’m starting a new job. But the fear remains in a way where I’m completely detached from it at the same time. I have a reason to be a scaredy-cat for each session there are unpredictable exercises given and new progressions occurring and of course — new pain to match. Today they measured my plantarflexion/dorsi and such and such with a Rulangemeter and a Goniometer. Trust, when I say it hurts when they hold my foot and bring it up to the measurement of where it’s supposed to be.

There are parallel bars where I’m to try and learn to walk again with as much equal body weight as possible without completely noticing the occasional shout from the aid saying: Bend your knee, don’t lock out. Control the movement. Then there are leg/tibia exercises and knee/hip/glute exercises all standing and putting full weight on my right foot and ankle. It feels highly uncomfortable like I’m stepping on stones, but I’m not afraid because I have to do what I have to do, and in a weird way I like pain. Plus, let’s face it, pain is temporary.

Then there’s my favorite, the thing that scares half my training wits — the wooden balance board. This one, I perform numerous exercises on. I dislike every one of them. Still, the bright side is it gets my knees to bend and it stretches everything out around the sides, front and back of my ankle along with my deflated calve. The only issue is, the pain is dangerously wicked, but with my training mentality, I’ve achieved my personal records already.

Then there’s me having to go up/down a step. There’s the prostep-prostretch where I squeeze my foot into it and have to move my foot up and down for a deep fucking stretch! Of course, there are ankle weights and more exercises and equipment I get to play and hurt myself with. Then more ankle exercises with manual resistance by my physical therapist (who I have a fondness for ah! — plus he genuinely says sorry when he senses the pain is unbearable on my face) and ankle circles and ankle pumps before I get my relaxing massage, electrode stimulations, heat and ice.

After all the drama calms down in the PT session, I digest all that has happened and how far I’ve come. I wish I could linger on those digestions. But I move on and take in how much longer I have to go. I dwell and dwell. Still, I’m thankful for my persistence, determination, stubbornness and self-made ego. I also enjoy when the pain and inflammation dies down, even though I know I’m going home to do even more exercises and be in pain all over again.

But more than anything, when I lie in the dark alone with thoughts to myself in the physical treatment room with towels wrapped around my leg in ice and heat — happiness seems to hide in the background and no matter how many times I push the thought out, it resurfaces again. I always go back to square one with: I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I’m going through this. I can’t seem to shake off this shock.

-Pennington

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Hiding Out


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I stayed indoors with my fears of falling again and re-injuring or injuring a new body part of mine. I stayed indoors because I live in New York City where the people are wild with busy bodies. I stayed indoors because I realized quickly that the world outside is definitely “lack of movement friendly.” I stayed indoors because it was better than dealing with the antics of and lack of wheelchair or crutch accessibility. I was much safer being in the house, safer being away from obstacles that would love nothing more but to come and test me.

During the moments of going out into the world, I watched and lingered with my eyes on people’s ability to move, walk, jog, sit, jump, ride a skateboard and dance. It looks easy – using two legs to perform. Everything is easier. I wonder, if they understand how awesome it is to be able to move so freely in the world of rapid movement.

I wonder, how many of them were grateful.  Or how many of them like me never even pregnant a thought of having their ankle mobility and such taken away for a limited of time. So, I miss being able to use my ankle in various ways in a very mobile friendly world.

Moving on – everyone has a habit of wanting to tell you what to do with your life and they even go as far as to give unsolicited advice many times because everyone whose not you has the solution to everything, including your broken/displaced ankle. Imagine when all kinds of people – relatives, registered nurses who are connected to friends and the surgeon want to chime in on my life and what decisions I should be making and why I should do this or that.

There were quite a few people who were against me and my obtaining a wheelchair. They said it will limit my body use and I’ll lose my muscles at a quicker rate, not to mention stall the healing of my ankle. I got a wheelchair anyway because this is MY life, not theirs. And if these people have never had the pleasure and interesting experience of learning how to use crutches and over long distance (or have a built-in mental fear of using crutches), well, why the FUCK would I listen to them for?

To rewind a little, from the emergency I was given lots of pain medication and they practically threw the crutches into my lap like another useless perscription of sort without instructing me on how to use my brand new legs. Did this build my confidence level with crutches? And was it supposed to? I think absolutely fucking not!

Towards the ending when I was heading out the emergency room it was time for my body to vomit it’s organs, raging anger and maniac depression out. I was outside (thankfully with a good friend) at 4am from the cab ride home to the concrete of what was going to be my new place of stay – vomiting and vomiting and vomiting and vomiting. I thought about people who used heavy drugs and why? I thought about why was I going through this and than quickly thought: Why ask why?

It took me 30 minutes to get inside the apartment, due to my drugged-ness of medication and learning how to use crutches for the very first time. The feeling of illness, nausea, pain in my foot, vomiting every few crutch-steps, along with a crackhead up my ass telling me a home remedy consisting of soaking my foot in butter and sugar – while trying to balance from the extreme dizziness I felt and eyeing the ground for immediate cracks on the floor at 4am was one of the hardest things to do in my life. I still don’t know how the fuck I made it into the elevator or into the abode.

The same week, a few days later, I felt froggy and decided on going to hang out with a friend of mine like we do every Friday. The only catch was using crutches. (I didn’t even think about getting a wheelchair yet and the thought of staying indoors seemed very depressing.) It didn’t hit me until I got to the lobby where I actually felt frightened – as frightened as the first day of kindergarten: Was I going to fall? How long will it take me to go to his car from the building (which is a 40 second walk) with these crutches? Am I sure I want to do this? I allowed myself to feel the panic. I digested it and braved on. It took roughly 10 minutes.

Mentally I was completely helpless. I felt powerless, which triggered humiliation, shame and pure embarrassment. Note: This doesn’t mean I look at people who use crutches or a wheelchair and say to myself, “They should feel humiliated.” This is what I feel personally. This is my experience. And those 10 minutes felt long. I lowered my head in defeat, and when people asked me if I needed help – I smiled half ass and unconvincingly. I was drowning, fatigued. I had to stop short every 5 crutch-step. It was enough and still is enough to use a wheelchair when necessary, especially when I’m going the distance and/or shopping.

I’m not above using a wheelchair at the moment and I don’t see why I should be. Why can’t I make things easy for me when I need it now the most? Why do I have to abuse myself physically even when I have a broken bone that needs to fuse together and heal? I physically abuse myself when I go to the gym and weightlift for hours during the week. (This doesn’t include cardio or stretching work.) I easily put in 10 hours or more at the gym a week. This doesn’t include workouts at home or how much I walk the city streets for extra mileage and to boost my metabolism whenever I can.

I also know, unlike most people I don’t have a problem with inactivity. I have the opposite problem – where I need to learn and force my hand for when my body, central nervous system or mind needs a day off from the gym. So when it’s time to bounce back, I’m going to put in 100% because I have a wonderful gym mentality and like a dear friend who reads my blog has stated to me, “You want it more than most.” And I do. And I’ve already proven this to my motherfuckin self for a decade with weightlifting.

So, excuse me if I want a fucking wheelchair. Excuse me, if for the moment that I believe it’s necessary to take a moment out, to relax, to say, “Hey, it’s alright to take it easy because it’s important right now.” I’ve given myself permission and fuck what anyone else thinks. Who likes hopping or swinging on one leg? This is my life. Fuck everybody else!

I write this, just in case someone else is questioning whether they should use a wheelchair at any point in time for their fibula fracture when they need it because people couldn’t mind their fucking business and you may doubt yourself. Just because you’re young and not obese doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to use a wheelchair. It’s your life, your business, your prerogative. Fuck everybody else and their shameless opinions. They don’t know you or what you’re going through. They get NO say! You have my permission. 🙂

Pretty soon I’ll be hopeful in not needing to spend money on cabs like I’m made out of trees or hold my heavy leg up during the cab ride because New York City and their infamous potholes hurt! I’ll be hopeful to not have to base a decision at the whim of a day or night – trying to figure out if I can be fundamentally happy where I nap and put the world and my ankle to sleep, so I don’t wallow in pain or depression. I’ll be hopeful about the near future where I don’t have to pick something off the floor in trembling balance and any sign of dog toys or sneakers on the floor won’t instill fear in me.

-Pennington

That Crutch Life


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Six screws and a plate later. Yes, to actual x-rays before my surgery roughly a week ago. What horror! Anyhow…

It’s interesting how an injured, and a very broken ankle changes your perspective on just about everything. Like how it’s possible to be afraid to come outside after this type of freaky incident. Or how I won’t risk taking a bath/shower with a bag over my hard cast for fear of infection – so I stick with cloth baths. To be honest, I can’t even count all the ways yet, but for the moment these are my current reflections.

I now think about a road map of the easiest access with the least amount of distance and body trouble. I think about what libraries have full wheelchair accessibility and what streets have the least amount of bumps and cracks. I think about how bad the weather is going to be, what big pants can I wear, and if the supermarket has big aisles for me to wheel myself around in.

I now check other people out who are in wheelchairs and I remember every single person I’ve ever encountered in my every day life or those who came to the gyms I worked or I’ve trained at. I made sure I complimented those who worked out with splints, crutches and wheelchairs because I’d imagine it would be one of the hardest things to do in life. So, it’s interesting to be on the other side of it – and I was right – it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with, and I mean this in terms of the mental aspect.

I never thought shit like this would happen to me and I’ve been going through (is it possible?) my 5 stages of grief in my own way with this Crutch Life. Related: I had so many different plans, started a new job, about to start another semester of school – among other things and life kind of robbed me and for some reason unbeknownst to me has me sitting put on the bench. Probably because there’s something greater coming my way – gasp – I hope! Life – my ambiguous teacher.

Lately, I flip flop between emotions. I can’t stick to one: Sometimes I think yes I’m glad I wanted to practice longboarding and it’s the chances one takes in life that makes you feel fully alive. Or on the flip side, fear is an indicator to keep you safe and perhaps I should have listened to my initial gut so I can continue to keep a short regret list in my life. I’m now fearful of skateboards and longboards apparently. I was even scared to come outside for fear of falling down again and this time completely breaking my ankle off. The struggle of imagination is real my friends and I’ve been flirting on the line of post traumatic stress disorder.

I’m now both embarrassed and humiliated when I go outside (mind you I’ve been camping out at a friend’s house, far away from where I live to avoid further embarrassment/shame – and yes it’s fucking stupid I think like this) and crutch slower than an elderly who panics at the sight of ongoing traffic. I hang my head low and I chew on my bottom lip as if I defeat myself with every crutch-step I take, counting them like reps, pausing when there’s not enough gas in my system with sweat thrown at the back of my neck because holding my injured leg up and out in front of me kills my hip flexor and the healthy leg/foot screams at the amount of work it needs to do just to keep the rest of my 185lb body afloat.

It’s really interesting how having crutches changes your world. I’m not sure what’s more interesting, the strangers who offer their shoulder to replace my crutches or the people who have a deep sadness in their eyes and tell me about the time when they had their injury and they know just how hard it is to be on crutches and they’re very sorry I have to go through this. Or those other strangers who don’t care and ignore you completely whether its because they believe injuries and crutches are contagious or just because (insert whatever here).

I made use of a sliding technique involving my foot as hopping on one leg has been dreadful ever since the surgery. But I get enough internal and external rotation from this like one wouldn’t believe. Thank the Lord for the sliding and twisting technique. Thank the Lord for my having actually being faithful to my training as I wouldn’t know how I would’ve push through exhaustion or know what to do when my body wants to cramp up and spasm. All those single-leg exercises came in handy and who knew I would live through a time when it’s critically needed.

As for the medicated life, it has been a small type of hell. I had the doctor switch me from one pill to another pill because I’m not a drug addict (don’t intend to be either) and I don’t need strong stuff, plus I don’t need to vomit the entire day for the next few months. I’ll take the pain just like the word pain tattooed on my arm. Thank you. Still, the medication screws with my taste buds and they have also made me constipated to the point where I give birth and my rosebud goes numb from the excruciating pain of widening to three times its size. I’m still hurt.

I don’t groom nowadays. I wear no make up. My eyebrows are growing in and they seem to bring back the nostalgic days of being in elementary school and not knowing what to do with eyebrow thickness. The truth is though, I don’t look in the mirror anymore. I’m more selfless than ever before. But I’ll make sure to make it a point to paint my nails because colors brighten my fucking day – and I need my fucking day brighten now more than ever!

Have I mentioned how bitter I am towards certain people? People speak from a place usually without knowing how you or they would feel or think in this situation. So, so far I think the biggest lie and shitty advice anyone has given me is: “You’ll be extra grateful for having your broken ankle after the fact.” Really? How fucking so? I’ve been grateful before the injury. One reason why I’m a gym rat and why I weightlift is because I have limbs. I should put my entire body to use. But these people, these people speak from an unknown place. They speak without considering that they don’t gym it. The use and extent of their ankle is only going to and from work – and don’t get me started on if they have a sitting down job! So telling me or anyone else whose injured they’ll be extra grateful, I don’t see the purpose in saying this, unless the desire was to insult.

Also to point out, it’s difficult for me to eat my pride and even harder for me to allow others to take care of me. It’s hard for me to sit back and be okay with being vulnerable. It’s hard to ask another for anything, hard to be dependent and it’s also hard to inconvenience someone else at my expense, even when they don’t mind.

I haven’t even touched how I feel about taking time off from the gym because it would depress the fuck out if me if I sat down and really thought about it. In any event, right now I’m taking it one day at a time. That Crutch life!

-Pennington

Like An Animated Bull


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I don’t have to look around to realize what’s going on, men peering in wonderment at my personal space.  Sometimes I feel the love of first impressionists observing a woman lifting, curves hugging onto fabrics for dear living with sweat and sheen from hard work.  We fuel each other, every so often smile and nod in harmony and unspoken claims.  Other times there’s a rage inside some men’s stares when I pass their field of vision.  I shoot them in the face with fulsome courage because they’ll never run me into the position of fear.  I’ll steal the glory from these devilish green-eyed monsters on the stage of their own gym and vacation with their missing muscle gains.

I don’t have to pick my head high as the Queen of England to know that glares put bullet-holes down my back.  The headphones scream in my eardrums and I bounce up and down, huffed and puffed in a hoodie, pushing forward and back on the pad in the center of an imaginary mosh pit of a Hammer Strength machine.  Weight stacked, I’m lining in my front view the enemies behind me who wish my collapse. I grab the handles with the heavy valor of Thor and row for heroism, row for the battle blood in my veins and row for the smoke exiting out my eager winning nostrils like an animated bull.

-Pennington Hall

Qualm


I showered one night and lathered up in the unchanged way I always do, half grudgingly and the other with methodical certainty from bulky arms, to bursting bosoms, to pooch belly, to smooth waist, to entity vagina, to voluptuous thighs until I came across my calve, a steel rock of will and sheer determination.

This became the day I questioned every exhausting set of every draining rep of cruel years spent on sculpting, limping and wincing through the Charlie Horses that arrived to visit me in the tragedy of over stimulating nights to walk every line to put every ounce of life in training to win every fight.

So why did I pull away abruptly?  Why did I fall back on my training approach? How could I fear exactly what I’ve desired the most?  Diamonds that would climb the circumference of a quad and cut as appealing and wicked as ice. Polished for the world to know how I strong I am by how much pain and anguish bore within this delightful body of mine.

I’m reminded of how I want to grow into where my mind and my heart and my spirit of power will take me.  I want to cast out all the words, shocked faces and expressions to ill me of what I accomplish and of who I am.  I look to you, a statue of greatness, a shrine of eternal internal faith and a sudden shift in the atmosphere of the subconscious.

-Pennington©

At First They Root For You


I guess because they truly don’t believe that you’re really capable of doing what Nike has said best:  Just Do It?  Then when you prove them wrong…they watch and observe you getting stronger, showing improvements with numbers on the dumbbells/barbells, endurance game high for cardio/strength and you start slimming down in all the right places.

But then they flip the script and dislike your progress, your endless dedication, your halo of force, how you say no to delicious and fattening foods, leave the party to do cardio then come back to enjoy it again and blow right by them with steadfast conviction.

Women congratulate under their breath.  These wicked felines eye your body with disgust, yet admiration for they are bound to society and it’s methods of a woman’s body being her top value.  Then the males whip their masculine jokes (or what I like to call the-instill-scare-tactic to see if it works):  “Keep lifting and the next thing you know you’ll be growing in a beard and I’ll be asking you what creams and razors you’re using to keep a good shave?”

They say mean things that can easily be taken as a dagger to the ego (since I have one):  “I remember when you used to be stronger than me.  Or maybe it was that you were stronger than me in certain areas, say your Back or Triceps?”

Unlike many other Fitness Enthusiasts and Bodybuilders I don’t have true friends or family support.  The support I receive are from my social networking and blogging buddies that take the time to get to know me and admire my discipline, (even when I slack on the motivation to come through here and there).  See, I’m used to defending myself.  I’m used to holding up my guards.  I’m used to having my fists up, used to the fighting stance.  I’m used to shadowboxing and exchanging foul words with the best of them.

What can I say?

With people looking to knock me out my focus and almighty courageous attitude..
Could you blame me?

Pennington

Came A Long Way


I only know how to live life and find out more about myself through fear.

I’m scared of everything!  There’s not a thing I’m not afraid of on this Earth.  And though I present a tough exterior, I’m a softee deep within the fibers of my body.  But I’m well-guarded with spikes around the edges.  This works for me.   I won’t change this.

Some of the things I was always afraid to do alone seem to be just as harmless as petting a mouse.  But getting myself to perform something as simple as traveling to a store solo was like pulling scabs off my knees.

My anxiety would fume.

Some of the things that would be hard for me to do back in the days:

Ask for what I want at a counter, market or a store.
Sit down and have a meal at a diner or pizza shop all alone.
Making phone calls for appointments or calling out for deliveries.
Being loud, laughing or showing emotion in public.
I wouldn’t travel to the corner of a street or go to school solo.

These things would frighten me.  And all I could think that might have started such a mess in my head was how my family kept me sheltered from the world.  And in this shelter it was safe and quite comfortable.  So once I started getting older and peering out to the world I found it was complete madness and anything could happen.

Nowadays I’m much better at keeping the anxiety at bay.  I still remember the first time I had a slice of pizza at a shop all alone.

I did it!

Pennington