Tag Archives: pain

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction


I knew something was strange every time I laughed or tried to do a sumo deadlift and tinkled myself.  I knew something was strange when I felt like I had to urinate faithfully around the clock.  I knew something was strange when I suddenly started to experience pain during intercourse.  In the morning upon waking, there’s a dull pain in the center of my stomach that stretches deep into my pelvis.  It plants itself there like a kentia palm.  At the same time, the mid-lower back pain stretches out to the side wrapping itself around my lat, not to mention the top of my buttocks and hips.

It took years to understand what the hell was going on with me.  Why I felt completely exhausted after sleeping 8 hours?  Why my moods were shifting quicker than I could say bipolarism?  Why its been so easy to abandon my fitness goals and sessions?  Why did I feel like I was trying to walk through brain farts daily?  Why all this pain?

Thankfully a visit to the handsomest urologist gave me his recommendation to see his friend who’s also a urologist but deals with women’s sexual health.  It was there where I was greeted by a real life perky sitcom character Karen Walker.  She checked out my vulva, took my urine through a catheter on the spot (with my permission of course) and complimented me on my Kegel.  Then she said, “You have Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.  Don’t worry.  It’s fixable!”  I was prescribed a physical therapist who specializes in PFD.  Also, testosterone gel, which is made by a chemist (therefore making it extra tailored and super expensive) for my vulva.

Coupled this PFD along with my growing fibroids (which I was told to ignore if they don’t grow) and it’s no wonder why I’ve been wanting to pull my hair out of my goddamn head for so long.  My fibroids have grown to the point where they have taken my uterus out of its place and is now sitting behind my bellybutton.  The clusters of fibroids have enlarged my uterus making my stomach protrude.  On my medical record it states that my fibroids are well into 14-16-week pregnancy.  So, I’ll see a surgeon next month.  God willing.

Well, for the longest time, I thought I was secretly dying.  Turns out, at least for the moment, I’ve been on a tumultuous ride with hormones.  Keeping a positive outlook has been extremely challenging.  I can’t tell you how long I felt hopeless and completely isolated from the rest of the world.  Of course, I kept praying for answers, for guidance and for the right doctors to come in my path, so I can get the ball rolling.  My prayers have been answered.  Things are rolling.  I’m finally not holding my breath anymore.

I’m moving forward with new breath within me.

-Pennington

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Mom


You were the one who first broke my heart.
It was because of you I learned to make pain an art.
I’m the light, but I live in the dark.
I’m the light, but I live in the dark.
I never knew I needed love until I ached,
Until I was shaped by every escape.
In kindergarten, I dropped many tears
On the pages of my homework and always
Handed it in without a world of care.
I never knew I needed to be loved until I saw
everyone else’s parents loved them back, in awe.
In awe, I was. In awe I was because I saw.
I carried around anger like my lifeline.
And I never held it against the divine.
And I never questioned if I was good enough.
I was, despite the hefty handcuffs.
I vowed to not be like you in so many ways.
I’ve set blaze to many things under your name.

And I still don’t have a heart the way I ought to.
And I sit facing entrances, never giving my back to a view.
And many of my feelings are dead and sometimes ill-advised.
And it doesn’t matter how I tread, I can’t disguise the chill in my eyes.
And the anger I kept has evaporated nearly now that you’re gone.
Permanence is never permanent, and somehow I found a way to live on.
Your body in the coffin was as real as when I imagined it at twelve.
That was the last time I cried and put my feelings on the bookshelf.
The numbness I contained up until that day released at your wake.
I didn’t understand with every preparation came a new defense,
It’s almost as if everything in life made sense, and yet not at all.

-Pennington

Happy 56th Birthday.  You’re infinite now.

Schwinn 130


I always wanted a stationary bike in the apartment.  I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner.  Maybe because I was using the gym on a regular basis or maybe because my last apartment building didn’t have an elevator and if I wanted to get anything upstairs, I had to consider the ridiculous 5 flights to my place.  Now, I have an elevator, so easy peasy.  Plus, I don’t go to the gym nearly as much.   Over the past four years I got used to home workouts.

I also got used to buying different fitness equipment.  I’ve become a shameless collector because variation.  But I’ll admit there was a time when I was struggling with my identity, motivation and fitness goals.  For a little while I was looking for something outside to make my inside feel better, and in the meantime I accumulated tons of interesting fitness stuff.  Right about the time I started to change my attitudes and perspectives in life, I started my research for stationary bikes.

The latest badass equipment and so far, the most expensive is the Schwinn 130.  I got it for dirt cheap – $110 bucks! – from someone who was selling it on the LetGo App.  She admitted to buying it because her doctor told her she shouldn’t run anymore due to her plantar fasciitis.  So, she bought the bike, but with her busy job schedule and never being home, she never used it.  I think it’s crazy that she spent over $500.00 for a bike she never tried.  She was kind enough to let me try the bike at her house.  Then I lugged the Schwinn on a dolly back to the apartment, which was roughly 18 blocks.  It was totally worth it!

The Schwinn being in great condition made me super happy!  I jumped on the bike as soon as I got home.  I didn’t think anything could go wrong.  BUT by the second day, my body awareness was strong.  It was then I realized the bike seat was digging hard into my sit bones.  The pain was unbearable.  I felt the hairs on my body standing up and within 7 minutes I felt my body cringe and posture cave in.  Not even the gel cover that came for free with the rest of the bike supported me in any way.  Pedaling became a problem!

So, I found a bike shop to measure my sit bones and bought a new sexy seat – Respiro Athletic Bike Saddle Unisex.  Instantly, it felt different.  I can now pedal continuously with less pain.  Within the second week, I bought women’s bike shorts to be extra.  And it turns out that it was leaving my vagina numb.  I got off the bike believing I broke my lady parts somehow.  I returned the bike shorts with gel padding.  I love my Schwinn, but I have to tell you that I’m learning more about seat position, bike shorts, saddles, millimeters, bibs and a whole host of other shit I never thought I’d get into.

Work is always in progress.

-Pennington Hall 

Different Now


queen 3

Things are different now.  And of course, it’s expected as nothing in life remains the same.  I’ve become aware just how much I’ve held onto things I shouldn’t have due to fear like ideas, fantasies, job, people, places and things.  It’s strange holding onto something and being afraid of losing it.

Where does that come from?  How many reasons do we need to hold onto something?  How many reasons do we need for us to let go?  It’s kind of crazy because as people we live every day of our lives with things changing all the time, so what are we afraid of?

It’s scary to think of what we do, and what we say and how we are shaped by things simply because we’re doing what we can to keep it.  I know I bring a force that unfortunately places resistance to what is, which in the end, means I will suffer more than I must to maintain a keeping.  Well, is it worth it?

The past few years I’ve been learning and practicing with each new day how nothing is meant to last.  Everything is in an impermanent state – every face, feeling, state of mind, impression and precious moments.  And that’s something I’ve learned is okay.  As a matter of fact, with each change came more blessings and visions I could never imagine due to being rigid within my ways.

I did want things to remain the same for me like my identification with the fitness lifestyle and having my body conditioned.  However, everything is different as it’s supposed to be.  If it weren’t different, then I wouldn’t be different, but because I’m different, everything else is different.  It’s been different going back to the gym.  Sometimes it depresses me.

I still suffer from the physical trauma of having broken my ankle.  Trauma can remain in the body like the way muscle memory does.  I’ve been working on it for years now.  With trauma comes some undesirable associations like intrusive thoughts.  So, for instance, going to the gym and getting on a bike gives me anxiety as I believe (imagined; possibly irrational, but feels real) I’ll break my ankle again.  Before I get on the bike, an image will flash where I reinjure my ankle by slipping off the bike in horrible fashion – a visualization I would love to do without.

Aside from the mental intrusive thoughts, images or flashbacks I have, there are other things that come, which I call the lingering side effects of things that may never go away.  I’ll rock out on a cardio machine (preferably the bike) and within twenty-five minutes my feet will start to hurt and swell, each fueling one another.  Sometimes the pain creeps where my metal rod and screws are.  Other times the pain comes directly from the arches of my feet and travels upwards in an ache that makes me shudder and vulnerable.

Sometimes I stop for 30 seconds because I don’t want the machine to reset my time.  Other times I loosen my shoelace or take my sneakers off, so I can continue with my sixty plus minutes of cardio.  These things do depress me, especially if I look back on my past and feel like I was better than.  I don’t want to look back there because there is nothing there for me but pains of what I had, which will give me present sadness and if I’m not careful will rob me of all the blessings I do have today.

So, I don’t do plyometrics anymore.  I don’t jog anymore.  Maybe I will l someday despite the syndesmotic widening in my right ankle.  I focus on the blessings of having all my limbs.  I focus on how far I’ve come like when walking a single block would flare everything in my body because I had to learn how to walk again, which essentially meant walking the fire for me.  I focus on the resiliency and how good I feel when the endorphins fly like a thousand butterflies heading to the sunlight to fuel their wings with solar energy.

Things are different.  I’m forged by a new fire.  And it’s okay.

– Pennington

Fitness Wasn’t Everything


I had someone tell me once, “Fitness isn’t all there is to the world.” And, although, I knew that, I didn’t comprehend what that looked like or how does one practice that kind of lifestyle, until life told me to take a seat with a cast on.  It was during this time I learned fitness wasn’t everything in life.  Fitness no longer always became the focus for which I identified with.  That changed my perspective on everything else, and it also made room for everything else I had to deal with.

I believe fitness has helped me to manage my bipolar for over a decade.  The first time I was diagnosed I didn’t want to believe it.  I think it’s not uncommon to say that before I was diagnosed, life was better.  But, that isn’t necessarily true.  I want it to be.  However, I understand that the notion of my life being better in the past is most likely stemming from not having the diagnosis in the first place since I can’t unknow what I know.  Nevertheless, the moment when fitness became unavailable for me, it was easier to see how difficult it became to stabilize my mood swings and irritability in general.

I used fitness as a crutch for many things like anger, depression and the void.  There were times I genuinely enjoyed gym-hopping because I naturally thought it was healthier than barhopping.  But, those hourly long sessions five or six times a week at the gym were where I chose to avoid certain life reflections.  So, rather than cut myself with a blade or fracture my hand on a solid wall, I would train to injury repeatedly.  I was using a different method to continue to hurt myself.

When I couldn’t train for a period, I had to learn to sit with my passions.  I had to observe my pain and find times for when I could adjust in healthier ways.  I had to find new ways to regulate my recurring moods, triggers and symptoms.  This was one of the most difficult things I had to do, despite allowing myself to feel what I feel when they arise.  It took a long time for me to realize that not every feeling will remain and not every thought was something I had to believe in.  I also didn’t realize in the way I trained my mind and body reflected my pain, avoidance, passion, anger, sadness and loneliness.

I’ve been a queen of silent pain, abuse and trauma.  I’ve been cold and brutal many times, not only to myself, but to others as well.  Once I started to transition from a masculine approach to more of a feminine one, I learned how to become softer and not have a meltdown.  With changing my mindset, from being open to change and flow while being less critical, clarity came along with ease and it reflected in my training styles as a form of better awareness, in and out my fitness, and life itself.

-Pennington

Reminiscing Mother


Me and Mom

1963-2014

My new therapist wants me to open the mystery door about my mother’s death because apparently I’m not depressed enough for her.  Ha!  It’s been a little over a year and a half and I still haven’t come to terms with how I feel about my mother’s death except I’m happy she’s no longer suffering in this cruel world.

Sometimes I go to the river by the busy highway and speak to her directly or through the universe.  I light candles for her in her honor every few months.  My partner and I get her blue flowers also as tribute.  At times, I believe, one reason why I cemented my journey and involvement with ballet-inspired workouts is because I remembered in her childhood she wanted to be a Ballerina, so I honor her by learning and performing ballet.  Last, but not least, I hung her last painting high up on the wall of a bridge over water over a plush purple night that looks a lot like the bridge I eerily live close to nowadays.

And I’m not sure if because death came and went, or because of my denial, but it’s pretty weird how the older I get and the more I stare in the mirror, the more I realize how much I look like my mother’s daughter.  I guess everyone saw it before me.  Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough before.  Who knows?

The truth is I haven’t been able to sit down and stare longer than five seconds on any of my mother’s photos.  I’ve seen a lot of her different dimensions at different times and the longer I stare at a photo, the more all those dimensions pop out and the more I may have to relive memories that leave me open and scarred.

The longer I stare, the quicker my eyes start to flood and the quicker I start to counter and strain to contain the waterworks.  I’m not a sappy person.  I don’t forget my cruel childhood, but death has a weird way of sitting you down and making you think about your mortality and everybody else’s even if you don’t want to sit down and think about it.  And even though I can be heavily into death itself and metaphysics and pits of darkness, it seems at the age of thirty-four death seems realer than ever.

*

Death has also made me think more about how ending memories are probably the most important ones.  This intrigued me because I’m all about beginnings, so for closing memories to leave a devastating mark haunts me.  What’s worse is I didn’t even get to say goodbye while she was conscious.  By the time I went to travel to the hospital to see her I was in a wheelchair with a very painful throbbing ankle in a heavy cast.  It was hell for my foot to not be elevated, but I believe I was numb inside from my mother’s death.  So much was taken from me in a matter of weeks from mobility and now her.

It was awful having the knowledge of how the doctors had to sedate her until she was finally gone because the pain in her intestines would be too much for her to handle.  And that’s what hurts the most.  I think about how hard her life has always been.  I think about all the times I didn’t want to be happy in my own life because I felt guilty because she was always out there suffering with an incurable disease.  My last memory of her alive was observing her writhing in massive pain.  I knew in the way she talked, it was psychologically different from anything I’ve ever heard her say.  In her words, in the way she spoke she was already gone.

It was hard to stomach mentally and it was harder to stomach visually how she could no longer go to the bathroom on her own and how the nurses were the ones bathing her in the room on her bed.  But on the last day I saw her I caressed her hair.  I remembered kissing her on her warm forehead telling her I’ll visit again very soon, but soon after I broke my ankle and I was already far far away from reaching her.

My mother was dying since I was nine years old.  I became desensitized to every near death and actual near death experience she’s ever has, so when this became the day, it was as if life played a hardcore prank on me.  It just seemed like every time she survived another one and another one and another one, but not this time.

Who knew that was going to be the last time I saw her talking or breathing?  Who knew that would’ve been the last kiss I gave her on her warm forehead?  I think some people have fantasies about how they want people to go before they die.  I always thought I’d see her one last time with my brother in the hospital room and we would both take turns saying, “We forgive you for everything.  We know you did the best you could.  We’ll always love you.”

But nothing ever turns out the way you expect in life and that’s just how it is.  So now I think about the other ending memories, the ones way before she went back into the hospital for a gazillion time.  I think about how even though I didn’t have the best relationship with her throughout my life, she did branch into a second mother towards the ending of her life.  She was a newer mother, better mature.  During that process, I believe a big part of her learned to really appreciate me because I was there to the end unlike my brother who stopped showing up to the hospital and didn’t even come to see her at her own funeral.

*

I’m left with the ending memories like how I did visit her more often in the hospice.  How I left the house with $50 bucks one day and took her to a street fair where I bought her food, had her play games until she won a stuffed animal and I went back home with a $1 in my pocket.  At the time, for a moment I was upset, but I quickly thought about how she wasn’t going to be around forever – so this is something I’m supposed to do and it was something that came out of my heart anyway.  Plus I wanted her to have a good time and not worry about death coming closer and closer.

I think about the ending memories and how I would take her out on pass for a few hours to enjoy new foods, to get her soda and cigarettes, to enjoy the sun and we would sit in the park and watch the hot guys play soccer.  I think about how for a very long time before I even thought about taking her out and seeing her often, for a time I stopped seeing her altogether.  I stopped seeing her for so long with the intention to make her suffer like she did me and when I came in the hospice room she hugged me tightly and cried so much.  I was still pretty numb at the time.  I’ve always been.

I never thought she felt like that about me – love.  Or how my friend (who now is my current partner) passed me a cigarette behind her back while we walked to the pizza shop out on pass and she scolded him lovingly, “Are you getting my daughter into smoking now?”  And that was the first time in a long time where I thought, “Hey, she must care about me.”

-Pennington

Barrier Break


A year and a half ago my life changed when I fell backwards on the skateboard and my foot got caught in the back of my other leg just before my bodyweight came crashing down on it and I broke my ankle.  My life changed just because I wanted to have fun, just because I desired to take risk, just because I desired to feel emancipated.  I made a choice despite peer pressure.  I made a choice despite my beginner status.  I made a choice because of adrenaline because of confidence and that single moment changed my life in a nanosecond.

After the cast, wheelchair, crutches and learning how to walk all over again I became afraid of everything from tying my sneakers to going outside.  I also didn’t like anyone.  I felt I couldn’t relate anymore with others.  The people who I thought would be there when the chips were down weren’t even there.  So I kept myself in isolation because this felt easiest.  I wasn’t feeling the world.  During the process I questioned the world.  I debated on my entire existence.  I no longer identified with the biggest part of my life – fitness.  I only identified with healing and recovery.

So I became afraid of everything living in a repeated trauma.  The body is an amazing machine.  Still, the psychological portion is where my issue exists.  For a good amount of time I didn’t want to walk on my crutches from fear of injuring and falling again.  After the cast came off and I could walk without an extreme limp I had the problem of wanting to step in the shower because I could slip in there too.  To this day I fight through many different mental and physical barriers.  I tell myself, “I’m a warrior.  I’m fine.  I can do this.  Everything will be okay.”

But no matter how wintry or full of spring it is, going outside is another battle because stepping on or stepping off the curb sends an apprehensive trigger within.  Then in a split second an image appears with a thousand ankles all lined diagonal breaking at the same time and the bones make a big sharp crunch sound.  This is where I remain frozen.  I get lightheaded.  I feel the panic and anxiety creeping like mad ants throughout my entire body.  I stand on the sidewalk like a lost little lamb trying to hide my terror from everyone outside.  I stand under the shade for 5-20 minutes or find the nearest bench I can sit and rely on.  I try to shake it out my head like it’s the nightmare it has been for over a year plus but it’s painfully difficult.  I wonder when these fears and worries will take flight?

Time, strength, online friends, partner support and my current therapist have been by my side.  I had to break wall after concrete wall in order to get to an elevated place.  What I learned is recovery comes in different stages.  Healing takes forever and a day even with positive self-talk.  Now I have to push through a new obstacle – one I used to love doing actually – riding a bike.  Before the accident I remembered loving to cycle.  I remembered the feeling of the wind giving me foreplay all over my body with its soft breeze.  I remembered feeling like a madwoman cycling and eating down bridge after bridge like some sort of luxury freedom like a huge accomplishment.

But now I’m scared.  Once again mental preparation becomes my only way through.  Like everything else, I’ve come very far, and baby steps are how I work back to the old or with the new.

 -Pennington

Chewing Gum


chewing gum 2.

You know what’s to come. 
You hear war drums.
You heard about the hunter in me.
You know I’m butter toffee.
You heard I bruise egos.
You know I’m blacker than Negroes. 
You heard I have a million sins.
You know I don’t fix things.

You can’t stop yourself.
You like the pains and welts.
You know the sum of what’s to come.
You love my Puerto Rican in your rum.
You like the ecstasy and high I bring.
You enjoy how I leave you on brink.
You like the bountiful sex I give.
You love me so much to forgive.

You know exactly what’s to come.
You can hear the bass and thrums.
I can’t bring you safety baby.
I’m high, low, manic, crazy.
I’m not stupid to guard your heart.
I can’t even blueprint my art.
I can’t be like you:  Lost in love.
I’m dead inside – a little too tough.

You know shamelessly what’s to come.
Interestingly enough you’re off the cuff.
I’m going to hurt you like the others.
I’ll haunt like the suffering of mothers.
I’m going to give you a world of hurt.
I wouldn’t be able to without teamwork.
You heard of ruin and what’s to come.
Now you’re my next chewing gum.

-Pennington

Accommodating Self


purp (2)

I have a new vision of how I want my body to look.

Ever since my life changed dramatically I no longer want to associate with the past as if it were a great friend.  I have this fresh sense of self-worth and self-love.  I have a profound sense of fresh freedom.  I have a new perspective on respect.  I have a thirst for renewal on every level in my life.  I have redefine friends, attitudes, perspectives, logic, love and even training.

I’m not sure what lays in front of me in the life of training, but I know I’ve been a weightlifter for over a decade.  I need something new or different because I’m new and I’m different now.   It’s nothing for me to lift and pyramid heavy weight upon heavier weight until I’m completely exhausted.  I know what it’s like to live for the iron therapy and the iron discipline, iron mind, iron heart and iron blood.

I know very well about this weightlifting life.  I also know that before things changed for me I had a hard time obtaining motivation and I struggled with finding love, rekindling the passion and pleasure in weightlifting back in 2013-2014.  I wonder if this was a sign of where I am to be now.

I know ever since the frightful ankle accident everything has changed, including my training and my body.  I found motivation very hard to come by and suffered for months in a state of blank.  I learned to accept that this accident was a traumatic experience for me.  I still have moments where I relive the accident or the feelings associated from the most difficult time of my life.

I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to during this difficult time because no one was going through the same thing as me.  There wasn’t anyone who could understand what I was going through – except the forum I found where people broke their ankles, spoke about their thoughts on surgery (before and after) and what could we possibly do to return to normal as we recovered.  So I did what I usually do – I turned inward – even though I felt drowned by life and all its multifaceted oceans.

It took me a long time to get used to the idea of being immobile.  The physical life as I knew it was washed away immediately.  I no longer had weightlifting therapy as a crutch.  I no longer showered like normal people.  I no longer cooked.  I gave all my independence to others because I didn’t have a choice to a lot of the times.  In the beginning I was drugged from pain medication.  I remembered taking less pain medication than what was prescribed because I didn’t want to get addicted in any way, so in order to keep the pain at bay I slept like a bear.  This accident was very hard on my mind, on my body and on my spirit.

Then I had to get used to being mobile.  During this time I didn’t recognize myself.  I was wearing sweat pants all fall and winter because it was the only thing that got pass my big cast.   Since I was depressed, and all the physical activities were taken away suddenly – I needed comfort along with something that brought me instant intense pleasure.  Consequently, I drowned myself in every food delight possible, even foods I used to turn my back on I added onto my daily menu.  It was no surprise that I gained 30lbs in a matter of 7 months.

Naturally I said, “Wow you really need to get yourself back into the gym and hit it super hard!”  I noticed since January of 2015 I had a pattern of working out at home:  Two weeks on and two weeks off.  I incorporated all kinds of low-impact workouts including boxing and Pilates – basically anything I could do at home that didn’t hurt my ankle further.  But now it was time for me to grow a bigger pair of tits and hit the gym once again.  I thought I was ready.

But when I entered the gym I felt extremely uncomfortable.  I saw tons of fit people and realized I wasn’t around their level anymore.  I wore oversized hoodies, shirts and sweat pants because I felt extremely fat (for my standards).  I wasn’t the same weightlifter or person I used to be at the gym.  I had this strange amount of pressure every single time I went back into the gym and kept comparing myself on who I used to be.  I kept asking myself, “How am I going to be back to who I was?”

The idea of starting many things from scratch just kept bringing my motivation down.  I didn’t feel inspired on any level.  I didn’t have the right kind of mindset.  I wasn’t flexible in my approach.  I’ve never gone through this before.  I was used to being the one everyone relied on to give them motivation.  I was the one who relied on nobody but me for inspiration.  So now that I was good at failing myself, my confidence shrank rapidly until it became nonexistent.  Rather than realize I should’ve started slow and build up a slow confidence within – I tried forcing myself to like the gym.

I tried to motivate myself in all the ways that used to work for me regarding the gym (fit life and weightlifting).  Did it work?  No.  Mostly because the motivation that used to work for me before wouldn’t work for me now.  I wasn’t getting it.  When I continued to lag, I just figured I needed to get into the gym as many times as possible and the rest will all just fix itself.  So I tried to force myself to do 2 workouts twice a day 5 times a week, and even included newbie training buddies to make things easier.  And I still wasn’t motivated.  If anything, it made things worse.  I gave it a month and a half.  Then I decided very carefully to break up with the gym (which I made an entry about already here).

The good news is I found something new and different to accommodate the new and different me.  To be continued.

P.S.

Part 2 of this post will also be on Training Life.

-Pennington