I was a carefree 24-year-old. My fiance and I lived in a high rise apartment in the city. It was exciting to live Downtown after fleeing my parent’s house in the suburbs. We worked 9–5 gigs and he went to school part-time. Our lives centered on work, our puppy Bandit, Age of Empire competitions and Saturday nights with friends. However, our lives would soon be irrevocably changed, seemingly overnight.
As a larger lady, I’ve struggled to fit into clothes and society’s definition of health. I had two choices: succumb to the pressures of society and diet, or accept my frame and focus on exercise I enjoy. I choose Option 2. I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights, so I immersed myself into strength training. I loved it. I trained heavy and soon noticed increased strength and a more muscular frame. Soreness after a workout meant a job well done at the gym.
That’s how I initially justified my knees locking as I raised from the toilet. And the stiffness I felt in my wrists, feet, and fingers when Bandit tugged at his leash during walks. But as the pain increased, I could no longer rationalize it as “second-day soreness”. My wrists were so sore I wore a brace so people I just met would not offer their hand. Walking to work was no longer an efficient, enjoyable start to the day. My sore feet and stiff knees made walking an agonizing, slow experience.
Our care-free existence became a combination of pain and worry. I was in bad shape physically and emotionally. My social life ground to a holt. Swollen feet made a night on the town nearly impossible. I stopped lifting weights. My mood was melancholy. I slept most evenings due to fatigue and sadness. My fiance was my strongest support system, but my mood often masked my appreciation. My life, before pain became a constant presence, was a blurry memory I could no longer view.
My body was in turmoil and it had nothing to do with squats. Signals were clear that something was wrong. I had no idea what I was facing, and I was terrified.