Just because you can lift that, doesn't mean you should
I was my fathers son, so at the age of 14, I worked and played like a boy. Weight training was my gym class in junior high school and I continued it through to graduation.
I wanted to be strong enough to help my father, and also, I thought the bigger girls at school would leave me alone. Whenever a boy in gym class thought he had worked-out enough, the coach told him arm wrestle me. Embarrassed, the boy got right back to working-out with the weights. What I didn’t tell my teacher or classmates is that many mornings, before my father went to work, we’d arm wrestle. When my parents took me to parties, I spent the night arm wrestling every adult man that was there, it seemed. I thought my value and worth as a human being was all about how strong I was, and how hard I could work.
When I grew up, I worked like a man. I worked for 2 years doing high rise roofing, pushing wheel-borrows filled with stone across a rubber roof and installing slate. Then for 11 years I was a truck driver. I unloaded freight, pulled a hundred feet of hose from a tanker to fill heating oil tanks, driving dump trucks, garbage trucks that lift dumpsters, or lifting luggage into the bottom of a motor coach bus I drove. When I got laid off from driving one thing, I'd get a job driving something else. Following that, I spent 15 years using my body to lift and care for disabled ladies who lived with me, and who weighted 80-120 pounds.
On my mini farm, I unloaded and stacked a truck and horse trailer loaded with hay bales every month, as well as heavy bags of feed and fertilizer. I built out-buildings on our farm and did landscaping, moved large rocks, shoveled stone and manure, pushed heavy wheelbarrows and manually moved what ever needed to be relocated. My back and knees were strong, and I lifted correctly, so I figured the rest of my body was just as strong.
After enduring twenty-five years of chronic illness, four lost pregnancies, 20 second opinions, dozens of tests, spending thousands of dollars and 3 surgeries, I discovered that all that lifting gave me a large abdominal hernia and 4 prolapses; bladder, rectum, uterus and intestines - were falling out of me all at the same time. I am so physically broken that my life time weight lifting and resistance limit is now 10 pounds.
I wish someone had warned me when I was young, “Just because you can lift that, does not mean that you should". Now, I look back and think, “Yea, you could have jumped off a building too, but should you?” The way I see it, the damage all that lifting did to the inside of my body wasn’t much different then if I had jumped off a building.
When I see a little girl pick up another child almost her size, and hear the mothers near by praise her for how strong she is, I cringe. I see cheerleaders lift other girls their size or women carry their older children, and I want to tell them what that does inside. When I had to tell my little adopted daughter, “Mommy can’t pick you up any more, but we can still hug”, it broke my heart. I can't even take care of the infants in the nursery at church, like I used to. I was too stubborn and independent to ask for help when I moved furniture or tried to build something by myself. To reduce the number of trips I would need to take things up the basement steps or to the car, by carrying more items than I should and struggled with heavy objects, instead of asking for an extra pair of hands to help. What was I thinking?
Experience has taught me, much too late in life, that the body has limitations. Women are not made like men. Our strength is in different places. Men are made to carry us. We are designed to carry children until they can walk by themselves. The problem is that when children get to be about 30 pounds, we want to move faster than they can, so we carry them. Women, now-a-days, start motherhood lugging around a baby carrier, which is awkward and heavy. Moms are constantly picking up their children to put them in high-chairs, shopping carts, car seats, strollers, etc. I hear many women talk about themselves or someone they know, who needs to have a bladder or prolapse uterus fixed. They think the prolapse was from having children, but take it from a woman who never had a baby come from this body, having children isn’t the only thing that causes prolapse. Repetitive and heavy lifting does a lot of damage. I do believe also that nutrition has a lot to do with keeping the body strong, so it can stay together, because pioneer women had a half dozen children by natural birth, worked like men and didn’t have their insides slide out. They ate food from the earth and not from a box, can, bottle, jar or bag.
Please, I encourage you to learn from my mistakes. Try to stop lifting more than 20% of your body weight. Teach your little girls not to lift anybody or anything that weights more than a gallon of milk. That includes bags of heavy school books. Get her a backpack or book bag with wheels! You only get one body in this life, so take good care of it.
Pelvic Floor SpasmThis doesn't happen to me as often as it did many years ago, but when it does, WOW! My pelvic floor goes into spasm and it feels like natural childbirth without drugs. The more I tense up, the worse the pain gets, even when I concentrate on breathing. About 20 minutes into it I start shaking all over, like I am in a freezer, naked. When I brace against the trembling, the pain increases. It is agony!
This afternoon I had to end a phone call because I was seized with this intense pain. At first I tried almost standing on my head to reverse the downward gravitational force of my internal organs resting on my pelvic muscles. That didn't work like it used to. I began shaking and lay down on the sofa. Then I applied what I learned in college.
Thinking through it, I was obviously in a stress response, so how do I make my body drop into a state of physiological relaxation? Being connected to the body below the neck and aware of what's happening is the first step. Awareness heals. Breathing deep forced into the bottom of the lungs is only one part of the solution. Relaxing into the trembling and not contracting the pelvic floor muscles, but focusing on allowing them to release without pushing, which is what started the whole thing in the first place, is key to relieving all these symptoms.
Whatever you resist, persists. When I stopped resisting the spasm and shaking, I disempowered them. As long as I resisted, they persisted.
When you surrender (cease resistance the enemy, submit to its authority and learn the lesson it is there to teach you) you empower yourself and disempower the thing that is hurting you. What was the lesson this episode of pain was sent to teach me today? Not to rush my body, but to take time and provide for the care of it above all other priorities.
Distraction is mental disconnection from the body, leaving it feeling abandoned in a time of greatest need. This increases stress and pain. Feeling what you are feeling and getting closer to and sitting with the pain, instead of trying to escape it, is how to manage symptoms. It's like when you sit with your best friend in their time of pain and distress. Best friends don't go away and say, "I will come back when you feel better (aka - when you are more fun to be with)" and leave them alone in their time of greatest need. Best friends are there in times of greatest pain and need. Be your body's best friend.
Symptoms are the body communicating that there is a problem and it's pointing to the problem. Taking drugs or checking out of the body is like telling the body to "shut up". It will scream louder with more intense symptoms until it can't be ignored or medicated, making the sufferer stop, listen and take care of it in a way that works for the body.
When it was all over, I had a bowl of ice cream and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, it's self medicating with food. It's okay to give yourself permission to do so every once in a while. The act of eating something pleasurable and deriving pleasure from it also drops the body into a state of physiological relaxation. I needed all the relaxation I could get at that point.
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