In both of the intensive leadership programs I’ve participated in–California Agricultural Leadership Program and CTI Co-Active Leadership–there has been an emphasis on health and fitness. The central message was to be an effective leader you must manage your health so that you are not hampered by illness. I have always needed to lose a few pounds but otherwise have enjoyed good health, so I never understood how important health is to achieving my leadership potential.
Then menopause happened and my fibromyalgia came roaring back. I now have empathy for people dealing with any kind of chronic pain. I am not sure the energy tax I’ve been paying for my fibro-related pain, but I would guess my productivity and enthusiasm are down 15-20% compared to 2 years ago.
Then on February 10 this year I developed hives and I’ve been experiencing them in different parts of my body in the weeks since. The over the counter medication does not control them very well either. I am at my wit’s end, so I am starting an elimination diet.
I will chronicle my journey giving up almost everything I usually eat to find a way to release the healthier, stronger, focused leader in me.
The last post I wrote was so hopeful. I really thought I would be able to jump start some better habits with a blitz and a better understanding of my own story around habits. I went for a bike ride and I felt great, so I went for a slightly longer one two days later. Later that same day I felt like I had the flu–my body ached in my joints and lower back. My fuzzy thinking also came back with a vengeance. I felt betrayed by my body.
Then the world went nuts: two police shootings and a sniper killing police. I knew my resilience was low when I over reacted while watching the Stage 12 of the Tour de France. The ASO (Tour de France organizer) did not move the barriers lower on the slopes of Mt Ventoux when they shortened the race and, not surprisingly, spectators interfered in the race and caused a crash. I stewed about it all day. Then tragedy struck Nice and I really had something to be upset about.
All these days I continued to experience pain, long after my more vigorous bike ride. I continued to ride my cruiser bike around town. But now even long walks or a lot of standing leaves my back so stiff I cannot sleep comfortably. I finally broke down and make a doctor’s appointment. I had low expectations though, for sometime now every symptom I have is attributed to menopause, followed by “there’s no treatment”.
I had two days before my doctor’s appointment and no pain relief. I began imagining all kinds of crazy, life threatening circumstances. Fortunately my Kaiser doctor had reviewed my chart before our appointment and when I told her what I was experiencing, she said “menopause can reactivate your fibromyalgia.” And just making sense of what was going on made all the difference. She gave me some ideas of things I could do to manage the pain, continue to exercise and be able to manage the symptoms.
Today I begin again, again. With less pressure and with renewed energy. With all the crazy stuff happening in the USA and the world, I want to use this space to emanate light in the darkness.