It shouldn’t surprise you to know I am someone who is known for over-extending herself. As a person I am not satisfied unless I have a project on hand and five planned to follow up with next. To be honest I think a lot of people are like this, especially us with chronic illnesses. We have the same drive in us that other people have and, for the most part, we do not actually see a difference between ourselves and others. It is only our body that is holding us back, however much we try to forget it.

I spoke to you last quite a while ago. Over two weeks in fact. For that I am sorry. I am once more caught in the grips of a situation in which I have been over-extending myself. I thought, since I was on steroids, that my body would be able to withstand the brief daily workouts demanded of me during the ’28 by Sam Wood’ program. Steroids, you see, make things easy for your body. They reduce the risk of pain, increase the fluid movement around the body, encourage the natural metabolism of the body to work faster so you are more vitalised and energised. You are stronger and more able to do things, or so it seems. The main flaw with steroids is in the fact they are immunosuppressant’s, meaning they suppress your immune system.

struggling to cope

struggling to cope

So while you may be physically more than normal, you are also physically less.

Some people using steroids for athletic reasons will be justified in accounting for the increase in the physical benefits gained from this treatment. Others, using it for health reasons, need to be wise about how they go about their daily lives, recognising the danger of over-extending yourself while the opportunity is there.

Trying to cheat your way into fitness, so to speak.

This is what I did and I have paid the price.

As you know, I signed up for ’28 by Sam Wood’, which is a 28 day program of meal plans and 28 minute aerobic and cardiovascular exercises. The intention is to drive the metabolism and focus of the individual in the direction of healthy eating and short bursts of energy which they will then desire to continue after the 28 days are complete. It seemed like an achievable and realistic target for me. I only needed some focus for the month I was on steroids, and I honestly thought that 28 minutes was not that long for me to exercise. Half of the time was spent resting anyway.

So I thought.

I began on Monday. I was very reluctant to exercise and due to personal circumstances was not actually able to do the work out anyway. The food was wonderful and this encouraged me.

Tuesday it was clear I could not make excuses. The work out must be done, the food could not be sustained on its’ own. I went in reluctantly regardless but came out sweaty and surprisingly content. I could not believe how good I felt! It has been a long time since I have been able to sweat and not break out in a severe allergic reaction, and the fact that this did not happen invigorated me even more so.

By Wednesday I was waking two hours earlier than normal and feeling refreshed and pleased. I had more focus and calm, less anxiety and excess energy. I felt like the person I had been before I began developing the lesions in my head.

It was wonderful.

Thursday was a restful stretch kind of workout. Not much exercise to go on with really but plenty of good healing bodily movements. The kind I enjoy.

During the Friday work out something changed. I would typically run my workouts between 3pm and 6pm, this one tending towards the latter. The right side of my head began throbbing at the 22nd minute. I began to have hot flushes run down my spine and along my shoulders. I did what I always do and stopped, sat down, had a glass of water. I was hot and so I stretched on the floor so as not to do any damage to my muscles. When 8 minutes had passed (making up my 28 minute workout still) I wiped down and migrated to the dining room table. Following an hour rest I informed my mum of what had happened and to check on me in the shower in a few minutes.

Saturday I did not take my workout. I just did not feel up to it. I felt shame faced as I had just spouted my excitement over how incredible I had felt and I should have known (!) that this would happen.

If over-extending myself is my hubris, shooting myself in the foot is never far off.

Sunday I traveled down to Bunbury in preparation of my two week in-school teaching practicum. This is where student teachers, people studying to become teachers at university, are assigned a school to utilise the knowledge they have acquired from university into practice. We teach lessons we have designed based on our mentor teachers instructions, they reflect on what we have done and determine if we are achieving the outcomes set by the Australian Institute of Teaching and the Australian Governments Department of Education. You either pass or fail these, there is no grading system. You also need to do a certain number of these to become a teacher, as you need to accrue a specifically determined amount of practicum hours before graduating the degree. This practicum is expected to last 10 days, two school weeks.

Is over-extending is part of a teacher's nature?

Time for some teaching practicum.

I had over-extended myself the week before I went on practicum.

You may recall that last year I actually had my Rituximab (Rituxan or Chemotherapy) infusion whilst on my two-week in-school practicum. So I was not so worried.

The over-extending Jessie once more rears her head.

To make things more difficult, as I am wont to do, I had also set myself up for a challenge and applied for a position in a regional school. I had hoped for the Gascoyne or Wongan Hills. Having been assigned Bunbury was not a disappointment to me however. I knew I was a liability given my health and the insurance of the university. I was also aware that I needed to be careful given the recurrence of my lesions. Yet I did it anyway.

Over-extending much Jessie?

Fortune and blessings were on my side in a major way with my assignation to a school only a few kilometres from my cousins’ house and surprisingly staffed by one of my very own primary school teachers. My old teacher offered to drive me to and from school each day and my cousin is letting me stay with them. I am ever so fortunate and am always amazed at how well things seem to work out for me.

There is always the expectation that you will develop an illness or ‘catch a cold’ during your practicum. From the level of work, plus running around with children, plus the general lifestyle change. I was now on a fold out bed, in the rainy and windy coastal Bunbury, waking at 6:30 every morning and up marking until 10:30 every night.

You may understand why I have not posted much online these last few weeks now. Not only was I over-extending but I was being over-extended.

The throat was sore and raspy by Tuesday afternoon. The congestion was setting in by Wednesday morning. I haven’t closed my eyes that night and the congestion looked to be somewhat an infection. I could barely keep my eyes open by Friday night to eat dinner. Bed was at 8pm that night.

Needless to say Saturday I just wanted to sleep and no amount of coffee could hold me from it. I kept awake all day somehow (no doubt by over extending myself!)

This week I am healing.

The infection was not so much, just a bad congestion. This is all that is left of what began of what looked to be a horrific illness. Hank Evans. I want to share something more meaningful with you, but all I have is this diary-style fact that This Lupus Life is brought to you by the virtue of over-extension and the time 6:30am. The letter is O (as in a yawn) and the date of my next piece of common sense will come Monday 24th October.


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