Category Archives: Exercise

Finally Finding Freetime

I find it fascinating that this blog is constantly on my mind, that I regularly have the desire to post to it, that I know spending time writing it often brings me piece, and that I still manage (knowing fully well all of the above) to go months without adding anything to it. I must confess, though, that I am also pleased to be at a point where realizations like that do not cause me to beat myself up. The truth is that, with narcolepsy, my time and energy are limited. I am proud that I have spent much of the last year and a half working to prioritize my wife and daughter and my own well-being over anything else in my life. Of course, numerous rough spots have happened in that same period of time, but I am even better at working my way through those moments.

I am also finding it easier to be at peace with my narcolepsy and to make time for myself because I have made good choices in terms of my work environment. In January 2013, our little family hit a major crisis point, largely because I was bringing so much frustration and anger home from my job. I still loved being in the classroom, but the politics and lack of leadership was eating away at me on a daily basis. Fortunately, my wife realized that the time had come for me to leave that job (even though it meant we would now have to pay a significantly larger sum of money for our daughter’s education since she was getting reduced tuition because I was a teacher at the school). I finished out the school year, and I found a new job serving in non-classroom position at a grade school. Although I knew I would miss the daily interaction with the same set of students, the new job afforded me the chance to have a broader impact because I was supporting teachers as they worked to integrate technology into their classes. Plus, I still got the opportunity to work with students on a frequent basis. Unfortunately, Catholic grade schools function at the whim of the Pastor, and the Pastor at my new school was (and is) not a pleasant man or a good leader. To put it simply, he describes himself as a zealot with a great deal of pride. He managed to drive out the school’s principal by the end of December, and I had taken my new job specifically to work with her. I did try to work with other teachers to get the Archdiocese involved, and they did do a fact-finding investigation, but nothing came of it. I also started looking for another job, as soon as my friend resigned. Ironically, as bad as things got at the new job, they never seemed to feel worse than what I had been experiencing at my previous job. I have no doubt that they would have if I had stayed at that Catholic grade school, but my job search led me to an opening at a different Catholic grade school. I interviewed there and accepted a position which required me to start immediately. The idea of me resigning from something mid-year would have been unthinkable to me even 2 years ago, but I did not hesitate in this instance. Clearly, making the change to the new grade school would absolutely be the best thing for me and for my family. By the end of March, I was the technology coordinator at my new grade school, and I was a significantly happier man, even though I had an astronomical amount of work to do. Finding a healthier and more supportive work environment in both of my job changes in the past year definitely made it easier for me to function and to cope with my narcolepsy. In fact, both positions required me to work full time, even though I had only been working 70% time since my narcolepsy diagnosis, and the reality is that both of the Catholic grade schools needed far more than full-time work from me to get their technology up to speed. I not only managed to work full-time and to do all of the extra work, but I also have been able to be more present for both my wife and my daughter. Again, I know that is a direct result of pushing myself to make the right choices for me.

I certainly feel like I have a long way to go to take better care of myself, but I also feel confident that for the first time in years, I am on the correct path to living a more grounded, balanced life as a person with narcolepsy. My two goals for the remainder of this summer are to start posting to this blog and my “new” (started in the fall of 2013 yet without any additional posts) technology blog at least once per week — specifically because they are good outlets for me, and I want to re-establish finally some level of regular fitness routine because I know that I need to improve my physical health to make my mental and emotional health even stronger. I am also hoping that making those 2 goals public here will push me to follow through. And, anyone reading this blog will certainly get the opportunity to see how success I am.

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Filed under Balance, Blogging, Education, Emotions, Exercise, Family, Gratitude, Healing, Honesty, Hope, Illness, My story, Narcolepsy, Technology, Wisdom

Wasted Week

I need to get to bed, but I wanted to write at least one post before life completely sweeps me away again. So, I was on “spring break” for the entire past week. Sadly, I have done little to nothing in just about every area of my life. I still have a ton of things to grade before 3 PM tomorrow, our taxes need to get done, our home office needs organizing, and a thousand other things are rushing through my brain. Somehow, I am less stressed than I have been in the past about all of this, but I also find it frightening that I have tried to rest for a week and have little to show for it. I feel worse today than I did 9 days ago when our trimester ended. My back has been a disaster for the past four days, and I need to manage to go to work tomorrow on top of “finishing” my correcting. Oh well, I will make it all “work,” but I find it insane how much my health (physical and mental) can grossly impact my life. I know that daily stress from my job is causing me to be even more drained, but I hope I can find a counter balance soon. Every day, things seem to fall apart a little more. On one hand, I am surviving it, which means that I am doing alright. But, I also know that all of this is slowly chipping away at my ability to remain calm and stable. Sadly, I have had two major eruptions of anger and rage over the past few months. They have all been at home, but in many ways that is even worse because my wife and daughter are the last people I want to upset. Eventually, this school year will end, and I will find some ways to create more balance. I just hope that I can hold it together and start to find positive ways to cope with my stress, anxiety, and poor health. Clearly, starting to blog again will help, but I also want to start some level of exercise and yoga. Those three things will do more for me and my narcolepsy than any medication could ever hope to do.

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Filed under Anger, Balance, Confusion, Depression, Emotions, Exercise, Exhaustion, Family, Fear, Frustration, Honesty, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Rage

Slow Startup

Today is our last day in Tennessee. We will rise early tomorrow and hit the road. While I am not looking forward to two days in a car, I am looking forward to getting back home. I feel good that I still have two weeks before I am back at school. I have oodles of things to do – at home and for school, but I will continue to approach them at the pace that I can handle. Today definitely feels similar to that. My wife went on a driving loop last night by herself. She enjoyed it immensely, but came home even sicker than she was. Thus, I am the only one up this morning. Hopefully, we will still try to visit some of the craft shops today, but I love that we can have such a relaxed start to our “final day.” Far too often, a day like this is treated frenetically, cramming in activities for each waking moment. Instead, we will take in what we can and simply appreciate the chance to spend time together.

I find myself grateful for the many opportunities to slow down my life and expectations. My brain continues to push me, but I am getting better at letting go. I am even able to appreciate the fleeting moments when I do achieve a level of balance. Those moments are not nearly as frequent as I would like, but the fact that success brings joy rather than regret is a huge improvement. For years, a moment of serenity would bring angst rather than relief. I would berate myself for my inability to “feel serene” more often – how screwed up is that? Thus, I am highly content to lounge this morning, at peace with my upbeat outlook.

That said, I do need to find a bit more structure to my days when I get back home. The start of school is still three weeks away, but I need to begin adapting my schedule and routine now, since I know that a radical shift will not sit well with my brain or physical health. I also need to find a physical routine. The hiking and rafting has been great, but my body hurts all over as a result. More than anything else, I need to strengthen my knees. They are hurting constantly these days. I must spend some time over the next three weeks to get them ready for standing frequently during the school day. If I don’t, it will be a LONG year. I find juggling exercise, my family, my sanity, and my job one of the most frustrating aspects of narcolepsy. All of them take energy from me, but all of them are vitally necessary.

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Filed under Balance, Emotions, Exercise, Family, Gratitude, Honesty, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Wisdom

Awesome Acupuncture

>Although I am still feeling the effects of my bathroom sleeping experience, I am in a significantly better mental and physical state today. While my massage yesterday is definitely a piece of the improvement, another HUGE aspect is that I had acupuncture today. I tend to look forward to my acupuncture anyway (I see my acupuncturist every two weeks), but today was phenomenal.

Two weeks ago, Sarah (my acupuncturist at Langford Chiropractic) used cups on me for the first time. Essentially, she created a vacuum seal in a cluster of places on my back. It made me feel significantly better. I was sincerely hoping that she might want to use those again today, particularly because the cups did wonders for the tension in my upper back. While I might get cups in two weeks, Sarah decided to stick (pun intended) with acupuncture today. She did “shake up” my treatment, though. She also had to wait to use electrical stimulation on the needles until half-way through my session (she had another patient “hooked up” when I started my treatment).

The different needle placement certainly grabbed my body’s attention. She placed a four or five needles down the center of my torso. She also insert needles in my right ear and in a few spots on my legs and hands. Even before Sarah hooked up the electricity, I could feel energy moving in my body. While I often experience that to a small degree, today was radically different. I had not felt this level of energy movement for years. The moment that truly stunned me is that when Sarah did bring the electrical equipment into the room, I thought she hooked me up with it “on.” As soon as she connected the electrodes to the needles in my left leg, I could feel the electricity jumping between them and through my leg. But, Sarah had NOT turned on the electricity yet. The energy I was feeling was the natural energy of my body.

I am positive that much of the reason for this heightened success is that I have been doing yoga frequently with my Wii Fit. When I had this experience before during acupuncture (in 2005), I was doing daily yoga. Thus, the fact that I had such a similar experience in 2009 at the first acupuncture session after I have begun to get into a yoga routine again seems like much more than coincidence. Even though the yoga on Wii Fit is simply a series of poses, probably chosen more for the stretching, it is clear to me that I am much more in tune with my body. The excitement of this experience has me looking forward to doing even more yoga and working my way back to doing Kundalini Yoga once again (as well as the Wii Fit). Although I know that I need the Western drug that help to offset the conditions of my narcolepsy, I am thrilled that I continue to use non-Western techniques to manage the disease. Acupuncture is an important part of my routine. It truly makes a major difference in the quality of my life.

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Filed under Balance, Blessings, Eastern Ideas, Excitement, Exercise, Gratitude, Hope, Narcolepsy, Therapy

>Massive Mayhem

>I truly love that even the transition into summer break takes days of adjustment. One would think that a guy with narcolepsy would find it thrilling to begin a month and a half of relaxing. If only it were that easy. As I continue to remind myself, ANY change in my daily routine throws me for a loop. I tend to be more tense and to snap at people more rapidly. While I am making the shift better this time, I still find it frustrating – and stupid. Sadly, I am sure that no matter how long I continue to “learn” about living with narcolepsy, the act of moving from one daily schedule to another will continue to be difficult for me.

The up side is that I did get up today and exercise. That alone is a huge step for me. Unfortunately, I know that I am still recovering from last week. Thus, the exercise sapped me for a couple of hours. After resting, though, I got some work done. I even decided to have some fun after that, but invariably that led to trouble. My daughter decided that she wanted to play with the Wii too. Things were going great, but then after we each did our “Wii Fitness” on Wii Sports – which is an individual activity – she simply started doing something else individually. When I questioned her, I got a rude retort. I have no doubt that my daughter thought that she was being funny, but when I challenged her on that comment, I got a second rude retort. Since I was tired and crabby, I snapped back and a lovely fight ensued. It then continued as my attempted to reconcile. And, adding a second layer to my disappointment in myself, my wife was still home and found herself embroiled in the disagreement.

My daughter and I were able to reconcile and apologize to each other, but I hate that I was unable to keep myself in check when my daughter acted like a normal pre-teen. While her behavior was not appropriate, I can’t lash out at her. I did contain my frustration far better than I have in the past, but the reality is that I still reacted rashly and immaturely. As the parent, I need to give her the space to be angsty, and I need to be patient enough to let her settle down before re-engaging about the situation. I do know that I happened things “better,” but I need to keep pushing myself on this. The narcolepsy definitely complicates the situation, but my relationship with my daughter is far too important to let this medical menace jeopardize it.

The other difficult item to accept today was the fact that I nearly fell asleep in a chair tonight. If that was happening at 10 PM, I would be okay with it, but I was dozing and drifting heavily at 6 PM. Now, I know that I had a productive (and stressful) day. I also know that transitional periods are tough for me. But, it remains horribly humbling that I spent most of my day sitting around, yet I can’t stay awake past 6 PM even with 60 mg of amphetamine in my body. Seriously, you GOTTA love this condition – NOT! Obviously, I rallied. I even got a few other things done. Hopefully, July will hold more hope for a solid schedule, smoother transitions into my new days, and for more patience with my incredible and wonderful daughter.

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Filed under Exercise, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Honesty, Humility, Illness, Loss, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Relationships

>Funny Fallout

>I always find it strange when I know that I am managing my narcolepsy better. The condition is so bizarre that it almost seems unwise to make such a claim, yet moments like today are plain and obvious. Thus, I must acknowledge the reality of life and my condition. As I knew, my decision to sleep a fractional amount between Thursday night and Friday morning overwhelmed me today. I spent the entire day lolling around my house. I did manage to get a small amount of work done, but the majority of my time involved working on a crossword, watching some DVDs, and exercising with our Wii. I have no doubt the exercising also added to my exhaustion.

Although I am pleased that I got some work done in the midst of my exhaustion, I am more excited that I did not feel guilty about the “undone” work. I found myself able to accept and to find comfort in that reality. I have time, plenty of it, for those other tasks. In reality, I have weeks to get to them. I don’t want this initial list to take weeks, or even days, but in the past I would have tortured myself for not doing them today – immediately. Thus, I am content with knowing I have time.

The other element of the day that was exciting is that I had chosen to not “exercise” during the second week of MITY. The reality is that I did get some exercise simply from my “active” teaching style, but I did not work out. I love, though, that I prioritized my health over cleaning our office or putting away books. I have no idea if I will be able to hold onto that attitude, but it feels like a step in the correct direction. Hopefully, I will find a way to make working out a habit so I can carry it into my school year, but I also love that I am not worrying about that either. Needless to say, my exhaustion remains, but I am thrilled that I am letting go and learning to relax.

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Filed under Balance, Excitement, Exercise, Exhaustion, Hope, Insights, Narcolepsy, Wisdom

>Wonders of Wii

>I have loved video games my entire life. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I experienced first hand the arrival of home video games. I also fall into the primary age group to have “lived” the hey-day of the video arcade. My summer before ninth grade, I spent hours nearly every day in the local arcade. While part of me regrets those lost hours, another still longs for the sheer joy of honing my skills at Galaga and Tempest.

Although I have own a couple of game systems as an adult (a Super Nintendo and a few “plug in” consoles that hold 5-20 games), my wife and I have purposely avoided purchasing any of the ever improving systems during the last 15 years. The primary reason truly is my inability to stay sane when I have a game system. Certainly, I chafe at the idea that I am incapable of remaining grounded when there is a game to “beat,” but I also know that the decision has been a wise one.

Given my narcolepsy, I shudder to think the state I might be in today if we had purchased a Game Cube or an X-Box. Heck, I have even avoided computer-based games for the same reason. I have no doubt that Worlds of Warcraft would have stolen hours of sleep for weeks on end. In fact, I would be willing to bet that gaming easily might have masked the depth and extent of my excessive daytime sleepiness for at least four or five more years.

The irony is that I am writing this the day after I purchased a Wii system – with my wife’s permission and approval. I might be a risk-taker at times, but I am not an idiot. While I do worry that we could eventually acquire a game or two that might tempt me into a few “all-nighters,” I am more confident about my maturity and decision-making. The reality is that I know what happens when I push, and more often than not, I am unwilling to sacrifice the next two or three days simply to “enjoy” a little friviolity. Let’s hope I am still saying that next month and next year.

We decided to get the Wii because I am struggling horribly to work exercise into my routine. I feel like I am finally beginning to learn how to balance home and work and me. That in itself is a massive accomplishment for me. But, I also know that I will be healthier, happier, and more complete if I can find even a modicum of fitness. Enter the Wii. My wife and I spent Saturday night with my sister and her husband. They have had a Wii for awhile, but this was our first couples “Wii night.” Everyone had a blast playing a wide variety of games, but at the end of the evening I got a chance to try Wii Fit and the Balance Board. Not only did I find it fun, but I also realized that it could easily be a missing step in getting back into some type of exercise groove.

The beauty of Wii Fit is that I don’t have to GO anywhere. My narcolepsy makes me so wiped out at times that the idea of driving to a gym, or even running to the lake a mile from our house, is simply not an option. I worry that I will exhaust myself. If I do that and then need to drive home, I risk my safety and that of others. If I do it and am now a mile from my house, I am foolish enough (and male enough) that I will still try to run home. Then, I will get sick. It happened repeatedly last summer with ultimate and with yardwork.

Instead of risking those things, I can now plug in my Wii and do some yoga and light conditioning work in front of my TV. It also “feels” like a game with vocal support from the etrainer. The Wii can’t be my only exercise, but it is a perfect place to start. I would love to pretend that I am capable of pushing myself to establish a workout routine on my own, but I am not. I have nearly forty-one years of failure as evidence. I do best, in terms of fitness, when I am part of something. The Wii tracks my progress for me. And, the fat little Mii, that is ME, provides its own motivation. I know this is going to help me.

I feel blessed to have a wife who supports me so much that she is willing to change her mind about getting a Wii. I also am proud that I bought the Wii last night and have already used it twice to “workout.” That is two more workouts than I have done in months. Pretty good for less than 24 hours. Still, it is not lost on me that while I am starting strong, I have done that before to taper to nothing within days. I believe this will be different, though. I need this and the exercise will take the place of some of my other recreation. Building up my strength slowly will also prevent my system from crashing. That is also a good thing (and a chance from the past).

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Filed under Balance, Blessings, Eastern Ideas, Exercise, Family, Gratitude, Honesty, Hope, Marriage, Narcolepsy