Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dilemma: Lupus Fatigue and Exercise

I'm in a relatively good place right now. My blood counts are up, my joints, while painful, are not unbearable, and I'm able to keep food down. So I've got that going for me, which is nice. I decided in my usual fashion to take advantage of the opportunity and try to be as normal as possible, so I've been trying to exercise again. Remember that two years ago I was walking with a cane. Trying to get back into running? Big change.

First things first...I knew that the ol' joints were going to *$%@# me out about this decision. So I persuaded my rheumatologist to give me a prescription anti-inflammatory to try to keep the whining to a minimum. If only. A few weeks into the new regime and one ankle was so swollen I couldn't walk on it. A walking boot and some physical therapy later and I'm finally cleared to try to run again.

But here's the problem: a short run puts me in bed for the rest of the day. And most of the next. If, for example, I try running a couple miles one day and then hike for 4-5 miles the next, I will spend all weekend passed out on my boyfriend's couch as he tries (unsuccessfully) to wake me up long enough to get some caffeine in my system.

So here's what I would dearly love to know: will exercise gradually increase my limits so that I will be able to do more before I go catatonic, or is this just the way it is going to be? Because that's not really cool; I do need to, you know, work and stuff. If I'm just setting myself up for a flare, then that's probably not such a good thing. But on the other hand, my bones are shot from steroids, and they tell me that weight-bearing exercise is the best way to build them back up so that I don't break a hip at my not-so-old age.

I'd love to hear any other lupus patients' experiences here...Dr. Lupus Babe doesn't have the answer to this one.

3 comments:

  1. At the talk I went to, Dr. Daniel Wallace, author of the book Lupus, told us all that it was highly important for us to get exercise as one way to help manage our disease.

    For me, 15 minutes of treadmill, boring as it is, has done huge amounts of good, even when the lupus is really getting to me. I might slow down the pace or shorten the minutes but I try to get on that thing every day because I feel better if I do. Good luck, and I'm very glad to hear that ankle's getting better.

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  2. I need to resign myself to the idea of a treadmill...at least in the winter. I know people wear ice-cleats on their running shoes here, but I'm not sure I'm that level of crazy. Yet. I think it would be easier if I owned one instead of having to pay to go to some gym and use one there.

    I guess I'm mostly wondering if pushing harder will extend my limits over time or not. Hmm.

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  3. After 2 1/2 years of being unable to do basically anything because of my lupus fatigue, I have been able to get out of bed and even out of the house some thanks to methotrexate. I started going to yoga 1-2 times a week and for me the physical benefits have been fantastic. My back and hips don't hurt all the time, I can bend and sit/squat without feeling like I'm gonna break in two, and I can hook my own back-clasping bra again. And yoga is low impact enough that I don't end up stuck in bed for days afterward. I don't do well with more strenuous/cardio workouts, I find that pushing harder doesn't extend my limits but rather makes my symptoms flare and renders me unable to work out at all.
    I have found that swimming is a good workout for me as well, but I haven't had enough spoons to do both swimming and yoga in the same week. A girl can dream though....

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