Innervoice.life is a website dedicated to telling the inspiring stories of athletes describing their journeys to health, discovery and personal victories. Below is an excerpt of the most recent “innervoice” story, featuring ACE President and Founder Cheryl Koehn.
Picture from Innervoice.life
EMOTIONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY
I no longer play competitive volleyball, or any other sport for that matter. But the inner high-performance athlete is alive and well inside of me, and helps me overcome challenges every minute of every day. Not long after I retired from competitive volleyball, I developed severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that leads to uncontrolled inflammation and joint swelling, immobility and eventual destruction. From the day I was diagnosed, something inside of me said “don’t stop moving, keep trying to do the things you love”. Little did I know, that perspective is what research would prove years later: high intensity exercise in the setting of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis is a good thing, as long as you protect your joints from improper movement or stress, or when they are actively inflamed.
I approach my life with rheumatoid arthritis the exact same way I did my competitive sporting life. Emotionally and spiritually, I can be tougher than the toughest times I face. I may not be able to do half of what I used to physically, but I have finely honed team skills that help me in the community development work I lead. I recognise that overcoming a challenge requires thoughtful planning and work, and then more work, before you can “win”. Nothing came easy for me on the volleyball court, and the same is true in life. I know that is very cliché, but clichés exist for a reason; they’re usually true!
Picture credit: Fame! Soccer Girl https://famegirlsworldcupblog.wordpress.com/page/2/
As we celebrate the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, Team Arthritis wants to pay tribute to team USA’s midfielder Shannon Boxx, who, living with lupus, is all too familiar with life with arthritis. This year’s World Cup™ marks Boxx’s fourth Women’s World Cup™.
Fun Fact: Midfielders run a distance of 120-yard across the field to play offense and sprints back to play defense, running about 7 miles in a 90-minute game and engaging in close combat to gain possession of the ball. Continue reading
“Spring has sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where the birdie is?
The little bird is on the wing,
But that’s absurd!
Because the wing is on the bird!”
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This little ditty, which many of us learned as children, should be changed for all chronic pain sufferers: substitute “pain” for “bird”! (The verse is equally nonsensical if you read bird or pain, with apologies to author Ogden Nash, an American poet best known for writing pithy and funny light verse). Continue reading
“It’s about good communication.” How often have we heard this wisdom when it comes to personal or professional situations? We have all experienced how a failure to communicate can derail a situation or relationship because our messages were misunderstood or misspoken. Continue reading
A checkup appointment at my rheumatologist (doctor who specializes in arthritis) always leads to some interesting discussions. Most of the time I try to “research” a topic beforehand, so that I am armed with the latest background information on whatever are my most pressing concerns at the time. When I launch into my questions (I always have a list written out), I have a better-than-even chance of holding a meaningful conversation with my rheumy. In turn, I get more out of the conversation instead of returning home with questions that even Google cannot answer. Understanding what he is really saying provides me with the sense that I am in control of my ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and not the other way around (AS controlling me?) Continue reading
Courtesy of Vlado | freedigitalphotos.net
The litany of famous athletes who suffer from various types of arthritis is long: golfers, cyclists, figure skaters, baseball stars, downhill skiers … you get the idea. There are countless athletes performing and competing at world-class levels in every imaginable sport. They do it all despite their arthritis and many have become high-profile and public supporters for their form of arthritis.
These athletes have found a way to compete at the highest echelon of their sport even as they suffer from the effects of arthritis. They do it with the aid of sports psychologists (keep attitudes positive), physiotherapists (keep joints limber), coaches (keep on the game), trainers (keep in top physical shape), medical personnel (keep tweaking meds), and maybe a financial advisor and a business agent too. On the other hand, we mere mortals must play all those roles (and more) by ourselves and all at the same time. The team behind us is far less comprehensive: probably a medical doc (rheumatologist) and then a bunch of friends and family cheering us on from the sidelines.
Courtesy of lamnee | freedigitalphotos.net
In recent years, arthritis research and advocacy organizations have made important inroads in creating public awareness about the many types of arthritis (and related inflammatory diseases). However, I think that there’s nothing like an athlete’s star power to help focus attention on arthritis, which until recently was not understood or even considered a “serious” disease by many health professionals.
Athletes are terrific ambassadors for spreading the word about arthritis; their personal stories provide comfort and inspiration about how they cope with their condition during their sports careers. They possess the ideal public platform to get out the message about arthritis’ deleterious impact on millions of lives. In bringing awareness to the seriousness of the disease, they also help to direct more dollars towards research and ultimately, a cure.
Personally, we all deserve to consider ourselves as winners. Every day, we haul our pain around with us, we cope with hurting joints and aches, and the secondary effects created by various medications, including fatigue and depression. Unlike high-performing athletes, we do this without the benefit of a team of medical and/or health professionals. We participate as best we can in the “game” of life; we find our personal motivation and encouragement to keep moving. We may not run marathons, bolt down ski slopes at breakneck speeds, or drive a golf ball 300 yards, but we are all arthritis athletes in our own right. ~Fran