“Acknowledge your limitations without accepting them as your fate.” ~ Judith Lasater
In March 2009, after struggling through a mystery illness for several months I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My doctor said only gentle exercises such as yoga. I slowly began to put myself first, rest, relax and focus on taking care of me. I was determined to regain my strength and my active lifestyle. I began writing in my journal and unloaded some emotional baggage. I slowly regained my strength and I’m proud that on December 3rd 2013 I finally accomplished one of my long time goals.
When I was a little goal St Lucians started climbing Gros Piton regularly. Gros Piton proudly stands 2,619 ft above sea level. I have always wanted to climb it. It has always sounded like one of the most amazing things to me. Unfortunately, I have always had a prior engagement or been overseas when groups from my community would go. Finally my best friend was here and we were determined to climb the mountain. It was not the best conditions. I with my aches and pains and her on the tail end of a pretty bad cold. “Healthier” more able bodied persons that us have run away from the challenge.
If I focused on my limitations I would not have attempted the climb. I would have said I have fibromyalgia, my bestie has a cold we can just chill on the beach. Yoga is about finding your limit and working there. This hike definitely tested my limits.
I have to admit that I was excited, thrilled and a little afraid. As we drove toward the Piton I kept saying “OMG We
are climbing that.” It seemed a little impossible. When we were were walking from where the bus dropped us off a part of me wanted to run back screaming. Fortunately a bigger part of me wanted to make that mountain my bitch. I really just wanted to make it to the top. It felt like Christmas morning.
After paying our fees and being assigned a guide we were off. I had a backpack full of supplies. And by supplies I mean food. We decided that we would trade the backpack every quarter. It wasn’t an awfully heavy backpack. We started the gentle incline on a slightly rocky path and I could immediately feel the burn in my right hip. I caved and took my tylenol with codeine. I was feeling tired I wanted to run back down and chug all my water. I sipped water and took my time. I was afraid of getting injured. I was pouring sweat. We made it to the first quarter soon enough. I was never happier to see a bench. We took a nice long break while enjoying the view.
For the next quarter I immediately noticed how much easier the climb was. I realized that the backpack had been weighing me down a lot more than I noticed. It’s the same way in my life. If I am in a toxic/unhealthy relationship I don’t notice until I step away from it. All of a sudden I notice that a certain person was weighing me down; preventing me from living life fully. Soon enough we made it to the halfway point.
It was time for juice boxes. I had been talking quite a bit on the way up. Rach and I were validating each other. Slow and steady was our mantra. We were determined to make it to the top if it took all day. At that point my clothes were soaked through. I was still pretty scared that my body would totally conk out and I would not make it to the top.
The 3rd part started well enough. Again I was carrying the backpack and it felt like it weighed 20 pounds. I tried to keep Rach distracted with stories of things we had done together. Her carrying a tray food up stairs after knee surgery while on crutches. Me carrying her up the stairs on my back. She probably didn’t realize that I was really trying to distract myself. At some points it felt like the backpack would pull me down the mountain. I was climbing over boulders on my hands and knees. This was not feeling like fun. I wanted to cry for my mommy. Then I noticed I was not in pain and I held on to that. It is at this point that people started passing us on their way down and telling us that they just couldnot make it to the top.
This was not going to be us. No Efing way! We are making it to the top if I have to drag you! I said. Oh we’re gonna make it! she said. Oh how nice it is when your friends are just as
crazy determined as you. At some point my constant chatter became annoying. I could tell that my bestie had enough of my optimism and cheer. I shut up and focused on my breathing. I strategized. Breathe, step, step, break. Repeat. And we made it to the point of no return; sitting in the shade of a 250 year old mango tree, feeling like we were in Fern Gully. We looked for fairies, snacked, hydrated.
That’s how the final and most challenging leg began, drenched in sweat and quietly. The path was steep but I did not have the backpack. I was hungry and a little light headed. I led the way. Stopping when we needed breaks. I was worried about how my bff was getting along with her stuffy nose but I did not want to bring her attention to it. All I needed to say was “you ok?” We kept on going silently. At this point it felt more like a walking meditation. Everyone was silent. I have a track playing in my head. You can do this you are strong. You are almost there. Keep going. One foot in front of the next. Breathe. I turn and my bestie is struggling. I don’t want her to see worry on my face but I’m concerned. We bring out the fearlessness in each other. Two days ago it was winter and now she is climbing a mountain in the tropics.
She asks me to take the backpack. I would rather not. I don’t feel really strong but I take it. Four months ago we were climbing mount major in NH. I felt so much worse. My muscles felt like they would spasm. It does not feel that bad. I can do this. I sip my water and strap on the backpack. We have known each other for 10yrs. She’s been there through all my crazy. She flew several thousand miles for my 31st birthday.
This is hard. I’m now completely focused on breathing and stepping. Nothing else runs through my mind. Then I see the top. I am not tired. I am thrilled! I made it! We made it! I climbed a mountain in the same year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Limits? What limits?
I enjoy the view from the top. I bask in the sunshine. I’m starving. I eat my lunch. We take lots of pictures and make friends with the other climbers. A lovely couple from Canada. Eventually we head down. Some parts are so steep I gladly slide down on my butt. I can feel the burn in my legs. My sinuses feel clearer than they have ever felt. I remember what my mom said about going downhill. Take quick steps and you’re less likely to fall. I begin to take quick steps hopping down the mountain. This feels really good. Who knew I was good at going down mountains. At the halfway point I really enjoy the view.
I am really pleased with myself. I feel amazing. I offer to carry the backpack the rest of the way down. At this point its not that heavy I’ve eaten/drunk most of what was in it. It feels so good to do something that was really at the edge of my limit. After making it back to the starting point we hydrated, changed into our swimsuits and hiked 600ft to the beach. At this point we had the best view of the Piton rising out of the ocean.
I climbed Gros Piton! All the way to the top. I am strong and with the support of my friends I can do great things. I am so happy I decided to do it. I am also happy I could take the attitude and breathing cultivated on the mat off the mat to help me accomplish one of my goals.
Have you done any challenging physical activities recently? What strategies did you use to complete it?