When Exercise Became More Than a Workout

Michelle Gonzaba avatar

by Michelle Gonzaba |

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Strength in Weakness column by Michelle Gonzaba / grief

Exercise and I have never been the best of friends. I would make a commitment to work out more, which included buying new sneakers, workout gear, and equipment that I absolutely did not need. And what did I do with all of these new purchases? I completed four or five workouts and never touched my new stuff again.

This cycle repeated itself about twice a year until I turned 19. I abandoned my “cycle of exercise” around the same time I started experiencing myasthenia gravis symptoms. As my body became weaker, exercise fell very low on my priority list. Once the weakness hit my arms and legs, I knew that any attempt at exercise could result in a dangerous fall or accident.

The weakness in my arms became so bad, I couldn’t keep them up long enough to properly wash my hair. Picking up bags, packages, and other items was out of the question. My legs weren’t any better; when I attempted to perform a squat exercise, they gave out and my head smacked against the floor. While I lay on the ground, my head pounding from the impact, I finally accepted that exercise would be impossible until I gained control over my symptoms.

Once my body was finally able to handle different types of workouts (after years of medications and surgery), I realized my attitude toward exercise had changed drastically. Instead of avoiding it, I was actually excited to run around on purpose.

Shockingly, I didn’t immediately start doing parkour. I started off slowly with easy walks around my neighborhood, and channeled Arnold Schwarzenegger by lifting 5-pound weights. Although I wanted to do as much as I physically could, I was still extremely cautious. I didn’t trust my body enough to go any faster than slow walks and lame arm workouts.

Week by week, as I became more comfortable with my returning strength, I decided to never take my endurance for granted again. It was during those months after the weakness went away that I decided to try new workouts I had either been too nervous or embarrassed to do before.

One of those workouts was Zumba. Dancing by myself? I did it all the time. Dancing in front of people? No, thank you. But every time I stopped myself from signing up for a class, I remembered how I’d promised to never take my strength for granted again.

So after forcing my mother and sister to sign up alongside me, I attended my first Zumba class. And although I tried not to, I had fun. Each dance was like a celebration of my improving health. Each drop of sweat felt like a small part of my fears was falling away.

Since my MG diagnosis, exercise has become a physical way to remind myself of what I’ve lost and what I can still do. It isn’t just a way to stay healthy and in shape. Every time I bike down the street or fumble my way through a piece of simple Zumba choreography, I am incredibly thankful for what my body can do. 

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Comments

barry berger avatar

barry berger

I am recently diagnosed and am doing ok. I want to exercise. Does any one have a routine to help prevent deconditioning. I am a 66 yr old male. Last year I played hockey 4x a week for an hour and a half at a time. I would like to do this again. any suggestions? Thanks. Barry

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Paula avatar

Paula

Thank you for this article. You are an inspiration!

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Michelle Gonzaba avatar

Michelle Gonzaba

Thank you Paula!

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Edward T Claghorn avatar

Edward T Claghorn

Barry - go for it! I have had MG for 18 months now and am on a variety of meds. They work... some days. I ride by bike 35-60 miles at a time 3-4X a week. I feel good afterwards though I am careful about the temperature and how I am feeling on any given day.

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Merla avatar

Merla

I went to see my doctor in 2011 because I felt I had ear infection due to prolonged colds, he gave me amoxicillin antibiotics and the he asked I want a booster shot of dpt I knew those were childhood vaccines shots that were given to me during my childhood years so I said ok
Next day at the office my office mate tells me why am I hugging the walls and walking funny. My husband took me to the Er after several tests er md says I have Vertigo so he prescribed me anti dizziness meds . Next day there was no change I called my friend who gets vertigo all the time and she says your head should be spinning like crazy she cannot even sleep lying down . Well I said I don’t feel that I watch the Tv And I’m having double vision. So I called my doctor to send me to an opthalmolgist , instead he sent me to a Nuerologist who sent me for ct scan test them mri test good news she says you did not have a stroke but bad news you have this auto immune disorder called myasthenia gravis that’s why you have a droopy eye and you could not move
your eyes from left to right up n down just frontal. Your nerves or nuerons are not communicating with each other instead they are fighting with each other. Fusty she prescribed prednisone fur two weeks then she put me on Ivy drip for too boost my immune system for 5 hrs a day for five days. Slowly but surely I was regaining my strength and my peripheral vision and Daily meds of mestinon. I could then resume my daily cooking chores chop chop with knives and was able to drive in a few months
But if I fail to take my meds My eyes be come slow again n my muscles weakening again. after 10 years I was becoming g extremely weak again so I requested for another infusion. Theraphy . So far I am
Managing it well. I cannot exert too much effort exersizing though if , or heavy duty lifting or worki
around the house I get tired easily , heavy perspiration sets in so I stop amd rest and don’t get stressed
Because of this correlation with the booster
DPT vaccine . I simply refuse to get vaccinated with this Covid vaccine shots. I take vitamin d 3 , b12 , c . I also diabetic and taking metformin watching n pricking blood test everyday
So far Thank God I am doing well , staying away from crowd and wearing face mask n sanitizer in my purse everywhere I go
My husband has congestive heart n taking blood thinner every day he is not going for the vaccine either
I don’t believe these vaccines will extend our life nor protect us , it will probably make us. Sicker or die sooner if it becomes mandatory and if we don’t get a waiver
I will have CDC sign our death sentence and will have our estate sue them for our untimely death or disability incurred after they vax me . I pray this mandate will not happen

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