I thought I’d do a lil blog post on something that has taken me by surprise this last week. So this week I started the couch to 5k (shockingly this is not THE surprising thing I’m talking about today!)
Many of you who know may be as shocked as I feel – I’m not sporty AT ALL!! Therefore, it makes a bit more sense why I was so surprised at how difficult I found it, both during and after the run, in regards to my scarring. Now I was that teenager who hated PE, did everything I could to get out of it, whether that meant ‘forgetting’ my PE kit that was usually just hiding in my locker, faking an injury or 1 year I managed to get out of PE for about 6 months because I just never told my PE teacher that the dr had cleared me to carry on post surgery (my excuse was- they never asked…!!) So this context will help you understand why I may not have really experienced some of the things I felt this past week after running.
Above are 2 pictures of me, actually pre my first ‘run’. Now I use the term ‘run’ loosely, the couch to 5k system works that the first week you run for 60 seconds, then walk for 9, then repeat 8 times. So realistically I only ‘ran’ for 8 minutes and to be perfectly honest if someone was watching they would probably class my attempt at running as a light jog (I’m unfit lol).
During the 3 runs I’ve done this week I discovered a series of ‘side effects’ of running for me. These are shown in the 2nd photo.
1) Stiffened scars.
Halfway through my run I could feel my scarring particularly on my hand and face/neck start to stiffen. This wasn’t a complete shock, it was windy and I have noticed in the past that when my scarring gets cold it stiffens up, making it hard to me to move (for example it becomes harder to move my hand, open and close my fingers etc). However what did surprise me was that I was boiling. I was incredibly confused as to why I felt so hot, yet my hand could barely open and close without becoming slightly painful.
Luckily this was resolved by me trying to rub my hand to warm it up after the run, and running my hand under warm water for a few minutes when I got home.
2) Scarred skin feels dry and hard
This one I think was related to my scarred areas getting cold, and drying out my skin. Luckily this was easily resolved by some moisturiser (at the moment I tend to use ‘Child’s Farm’ products as their creams don’t irritate my skin, but feel less heavy and thick than many of the creams I’ve been prescribed or used in the past).
3) Sun cream
Do NOT get me started with sun cream. It is literally the bane of my life. I LOATHE sun cream with a passion, and am very guilty of not putting it on, or just staying inside and avoiding the sun (tragic I know!!) Scar tissue burns easily, and the sun can cause discolouration that may not change (for example, my scar on my face could darken/tan and leave me looking rather daft and uneven!!) But I was a good, responsible person and actually put it on as although it was windy it was vey sunny. Made me feel grim though as I didn’t have some of the ‘lighter’ ones I use and had to use my Auntie’s thick, white cream 🙁 Not a highlight of me week- haven’t worn it since (bad I know!!)
4) Overheating/ Poor body temp regulation/ Wearing 2 layers
I think this was the hardest one for me, and the one I was least prepared for as I hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that exercise may impact me differently due to my scars (honestly I often forget all about them as I’m just so used to them!!) Run 1, I had the issue of my scars stiffening up, even though I felt unbearably hot (and rather sick). From what I know and have learnt over the years (pls don’t quote me!!) scar tissue either doesn’t sweat or barely sweats. You may think woohoo how great- so did I until I remembered why our body sweats. Sweating is a way our bodies self regulate our body temperature, with sweating being the natural way our bodies cool us don when we are overheating. When running, sweating is of course very natural. When running when you are rather unfit and not used to doing this amount of exercise, sweating is even more natural. However, because my scarring covers half of my face and neck, chest, half my back and then I have skin graft tissue all over my legs- this soon became a bit of a noticeable issue for me. I was overheating within minutes. I felt so incredibly hot, the right (non-scarred) half of my face was bright red and hot to touch but the left side of my face (scarred) was freezing gold and hard to touch. By the end of the run I felt sick, absolutely boiling but at the same time parts of my body were stiff and frozen, and I felt incredibly dehydrated.
Run 2- I thought I had a solution. I wore 2 layers (a long sleeved top and t shirt) in the hope that it would stop the scarring on my back and chest getting cold and seizing up. Great plan I thought. Obviously forgetting the whole overheating situation. So sadly, I have yet to come up with a solution so far, but It’s only been 1 week- I’m sure I’ll figure something out soon. I’m thinking of getting a glove for my left hand to possibly try and stop it stiffening up (but not really digging the Michael Jackson look so…). Currently, lying on my bed, opening all the windows and drinking lots of water to cool down, before then having a warm bath or shower seems to work for both cooling down and self regulating my body, and then warming up my stiff scars.
Pictures above = me 30 mins after my run, the non-scarred part of my face still rather red and hot, my scars however have 'defrosted' (and yes I'm in my pjs- collapsed on the bed!!)
It’s trial and error. Another small obstacle to think about, and come up with ways to overcome. But this certainly won’t stop me from carrying on. I’ve shocked myself by completing the first week- and am determined now to do all 9 weeks!
I hope this post hasn’t sounded too moany?! And that it hasn’t discouraged anyone. All these hurdles are frustrating, but they’re definitely not possible to overcome at all!! I think I wrote this post mostly to be real with you all, as so often I get people telling me that I make having scars look ‘easy’ or that I seem not to struggle at all with my scars. And I think a lot of the time I tell myself that- that my scars are not really that significant in my life and that they don’t stop me from doing anything. And in some ways that is very true, my scars do not define me or everything I do in my life- and very rarely do I think about them on a daily basis. However my scars do sometimes create obstacles, and I’m learning that as part of having a more online, public presence, I need to be honest with myself and except that. It doesn’t mean that I can’t overcome them, but it does allow me to benefit as much from my online presence as maybe other do. Via my blog and Instagram profile not only am I able to share my experiences, but I am able to chat to people and see if they have similar views, and realise that I really am not alone in this or the way I feel.
Lots of love guys, and please do leave me a comment if you have any thoughts, similar experiences or questions you want to share with me.
Stay safe X X X