I Didn’t Know I Could Heal From Chronic Illness

September 18, 2017

Saturday was a big day for me. I did something I haven’t been physically able to do in more than 5 years. Something I thought I might never do again when I was spending my days in a sickbed, staring at the ceiling, wishing the pain away and wondering if this dreadful illness would claim my life.

I went to a fitness class. Not only did I go, I participated. And I came out in one piece. Yes, I really did do this. Inside a building and everything.

Here’s how it came about…

Not many people know this, but I’ve been wanting to take swing dance lessons with Brett for a long time. Several weeks ago I found a dance studio in town that teaches all sorts of ballroom dancing including swing. So, I made a mental note that we should try out one of their classes as soon as I was strong enough (and able to spend time indoors). I had no idea how long it would be. Maybe a couple months?

When the wildfire smoke made me sick a couple weeks ago, I started watching swing dance videos to pass the time. Seeing people dancing made me reconsider whether swing dancing was really the best place to start. I was pretty sure my body couldn’t do what I was seeing in the videos. Maybe I should try to get stronger some other way first?

So this week, when I was browsing the dance studio’s Facebook page I noticed that they offered several different dance-based fitness classes. One class in particular caught my eye because it had the word “ballet” in the title (and another word that should never appear next to the name of such a beautiful art form. Hint: booty) But, it still caught my attention. Especially because it wasn’t an actual ballet class.

I’ve always known that taking an adult ballet class to get back in shape would be the worst idea ever for someone who used to be a pre-professional. I can’t think of a better way to overwhelm myself with grief over my illness and frustration over how far I’ve fallen. If I ever take a ballet class again it’s going to have to be after I get strong and flexible some other way. Even then I expect to cry a lot when I see just how terrible I am.

All that to say, I was intrigued by the idea of a ballet-ish fitness class. It seemed like maybe it would be different enough, gentle enough, and familiar enough all at the same time. Maybe I could feel safe in a class like that? Never mind that it had a name that would make any self-respecting ballerina cringe. I was precisely trying to avoid running into self-respecting ballerinas. Besides, my ballet friends are miles away and they’d never have to find out how I’d dishonored and exploited our sacred art form for a little workout. No need to feel guilty. After all, I wouldn’t be considering this if I could actually dance like they can.

So, on Friday we went to check out the studio to make sure it would be a safe building for me. The building had a concerning history of water damage but I didn’t react when I went in. It was a brick building and there wasn’t much drywall or carpeting for mold to grow on. I’m guessing it probably had some non-toxic mold but nothing seriously problematic for me. So, I decided to sign up for “Ballet Booty Barre.”

I was expecting a floor barre style class, which is basically when you do traditional ballet exercises lying on your back, side and stomach. I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I got there I found out it would be a “fast paced workout with lots of cardio”… Say what?! I didn’t know if my body would last to the end but I figured I was already there and I might as well try it. So I did.

It was an intense workout class set to loud pop music with lots of poorly executed nods to ballet throughout. (Arg! That inner ballet snob keeps rearing her head! I swear I didn’t even know she was still in there!)

Anyway… I did it! I made it through the entire workout. I had to stop for several seconds whenever my muscles gave out but so did the other women in the class. Overall, I was amazed to discover that I’m significantly stronger than I thought I was. I was honestly surprised that I made it to the end. It was an hour of pretty much non-stop exercise. I didn’t expect to be able to do that. I still can’t believe I did it.

I remember when my legs were so weak that they would shake as Brett lowered me down onto the toilet. I had no muscle control. I wrote letters to a dear friend saying things like, “I just want to be able to walk to the bathroom by myself. I’m not asking for the world. I just want to be able to go out without my wheelchair. I just want to be able to do a flight of stairs. Is that too much to ask?

And here I am, squatting and kicking and moving my hips in a way that any ballet teacher would find suspicious. No matter that I looked horrible! This is incredible!

It’s almost surreal to think that my body could actually heal from all the devastation it experienced at the hands of Lyme Disease and mold toxicity. ThatΒ given the right conditionsΒ even the worst damage was reversible. The unrelenting neurological pain. The liver swelling. The brain inflammation. The immune dysfunction. The Mast Cell Activation. All of the things that almost killed me were reversible.

I didn’t know any human body could be this resilient, especially not my own. People always talk about the body’s amazing capacity to heal. But frankly, when an illness takes you to the gates of death and keeps you disabled for years you start to lose faith in that capacity.

Now that I’ve seen a body that was so broken it could barely sit up complete an intense work-out, I’m starting to re-evaluate my doubts. I think our bodies do have an amazing capacity to heal once the source of ongoing damage or injury is removed. They may never return to their former glory (on this side of heaven) but they very well might impress us with an even greater healing than we thought was possible.

And just so everyone knows, I don’t think I’m going be taking “Ballet Booty Barre” again. The class was too fast paced for a recovering chronic illness patient to maintain good form. It might have even been too fast for most normal people to maintain good form. In any case, I’d rather build up my strength with slow repetitions that I can actually execute correctly and maybe some swing dance lessons. If I can do “Ballet Booty Barre,” I’m pretty sure I’d survive swing dancing just fine. Maybe we can try it on Wednesday. Yippee!!!

By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.

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  • Essie-Marie

    Wow Ana, that’s fantastic!! I’m so happy for you, praise God!!!

    September 18, 2017 at 12:08 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Amen! Thank you so much Essie! πŸ™‚

      September 18, 2017 at 8:09 pm Reply
  • Marli

    This put the biggest smile on my face. Continued prayers πŸ™‚

    September 18, 2017 at 4:23 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Yay! Thank you so much for the ongoing prayers! I really really appreciate it. πŸ’•

      September 18, 2017 at 8:10 pm Reply
  • Charis Rae

    Hooray! That is so wonderful to hear, Ana. I’m a ballet dancer so I totally get your references. *wink* But it’s just amazing that you’re able to do something as intense as that after everything you’ve been through. God is good! πŸ™‚

    September 18, 2017 at 4:37 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I didn’t know you were a dancer! I was hoping someone would get a good laugh. πŸ™‚

      Yes, it is amazing!

      September 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm Reply
  • Laura Davison

    YAAYYYY!!!! Oh, Ana, this is amazing, wonderful! I’m so happy for you!!!

    September 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much friend! πŸ’•

      September 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm Reply
  • Marcus und Dini

    Wow, we are so very happy for you – the Lord is good!!! Our kids will be so happy when they hear it tomorrow. This is really amazing!!! Praise God!!

    September 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! Yay! Thank you! It means a lot to me that others share in my joy. 😊

      September 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm Reply
  • Katherine

    Ana I am so happy for you! I have been following your story since just shortly after you started blogging, and I am praising God for the healing you’ve experienced so far and the prayers that he is answering! Also, you look like you are glowing in the picture! Will keep praying for you. πŸ™‚

    September 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Katherine! It’s so beautiful to see others sharing in my excitement. Thank you for praying and following my story. 😊

      September 18, 2017 at 8:14 pm Reply
  • Lizbeth

    Oh that’s amazing! I’m SO happy for you! Um, the name of the first class you took was. . . yeah, not nice. LOL

    September 18, 2017 at 5:48 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Haha! Yes and yes. 😊

      September 18, 2017 at 8:14 pm Reply
  • Jaquelle Crowe

    This made me so happy. You are the bomb.

    September 18, 2017 at 6:21 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! Thanks Jaquelle! Love you!

      September 18, 2017 at 8:14 pm Reply
  • Jen

    I’m sooo happy to read this post! Praise God for this progress in healing!

    September 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Amen! 😊

      September 18, 2017 at 8:15 pm Reply
  • Alyssa

    Incredible!! This is so exciting πŸ˜€

    September 18, 2017 at 7:14 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I know!!! 😊

      September 18, 2017 at 8:15 pm Reply
  • Julie

    This story made me SMILE! Keep moving that booty! You have the best attitude (pun intended).

    September 18, 2017 at 7:34 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Haha! Love this comment! Thank you Julie. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’•

      September 18, 2017 at 8:15 pm Reply
  • Ruth Meyer

    *Is doing a happy dance inside* πŸ˜€ Soo happy for you, Ana! Hearing you talk about your dance class experience (even if it wasn’t what you were expecting) was great. I’ve recently been able to exercise more, and it’s been so encouraging to see my own strength slowly return. I really hope you find a class that works for you, and I think it would be great if you and Brett could take lessons together. I’m fighting an infection caused by a spider bite right now, so I’ve been discouraged the last few weeks, but your infectious excitement and positive words cheered me up today. Thank you, Ana

    September 18, 2017 at 7:44 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thank you for sharing Ruth. I’m so glad I was able to encourage you. So sorry about the spider bite infection. That sounds awful! Get well soon. I’m glad you’ve been able to exercise more. That’s wonderful!

      September 18, 2017 at 8:16 pm Reply
  • James

    You really are an inspiration to all chronic illness suffers out there! I hope you energy continues to increase and you are able to take the swing lessons. Ballroom dancing is a lot of fun, I hope I will be able to do it again one day once I get away from toxic mold.

    September 18, 2017 at 11:48 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thank you James! I’m so glad I can be of encouragement to others. I’m really excited to try swing dancing! I hope you are able to find healing and get back to dancing. πŸ™‚

      September 19, 2017 at 2:57 pm Reply
  • Cathy Wakeman

    This news brings great joy, Ana. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your insatiable hope! We rejoice with you!

    September 19, 2017 at 12:51 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Cathy! I’m so glad! 😊

      September 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm Reply
  • Nanette Fenn

    Wow, Ana. Wow! I am amazed and so very encouraged by this post.

    September 19, 2017 at 9:09 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m amazed too! I’m so glad it encouraged you! πŸ’•

      September 19, 2017 at 2:19 pm Reply
  • Amy Gingerich

    That is amazing! Celebrating with you! (And I love your writing πŸ™‚ )

    September 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Amy! It’s so nice to see others so happy for me. πŸ™‚

      September 19, 2017 at 2:20 pm Reply
  • Bethany Rose

    Cheers! I’m so happy for you! πŸ™‚
    By the way, that is a really adorable picture of you. Your smile is beautiful.

    September 19, 2017 at 1:38 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thank you so much for your kind words Bethany! πŸ™‚

      September 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm Reply
  • Annalysa

    This is so exciting!!! I’ve been praying for you and Brett as you go through this time and I am so, so glad to hear that you are doing better!!! Will continue to pray… ❀

    September 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for the prayers Annalysa! I’m so grateful. ❀️

      September 19, 2017 at 8:21 pm Reply
  • Katherine Forster

    Awww, that’s wonderful! And I really, really want to see a video of you and Brett swing dancing. ;D

    September 19, 2017 at 6:22 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Katherine. We’ll have to see if someone can get a video of us. 😊

      September 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm Reply
  • Chris

    All I can say is Wow!! Amazing post!! And to think 6 months ago, we thought Id’t be a long time before seeing a post like this!!!!!!!!! Congrats!! I’m so proud of you. And that smile on your face-AMAZING!! Praise GOD!!

    September 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      So true! Thank you so much Chris! You were praying and cheering us on from the beginning of this mold avoidance journey! I appreciate it so much! πŸ’•

      September 22, 2017 at 1:59 pm Reply
  • Birgit

    Wow. This is making me cry. I’m so happy for you. I used to follow your logs religiously for a while, but haven’t checked in in a while. I’m so glad to hear about this progress. I can really relate to your initial worries and doubts about engaging in exercise. You are giving me hope that I can get cured as well. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    October 14, 2017 at 2:11 pm Reply
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