Happy New 2017!

Our first week back kicked off 2017 with fun, challenging classes; I felt elated to be back at SMAA.

I know that it’s in vogue right now to bash 2016 as a terrible year, with many peoples’ gripes concerning the Presidential Campaigns and election.

2016, like any year, had its ups and downs, highs and lows, and the sprinklings of blessings and curses fell upon us all in varying degrees.

For me, 2016 will always be a year to remember, a year associated with a new kind of pain and some life-changing news I’ve been reluctant to share until know. I’ve struggled with what to say and how to say it for so long that I just couldn’t get myself to write anything for months.

I’m no stranger to pain.

I’ve been punched, kicked, bent, twisted, choked, thrown, clubbed, flogged, whipped, slashed, stabbed (often by multiple people at once) and had my body run through the wringer more times than I can remember.

I’ve taxed my body beyond what it could take, and each time I have come through stronger than ever.

So, when last October I couldn’t get out of bed one morning, I attributed the pain I felt in every joint to the training I’d been doing, that or years of accumulated injuries.

I thought I may have torn or sprained multiple body parts and just needed some rest.

Rest didn’t help. Nor did taping or Bio-Freeze.

This pain was different…something was wrong.

I had pain on the the tops of both feet, and the bottoms. I couldn’t raise my shoulders and got by with T-Rex arms. My knees hurt, the insides, then the tops. My neck hurt, as did my jaw. And, I couldn’t make fists.

In addition to the pain, I was stiff as the Tin Man. By early afternoon I could move around, but mornings I was useless. I had to ask my 73-year old father to wait for me as we walked from the car to a pizzeria because I couldn’t walk fast enough to keep up with him.

Then there was the fatigue.

The pain was so bad at night that I couldn’t sleep, so I woke up each morning exhausted, feeling like it was time for bed right when I needed to face the day.

After about 6 weeks of this, I eventually got in to see a doctor to get some tests done.


Rheumatoid Arthritis.

If you’re unfamiliar with RA, as it’s called, it’s a potentially debilitating autoimmune disease that attacks your own joints (and other body parts). Here’s a quick link to understanding RA http://www.rheumatoidarthritisguy.com/60-second-guide-to-ra/

At least now I knew what I was up against, I had an explanation for what the heck was wrong with me and could start treatment.

Part of the reason I’m sharing this with you is that for the back half of 2016 I was pretty much incapacitated and it was difficult for me to give you my best as I took a step back to deal with this illness.

BUT, I’m optimistic for 2017 because of the help and support I have and continue to receive from my family, friends, staff and doctor (who said the perfect words to me,”you’re going to live a normal life and I’m going to help you do it.”)

My life has changed drastically and I have made many adjustments (positive changes I would love to share with you), all things that I see making 2017 a great year.

As for my you, my student body, I’m at about 98% working capacity, and outside of some finger pain, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life and ready to give all my energy to you and all of my students.

It feels great to be back to (my new) normal.

Here’s to a bright, active 2017!