Saturday, December 5, 2015


My university required at least one kinesiology credit in order to graduate. I wanted the class to be archery while I studied abroad in Korea, but it was canceled my semester. Much to my disappointment, I would have to fulfill my kinesiology credit in America.

I had only two options that would fit with my class schedule: scuba or karate. I am not a fan of swimming unless it involves snorkeling in the open waters of the Caribbean. Scuba diving in east Texas lakes was most definitely not that. Additionally, scuba was a three hour long night class and night classes were especially difficult with my adrenal insufficiency.

Thus, I signed up for karate.

And I was dreading it.

I have always struggled with group fitness classes. I remember having extreme anxiety during them as early as kindergarten. I just always felt different. I remember feeling dizzy. I remember struggling to understand the spoken instruction. I remember not knowing what to do. I didn't realize that my dizziness was abnormal at the time. I just assumed that was how I was supposed to feel because I had never felt any different.

Actually, these were the worst days in gym for me.
Picture found on Pinterest.

My dread that semester for karate further increased when I realized it was only offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00pm - 1:00pm. 

Karate was smack dab in the middle of lunch. 

Should I eat lunch before karate and feel sick? Should I wait to eat lunch until after karate and feel sick? Throughout the semester, I tried both options. I felt sick both ways.

The instructor would begin each class with a group warm-up. I don't remember all of the routine, but I do remember one exercise in particular. Burpees with a push-up terrified me beyond all belief. If I went from sitting to standing on a normal day, I would black out. Karate class expected me to jump down, complete a push-up, and then jump back up on the instructors count!

With every burpee I attempted, I was afraid I would collapse the floor. Each jump, I was nervous that I would lose consciousness similar to band camp. In college, I was still ashamed of my disease and disclosed it to very few people. I felt that my disease made me weak. I tried to hide it and appear "normal." Twice a week, I was beyond terrified that I would be discovered as "not normal" but diseased.

I honestly cannot tell you what I learned. My entire focus was to just survive, to try to blend in, to not appear different. Even as I think of karate class now, over five years later, I have to calm my breathing down and remind myself that I am ok. I received my yellow belt. I earned my kinesiology credit. I have my engineering diploma.

I survived.

If I had to take Karate over again, I would approach it differently. I would speak to the instructor individually and disclose my adrenal insufficiency. I would request special accommodations. I would ask for an alternate warm-up that didn't included POTS triggering exercises. I would request that he not disclose my health struggles to others because that is information that I disclose at my own discretion. I would have up-dosed my medicine before class. Perhaps, with special accommodations I could have actually enjoyed the class instead of merely surviving it.

I want to do more than just survive life. 
I want to be Clearly Alive.


  1. I can so relate to this. I hated gym class in elementary school all the way through high school, especially the required running of laps. I could barely breathe, was always SO far behind everyone else and felt like I was going to throw up. I never knew why but I suspect I had adrenal problems before I was actually diagnosed. I was okay day to day but any added stress did me in. As an adult I remember the first 5K I attempted. I trained for it but with the excitement of the race I pushed myself to go too fast. I finished the race, but became terribly sick. No runner's high for me!

    1. Ah, the famous "Ooops I started this way too fast! This is not going to be fun..."

      Have you been able to try another 5k?

  2. Awww, Mr. LaMont would've understood! He's a really nice guy.

    Once, I perceived a fellow student was having a rough day emotionally, so I mentioned it to him and he took the time to step outside of class with said student to listen.

    He did the same for me when I found out a friend of mine died in a car accident right before class.

    I've never met a more gentle and caring fighter :)

    1. And yet I was too scared to even approach him, due to my own insecurities and anxiety.

      Yup, I wish I could take this class again. It would have gone much better :)


Thank you for your comment. It will be displayed once approved by a moderator.