A few years back, when I was recovering from my broken wrist, I remember sitting in the examination room of St. Joe’s fracture clinic. There was no privacy there at all. It was just a big, concrete-floored room with little cubicles set off by green curtains that offered the same sound privacy as a live microphone would have. I was sitting in one of these cubicles but no one bothered to pull the curtains so I had not only audio but visual access to the other patients. This was to be my penultimate visit to the clinic. My six-week stint in my little red cast was just about over. At that point, I could easily forget how very long that six week sentence had sounded on my first visit.
As I sat there trying to read but being more interested in the organized but somewhat manic operation of this clinic, I got wrapped into an argument that a patient was having with the surgeon. The guy was holding up his cast arm shaking it in the surgeon’s face, “What do you mean, I can’t get in the pool for six weeks?” It seemed obvious to me but not to him that that cast would be ruined in water. I knew this fact since I had been carrying mine around for five weeks and had sheets of Saran Wrap hanging in my bathroom to cover the thing every time I wanted to shower. “You have to do something,” he shouted again at the surgeon. The surgeon, calmly pointed out to him that he had chosen the paid-for-by-the-government option which was not waterproof and even the “waterproof” ones weren’t so waterproof. “But I have to swim,” the guy said again. I’m sitting there thinking get over it, you can live without swimming for six weeks. Not being one to keep quiet when I should keep quiet, I said, “The six weeks really goes by quickly.” He sent daggers of hate towards my little cubicle. But really, if someone had said that to me at the beginning I would have done the same. I thought it best to just go back to my book.
If that guy was around today, he could point a finger at me and say, “See, you know how it feels now?” Back in the days of my broken wrist, I was not an exerciser. Occasionally, I’d go up to the pool and take a class here and there, but I certainly wasn’t religious about my efforts. And I definitely was not doing anything every single day that resembled exercise. So when I was told that my little wrist would take six weeks to heal, it didn’t really matter a whole hell of a lot to me that I couldn’t get in the pool or do exercises. (It did matter that I couldn’t open a bottle of wine.)
Oh, how things change. This past week, the Intrepid Trainer has banned me from doing any exercises or going to the pool. My injured foot needs to be still and not pounding on the floor or climbing up and down stairs or walking the six blocks to the pool. I thought she was joking but then I tried to do my exercises and paid for my stupidity. I should know from my broken wrist, that when they say it takes six weeks, it takes six weeks so don’t mess around with it. I feel like I keep starting the six weeks over and over again every time I take a walk or climb upstairs.
But, it has been incredibly disconcerting and awful not to wake up in the morning and do my hour of exercise. I know that sounds absolutely bonkers, but it’s true. For the past three years, it’s what I have done. I haven’t always “enjoyed” it or mastered everything that I was supposed to do, but I did it just the same. Maybe it’s my addictive personality and my Capricorn focus on routine that makes me put on those gym shoes every day and plug my iPod in my ears and start checking off the exercises Christina has given me. When that was taken away last week, I felt a little lost, like something vital was missing from my life. As any addictive person will tell you, when you give up whatever it is that you’re addicted to, good or bad, you feel a loss, like all is not well in your little life. This morning, I just couldn’t resist any longer, I did a few weights and shoulder rolls just to let my body know that I haven’t abandoned it completely. It was very thankful for my little efforts.
Christina has given me “permission” to come to the aquafit class on Monday — as long as I don’t walk there and the I take the elevator and not the stairs down to the pool. I assured her I would do that, even though my frugal self does wince a little at taking a cab for such a short distance. I’m still waiting for a bone scan of this little foot to see if there is a hairline fracture. And who knows, if they find one, my six weeks of healing may just have to start all over again. I better think up a good, long writing project fast.