I scribbled this poem after visiting five of my college classmates, four whose back, knees and ankles have altered their posture and walk. I wasn’t that arrogant to think my five days at the gym and my usually vegetarian diet were putting me at the bottom of the list, but yes, there was that thought that I was in the safety zone and like that little red hen, “Not I,” I thought until over a week ago in the most unlikely places.
It was a time of such innocence,
A time of timelessness,
Sitting on beds in college dorms,
Questioning, not the nature of our universe,
Or that of mankind. They were questions
Not yet found in college texts.
“What kind of car do you want
Your next boyfriend to drive?”
“A sports car,” I say, “preferably red.”
“A truck,” says someone born in Michigan.
“How about children?”
And we sat naming our children
Not yet born of sires or chromosones.
Seasons have come and gone
More than we ever anticipated.
There is still speculation,
Not of the nature of our universe
But one of our own mortality.
“Who do you think will go first?”
I was pressing 110 # on the leg press and added 10 more pounds. After six leg presses, I felt a sudden pain in my left hip. I knew I had injured myself. I got on the floor, did some stretching movements, called the personal trainer and asked for help. I couldn’t sit and put my hands below my knees.
“Put some heat on your back, and if in a week, you’re still in pain, you’ll need to see a doctor. You could have fractured it.” I drove home and got flat on my back with ow, ow, ow.
I began to run wild with imagination. If I had a fracture, that would mean ending in the nursing home, immobile, as the elderly; then pneumonia and I die. I needed to know now. The faster they filled my fracture with cement or glue, the faster the healing. I managed to get an appointment and Red drove me to the clinic.
I hobbled in with a cane. (I saw a man with a cane crossing the street today and know now, I was putting my weight on the wrong leg. It’s rocket science to use a cane properly for the first time.)
The nurse, after taking my vital signs asked, ” From 1 – 10, 10 being the worst, what is the pain now?
I said, “10″.
She looked at me. Red said, “Ten? If it’s ten, you’ll be screaming on the floor.”
Nurse smiled with pen in air, not writing.
“9″, I said. Red said, “Nine? You’d still be screaming with pain.”
I shouldn’t have put on my face, shouldn’t have combed my hair, shouldn’t have struggled into my sassy winter clothes.
“Okay”, I said,” 8. Write 8 down” and she did. Both thought I was hilarious and a wimp.
When the Doctor asked, “How long have you had this pain?” and I said, “Since this morning, ” I sensed a normal patient would have said, “about a week or two.” Okay, I can’t stand pain and my imagination has killed me many times.
To make the visit story short, had my back and hips X-rayed, no fractures and I wanted to leap. He said if after a week, the pain was still bad, I would get an MRI. Got pain killers which I later couldn’t use because of nausea and was put on 200mg of Moltrin three times a day. I had problems sleeping for a week with pain…crawling out of bed was a dance of contortions. Used the cane to walk around the house.
Red was a good caregiver…went out and bought food I wouldn’t get for myself…chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, brownies. “Hell”, I said, “I’m dying, I may as well enjoy all this.”
Tuesday was my support group for caregivers and they are so devoted, I couldn’t cancel. I took a blanket with me so I could talk lying on the floor. Friend Mary picked me up. For the first time since the incident, I actually sat for two hours…sat and stood without getting on the floor.
Ah, poetry and caring people give stronger healing power than Moltrin.
Poet- Caregivers thought I should get on the table and they would massage me as they read their work and talked. On the way home, Mary took me to her house and gave me a good foot and shoulder massage with heating pads under my back and on my stomach. That night was the first pain free night I had…without Motrin.
Returned to the Dr after a week. I could do all the movements he asked me to do without pain.
My PT exercises help a lot.
Thursday was my session with the Memory Miners..my memoir writing group. I took my blanket just in case and didn’t need it. Their stories once again created that aura of healing.
I cancelled my session on caregiving and one on memoir writing for this month, at the Asian Community Center, rescheduled for April.
It’s been eleven days since that day at the gym. I have returned to the gym and yesterday, I passed the Kakugawa health test: I went to Macy’s and bought three items on sale. Pain, what pain? Not at the mall, anyway.
Be careful, folks, that snap of pain can come anytime, unannounced, in the most unexpected places. And one piece of advice…it’s best to see the doctor with disheveled hair, face without blush and lipstick and clothed in old flannel PJ’s. You’ll probably get more respect.
And my college friends and I have stopped asking…