The last few days have rearranged my thoughts, though. It feels appropriate to work it all out here in The Burrow. As I've said before, typing to you is great therapy.
I've been engaged with a new physical therapist for the past two months, and for the first time in a long time I am beginning to see some real results. TBG had been after me for a long time to get back into the weight room at the gym and, of course, he was absolutely right. I am weak. That weakness can be corrected only with consistent exercise and constant attention to form. The re-construction of my hip is not the issue; Dr. Boaz was a fine carpenter. The absence of muscle, the reliance on compensatory patterns, the fear factor ...... it's all on me.
So, I have been to the gym this morning. For the first time in a long time, that sentence means what it used to mean, back before my perforations. I worked steadily for an hour, moving between equipment and mats, always with a purpose. My iPod was cranking and I was breathing into the movements. Even though those movements were smaller, subtler, lighter and less explosive than they used to be, they were also larger, more obvious, more weighted and powerful than they have been of late.
I am not setting any records, except those I'm keeping for myself. I can now do 2 sets where last month I could do but one. I can move the hamstring curl machine with my right leg alone; that wasn't even a dream in January. The fact that there is only 10 pounds of resistance on the machine doesn't disturb me. I am fully capable of appreciating what I've accomplished and where I have to go.
My new mantra is "You are only cheating yourself." Turns out
I'm a pretty stern taskmistress I have a fairly healthy superego I really am capable of listening to myself when it matters. I laughed out loud as I looked at the clock to see if I could be finished yet; with only myself to impress, it felt self-defeating to leave. Seems that I'm making mental progress, too.
I'm not doing endless sets of a single exercise. I'm doing as many repetitions as I can of each one of the movements Becky's outlined for me and then I am moving on. If I am in charge, I'm creating a program that doesn't bore me or tire me out or make me feel inadequate. I admit it - I need to feel good about myself at the end of each exercise.
Failure is an option of which I am quite conscious; the temptation to sit still and just be an old lady is often overwhelming. I picture Christina-Taylor at those moments, hands on her hips, arms akimbo, eyes flashing as she silently chastises me for being a slacker. That's usually all it takes.... and that's a good thing these days.
Used to be, when I went out on the town, running errands alone or having lunch with my sweetie, strangers would approach me with admiration in their eyes. "Look at you! Out with a walker/a cane/without any devices! How wonderful!" I came to see these conversations as a whole, the overall impression one of marvelousness, of success, of achievement. I said that "Tucson doesn't need to see me in a wheelchair," and it was true. As I was healing, so was my town. My progress was their progress and it felt good all around.
However, as TBG reminded me over lunch today, one can only be a hero for so long.
Nowadays, as I meander from the gym to the grocery store to meetings all over town, I am more likely to garner looks of sympathy rather than awe. "You're still limping?" is better than "So, is that limp permanent?" which is quite an improvement over "Does it still hurt that much?" I locomote but I do not ambulate... at least not very well. I lurch and I lumber and while there are occasionally several perfectly even, weight-shifting steps strung together, for the most part my walking is a hodge-podge of strength and weakness, attention and distraction.
TBG wants me to listen to the rhythm of my footsteps. So does Becky. I really don't want to listen; it's asymmetric and a constant reminder of how far I have to go. Every expression of sympathy from a stranger or a friend, every wistful look at my tilted hips, every shared sigh and shrug of the shoulders places me as a patient.
It's incongruous. A year ago, when I really was a patient, I felt triumphant merely to be both a survivor and upright at the same time. Now, 15 months or so after the fact, I often feel as if I'm letting people down.
Please don't rush to the comment section to tell me that you think I am swell. I know it, deeply and profoundly. It keeps me going when my body disagrees. I'm not talking about reality here. I'm talking about my perceptions.
I have to remind myself, over and over and over again and again and again, that four months ago I was unable to conceive of a time when I could hike for a mile and be satisfied in my soul. I have to accept in my inner most self that I will be able to do this. I have to prove to myself that I have the fortitude to stick with a lengthy, painful, slow and unsteady process that may or may not result in my return to an absolutely normal gait. I have to have confidence in myself and the team of miracle workers surrounding me.
Mostly, I have to stop whining and be glad that the sun came up this morning and I was here to see it, even if I did creak and crack as I bent down to retrieve the morning paper. A year ago, bending that far was totally out of the question. I just have to keep that in mind.
Thanks for listening, denizens. As usual, I feel much better now. This is, indeed, the cheapest form of therapy there is.