A body of work

imageedit_14_9188293512I’m a die hard Georgia Bulldog, and yet I find myself strangely in sync with my school’s hated in-state rival.

My body is a rambling wreck.

It has been one year since I submitted my left knee to temporary discomfort in order to free myself from years of agony. My surgically repaired joint is doing fine. There is still numbness that I’ve accepted as permanent, and occasional swelling. But the pain of jagged bone clashing against bone is gone, replaced by smooth titanium. Hallelujah.

My once troublesome left leg seems to be the only part of my 57-year-old frame that is currently functioning without issues.

Since last November’s knee surgery, I’ve gained seven pounds. I don’t believe my artificial parts weigh that much, so I’m going to assume my body used the post-surgery recovery period to downshift, without my permission. I typically walk three to four miles a day at work, which was once enough to avoid unwanted weight gain. Not anymore. It’s going to take added effort to get back into fighting shape.

And therein lies another problem.

In my 57 years, I have failed to recognize my ever changing limitations. My doctor advised me to avoid strenuous running on my artificial knee, but it’s the only form of exercise I find truly satisfying. And by satisfying, I mean debilitating. So, when my daughter suggested we take part in the Atlanta Track Club Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, of course I agreed.

On the Tuesday before the race, I went for a slow, short jog. I made it a little over a mile before my right calf wadded itself into an angry mess. I limped home to an ice pad and humiliation.

Common sense would have dictated that I skip the Turkey Trot. So, of course, I lace on my running shoes and prepared for pain. My calf tightened after a half-mile. By the two-mile mark, my right knee started to ache, the one that has never cried out for surgery. I was having the time of my life. My daughter and I wore huge smiles as we enjoying the company of 12,000 sweaty friends. The Olympic rings smiled back as we crossed the finish line. What a Thanksgiving memory.

Now, I can barely walk.

I’ve got to do a better job of reading my body. Yes, most of it is a horror story, but there’s no need to let it turn into a Kafkaesque work of existential absurdity. First of all, I need to start stretching. Slow, easy, stretching. I hate it. It reveals the full extent of my physical descent. It will require patience and effort, with great emphasis on the patience. Age has turned my muscles into the petrified forest. It will take time to ease them back into something usable and cooperative. It’s either that, or risk injury with each act of exertion. Right now, a game of patty-cake could result in a torn meniscus.

No more Turkey Trots, turkey. Not for now.

It’s either that or do as Rodney Dangerfield once suggested. I’ll need to donate my body to science fiction.


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