Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday, 1998

Birthdays, anniversaries, perhaps the death of a loved one, or a tragedy like 9/11 ... they are dates that are permanently stamped on our personal calendars.  On those days, things happened that changed our lives and we pause to remember, reflect, and hopefully, celebrate!

For reasons you may not suspect, Good Friday is one of those days for me.

On Good Friday, 1998, I left work early, things were slow, and I had company at home.  The unproductive work environment was offset by fertility on the home front.  My wife was pregnant as was our dog.  We had a huge garden growing everything from melons to peppers to tomatoes.  The front yard was covered in marigolds that just took off that year.

Everybody sat in the living room, talking and having a good time.  All of the seats were full, so I leaned, put my hand out behind me, and dropped to sit on the floor when ... BAM!  Something in my back ... I rolled on my side, kicked my legs out straight, pounded the floor with my fist.

Previously I had no symptoms of back problems, but over the next two months my right calf atrophied almost 4 centimeters.  I had no feeling in my toes, couldn't lift my foot.  It worsened to the point where I couldn't drive, couldn't get myself dressed and soon could barely walk, provided your definition of walking is broad enough to include any form of bipedal locomotion.

Physical therapy, rest, ice, heat, medication, chiropractor, prayer, patience, water, change of bed, compression, e-stim, stretching, ... the surgeon said I was almost certainly going to remain at least partially paralyzed in my right leg, and that's if we did the surgery immediately.  Post-operation he expressed amazement at the amount of material he pulled from my spinal canal, "...a hot dog's worth of material," he said.  He was even more surprised that I had feeling and function in my right leg!

"You're lucky you're young," he said.

Lucky huh?

To recover to the point where I could drive and take care of myself took a couple of months, during which time the dog had her puppies and my wife developed high blood pressure during the pregnancy and trying to avoid stepping on said dog, tore an abdominal muscle.

At the time I was in shape, about 210 pounds and very capable-looking.  Know how bad I felt riding around the store in a handicapped cart or standing by the shopping cart while my 8-month pregnant wife loaded bags of dog food into the trunk in July's heat?  People shot me some UGLY looks, for sure!

I made a brief comeback to fitness about 9 months later, but suffered a lot of back pain.  

Then ...

I gave up.

For twelve years.

I was scared.  Afraid of the pain, reinjury, paralysis, all of it.  It wasn't worth it.  So I enjoyed life, neglected things like personal fitness and dietary concern or restraint.  The back was problematic, but hey ... most of the time it was fine. 

And then another date hit ... this one premeditated.  7/28/2010.  Since I was hurting frequently anyway, and the medication was eroding the lining of my stomach, something had to change.  I decided to exercise every day that I worked.  No need to get crazy, a walk around the block would do.

Then I wanted to run.  But that hurt my knees and my back because my form was wrong and my weight was ... well, think inside linebacker for a college football team.

Before Good Friday, 1998, I worked out for nothing but selfish, shallow reasons.  I wanted guns, abs, pecs.  Now, I've come through the other end.

At the present moment I am working through a calf injury.  I took the new dog for an inaugural run.  I could barely run at all, and just went along to see how it felt.

And some words slipped from my mouth, without thought.

"This is fun."

Lucky huh?  Yup, maybe so!

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