Jun 192012

I recently joined the gym and I’ve got to say, I like it. I like the way I feel after I’ve finished a workout; strong and as if I’ve accomplished something huge for the day. This is why I keep going. I usually stick to the elliptical and the row machine in addition to the weight lifting machines, but I’ve also been taking a few classes. One such class was a boxing/kickboxing class. I’ve never taken one of those before and I was intrigued. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one because the class was filled with newbies.

We started off with some drills and if you remember anything from high school gym class, you know how drills are the bane of everybody’s existence. They are horrible, yet effective torture devices. These drills consisted of pushups, sprinting, jumping rope, and jumping jacks. Like I said, torture. The entire class was exhausted after fifteen minutes of warm up. Which brings me to this, why does it seem like some trainers/teachers derive some sort of sick pleasure by inflicting pain onto their students? It’s got to be some Schadenfreuden thing. But why? Is it the little bit of power over others that makes people go a tad crazy? I’m thinking yes.

I tried everything she said. I said I tried everything she said, not that I was physically capable of doing it. And then we got to the bag. Oh, for the love of God, not the bag! But I was ready. I lifted my leg to kick and barely skimmed the bag. Get closer, she coaxed. And so I did. Kick the bag she said. So I kicked, unaware that I was flexing my toes. I kicked straight into the bag and felt this sharp pain vibrate through my big toe. “Oh God, my toe hurts,” I said. Her response was something like, “Yeah, these bags are the hard ones.” Huh? What kind of response was that?! But for some reason I kept going and I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to seem like a quitter in a room filled with newbies. Maybe it was because I thought I was tough and could handle the pain or maybe it was because I’m insane. But whatever the reason, it’s irrelevant. I was injured and that was that.

I hobbled out of class. When I got home I looked at my toe. It was swelling and fast. So much so that it felt like there was a marble underneath. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence, but trust me, it was bad. I started to walk on the side of my foot to compensate for the pain. And I thought, that’s it, it’s broken. It didn’t help that in the evening my leg also started to throb. I ended up taking several Aspirins for the pain and eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, I found that my toe was black and blue from the front to the back. Not good. But I needed to get some stuff done, so I was hobbling on it all day. That probably wasn’t the best course of action, but like I said, I needed to get some stuff done. That night I called the Nurse Hotline via our insurance and the nurse said that even if it was broken, there was nothing they would really do for me at the hospital except take some x-rays and bandage it up. So, she gave me some quick tips for pain relief; elevate, ice, Aspirin, and the buddy toe bandage. I did all that, but guess what? It still hurts and it probably will remain that way until the end of the week. The good news is that I’m hobbling less and I can almost walk on my foot again. Woot!

I intended to go back to the class this weekend, but I think I’ll pass. I honestly don’t need another injured appendage.

Apr 042012

When I was fifteen, my dad was admitted to the hospital. He was forty-seven.

When he came home, he was on tons of medication: teensy pills, horse pills, white pills, orange pills. I didn’t know what they were for. All I knew was he needed them. I could’ve asked him what they were, but the truth is I didn’t want to know. I wanted his sickness and everything that came with it to go away.

It wouldn’t go away though. His pills began to slowly invade, assault and take over our normal lives. First they lived on the kitchen counter, then in the bathroom and finally in the corner cabinet that held our drinking glasses. No matter where I was, there was a bottle of pills in my face and I began to hate them. They signified everything about my dad’s sickness that I loathed. Strange thing was, a week prior I equated medicine with health. If I had a headache, I took an Aspirin. If I got a cold, I took Sudafed. They always made me better.

I asked my dad if he needed to take all of those pills daily. His answer: if he wanted to live. Something clicked inside of me the moment he said those words and I knew he would be dependent on pills for the rest of his life. This was the point when I started to dissect what I was doing and eating. I realized I could make myself healthier. I began cleaning up my body by running, cutting out soda pop, going vegetarian and never smoking or drinking. Of course, I now realize that was my naivety talking. Sometimes intention and action don’t coincide.

Nothing I did in my teenage years or my twenties could prepare me for what was to inevitably come in my thirties. As much as I tried to control my health, I couldn’t. I won the lottery.

Winning the disease lottery is a game that nobody wants to win, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. It took me a long time to realize that sometimes diseases strike at random. It’s not a punishment.

As luck would have it, I now have to take a pill a day. I’m not angry. It is what it is. I’m convinced there isn’t a single person that wishes to be dependent on a pill for the rest of their lives, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I always ask myself this question to clear my head: what’s worse, a pill a day or impending death? I would say the former, but that’s just me.

I just filled my pill case for the week. Sometimes I leave it in the kitchen. Other times it’s in my bedroom or the bathroom. Maybe it too has invaded my life. Sometimes I feel like I am turning into my father. Sometimes I think I finally know how he feels.

I used to have this gym teacher in grade school who always said, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” He doesn’t know how right he was.