A Body at Rest
I made a huge mistake about an hour ago. I sat down to check my email and became absorbed in Facebook with a detour to VarageSale and then a perusal through Craig’s List. I think my feet were propped up for 45 or 50 minutes. My doctor would have been pleased. Breaks are important to reenergize, and putting up one’s feet helps circulation. Everything was fine, until the buzzer on the dryer assaulted my ears. Like the donut man on commercials in years gone by my Pavlovian reaction was, “Gotta get the laundry.”
I tried to get up from my lounge chair. That’s when my body failed me. Okay? Again, I kicked back my legs to close the leg lift, but all I managed to do was thrash around like a fish dropped on the side of a boat. “What’s going on?” I thought as I flailed again. I was making some grunting and puffing noises and was afraid these sounds would alarm my husband, thinking I was having a seizure or a heart attack, so I paused to get my act together. When you are stuck in a lounge chair and flapping like spawning salmon in need of water, you really don’t want an audience.
While catching my breath, I realized that it was my muscles. My shaky muscles were failing me and my joints were screaming in pain. “Oh yeah, I worked out,” I said, which was the understatement of the year because Zumba is not really a workout. It is a torturous form of advanced aerobics set to cool Latin music meant to distract the participant into thinking she is salsa-ing through an exciting street festival on Calle Ocho in Miami.
I had to get out of this chair before my kids walked by, so did a micro-meditation to make my body and mind as one. Previously, my mind was saying, “Cara, just push back on the leg lift and stand up and walk.” But, my body was saying, “OMG! Why are you moving? No, no, no. I’m not going anywhere, girl!”
My micro-meditation went something like this: “Get your shit together, Cara. It’s just a lounge chair. Use your core muscles. Use your power legs. Use The Force if you have to. Just do it.” Okay, this was hardly an inspirational meditation, but it (along with some adrenaline) worked. I grabbed onto the ample cushions attached to the chair arms like a passenger on a 747 hitting an air pocket. I stretched my diaphragm like an opera singer doing warm up exercises and sucked in a roomful of air. I steeled my abs, lifted my now leaden legs, and with the help of The Force, I was able to pound down and lock that lift into place. “Mission accomplished,” I said as I held up my jiggly arms in a Rocky Balboa victory sign. Unfortunately, my triumph was short-lived.
A Body in Motion
When a post-workout body is at rest, you are lulled into a false sense of the pre-workout status quo. You have no idea that you have wreaked havoc on every muscle, every joint, and well, every cell in your body until you put that body in motion. I tried to walk to the laundry room. “Oomph!” escaped my mouth as I hunched over and shuffled my socked feet across the tile floor. To bend my ankles required thought, but to move my knees required a Herculean effort. This is when I realized how very complicated my knees are and exactly how many bones are in my feet. Why? Because every bone in both feet creaked and crackled, and I felt alternating pain all around my knees. My patella was like a stadium dome where tiny leprechauns were playing football. It was the Tendons vs. the Ligaments, and let’s just say there was an abundance of turnovers in the game.
I managed to make it the two yards to my dryer, which continued to buzz with annoying loudness. Because I hurt everywhere, all my senses were heightened, and that buzz sounded like an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo in deafening decibels. I bent over to open the door and quickly learned my pain was not limited to my limbs. “Oh dear!” I said, “Bending over is a big mistake.” My husband passed by and saw my face contorted in pain. “You okay?” he asked.
“Yes. But, did you know you had muscles in your back and neck?”
“Uh, yes, I knew that.”
“Well, did you know you had muscles in your ears, scalp and forehead?” I asked. “I know it because apparently all my muscles have been hibernating for years, and today I woke the beast, and I can barely move. Well, no that’s not right. I can move, but then the beast roars back at me and swipes its razor sharp claws at parts of my body I previously ignored. Take my sternum. Other than a boxer or possibly a football player, I don’t think it is normal for a person to have a sore sternum. Is it?”
My husband stood there with genuine pity in his eyes, but since he was on a mission to raid the snack closet, he said, “Well, my advice is to lift with your legs.”
What a guy! “That’s your big advice?” I screamed into the drum of the dryer because I could not twist my back to send my voice in his direction. “Lift with my legs? Please!” That would have required me to straighten my back, bend my knees, and push up, none of which I could do automatically anymore. What he high? “I hope he chokes on his oreo,” I whispered like a hissing cat.
I gingerly reached into the dryer, scooped out the hot clothes, and pushed them into a basket. The basket, bogged down with 30 pounds of laundry, was impossible to lift. Who knew undies and t-shirts could weigh so much? Push. Scoot. Shuffle. I resembled Mr. Magoo’s wife as I kicked the basket and mumbled swear words down the hallway to my room. I needed to make it to my bed where I could fold my clothes. When my skewed and rumpled comforter was in sight something in my mind just snapped. I ran in what felt like slo-mo toward my bed. I needed to be in a fetal position hugging my favorite pillow.
A Body at Rest Redux
I settled into the optimal sleeping position and closed my sore eyelids (you heard me, even my eyelids hurt). I sighed in pleasure at the absence of pain and soreness; as long as nothing moved, I merely existed in a bubble of anti-pain. But, what I learned is that clichés are true. “There really IS no rest for the weary,” I thought as my chocolate lab and boxer mix jumped on the bed, followed by my son asking, “Mom, can I go to the pool with George [our neighbor]? And, have you seen my bathing suit?” Barely able to breath from the pain of the bouncing, I used the international cop-out dads have been using for generations: “Go ask you father, and would you mind shutting the door on your way out?” I winced as I rolled back into my fetal position, but was rewarded when I fell into a blissful sleep.