I remember a time in college where I was bending over to get something out of my book bag. A guy approached me and asked if I was a gymnast or a dancer. I was shocked, for two reasons really; first and foremost, um, get a new pick up line and, second, how the hell did he know I was a gymnast? He went on to say it was the way I bent over with ease and grace and I continued to be a bit weirded out. I wish I could end this short story with “then that man became my husband” but really, I don’t even remember what he looked like.
The point being, there was a time I moved uninhibitedly.
I was a gymnast, a competitive one at that, for years. I was that girl that would do handstands on walls that enclosed the Grand Canyon. I may have done the splits at a bar after being dared and, of course, after throwing a few back. I could also beat my husband, with ease, in a push up contest.
I’ve always taken pride in my body. Not so much in terms of appearance, but in terms of ability.
None of that changed when I gave birth twice to very large babies. I recovered and I went on doing handstands around the house and so on and so forth.
And then came back surgery. I’m far enough along in recovery now that I can do things. To the naked eye, my life may seem more or less normal. My thoughts, however, are plagued constantly by my aches and pains and limitations. I’ve adapted to not bending by bending instead at my knees. And, now, every time I squat down to pick something up, my knees ache and my thighs burn. My body is failing me, yet it’s not that at all. My body is healing and it feels like it’s taking forever. It feels like I live everyday in the body of an elderly woman. I need breaks, I need to rest in bed, I need to ice, hell, I’m two shakes of a lambs tail from switching from Advil to Alieve which would surely put me in the senior citizen category.
Learning to listen to your body; knowing when to push, when to give up, when to ask for help… It’s all a challenge and it’s all a careful balancing act.
Recovery is still very much a part of my life.
*As a side note, thank you to each of you who have also endured a spinal fusion and have reached out to offer advice or encouragement. It’s your words that keep that light at the end of the tunnel lit.