Nearly 40 years ago I attended a lecture in Ridgewood, New Jersey about health and fitness given by Dr. Bill Hopewell. One statement he made was quite pithy and has lingered in my mind: He said, “Being healthy does not mean the absence of pain.”
Back then I was an energetic and athletic mother of two, who filled her days playing paddle in the winter and tennis in the summer. I recall thinking, what does the doctor mean?
Today Mr. W. and I live and breathe Dr. Hopewell’s fateful words. Oh, we are healthy. We are also a strident symphony of moans and groans, whimpers and whines, my GAWD can you give me a hand here — all this before we manage to arise from the king size.
The ankles puff, the knees buckle, the hip hurts, the shoulder smarts. I used to open a box of Honey Nut Cheerios by sliding my fingers under the top seal; now, with ramrod arthritic appendages, I need a hack saw.
Successfully stepping into my dainties requires a bedroom wall to lean against. Slipping on golf shoes necessitates a chair and a two-foot-long shoe horn. Leg-lock sets in just driving to the Treasure Coast Mall. Packages of reusable gel packs pile up in the freezer. BUT WE ARE HEATLHY!
A friend on Facebook recently posted a cartoon with the words: We used to rock around the clock, now we limp around the block. That’s not even funny! What’s happened to our bodies? When did they morph into tortured flesh?
For the past 10 years Mr. W and I have spent a lot of time moving our bikes from one wall in the garage to the other. Maybe tomorrow we’ll take a ride, we’d say, but it was either too windy or about to rain, too humid or a mite bit frosty, too early in the day or too close to the cocktail hour, or mostly a bad knee day.
This past week we faced reality and wheeled the two blue Schwinns with thick tires and comfy lambskin-padded seats up to our clubhouse garage where they joined the growing fleet for use by visitors. It’s been so long since we’ve owned those bikes, we didn’t even have safety helmets.
We are not taking our “healthy” absence of pain lightly. We are battling hard, hoping for a cease fire in the escalating war against arthritis and atrophy. Mr. W’s primary weapon is a canary yellow resistance band that he wraps around a table leg to hone his pecs while sitting on the sofa and watching Wolf Blitzer in the “Situation Room.”
I have an awesome arsenal. Having recently complete several weeks of PT for a sore back, my wonderful therapist Andrea suggested certain tools for home use. I am now equipped with strength bands in different colors and widths, plus an excruciatingly uncomfortable three-foot-long high density foam roller on which I’m supposed to do all sorts of tricky maneuvers.
Are our bodies getting lean and mean? Do our muscles look ripped? Do we still ache when we fall into bed at night? Not exactly, sorta, and yes. But don’t worry: we are in this for the long haul. And thank God for our health!