The soonest I could get in a room with Dr. M and Dr. L would have been in the middle of December. Both of them reasoned that as long as I was still feeling “status quo” we could continue our period of watchful waiting but to get on a plane the second I felt that my headaches and vision loss were beginning to get out of control. I decided that I would like to have the holidays with my family, so I scheduled my appointment for January, right after the year turned over. And who knew? Maybe the world would end on 12-21-12 and I wouldn’t have to go through with it at all. I was still afraid of that doctor’s appointment but I had scheduled it, booked the flight, and the hotel. It was happening. I had taken my first step forward in a long time. And it felt good.
So I took another one.
I had been sitting on the couch for months now. At first it was because I had to in order to recover and back then I had felt like a caged animal. Trying to go for bike rides when my body was definitely not ready I had hit (proverbial) brick wall after brick wall with my training and had finally resigned myself to the injured list and transplanted my dairy aire from my bike seat to my now permanently indented couch cushions. Now I wasn’t exercising because I just couldn’t drag myself up from that fraying upholstery. Before all of this had happened I had been exercising 5-6 times a week. Now I was a slug. I was also not eating right for a healthy body and especially not eating right for a body that had a hormonal imbalance. When I received my initial blood work that revealed I was now 29 going on 45 it had also showed that I was deficient in multiple vitamins and minerals that were vital to my well-being. No wonder my nails were brittle, my skin looked terrible, and my hair was falling out. If I was going to have this craniotomy it was time to start getting my body back in “surgery” shape.
Remember: knowledge is power. I enrolled in an online nutrition course at work, splurged and bought myself a cute new workout top and got my (now somewhat softer) rear end back on my bike seat. The nutrition class was fascinating. I had always thought of food as fuel in my younger more competitive days as a swimmer, and then as the enemy during my teenage and college years as body image became more important and the pressure to fit into smaller and smaller sizes became more severe. I had never thought of food as medicine that could keep me healthy and feeling good. I stopped counting calories and limiting intake and started ticking off nutrients. Did I get enough calcium and vitamin D today? Was there any vitamin C in my lunch? Does this count as a serving of omega-3s? When my body started getting what it needed it was amazing how much better I felt. Don’t get me wrong, It was not all carrots and celery sticks. I have one weakness that I do not believe I will ever overcome but if being able to eat three doughnuts in one sitting is wrong then I don’t want to be right. The kind people who work at North Lime Coffee and Doughnuts probably think I order those delicious pastries every morning for myself and perhaps 1-2 other co-workers but it’s not so. I devour those little frosted circles of heaven at my desk in the morning like Katniss Everdeen getting ready to go back into the Arena in Catching Fire.
In order to compensate for my indulgences on North Limestone every morning I got back on the bike but it was beginning to be too cold outside to ride on the road. So I put on my brave face and went back to the gym. I had started Spinning in grad school and loved it. It was dark in the studio, the music was blaring, there were black lights. It felt more like the raves I had been to in college than a workout. For this Sleeping Beauty the Spinning wheel would be my salvation not my demise.
As it stood, I had not exercised in quite some time and I had forgotten what it felt like to push my body to its limits, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, reaching the red line and then seeing if you can take yourself just a bit further, climb just a bit higher, give just a little bit more. Clawing for that extra inch, grasping for that extra “something,” that intangible goal which drives every human being to be more.
For me it’s borderline spiritual. Leaving every ounce of effort that you have in that room is a cleansing ritual of mind, body, and soul.
But if the body is a temple then I had not been to worship in a very long time. Things were definitely a little run down. And getting back in shape is never easy. By the middle of the warm up I was already winded. I couldn’t stand up out of the seat to climb for the amount of time we were supposed to, sometimes I had to reach down and just act like I was turning the resistance knob because if I had actually turned it my legs would have stopped moving, and I remember thinking that 45 minutes is a ridiculously long time to endure a bicycle seat. But at the end of those minutes I still felt euphoric and triumphant. Why had I stopped doing this?
The instructor, a woman named Heidi, was an unbelievable motivator. There was just something about her that made you want to work harder, climb just a bit higher, give just a little bit more. Maybe it was the fact that she was doing the same workout while she was I don’t know how many months pregnant, and still able to keep up a steady flow of conversation without getting winded.
Before I had given up spinning for a career as a professional couch surfer I had always taken her class. Three times a week, religiously. I did not think she remembered me but as I wiped down my bike and tried not to pass out at the end of what felt like 45 miles not 45 minutes she brushed past me and said two words that had more meaning behind them than she could ever have known.