Grandpa Walking

I have a friend that I haven’t seen for a long time and maybe will never see in person again. Life works that way sometimes. I do however read her post on FB. She has a V8 post where she usually says something like, “I just finished my cardio or strength workout and I am ready to start the day”. I find these posts somehow inspiring. Don’t get me wrong,  I don’t like V8 juice unless it contains alcohol nor do I have an urge to jump out of bed to workout; work maybe, but to workout, not so much. I mention this because she still looks young and fit and I find that I have been deconditioned.  That is what the nurses warned me about. I found Mayo to be an outstanding place, but there are three things that bugged me. The first one is deconditioning, is it really even a word. One of the main points emphasizes movement and they were bipolar about that. When I was in the hospital, they freaked out any time I try to move, only to come back a few days later and I asked how much movement I was getting. Because if I didn’t start moving I would no longer be merely deconditioned, I would become severely deconditioned. Make up your mind people and don’t yell at me for following your directions. The other two bone of contentions I had dealt with forms. I will start with the Quality of Life form. This form asked you to rate your quality of life on a ten point scale and doesn’t tell you what to compare it to. I attempted to take this form seriously which was my first mistake. I ask the lady what do I compare it to, for example should I rate quality of life against what I think is a good quality of life because I have never really had a good quality of life. I doubt it ever gets past a six, but that is ok because my expectations are not that high. Perhaps it would make more sense to base it on what my quality of life has been or do I rate it given my current circumstances. The fact that I am here being treated for cancer would cancel out the top six points on the quality of life scale even if  we are using me as a baseline. To you understand what I mean? She replied, ” Yes, just do whatever you want.” The closest I got to an answer was a male nurse practitioner who said, “I think you should be the baseline, but the before or after cancer question is a little tricky. I would suggest that you pick one and stick to it.”  From that day forward I always put a four down. The second form that bugged me was a rate your pain form. I knew there were people who were in more pain than I was so I tended to low ball it. The problem was they did not tell me they use it to decide whether I got pain meds or not.  I explained, as did who ever was there with me, that I tended to low ball the scale and they should add two. Most of the time they would seem to understand and then not give me the pain meds. If they would have added two I would have got my pain meds and everyone would be happy. They did not add two nor would they give me my pain meds.. When I finally realized what they were doing and they were not going to do it the way I suggested;  I explained their method was just teaching people to whine and it was better to under-estimate your pain than to over-estimate it. They would sympathize with me and continue the practice. Eventually, after many unnecessary problems, I adopted their system.  I think I just wanted to hold on to a little self-respect and control. The whole process tends to strip away much of your vanity.

Anyway, between the treatments, sickness and fatigue my body became deconditioned. I didn’t think it would because I swam at the beginning of the treatments when I had access to a pool and walked after that. However, when my white cells crashed and I got pneumonia all that came to an abrupt halt and I went to the ICU. That didn’t last to long but the activity remained limited even after I got home. I was out one afternoon and people were desperately trying to get around me because I walk too slow. One of the young people said move to the side grandpa your holding up traffic. I thought to myself I bet no one ever said that to the V8 lady and decided it was time to start working out. The other consideration that was evoked by this experience was that of Grandpa. I realized I had probably had similar thoughts about elderly people who were slowing me down, but I never thought that about either one of my grandparents. My Papa was healthy until he got sick and died, I spent several summers with him and will always have found memories. My other Grandparent I didn’t see that often and I have two overriding impressions of him. The first was he scared me and the second was that he gave a fifty cent piece when I visited. That was a lot of money for me. Maybe that is why I wasn’t more of a monetary success. I became scared of money in a b mod sort of way, you know, like Pavlov’s Dog. Instead of drooling when I saw money I ran. I don’t think so, but it is an interesting excuse.

So that brings us to this morning when I started on the long road of reconditioning. I set the tread mill to as flat as it would go and turn the speed to one of the slowest setting and that is really slow. This would be considered grandpa speed and definitively cause the people wanting to get around you to be annoyed. Then I put one foot in front of the other at a laggardly pace for twenty minutes. Then I took a set of ten pound dumbbells and did some sets. My grand finale was doing push ups using the steps. Now that it is evening every muscle in my body hurts. It is a long road, but I will feel blessed if I am able to travel it for a while with no major interruptions.

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