The Do Over 06: Injuries

The Do Over 06: Injuries

Is 56 the new 26?  It seems that way for me as my current professional and existential quandaries mirror the ones I faced 30 years ago.  These posts are a series of ponderings trying parse the difference between now and then.

Sorry for the extended break in this series.  In early January, just as I was composing a dispatch on resolutions (my New Year’s resolution was to be more resolved), a flare up of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome struck.  I first suffered from it in 2014 as I finished a madcap, big project for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I did all the revisions with a splint on my right hand, and often it was in so much pain that my left hand had to handle the whole keyboard.  This was the worst flare up since then. Usually the pain goes away in a coupla days, this time it lasted a coupla weeks and just as I was about to lose the splint I aggravated it and spent another three weeks with a  stump plus fingers as a right appendage.

During this injury phase I noticed my body acting in strange ways.  Some days, I’d reflexively descend the stairs one at a time as if my knees were bothering me.  Or I’d be reluctant to sleep on one side as if my shoulder was in some routine pain (usually from sleeping awkwardly on one side or the other).   I came to realize that I was responding to something much deeper than merely a bit of Carpal Tunnel.  Throughout my 50s, I’ve trundled my way through some chronic lower body issues and the occasional upper body injury, but my reflexes have understood it that what I’ve really done is anger the Omnipotent Forces of Pain and that in response, I curbed all varieties of movement for fear of incurring the wrath of those forces again, even if my self-enfeeblement had little to do with the exact injury I was enduring.

It’s not as if I’m some sort of total stranger to injury.  In my late 20s, I broke my toe kicking a trash can at the store and spent three weeks on a cane, then, in my 30s, I had to be carried out of a step aerobics class after injuring a knee, which resulted in a few weeks of hobbling around.  In both cases I diligently rehabbed and in a few weeks was back at it full tilt.

I don’t know what full tilt means anymore even though I’m only five years removed from a fitness regimen that included two yoga/spinning class doubleheaders each week as well as about 50 miles of urban biking.  However, my latest recognition of how readily my body is kowtowing to pain has aroused a sense of ambition, a “nevertheless she persisted” moment (yeah, my inner athlete is female, it’s a long story) built up inside of me.  As soon as my wrist was healthy enough to hold handlebars and brake on a bicycle, I resumed Citibiking everywhere, even if it was a short distance, it just felt good to be pedaling again.

In some ways, I was set to do good things.   In mid-December, in response to my building’s still unresolved gas crisis (my neighbors and I haven’t had gas to cook with for nine months now), I bought a Foreman Grill and a new Pyrex dish, so that 75% of my meals now consist of lean proteins, steamed veggies, and leafy greens. I became driven to sleep seven to eight hours nightly and drink two to three liters of water daily.

By the time I returned to the gym last week, I received my reward.  I stepped on the scale and I was ten pounds lighter than I was on my last visit around New Year’s Day.  Granted, I have many more pounds to lose before my body resembles the 42 year old that I self -identify as, but the sense of momentum was palpable.  With it came the realization that I needed to permanently reduce the Omnipotent Forces of Pain to a speed bump and not a roadblock.  It was something I’d wanted to accomplish years ago and that I made progress toward that almost subconsciously makes many other ambitions seem more possible.

Even though there’s a medical urgency to lose weight now, it hasn’t usually been my fitness motivation.  I was a brainy kid who wanted to be more physically active, but those avenues weren’t typically open to me as a kid.  I wasn’t good enough to “play” unless I owned the ball.  So when I joined a fitness center to take aerobic classes and then a gym and bought a bike, it felt like an opportunity to enable my body to catch up to my mind.  When my body failed me, I’m sure self-consciously I feared my mind might soon follow.  This episode has made me less fearful of that, and it’s made me more resolved.  Now, maybe I’ll go back to one of my unfulfilled 2016 resolutions like seeing more movies.


A Beth Orton binge accompanied the composition of this dispatch


About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
This entry was posted in Life in the 50s, Music, The Do Over, thoughts and musings, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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