Besides a severe case of pre-teen acne and all the orthodontic accoutrements that come with buck teeth (including the dreaded night gear) I was always a healthy kid. No peanut allergies, no asthma, no weird fears or disorders. I danced. I played sports. I never hit a physical challenge. I've never broken a bone in my life besides a pinky when someone sat on it in second grade and two fingers jammed in high school volleyball. I've had one overnight hospital stay for a quick ovarian cyst draining and was up and at 'em right after.
Just a month ago I was a 26-year-old at the peak of physical health. Blood pressure perfect. Immune system like a horse (does that make sense?). At the gym at 5 a.m. before work. Running with Sammy. Hiking, biking, playing ball, boogie boarding, whatever. I never thought about my body because it just did whatever I wanted it to do without any complaints. Until now, my only physical limitation was the inability to go underwater without holding my nose like a four-year-old. Mild I know, but no less embarrassing at pool parties and on boat outings.
Now? Walking up the 12 stairs from the living room to my bedroom is like a Family Double Dare physical challenge. Carrying down a laundry basket? I thought I gave myself a hernia yesterday. Working for a nonprofit I would lug bins upon bins full of Arts Council schwag, giveaways, heavy, glossy brochures and magazines, 10-foot banners and metal banner stands and poles without questions. I'd maneuver a stacked hand cart with one arm and an armful of boxes in another down the streets of Hartford from presentation to presentation without breaking a sweat. Okay, I sweat, but those red shirts did not breathe! Lately, carrying the five pieces of mail from the post box up the driveway is daunting. I can't stand for more than 10 minutes without having to rest my loins. I haven't been able to feel the bottom half of my left leg for two months now. All the sensation is gone. I guess that's just what happens when you have swollen cancer masses filling your chest, pressing on your organs and squeezing your veins thin.
When I am better I will never again take for granted how lucky I am and how amazing the human body is. And next time I see an old lady pushing her cart in the grocery store I'll politely wait for her to turn down the aisle before ramming past her. I've never had a greater understanding of what it means to truly have your body, no longer your mind, in control.
No matter how good I feel otherwise and how much faster I want to move I just can't do it. It's like that time when we ran out of gas on I-84 in a snow squall with a Christmas tree tied to the roof of the Blazer. No matter how hard Craig pressed that gas pedal there just wasn't nothing left. Putt ... putt ... putt to the shoulder.