Lots of folks have been commenting about my weight. Thanks for being curious and or concerned. I’ve lost 25 pounds and landed at 180, or a pound or two below, depending on my intake of fuel and output of energy any particular day.
The weight loss is, I consider, a major reason that I’m very much more than fine. I’m mighty fine - feel like a million bucks (pre-2008 million bucks).
How and why does a middle-aged guy decide to lose 25 pounds from his not overweight frame? Long story. Got a minute?
At 40 I was superman. Weren’t you? I routinely rang the strongman bell at the fair, with one arm, and one swing, while whistling The Knack’s, “My Sharona.” I’d tote giant rolled living room carpets on my shoulder for miles, just to say so. Women? Ha, two, three to a shot, then wonder how I still had energy left to pet the cat. For fun on my 40th birthday, I leapt a tall building, 14 times, in 15 minutes.
Then in the winter of my 40th year, skiing, I caught both tips in some heavy powder. Upon yanking the tips out, I felt a wrench and tug in my lower back. Right than and there, superman lost his cape, for good – but I didn’t know it.
I skied the rest of the day on residual superman pheromones. Real smart. Then I went to a back doctor, who took an x-ray and calmly told me after viewing the x-ray,
“You have a bad back.”
I said, “Yeah, I know.”
He repeated, “You have a, bad back.”
“That’s why I’m here doc, yeah.”
“No, you have a bad back,” he insisted. Then pausing, he tapped his middle finger on the problem area of the x-ray and continued, “you always will.”
Stunned, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “Should I do yoga?”
The doc laid my new life on me.
“You can’t run anymore. Skiing won’t work. Any jarring sports, dirt biking, snowmobiling, (he didn’t call it snowmachining, he wasn’t from around here), can’t do those. You play basketball?”
“In college, now town-team.”
“No more basketball.”
I went on to clarify, “You don’t mean for good? I don’t have to stop for good? Right?”
“Well,” he paused and looked again to the x-ray, “you’re on the fence here, one move and it could be over.”
I had been waiting for the next sport he listed of sports I should no longer do to be sex. But the more he spoke, the more the tone in the room became ominous, the more I felt like crap, the more it sounded like he was saying I could die from this back thing. Which of course wasn’t true. But the finality of his prescription made it feel that way.
He soothed, “But yeah, yoga will be good, and you can hike, swim, fast walk.”
“Friggin fast walk?” I blurted as I was picturing myself looking awfully sissified fast walking by the strongman bell at the fair, straight into Floral Hall.
“What kind of vehicle do you drive,” he asked.
“With your height, you’ll want to look into buying a larger vehicle, one you don’t have to bend down into. And a harder bed is best. And take your wallet out of your back pocket, stand straight, bend with your knees, stretch, but not too much, and don’t sit for long periods of time. For now, sitting is your worst enemy. Apply heat as often as you can.”
At this point I think I know what’s ahead for me. The knife. So I ask how long till the back gets better, as if surgery isn’t even on my mind. What I hear is, not necessarily what I want to hear, but also not the worst I thought I could hear.
“The severity of the pain could last a couple to a few weeks. I’ll prescribe muscle relaxants, you should get some massage.”
“So sex isn’t totally out?” Even in severe pain, and thoroughly crippled, I try to be the joker. He didn’t laugh.
“Do some yoga, and hopefully it’ll come full circle for you. I’ve seen it happen.”
“Hopefully? You’ve seen it happen?”
“Like I said, you’re on the fence. These things can get worse, stay the same, or get better. One can never tell with backs. But, if you do all the things I suggested, you’ll be giving your back the best chance to heal, and the best case is, you’ll be able to avoid surgery and continue a normal, active life.”
Holy crap. A normal life? I came here to Park City for a film festival to screen a film I have the leading role in, and to ski, and look for Robert Redford, and be discovered, and from one trying turn on a lousy heavy powder run on a moderate slope, I’ve put myself into a situation where my life may no longer be normal?
I head straight to a yoga class.
To be continued ...
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act “The Logger.” His column appears weekly. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.