Ah Danielle (“Nurse Ratched.” or as I sometimes think of her, “The Happy Sadist”), what would I do without her? She fairly claps her hands with joy when my muscles get to the trembling stage (to be honest, it doesn’t take that long). “OK,” she beams, “Now we’re gonna start our reps!” I groan through our sessions, but I always feel stronger and optimistic afterwards.
Danielle is a whiz to be sure. But even I know, she can only do so much. If I don’t follow through with sessions of my own at home, I’m going to stay right where I am indefinitely. She’s there to teach me, and I need to learn from her example. To channel, if you will, my “Inner Ratched.”
Meanwhile, the irony does not escape me that the very exercises I took up cycling to avoid, are the ones I have to agonize through now, if I ever hope to get back on the bike. One thing that helps, is to let Danielle count the reps. At home, I do reps till muscle fatigue sets in, and then move onto the next exercise. That way I can at least watch a movie without having to count.
But walking is still beset with inconsistencies. I get stronger daily, but each new exercise taxes a different set of muscles, so sometimes my walking is actually worse. My perception that I’m walking at warp speed is cheering - until I notice I’m being passed by a texter, dragging an ancient dog behind him.
And there are dangers. Now that I’m back on the street, I run the same risk of landing on crutches as every other pedestrian in NYC. Children (and those who should know better) hurtle by me on scooters on the sidewalk; cyclists dart out between car lanes running the light as I cross at the green (this at 8th Ave, which has a parking protected bike lane, mind you. God forbid they should use that).
But the irony that is hardest to stomach is the fact that I traveled to LA for 1 month of cycling, only to spend what will be 7 months recovering.
I’ve suffered enough. Can’t I just sit back until I get better? Do I really have to do these fiendish exercises? But an injury is not like a cold, and learning how to walk again takes unremitting, sometimes excruciating effort. “Yes, you do,” both Inner and Outer Ratcheds reply in unison.
It’s called Tough Love.