March 26, 2001
Double Dose Day


This is going to be a Double-Dose-of-Aleve Day. I know it before I even open my eyes.

Laying there in semi-darkness  ...  still groggy from Benadryl and dreams, still more asleep than awake  ... I flex my right leg experimentally, then my left. As I stretch, it feels like twin Great Whites are taking bites out of both calves. My lower back shrieks in agony as I twist around to a sitting position. As I crawl out of bed, the oozing blister on my right little toe brushes against the cotton sheets. I stifle a scream.

This is going to be even worse than I thought.

It was the six flights of stairs this weekend that did it. On Saturday morning David deliberately parked the Subaru on the sixth floor of the Berkeley parking garage, right next to the stairwell ... as far away from the elevator as possible. 

"You don't mind, do you?" he asked, and I shook my head emphatically 'no.' 

This is all part of our new *Get Tough/Get Healthy/Get Off Our Big Soft Lazy Butts* regime. Along with eating better and getting more sleep and eating better and cutting back on caffeine and eating better and drinking gallons of water and eating better and a bunch of other stuff designed to make us look and feel healthy -- not just for our wedding, but for all the years we hope will follow the wedding -- we are trying now to incorporate more physical activity into our daily routine.

One staircase at a time.

And the truth is I was just fine going DOWN the stairs. David galloped down ahead of me, taking the steps two and three at a time: then he stood at the bottom of the stairwell and waited at the bottom, serenading me, as I picked my way somewhat more cautiously from the sixth floor to the first. (YOU try 'galloping' down a steep concrete staircase in platform sandals.)

I was fine walking around Berkeley for the next couple of hours, too, as we made our bi-monthly *We're Not Gonna Spend Any Money (We Mean It This Time)* pilgrimage to our favorite used record stores. In fact, as we walked up and down Telegraph Avenue that afternoon, I felt wonderful.  I felt ... lighter. I felt like my skin fit me better. I didn't feel tired or winded or crabby or hungry or lightheaded or headachey or any of the things I usually feel after walking around for a couple of hours.

David noticed it too. "Don't you just feel better?" he asked over and over again, in happy stoopified amazement. And I agreed that yes, this is the best I've felt in years. The past couple of months have been good for us both.

It was going back UP the stairs later that afternoon  --  carrying a small fortune in used CDs, of course  --  that everything sort of fell apart.

By the second floor I was out of breath. By the fourth floor my mouth had gone completely dry, and it felt like lead weights had been strapped to the soles of both shoes. By the sixth floor my legs were rubber, my heart was frantically attempting to vacate my chest cavity, and I was seeing those twinkly little stars around the periphery of my vision.

"I'm gonna be paying for this in about twenty-four hours," I finally managed to gasp, a few minutes later, as I sprawled face-down across the hood of the Subaru. Experience has taught me that it usually takes one full day after any sort of unusually vigorous physical exertion for the really serious ow-ow-ow stuff to set in.

Which is why I wasn't a bit surprised to wake up in pain this morning.

If there is good pain, though -- and I do believe there is -- then this is the good kind of pain. This is the kind of pain that says Wow, Secra, way to get off your Big Soft Lazy Butt!   It reinforces the idea that I'm probably on the right track. It's going to take some time, I know ... but then again, it took me 43 years to reach this level of flab and inflexibility.  But this is also the good kind of pain that doesn't allow me to become complacent after one minor victory. Jesus H. Christ on a Tobler Chocolate Orange, Secra! it sneers. If you're this sore after six measly flights of stairs, you're in even worse shape than you thought. Which reinforces the idea that I have a long, long, loooooooooong way to go.

Which -- rather than making me feel defeated -- actually makes me feel more determined to stick with it.

Best of all: this is the good kind of pain that responds well to most of my favorite forms of therapy. Eleven minutes' worth of obscenely hot shower,  two cups of strong black coffee, a couple of OTC's ... and I'm finally starting to feel semi-human again. (There's no time, unfortunately, for my favorite form of sore muscle therapy -- a good, long, old-fashioned, "It hurts so good" screaming massage -- but I figure that if I cramp up again later, I might be able to finagle some *therapy* out of my fiance at the end of the day.)

By the time I get to my office building, shortly afer 8 a.m., the worst of the discomfort has levelled off. I'm not limping anymore, at least. I'm probably not going to require a wheelchair (or a stretcher). In fact, I'm feeling so much better, as I walk into the lobby and approach the elevator ...

... that I take the staircase instead. Right?


I'm on that elevator quicker than you can say "Super-Quadruple-Extra Agony-Strength-BENGAY."

But I might take the stairs going down when I leave tonight. We'll see.

throw a rock