Onwards and upwards, I’m makin’ progress,
feeling good, got my groove back, time to regain my fitness,
gotta start slowly, can’t go crazy,
you’re still in recovery, Boy, don’t be too hasty,
be thankful you’re back in business, for now take it easy
Thankfully, there were no serious side-effects from that iron infusion. The worst that I felt were muscle cramps in my back that woke me briefly around 3am the next morning. The pain wasn’t excruciating, there were no howls of pain from me that woke the entire neighborhood, but it was enough to rouse me from my sleep. Dr. R did warn that muscular pain was a possible side-effect so it was no surprise.
I rode that minor disturbance before drifting back to sleep. Fortunately, that would be the very worst that I would experience and I woke up a few hours later feeling as though nothing had happened. It was a relief to know that my recuperative powers were still on point and that this weakened body was still capable of withstanding pain and capable of healing itself.
One week later, during which I went from strength to strength and felt no more side effects from the infusion and continued to react positively from the Imuran and Mezavant, I felt that the time was right to get back into shape. Dr. G and Dr. B had banned me from working out until my blood work no longer triggered alarm bells and now that my iron and blood levels were back to acceptable levels I set out to reclaim what that fucking disease had taken away from me. I woke up bright and early on the 24th day of September and gingerly warmed up and loosened my joints. Thank God for the walking and shadow boxing drills that I performed during my two months in recovery as they kept my joints loose and nimble during my exile. I lightly stretched my legs, arms and back before gently bouncing around on my toes.
So far so good.
I devised a quick and simple workout plan in my head as I warmed up. It needn’t had been anything fancy and elaborate, just a simple routine to shake off any rust that I may have accumulated and get my muscles and joints primed into action once again. I decided on ten push-ups, ten squats and ten pull-ups for at least three sets, five if I had the strength – at this point, a big if.
After warming up for about six minutes I dropped to the floor like a soldier anticipating a grenade blast and set myself up for my first set of push-ups. I took several deep breaths, braced my abdominal muscles and slowly sank to the floor until my chest was just hovering above it. I exploded upwards and exhaled powerfully for the first rep before sinking down again for the second rep and so on. I managed to punch out ten complete push-ups without breaking a sweat and losing my breath.
Cool. I still got it.
I hopped onto my feet and set myself up to perform my first set of squats. Feet shoulder-width apart, I flexed my knees and allowed my upper body and hips to drop down until my upper legs were perpendicular to the floor and my glutes were behind me as though I were sitting on an invisible chair. Then I pushed off the floor with my heels back to standing position. I knocked out ten reps of those squats before resting for one minute.
I ended up completing five sets of ten push ups and ten squats before I headed outside to perform pull-ups on my old swing set. That I was still alive showed that my fitness hadn’t totally abandoned me.
Would you look at that? Looks like I’m still in decent nick.
The pull-ups, however, would bring me back down to earth rather quickly like an athlete who had emerged victorious in a sporting contest only to be informed that they were disqualified.
I approached my old swing set, grabbed onto the two monkey rings and allowed my bodyweight to fall and hang so as to stretch my upper body, particularly my lats, before the exercises. I had to admit I was a tad nervous since the last time I tried to perform a number of these just for fun I was totally tanked after a rather low number of repetitions. But my pride wasn’t having any of it.
Suck it up, Punk! If your dumb ass can do ten push-ups and squats no sweat then this ain’t nuthin! Quit worrying like a little bitch!
My inner motivator can be quite profane at times, that fucking taskmaster pushes me harder than any personal trainer ever could. Anyway, I took five deep breaths before pulling myself up. I completed ten repetitions during that first set and already my muscles were screaming.
Damn……first set down and I’m already halfway cooked? What is this!?
Following a one minute rest I grasped those monkey rings again and performed the second set, again managing ten reps – but only just.
God dammit! This can’t be happening! I used to do loads of these as a warm-up!
Another one minute rest before the third set. My gas tank was beginning to edge closer to empty but fuck it, I wasn’t going down without a fight. I’d been to hell and back against a far greater foe than this and came out on top, no way was this little fitness challenge going to get the better of me. I grabbed the monkey rings and began the first rep of my third set. I reached the fifth rep of that third set when my arms and back suddenly began to seize up. I tried to block out the feeling.
Ain’t nuthin’ but a peanut! Keep going!
The sixth and seventh reps came and went. My muscles were on fire as sweat cascaded down my face like Niagara Falls. The drill instructor within me became more and more animated.
DON’T YOU FUCKIN’ QUIT YOU BASTARD!!!!!
The eighth rep arrived and bam!!!! My body said ‘no more!’ I let go of the monkey rings, dropped to the ground and doubled over, breathing hard and cursing myself with the type of language that would make my mother weep. I was just about done but decided that I was ok for a fourth set – a fool’s errand at this point as I was just about basted and roasted like a Christmas turkey but I was determined to find out if I could still summon the beast for one more round. The stubborn, pig-headed side of me had finally awoken.
Pick yourself up, kid……let’s see what you’ve got.
I weakly grasped the monkey rings and took several deep breaths. My arms felt like jelly, my hands were jacked to the point where making a fist became a chore and my back and shoulder muscles were stone. I knew that I was never going to make it to five sets but if I could do at least five reps in this fourth set, I would be satisfied. Unfortunately reality sucks sometimes and my muscles tapped out on the very first rep of that fourth set, forcing me to call it a workout and walk away.
That turkey that was basted and roasted? Yeah, I ended up burning the damn bird.
I was disappointed but on the bright side, I still managed to pump out three sets of pull-ups in addition to the five sets of push-ups and squats. Not bad for a first day back to training following a rather lengthy layoff.
I quickly cooled down and stretched before going back inside the house for breakfast. I rested for a while afterwards, quickly surfing the internet, reading and watching some TV before having a second small meal a couple of hours later during which I decided to go for a drive. I quickly dressed up and locked the house before climbing into the family vehicle (Mom and Dad took the other car to the nearest train station). Rather than go on an epic road trip, tempting though it was, I opted instead for a ten-minute drive to the nearest shopping center. Not much had changed, though there was some serious construction work happening nearby, which slightly altered traffic and as had always been the case with that place, finding parking even during early hours was a nightmare. If anything, it seemed to be worse than the last time that I had visited.
I found parking after about ten minutes driving around in circles in search of a vacant spot (and evading all the ‘campers’ waiting for shoppers to load their groceries into their vehicles before taking their spot). I walked around the mall for about twenty minutes, browsing through bookstores and DVD and electronic stores along the way, before calling it a trip and driving back home. It wasn’t exactly a memorable road trip to announce my return to a normal life but it sure did feel good to be able to go out and about again.
The lyrics to the song that inspired this entry summed up my outlook from that day on;
Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
When the world is much brighter.
Ok, maybe I’m being over dramatic but at the time, it sure did feel like I was coming out of a very deep and soul-crushing hole and had finally tasted the sunlight.
Plus I just happen to like that song!