This journey starts with me collapsed in the grass, weeping for an unknown reason. Unable to climb the final peak, high on endorphins from the hike thus far, thighs thundering in protest, threatening to seize. My hiking partner was a nurse. She cautions me to listen to my body. We discuss the risks of going on, decide I’m not ready, have our lunch and descend. The disappointment in the eyes of my hiking partner is seared into my relational brain. That same disappointment cost me my last hiking partner.
I need to get healthy.
How many times have I said it? Before I lost significant weight and then after two surgeries in less than a year, slowly gained most of it back. Before I go back into the workforce and after “secretarial spread” starts appearing as another bodily challenge. Before I join a 12-Step group for my unexplainable fits of rage. After two years with only marginal improvement. Before I buy my second carton of Gas-X for the constant acid reflux. After every meal when I feel bloated and uncomfortable even if I ate very little. And I say it every time my hiatus hernia won’t let me swallow and I have to empty the few bites I’ve already hurriedly swallowed before I realized it was in spasm. Before Peg invites me to Spa Lady and after I flunk the flexibility test and decline to join.
I need get healthy.
Chapter Two finds me hesitantly accepting an invitation to a January fundraiser complete with booze and silent auction. I could take or leave either one, but there were two couples whose company I enjoy, so we skip cocktails and arrive just in time for dinner. All through dinner the too-loud microphone drones out the necessity of bidding on the vast array of donated items. There in the middle of Table 3 is a poster: “New Year, New You.” A naturopathic clinic offering consultations with the doctor, nutritionist and stress management life coach. Sounds healthy and hopeful, so I bid. And win.
One step closer to healthy.
The naturopath touches an electrode to my extremities: toes, fingers, testing responses in nerve endings for food sensitivities. Wheat. Rice. Potatoes. Lettuce. Spinach. Zucchini. Beets. Cashews.
She adds supplements of Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D and a relaxation herb. The nutritionist introduces me to shopping at Planet Organic. The life coach helps me realize how I can actually calm myself. I eliminate the offending foods add the supplements.
Chapter Three: First hike of the season. My pants are dragging in the mud. I hike them up. Again and again. I roll down the waistband to keep them up. What is going on? I gather them up in a safety pin because the zipper clasp was broken last year… when the pants were too snug. They are falling down now as if they are too big. Next visit to the doctor’s office, I ask them to weigh me. I am 18 pounds lighter. In five months. Without changing anything else, just eliminating the offending foods.
I am getting healthier.
The acid reflux is gone. That was wheat’s fault. It was no sacrifice. Sure, I love the smell of fresh baked bread as much as anyone but when I cave in and eat it, the resulting upset stomach, bloating and heartburn are too high a price. It is no sacrifice whatsoever to eliminate these foods.
I feel healthier.
But my body isn’t changing much. Slightly smaller version of jiggles and lumps.
Chapter Four: We’re at the lake. Me and three friends. Love them to bits. Best friends ever. As we leave, Peg calls me over.
“You know I love you, right?”
Of course I do.
“I want you to meet my personal trainer. I think she could help you. Please say yes.”
I’d be delighted. No I’m not offended. We’ve walked the same path.
Chapter Five: The trainer is certified in teaching older adults. She’s like Peggy. Smart, funny, committed, compassionate, driven. She encourages me to go beyond my self-imposed limits but she’s not a bully. She turns my every negative remark into a positive.
“You don’t hate this exercise, you love what its doing for your body.”
My head is getting healthy along with my body.
Chapter Six: The injury. I was angry when I arrived at the gym that Thursday. Frustrated and embarrassed. A close friend had mercifully held back information about a trauma while I was on vacation. We chatted and I nattered on about trivia. Once the facts come out, I’m mortified that I am too egocentric to sense the wound, impotent to help, ineffective in being too far away from my grieving friend to do any good. My trainer saw the sparks in my eyes and took me to the ropes. Huge, ship-anchoring jute ropes held in place by hundred pound weights. Take one in each hand. Whip them up, down, alternating, side-to-side.
I didn’t feel anything pull or strain. All I felt was release of all that tension, along with a few tears. But the next morning I couldn’t move. Something had been strained. All the exercises combined, including the ropes, created a tension that activated a mis-aligned pelvis and SI joint.
Chapter Seven (seven is the perfect number, complete): Therapy. A referral to a well-respected wellness clinic. The Chiropractic treatments touched the right spots, traction stretched the seized muscles and laser pain therapy worked wonders. Then the massage therapist touched me with fingers that walked down my spine and joints like a familiar path.
I am getting healthy.
All these touches,
- a friend’s invite to dinner and silent auction
- the naturopath’s food sensitivity measur
- nutritionist’s food guidance
- life coach’s calming
- Peg’s loving referral
- a friend’s compassion midst bereavement
- the trainer’s discernment and disciplined coaching
- chiropractor’s adjusting touch
- massage therapist’s healing touch
each contributes to the whole. Each helps me open my arms wide to this world like I would open my arms to a smiling child.
I’m not done yet. I have relapses in moods that seem to be tied to food and stress. Those will be Chapter Eight. I’m still moving. Still training. Loving my friends and family even more deeply than before. I notice how every one of these chapters includes touch of some kind and I read in scripture how Jesus usually touched a person in order to heal them, how people who simply touched him were healed.
This is my touching story of healing. A story about friends touching me. Perhaps my touch can help someone else heal. I’m not there yet. But I’m so much closer than I was a year ago.
Sedentary no more. I keep moving toward healthy. I am satisfied. One touch at a time.