Saturday, July 7, 2012

Slowing Down for a Bit

A year ago this time I was running my last 20-miler as I prepared to take part in the 2011 San Francisco Marathon. Now I see the ads for this year's event and I know I'm not even close to being ready. I missed my long run today as I have missed all of the short runs, too, over the last couple of months. 

It's not choice, or heat, or lack of motivation. It's pretty nasty back pain that's taken me from health I take for granted to health I wish I had. Sleeping and sitting are just fine, but walking or standing--let alone running, cycling, or kicking a soccer ball--are out of the question. Actually, it's not really back pain any more, but radiating leg pain that's the most intense.

Either the combination of physical therapy and steroids is going to work soon or it will be a quick surgery to correct a lower-back herniated disc. I'm anxious to reach that conclusion so I can get back to a life of activity, but I certainly have come to respect the challenges that people face as they age or become physically limited in other ways.

One thing that I have learned to become is more economical. I think more about what I'm going to do before I get up because I know I have a limited amount of time before the pain kicks in. I also appreciate the things more that are in range of easy reach. Conversely, the things that are not so easy to get to become less important to me. In the end, this kind of thinking might not be too bad a thing because it's resulting in some simplification in my life.

My love and affection for my Uncle Mike have increased, too, because he deals with pain like this, and far worse, constantly, yet he lives a dynamic, abundant, and kind life, a model not unlike the one my father set.

One conclusion, many handicapped parking spaces meet regulations, but don't necessarily make things easier. I got a temporary pass to use until this is over, but I have noticed the ramps aren't near the spaces and the spaces aren't necessarily near the doors. There's rarely a place to sit when you need it, and waiting for slow elevators is way tougher than I had ever realized it might be. I can work at my desk just fine, but I try to time my four-flight descent after work so I can avoid a "local" trip downstairs that stops on each floor. I'm not kidding. Yesterday, the power went out in my office and I had to walk the four flights. I made it with no problem, but I couldn't help wonder how anyone who was truly handicapped could get out of that building. 

I'm not complaining, though, because in my heart I understand that this is just a temporary setback that I will recover from. There is positive to come out of this in that I know I will have had a good reminder about appreciating what we can do with ourselves and our time. 

I'm glad to say that even with this inconvenience I can look back at my life and say that I have used my physical ability as well as possible for the most part. I've been able to finish a few marathons, climb a mountain or two, cycle lots of miles, and coach hundreds of young people in soccer. I think I will be able to do most of that again soon, and I will love it even more when I do.

I'm slowing down for a bit, but I'm not giving up.