“So I said to the gym instructor: ‘Can you teach me to do the splits?’ He said: ‘How flexible are you?’ I said: I can’t make Tuesdays.'” ~Tim Vine
Two years ago, my physical ability started to slightly decline again with increased angst. I reinstated my ‘out there’ walking, armed with two hiking poles for balance creating a normal illusion of incorporating an upper body workout with walking. Sometimes I would struggle-shuffle only to kick-butt power walk at others depending on syndrome whim.
I joined a gym. Undetected ripples and tightened back muscles were undetected by other grunting patrons as I willed myself to do a very slow 3-speed mile on the elliptical. As an obvious gym newbie, nobody knew I am neurologically challenged. SPS, I’ve got a secret.
Two years later, because of hard work, determination and dedication, I can kick out an impressive 3-mile on the elliptical to the questioning awe of two young women 20 years younger than me. Unnoticed by them are the wheeled backpack with contracted hiking pole I drag around the gym as a surrogate walker–my secret.
I manage some light weight machines after concentrated focus to cross aisles toting my surrogate walker. I am complimented on my toned muscles, watched with envy or appreciation from people who do not know the extra effort required of me, my secret.
I work my core. Anything involving my back muscles is a no-go. The forward crunch is a favorite stomach-tightening, back-stretching combo for me. The crossover to the arm weights is an obstacle. Breathe, focus, step. My secret is safe.
These are my good days. Not part of paid membership, my gymspatics…
Two days after my last infusion, I could not leave my car to enter the gym. (Infusion hangover.) My back was rigid, tightening more with contemplation. My workout was a forfeit, one of several. Sugar plummets have also interrupted sessions when SPS was behaving, a double whammy.
Having a good day on the elliptical, I got off to have my body do a lock-down where I could not take a step or let go of the treadmill in front of me. A kind man got off and asked me to sit while he continued his run across the aisle on a different machine.
Trying not to be intrusive, he kept asking me if I was alright. I had a death grip on the treadmill as I chomped some medication. My body was quaking in continual mini spasms. Syndrome fear became a hairball in my throat I could not cough up. After waiting for my meds to kick in, I took my syndrome cue to leave.
Often after an impressive workout, I may need an escort to cross the road with me to my car. Many nice people are helpful, never invading my privacy. My SPS secret remains safe. I am normal, just having some balance issues after working out. Easily understood by gym regulars.
Why do I do it? It feels so good when my body has those periods of remembering how to work with normal efficiency. For a time I can almost pretend I do not have SPS. Through the window, I watch the brisk and fluid beauty of people walking through the parking lot as I do my suspended leg lifts. I marvel at the miracle of movement, grieve for my losses, deeply appreciate my sporadic abilities.
The severity of my symptoms following the years after my diagnosis are a continual haunting in my mind. I do not take anything for granted. Today can change in a second. Getting to where I am now is euphoric, even within the confines of SPS, my gymspastic secret.
Exercise helps my SPS, is a definite help for my diabetes, and great for my emotional well-being. I enjoy my workouts when my physical planets align, not a secret.
I like the following quotation because it fits for me.
“The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character.” ~Arnold Schwarzenegger
(Arnold exercised poor judgement resisting in life?)
**For my personal safety, one of the gym’s employees is aware of my condition and where in my surrogate I keep my meds and sugar tablets. My cell phone has emergency contact information in it.
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