Sunday, January 07, 2018

Can't But Do

Yesterday we woke into a morning that was -38° when the wind chill was factored in. It was a day where we had planned to go to the gym and to do some other errands. We had breakfast slowly, each knowing that when it was over, it was time to go. It took force of will but we got dressed in layers and headed out to the gym.

I've mentioned before that pushing is really hard in the winter. The dust from the salt that covers the ground gets on my gloves and makes getting a grip difficult. To get to the gym I have to push uphill, over tons of salt and it's really hard. Several people offered help, and as much as I was struggling and as much as I needed the help, I said that I was OK and all but one respected my no. The last guy didn't hear no, kept saying he didn't mind, and just before he grabbed the handles on the back of the chair, I shouted, "Don't touch me." Those words sent him fleeing.

I rolled back and forth on carpet four or five times to get the bulk of the salt and grime off of my wheels and then headed to the gym. Joe, who had been parking the car, joined me there and helped me get set up. We did the Canadian Strip Tease, hat, ear muffs, gloves, scarf, coat and under-scarf and Joe put them in a locker. The guy helped me by taking the seat out of the ergometer and I got started. Joe left to go swimming.

After a little over 3k I left the ergometer and went to the cable machine. It had been busy all morning and I wanted to get my crack at it, so as soon as I was over 3k I left to grab it when it was free. I spend about 50 minutes on this machine and one of the exercises I do is to sit backwards to the machine, then grab hold of the handles and do boxing, pulling weights up as I do. I do 30 down, 30 in front and 30 up twice.

I was on the second round, sweating like a cold beer on a hot day, when a young man walked up the ramp turned the little corner where the machine was and into my view. He could see me as well, that's how it works. And he just stopped. He seemed to be watching, not staring but either way, I didn't like it. So I stopped what I was doing. I said, "Can I help you?"

That woke him up and he realized he's stopped and had intruded into my workout and he said, "Sorry, I was just ..."

"Just what?" I prompted.

"No, it's just that I was thinking that how good it was to see you out. I mean, to see someone who can't do anything, out doing things. Like I never .. Well, it's just great."

Now it was my turn to stare at him as I watched him walk away shaking his head as if he was fully baffled.

"... to see someone who can't do anything out doing things." There's one I've never heard before. I wonder if he'll ever think about what he said and realize the massive contradiction within those few words.


I am now someone who can't do anything out doing things.

Are there cards and tee shirts for those of us who can't do but do anyway? There should be.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I'm so proud of you, doing what you can to improve what you have.

I am someone who can't do anything NOT out doing things. With ME/CFS, every drop of energy is precious, and not to be spent on the kind of exercise you can do. Enjoy! And especially, enjoy the fruits of your labor.

clairesmum said...

You have gotten very strong, physically. I'm impressed.
Sounds as if he was startled to see you and what you were doing so efficiently. (I know, it's really not his business). But maybe it was one of those moments when the incongruence between what he 'knows'(stereotype) and what he saw (you, working out hard) just stopped him in his tracks, while his brain was trying to make sense of everything.

And sadly, the idea that you would speak to him may have been a new one as well. He blurted out words that don't sound very coherent or at all what he probably wishes he said (when he thinks about the exchange).
Change has to start somewhere...

I know, you are out exercising and really not wanting anyone to have a 'learning experience' at the expense of you just living your life. And it's not fair. Letting it go is a very hard skill.

Wendy Knapp said...

If he only knew....

Shannon said...

What a strange thing for him to say. I know a lot of people think this way, but I'm always disconcerted when someone comes right out and says it. The low expectations..