Tuesday, February 26, 2013


This morning Mac and I woke up early and laid in bed, talking about the day. His first question was, “How are your feet?” We both promptly laughed! Truly whoever said, “Youth is wasted on the Young,” was brilliant.

When Mac and I met, one of our common interests was Ultimate Frisbee. I had played for a few years and loved the sport. If you are unfamiliar with it, imagine using a Frisbee to play soccer, and playing on a football field. Games are usually played to 13 points or until someone throws up a lung or some such injury. Oddly, it really is a non-contact sport. It is the running that is murderous. When I played, one of the rules was that a woman had to be on the field at all times, and I was generally the only one. So, it was me throwing up a lung.  The sport draws a very gregarious crowd and generally after a game people party until the next one begins.

When I think of the days where I would run and run and leap and hop around, and intercept, and attempt to pass, and run some more, I generally get the image of a dog playing Frisbee with its owner, drooling, panting, thrilled to bits. There is a quality of freedom and pure delight.

I was playing Ultimate at the same time I played soccer, on a co-ed team and a women’s team. I must say I was in fabulous shape.

Until one summer day in 1988. I went to a week-long soccer clinic that was run by college coaches from all over the US. One moment I had the ball and was dribbling down the field, set to shoot a goal. The next I was on the ground, throwing up a lung. I had torn a quadricep from hip to knee, torn a meniscus, and hyper extended a hip flexor tendon.

Sadly, I had limited funds and could only afford part of the surgery required. Over the years I seemed to be only able to get in a reasonable state of health until another limb broke off or gave out. (A great story is the time I had to be rushed to the emergency room because I began to have problems breathing during a soccer game. Diagnosis: I had strained all the connective tissue holding my torso muscles and ligaments to the rib cage. If you need to get in to see a doctor right away, tell them you cannot breath and that your chest hurts.) Frustrating.

Finally hope came via a total wipe-out at the top of Whistler Blackcomb on sunny winter day in 1998. Dr. Zorn, the surgeon for the Seattle Sonics, at the time, fixed me up. Yes, I had insurance by then. Off I went for ten years. Mostly, I was focused on the kids and being a mom, so exercise wasn’t regular and generally came in the form of working on the yard or house.

About a year ago, I quit therapy, went cold turkey. (See blog, It’s a Doozy, 3/13/12) On the way home I realized that I had a lot of free time and not much to do, and so why not commit to getting the outside of me in as good a shape as my insides. More or less at the same time I had coffee with the lovely Victoria! I mentioned my new plan and she encouraged me to attend Jazzercise.

For those new to the concept of Jazzercise, it is a combination of aerobics, weight lifting, and plyometrics routines, set to really great music. On the first day I drove to the local community center, signed up, then I went and stood at the very back, in the right corner. People were following the instructor in varying degrees of ability, and as I ran in place, because I couldn’t follow at all, I fell in love.

Dramatic you say… well maybe, but here’s the deal. I’m not the kind of person who wants to wear trendy work-out clothes, I barely put a decent outfit together on a regular basis. It isn’t that I can’t, I just like fleece! What I fell in love with was that the room had about 80 people in it, ages ranging from 25 to 70, and in between breaks in songs these lovely people rallied each other, smiled at someone, or just felt comfortable doing their thing.

The first instructor I met was a woman named Sarah. Sarah is calm, confident, precise. I thought if anyone could teach me the routines, it was her. So, the second time I went, I moved into the center of the gym and did my best. I still had to run in place on and off, but I felt good about my progress.

Now would be a good time to introduce the subject of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. A few years prior to beginning Jazzercise I began to lose the use of my right arm. It began with tingling, then loss of muscle tone, and minimal grip. My arm and hand were constantly cold and numb. So I began to see a series of doctors (a Spine and Neck Specialist, an Osteopath, the Vascular Surgeon, an Orthopedic surgeon, and my incredible physical therapist), and after about seven months and six MRI’s and various x-rays, it was determined that the opening from my torso to my shoulder was closing up. Hence no blood flow or cleansing of the lymphatic system. On the way to finding this out I learned that I had multiple disc problems in my neck, heightened nerve sensation, a torn bicep tendon, and probably something else. I’m guessing from soccer and Ultimate Frisbee.

So, when I started Jazzercise I could lift a one pound weight. It was kind of embarrassing, but whatever. One of the best things about getting older is that you know your limits and need whatever parts you have left, so you learn to compromise with yourself. A month later I increased from Jazzercise twice a week and yoga twice a week, to Jazzercise three times a week, a two pound weight, and yoga once a week.

I love Yoga. I love the spirit of it, the regained flexibility, the strengthening. But, my body and soul need to dance. I need Pink and Pitbull encouraging me!

Now, Chief Instructor Stacey at Jazzercise is a touch different from Sarah. Stacey likes to dance, she sings, sashays, and parties and invites you to come along for the ride. At the end of the hour you are pooped, happy, and glad you went. Plus, I learned some seriously rocking dance moves.

At the tail end of summer, Stacey and Heather switched schedules. Heather made me cry! Our first class Heather said, “Ask yourself why you are here. Right Now! I’m here so that I can be around for my family.” Then she proceeded to kick my booty. (I believe, but am not sure, that Heather is also a personal trainer.) This woman not only tells you a funny story every day, but she challenges you, and always remembers to ask, “Why are you here today?”

While all this exercising has been going on, so much more has as well. I’ve met loads of new people (props to the dudes in the class) who remind me that the world is bigger than the little hill I live on, who are reinventing themselves or returning to beloved professions; writers, photographers, massage therapists, nurses, marketing wizards, IT brainiacs, and so much more. Several of these lovely ladies bought my book, just because we sweat together. How kind is that??

Every day I walk in there I am guaranteed to see an old friend, to meet someone new, to work my bum off, and be reminded that no matter how much weight I lift, or if I go right instead of left, it’s okay. This sense of acceptance could not have come at a better time. In leaving therapy I was really afraid that I would return to old habits, that I would be lonely, that I would get lost again.

So, back to my feet. I thought I had plantar fasciitis in one or both feet. I did all the things one should do, but the pain was getting worse. Keep in mind I take 1800mg of Ibuprofen a day (just for my shoulder and neck) Anatabloc (natural low grade anti-inflammatory) and get cortisone shots twice a year (shoulder/hips/neck). This wasn’t helping!!

So yesterday I see the podiatrist. Guess what? My feet don’t have fat on the bottom. As the doctor said, “You have the feet of a 65 year old woman!” Apparently this is the one place we want to have fat! You know how a baby’s hands and feet are plump and you just want to nibble on them? That is fat. When I told Mac the results, he laughed and teasingly said, “You didn’t lose weight anywhere else, but you lost it on your feet?” (He's not being cruel!! He's been conditioned to give as well as he's expected to take. I have a twisted sense of humor. I might have skewed his!)

As I was leaving the office, after a cortisone shot, I told the doctor he should team up with a plastic surgeon. They could do liposuction and transfer the goo to people’s feet!! I think it is a great idea.

So, I am now off my feet for four to six weeks, have a lovely splint to wear on each foot, and will miss my Jazzercise buddy’s tremendously. The great news is that I can cycle, so I plan to ride my new recumbent bike daily, so that when I return to Jazzercise I can dance with the gang!

Always, I try to think about why I need to write a blog. I write one every week, but only post the ones that I am convinced there is something useful to be found in it. I think this is it…

I once wrote a blog about wearing Coral rather than Rose colored glasses (3/13/12). I think I now wear bi-focals. I’ve noticed over the last year that what might have once worried me, rattled my confidence, or irritated me has really diminished. I think the coral aspect – compassion – is alive and well. My methods are different. Not quite on the large scale they once were, more close to home. I used to worry that someone wouldn’t step up. My world got larger and I have come to truly believe that the world is filled with all kinds of people who will step up and help. Not always the way I would, but then again, that is great.

I have also come to understand so much better the mind and body connection. When I was younger I used to take physical exercise for granted and there was always the assumption that I would “do” something. However, once the foot thing is solved, I will go back to being able to do what I want… run, hike, bike, throw a Frisbee, lift a seven pound weight, and that makes me feel great about what the future holds. I don’t want to be a grumpy old woman who has mobility issues, heart disease, and diabetes. I am not suggesting these people are unhappy or are without quality of life. But from personal experience, I know that the spirit starts to fail when the body does. Besides… what about all the really cool people you meet? We need a village, a community.

So, to a handful of friends that I have asked to join me to dance at Jazzercise, I would love to see you there April 1st. No fooling!! Who knows, you just might like it!
Thanks for reading!

(I just wanted to throw this in, author Jill Mansell writes this about herself: "Jill Mansell lives with her partner in Bristol and writes full time. Actually, that's not true; she watches TV, eats gum drops, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marveling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she's completely run out of ways to procrastinate does she write." - Love this!)

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