“It hurts so bad,” I say to her as I’m lying on the bed writhing in agony.
“If it hurts so bad why do you keep doing it?” she asks, obviously annoyed by my inability to do something that I love so much and can’t do without and I tell her as much.
“Well, I’m sick of you complaining about it. Why don’t you go see a doctor?”
“We’ve had this conversation so many times before – I hate going to the doctor’s and I can handle the pain.”
“Obviously not….” she mumbles.
I sit up in bed, massaging it, kneading it, doing everything I can to dull the pain but it persists and I resort to the last thing on my long list of remedies – a pain killer.
No, it’s not gout and it has nothing to do with my bedroom, nighttime habits. It’s plantar fasciitis. It afflicts millions of Americans and I happen to be one of the millions who is in pain thanks to (I’m sure) too many Happy Meals, not enough trips to the gym, too many hours sitting at a computer without regular intervals of activity and too many return trips to the buffet line for roast beef, crab legs and a side order of indigestion. Oh, and there’s also that minor detail about age no longer being just a number.
The point is I’m unable to play sports the way that I used to. When I was a kid I could play basketball on the blacktop from noon until late into the evening, go directly to the gym to play a fast-paced game of racquetball and later that evening drive to a church gym to play more basketball or a game or ten of volleyball. I would then shower, get at least rest five hours of rest, wake up in the morning and start the same routing all over again.
Physical activity was my release. Now I have to be careful to keep my hip sockets from releasing my legs. I wake up in the morning and it’s a constant battle between my mind and various aches and pains all over my body if I play one game of tennis or walk three miles around the track. I used to laugh when my dad would say, “The mind is willing but the body is weak.” Now I know all too well what he was referring to. But it’s hard after all these years of playing hard to slowly deteriorate into someone who hardly plays at all.
Yes work and other responsibilities have been contributing factors but playing hard was a factor in and of itself. Perhaps playing all those countless hours on the blacktop, on grass, in sand and whatever surface a game was played on has really done a number on my old bones. On top of that, I can hardly stomach the thought of taking pain killers to ease the discomfort and tenderness because I really can’t handle the way pain killers make me feel.
I learned to battle through the pain when I was in my ‘prime’ (if I truly ever had one) but this plantar fasciitis has really put a damper on any of my physical activity because I can hardly walk for at least an hour in the morning until I have really stretched it out, iced the inflamed area for a bit and performed some rigorous stretching. It is especially hard when I want to get out and play a pick-up game of soccer or football or touch rugby because the moment I get out of my seat to participate there is a nagging thought at the back of my head that says, “This will not go well for you in the morning.”
So I’ve been banished to the end of the bench for now. Super Mom gets really upset when she sees me running around like I’m still one of the guys but then gives in with that familiar look that says, “Play at your own risk – but don’t whine and wail when it starts to kick your butt.”
I used to be the guy who said, “Hang ‘em up dude your time has come and gone.” Now I fear that my own body is telling me that it’s time to resign myself to the fact that the days of being a gym rat are coming to an end. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I’d rather admit that than take another pain pill.