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Bruised, Battered and Beaten

Trying to stay in one piece as middle age sets in.

My body has betrayed me.

It’s not that I’m so old (although my kids think I am a dinosaur) but I am clearly at that age where things don’t work the way they used to. The sad part is that my brain knows exactly what it wants my body to do, but there’s glitch in the wiring and something’s not working right.

So early this morning, in my warm bed listening to the thunder, rain and lightening, I debated in my head, “Do I stay or do I go…I want gelato, I want a cheeseburger, okay I’ll go…” and rolled out of bed to get to my spin class. 

I’m a relatively new spinner because I have a relatively new bad hip and had to stop my Type A running-until-I’m-passed-out-on-someone’s-lawn routine. My hip hurt and I was angry at it; no permission granted to that body part to bail on me now. I’m only 48! Where’s the justification? But soon confirmed by another doctor at Illinois Bone and Joint (because if you follow this column you know we frequent that office too much), my hip will continue to hurt and feel worse if I continue to run – and blah, blah, blah.

As I sit on the little bench in my spin studio waiting for the class before mine to end, I am looking around and seeing a lot of late 40 something’s, and early 50 something’s, battered, bruised and beaten.

The guy sitting next to me confessed that he was supposed to have run, but with the rain made him was worried that he would slip. What? Slip where? The woman to my right, late 40’s and in great shape, had a purple, scarlet and horrendous looking bruise running up her left arm with two stitches and a butterfly bandage on a cut in the middle of her back…seems she actually took a spill while riding her bike outside. Ugh – the dangers of everyday activities! 

This was bad karma. The funny thing (or not so funny if your back is hurting you while you read this or your ACL is about to give) is that I realized, this is ME.  I’m in the most challenging, strenuous, yet SAFE exercise class I can find because my hip couldn’t keep up. The class is filled with middle age, former athletes looking for the burn without the bruise, the training without the torture and the rush without racking pain. I am not alone. So much for camaraderie.

There’s a creeping realization that I’m not what I used to be. Perhaps my new breakfast of Advil and coffee (or sometimes Aleve and coffee if I’m feeling really sparkly) might be the first indicator. That, and I seem to groan when throwing my leg out of my SUV and I don’t realize that I am until one of my kids gives me the sideways glance with rolled eyeballs and says, “What is WRONG?” Oh you just wait, babycakes. You just wait. 

As documented here just weeks ago, the big boy broke his ankle on the long board, has since recovered, and as of today is beginning a summer of backpacking through the north woods. My sister, who is a really decent tennis player, slipped, tripped and fell on a ball. No break, just a bad sprain…but that was in January and now it’s June she still isn’t completely healed. How is that fair? I mourn the quick recovery and the bounce back. 

What I do love about my age and the class in particular, is that there are no “youngsters” (anyone under 40) except a few college kids who accompany mom or dad for the hour.  Nobody our age wants to work out with youngsters…the 20 to thirtysomethings who wake up in the morning and look so refreshed, so eager to work out, so firm. 

I don’t have the heart to tell them that eventually when they sit up in bed, there will be a body part that didn’t get that message and is still laying down. I don’t want to burst their bubble about always feeling like that marathon is just a run or two away. For me, a marathon is attempting all of the laundry, scouring the kids bathroom (gross) and changing the linens all in one day. 

The safety of my little spinning class means I can’t wipe out, unless I actually fall off a stationary bike, which seems highly unlikely. It also ensures the comfort of hanging with my middle age homey’s working hard to work off whatever it was I found in the freezer with a spoon the night before. The music is loud, but mellow, and I won’t end up on someone’s lawn because I lost my mojo…I can climb off when I need to and just go get more coffee…and advil.

Lisa Rubinstein May 30, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Fabulous article and truly unfortunate that I can relate, I feel your pain, every morning and every night!!! Fabulous forty's are taking on new meaning toward the end of the decade!!! Keep writing!
Debbie Zide May 31, 2012 at 05:06 AM
I have another cure to all these aches and pains we endure at our ever so graceful age. Machine based Pilates. I've cured many achey backs, shoulders, wrists, ankles etc!
Chuck Dresner May 31, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Papa Chuck has logged over 60,000 miles running thru the bedroom neighborhoods of Northbrook and Northfield dodging traffic on the original equipment knees and hips. My secret... morning calisthenics and sensible stretching of those vulnerable muscles, tendons, and ligaments before exiting the front door every morning.

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