The moment that gave me perceived immortality started on a gurney. I had discussed my will and testament with a man who had ongoing contempt for me. My will and testament was only verbal because I was in my forties and optimistic. He was the father of my children. This particular father became a father four times through a blink of euphoria in a timeless pool of responsibility that he loathed. I became the icon of his miserable and interrupted life with the birth of every child. Too much responsibility, too much work he had to do. Still, I relished in the conception of every single one in spite of his attitude that infiltrated our home. My children were my energy force in this life. They still are. When we divorced, I allowed myself what was previously forbidden by his contempt. I allowed myself to seek out a career. I became a teacher. Going to “work” was something to do for my children and their children. In that I relished my every day.
Long story shortis, eventually, my age and all of those births led to the gourney. To this day, it was worth it.
The gourney was worse than Halloween. It was real. The proceedure took two weeks of beta blockers to prepare for. I had made medical history by now. If one is to go down in history, probably one of the worst ways outside of crime association would be to land in a splash of medical journals for unusual diseases and circumstances. That was me, lying silently on that gourney while my files awaited the outcome for medical journals. I would probably be assigned a number. “Patient number blah, blah, blah…” When pressures of the infidibulum, (that heart muscle which leads through the pulmonary valve), get that high, death really should overcome that sorry sap laying on the gourney. For some unknown reason, I was still alive. Climbing 6 stairs was a mountain in the world’s highest altitudes, but I was alive. And as the gourney wheels rolled forth into that dark and morbid place of valve splitting, I tried to come to terms with my mortality. The worst part? I had to be conscious. I had to experience that sensation of my head near the brink of exploding as the balloon was inflated inside of my chest. They assured me that there would be no pain, but the pressure in my head, well, it was weird. It gave “weird” a new meaning. At that time in my life, I was reading many books on quantum theory. I thought if I could just focus on quantum mechanics, in the moment when my heart would allow normal blood flow, then the saturation of blood rushing into my brain might give me some insight into comprehending the physics of the quantum world. So I thought about physics while my head was on the verge of exploding.
The procedure went well. I went home the same day. There was a mild complication with the artery they sailed the balloon through, however, I will never forget that frozen moment in time. My mother stood at the top of those same 6 stairs upon my arrival home. All four of my children glowed from above; little angels surrounded by a place that made home. I wondered if I would see them or home again. However, the energy I anticipated I’d have just wasn’t there. This time, I couldn’t even get one foot on the bottom stair. I stood, frozen, wondering if I would have to sleep on the landing that night. Exhaustion is a nonsense word to this feeling. I was completely weak to the point of having no physical body at all. I was just a brain lumped on the floor that couldn’t move. Just bending my arm drained me. When I voiced my concern because of the exhaustion, my mother waited. She looked at my then husband for a long stare until she finally said, “Can’t you just carry her upstairs?” The moment was awkward because of the contempt. In my own mind, the answer to her question was, “Yes”. My then husband stood 6′ 5″ tall. He weighed nearly twice what I did and he was four times as strong. My 120 lb frame couldn’t possibly be a phsycial challenge for him. It was the emotional committment that couldn’t drive him forward. The real answer to the question turned out to be “No.” So I took the next 15 minutes to scale those 6 stairs one at a time, resting in between each one. I never felt so vulnerable. The look on my son’s face was just devastating. He was as afraid as I was.
Well, I made it upstairs and saundered with heavy shuffles to the bed. That’s where I stayed for days. At the foot of the bed was a small white dog that never left my side. It was that experience that cinched my favorite breed of dog for a lifetime.
One other after effect of this entire procedure was so odd, I have a challenge describing it. Ever since, I can see three dimensionally in absolute darkness. Go figure.
Recover, I did. Following the leg’s artery return and the shrinking of the infundibulum, I decided to start running at the age of 47. No thrill ride could have given me more joy than the discovery that I could run immortal lengths across any terrain. It was like gaining wings. In fact, ever since that time, I have been comforted by dreams nearly every night. These are dreams of the wind blowing across my face; whispers in my hair. In these dreams, as a matter of fact, I can fly. The feeling is one of a gentle and angelic power. Nothing is more restricting than physical weakness. Nothing is more joyous than movement.
Eventually I took up running on a regular basis, if for no other reason but that I could. The marathons never appealed to me. Keeping the solitary sport fun is the main goal. I always thought of marathons as too much of a good thing, like sugar or drinking cream. Running for pleasure gives freedom to fly. It introduces all of the sensations of privilage from breathing air effortlessly to making an aura of streaks across narrow pathways. It’s as if a person’s essense traces their footsteps and leaves the print of their personal energy in the wake of their travels. Running introduces us to the immortal. It was running that got me back to my high school weight after the age of 60. It was running that lowered my once normal heart rate and blood pressure to significant lows. It was running that lowered my normal cholesterol to new lows. Running got me through my misogynistic divorce. It was running that changed the chemistry of my body into lumps of free-flowing endorphines that pronounced joy at every turn. I learned to never underestimate the luxury of running. Running is like a dishwasher. You never really know how vital it is until you can’t do it.
Now I have the flu. The worst part about it is, I can’t run. Running is out of reach. My responsibilities are still weighted and staying home is never an option. From nine to nine I have someplace to be. The forty minute break I used to spend running is filled with seeking refuge on a soft couch, just to mold to it and become jelly. Over the last seven days I have asked myself how I can find joy outside of running; how to find joy with the flu. Watching movies just doesn’t work. Every movie is not a privilege. It’s a waste of time. I’d rather be running. A person gets so drained in sickness, even having a euphoric conversation with someone you love is a horrendous inconvenience. “Hurry and lay there,” is all you can do.
Everything is annoying when you have the flu; even breathing. Getting out of bed is like facing those stairs with a swollen infundibulum. Food has as much flavor as water. I spent two dollars on a cookie and couldn’t even taste it. Ears clog up, and eyes grow swollen and red to the point of being stuck shut. Every one of our receptors, every one of the windows to the world that our bodies allow are fogged over and disfunctional. Even the sense of touch is annoying. It hurts. The world becomes intermeshed with the color black and fire red. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s gone completely. Finding joy in this comes through a special attitude. The one thing that keeps us going through sickness and challenges, sometimes boils down to the old adage; “This too, shall pass”. If it’s all there is, there is, indeed, joy in that aphorism.
So, I approached Google University and fell into a pseudo classroom titled, “How to Return to Running After the Flu”. I woefully discovered that mice injected with the flu (something I take issue with), faired differently depending on how much exercise they did while hosting the blood sucking virus. Out of three groups of wheel running mice, those who faired the best with the quicket recoveries were those mice who did moderate exercise. Those who were witheld from the wheel did not fair as well. Those who were kept on the wheel in cardio exercise did the worst of the three. More google searches uncovered one athletic man that kept up his usual running habits through his bout with the flu. It landed him in the hospital with a fever exceeding 105; his reaction was the same as the mice that continued on the wheel. In a search for joy, continueing an exercise program as usual should probably be scrapped. However, this day is looking like a gift to my rotting, mind and body, now 7 days into the flu and no exercise. It is more than enticing to get out there and take a small run with a walk. Though tired and wiped out still, I am beginning to relate to those mice withheld from the wheel. Easing back into it, sound like a glorious plan. There is joy in that as well.
Looking out this window feeds me the spirit to move ouside of the walls. Even 20 minutes would be Utopia.
Of course, there is always prayer.