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Ooh my aching limbs!

Ooh my aching limbs!

Posted on 11. Sep, 2011 by gilly in BE

“I cannot remove my bra alone,” A answered flatly over the phone, when I asked how bad her so-diagnosed shoulder tendinitis was.

We hadn’t spoken all summer and our ritual catch-up had quickly veered to health breakdowns.“My daughter helps me dress, undress and go to the bathroom, and I need to step out of the car to retrieve the stub when I enter a parking lot. At least I can drive, even though I can’t sleep. So no, you won’t be seeing me at Pilates this week.”

What struck me more than the dizzying transitions from frantic humor to anger in her tone—and more than the fact that one of the most stoic women I know (last winter she weathered 4 months of tennis elbow and barely winced) was unabashedly confessing her pain—was the scary realization that this was the fourth time in less than 24 hours that a close friend, roughly my age, was wailing about her physical deterioration.

Hours before, I listened astonished as S (super fit, grounded, self-aware yoga teacher, 45) related the saga of a blasted sacro-iliac (a what? Yeah, I hadn’t heard of this ligament either) that ruined the better part of her summer. Even earlier that day, over in London, J was sighing over the need to put high heels on hold (not ideal when you love heels AND you’re in the shoe business) to manage chronic hip & knee pain, which also put Bikram yoga on pause. And just the day before, I’d watched M (who likes to kick box and is seriously fit too) limp elegantly beside me. What’s with the leg, I asked, semi-alarmed semi-curious. Knee, she sighed, always the knee. Must have done something to it. Again.

Yesterday, when a fifth friend suddenly launched into an impromptu aches and pains diatribe, I interrupted her brutally and asked “aren’t we too young to be winging about ailments?” She looked at me quizzically while I rolled the Arnica granules pensively in my mouth, swallowed and added, “isn’t this all supposed to hit in a decade or two? Aren’t we too young to be ailing?”

I believe in life-long self-improvement. I believe in continuously growing our self-awareness, practicing mindfulness and prioritizing what’s important to us (yes, that includes health and fitness, big time) so that we can remain resistant, resilient and resourceful in the face of pretty much anything. But now, this business of 40 plus women falling apart all over the place has me wondering: what could I be missing? What are so many of us not getting?

Important to mention that the link between these colorful gals, besides their connection to me (they are of multiple nationalities, working in different fields) is that they all are strong, fit, vibrant, and have the means, wisdom and knowledge (or even all three) to truly take care of themselves. And I’m not just talking hair and make-up but heart and mind and even soul. They are for the most part in happy relationships too, in case you’re wondering.

It wouldn’t be fair to hide, as I ramble on about others, that I too am experiencing a new brand of muscular fatigue of late. This week was the first time I even entertained the notion that it could be wear and tear. I’m fervently hoping it’s linked to the intense (and wildly satisfying because, no doubt, massively endorphin-creating) boot camp training I picked up again in the park after a 2-month hiatus. Witnesses under my roof will readily tell you that I moan waaaayy more than I used too the day after I work out, and that I wail to the maximus about my aching gluteus, and also stink up the atmosphere with my arnica oil rubdowns (fleeting relief, at best). I’m also hoping this is merely part and parcel of getting stronger (not older) and that “taking my fitness to the next level” naturally involves new forms of pain that can only be temporary, ? RIGHT?

Dunno. For now, I can still take my bra off alone.

4 Responses to “Ooh my aching limbs!”

  1. gilly

    27. Oct, 2011

    YES! I totally agree, Ase. we’ve also lost (not wanting to generalise here) the natural ability to honor those basic things: time to be, to process, to observe without judgment. Our thinking busy-ness (and demands and schedules!) kinda’ cuts us off from all of that. This is where Mindfulness comes in. The practice of mindfullness, as elaborated and taught by John Kabbat-Zinn, is actually used to reduce pain. It’s a whole new approach to pain-management.

  2. ase

    27. Oct, 2011

    Gilly, we are surrounded by so much information about more or less everything including the most remote philosophies but we lack information on what we need most: Space, time to think, time to be without prejudice. Aches come from the limited space we allow ourselves to have:)

  3. Cathy

    12. Sep, 2011

    Welcome back! I’ve missed your ramblings to no end…
    Don’t get me started on my aching limbs… Wished I were fitter, stronger…younger? Trying hard to ward those creeping “bobos” off my radar and to embrace the 50+ years seriously knocking at my door…Keep up posting your wisdom, insights, tips and mullings… Pleeeeease!

  4. Mary Bast

    12. Sep, 2011

    If it’s any consolation, Gilly, I’ve found that every decade brings body changes and new challenges, but our goals become more realistic and we can become just as excited about achieving them as we did for more vigorous goals. I’ve been taking qigong for almost two years and one of my physical goals was to be able to practice “three levels to earth” – arms to side and squat until butt hits heels, then up again with arms still out to the side. It took 8 months (very creaky knees) but I can do it with ease. That may not seem like much but I’m 73 years old and for me it’s a big gain. (PS: I still complain about my aches sometimes, but try to keep it to a minimum.) :-)

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