My Story Part 2:
I mourned tennis for a long time. Periodically I would cry alone after passing the tennis club on my way to the office. I missed the early bird group that I had been a member of on and off since the early 80’s. Yes, I would always have my memories forever but it wasn’t the same. Grieving anything or anyone that has been a part of your life for so long is tough no matter what.
I eventually had to give up jogging as well because of the tingling sensations in my feet. Oh boy! A double whamny.To go out at any time and, after one mile of heavy breathing, become entranced in a meditative endorphin high state with every step is an all time thrill. Letting go of being unable to do this again made me quite sad, especially when recalling how I’d love going jogging with friends or in the woods with one of our golden retrievers.
After that I managed to cope as best as I could by biking during the warm months and by doing the aerobic elliptical machine at the local Y the winter months. Still, it wasn’t the same. Losing both the ability to play tennis and jogging symbolically represented my entering a painful rite of passage-aging.
Fortunately, I remained flexible enough to compromise with my body. I cintinued to bike industriously, played golf with my friend on Friday mornings and even swam from time to time trying to keep in shape as best as I had been in the past.
These activities kept me going until late August, 2008 when my wife and I spent a lovely weekend with my sister in law and her boyfriend in the Jackson area of New Hampshire. We enjoyed their company taking time to sit in the cold mountain river, walk the wooden paths and play a short game of golf.
We left to go home at around 3pm but decided to stop temorarily for an agreed upon 1/2 hour at an open mall in North Conway. My wife went shopping while I chose to hang out at the Brookstone store. I didn’t mind because I saw that they had some exclusive massage chairs ranging in price from $1,500 to $4,900 and thought that would be a nice, relaxing way to end our stay in the area. Of course I wasn’t going to buy one. Just use it at my risk. After all, we were in no rush.
I chose the most expensive leather chair because it had so many options and was quite comfortable. I read the indemnification sheet similar to the one you see when skiing more difficult trails. It said that I would not hold the owners responsible for my decision to try the chair out without supervision. Cool! I knew what to do. So I sat down and turned the dial to Shiatsu massage, moderate intensity. I relaxed and felt these hard steel balls start to roll from the top of my neck down my thoracic and lumbar spine then down both my legs. It was quite comfortable and enjoyable. So much so that I decided to do it again only this time I chose to lay down in a supine position and turned up the dial to Shiatsu, high intensity.
No sooner than the machine started I became paralyzed. Not physically but psychologically. For whatever reason, I could not move from the lowered seat. Nothing physically was keeping me there. I certainly wasn’t buckled in. It was if I had become startled by the strange electrical sensations in my neck as the steel balls rotated intensely then proceeded down my thoracic and lumbar spine then down my legs. I’d never felt such an eery electrical sensation in all my life.
The massage soon stopped and I stood up slowly from the chair onto the store ground. No sooner than I stood up I felt this intense tightening of my entire body as if a cobra was squeezing the life out of me. I couldn’t move. I became frightened and broke out in a cold sweat. Eventually I was able to walk outside and waited patiently for my wife. She soon arrived carrying a few packages then saw that I was having difficulty walking.
Some tears came to my eyes but I tried to be upbeat joking that it must be some muscle tightness from using the machine. Little did I know that this tension would remain with me for four more months.