Back to the Gym

Saturday, August 20:

I haven’t been to the gym in six months. In February and March, my schedule was choked up with fifty doctors’ appointments and lab tests, leaving little time for anything else including breathing.

And then there was chemo.

I was too tired, too sick, not in the mood. My doctors and Les all said I should at least try to take short walks through my neighborhood — but I was exhausted, I was sick, and even a stroll seemed overwhelming.

“Chemo-heavy” finished three weeks ago. My energy is slowly returning, I’m no longer sick — and it’s time to get out of the damn house.

I put on my gym clothes. Crap, I’ve gotten flabby. My shoes barely lace over my edema-swollen feet. I pull a knit cap down to my ears as the head-wear least likely to fall off during a workout.

I stretch for fifteen minutes, and go through an upper body routine. I expect to be weak, so I drop all the weights 1/3 to 1/2 off my usual numbers. I expect to tire easily, and am surprised that my endurance doesn’t wane for an entire hour. What I don’t anticipate is how stiff I am, and how much my my range of motion has declined. Then, I’ve barely moved in six months.

None of my friends are at the gym today, and I breathe a sigh of relief. On my first day back, it’s good to be anonymous.

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Thursday, August 25:

Because my foot is puffy and limping, leg weights seems like a bad idea. I opt for thirty minutes of cardio on the stair stepper at Level One.

I last fifteen minutes and quit because my lungs hurt. Obviously, those little lung cells (alveoli) haven’t grown back yet.

I’m too tired to do anything else. I wish my friends were at the gym today, so I’d have someone to talk to while Les finishes his workout. Instead, I sit on a padded bench and read a book.

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I have two weeks to to get myself into slightly better shape and regain a tiny bit of strength — and then it’s surgery (September 8) and I’m back to Square One.

Author: MeredithLaskow

Artist, writer, and unrepentant nerd girl.

14 thoughts on “Back to the Gym”

  1. Well, I’m in awe that you even went to the gym in the first place. I would think that your body would still be needing, craving, every ounce of strength for continued healing. I can’t imagine what it took to get to that gym.

  2. Heavens sweetheart. YOU are my hero. I mean to go to the gym, get on a stair stepper..weights…all of it and you are my hero. Simply amazing. You have such will and determination. I’m proud of you. So very very proud of you Meredith.

    1. Thank you Dee ♥ I’ve always had the will and determination, but until recently, I also knew that I had to rest. I have a short window of time before my surgery, and I just feel I need to do this — and I can.

  3. You bring tears to my eyes. I can’t believe you are working out! From Dec 3rd, 2014 to Dec 3rd, 2015 I had 3 major operations – lumpectomy, left hip replacement and right knee replacement. My knee is still bothering me and doctor says it still will take more time. I cannot even think about working out but I should. You are an inspiration
    God bless Meredith. Nothing but good thoughts coming your way
    Don’t mean to get personal but what type of surgery are they planning?

    1. Sharon, I believe our bodies tell us what we need to know — when something is wrong, and whether we should move or rest. I’m sorry you needed all those surgeries.

      I’m going to write a big pre-surgery post in about a week, so you’ll get all the details then 😉

  4. You are truly amazing. And I’m so happy for you, and thank God for our modern medicine, so that we can celebrate this wonderful upswing with you. I can imagine how eager you are to get your body back in shape. Hope you are taking little steps. I know from personal experience that we can regain our strength within a few months. You go girl!!!

    1. Thank you, Angelika! I really want my body back — not the one I had at 30 (seriously no chance of that happening) but at least the one I had at the end of 2015. Maybe by the end of 2016 I’ll start to feel like Meredith-last-year.

  5. Meredith, I too am delighted to hear you are well enough to go back to the gym.
    I’ve been dealing with physical therapists since January, due to my knee replacement surgeries. (RTKR in January, LTKR in May.)
    I agree we need to listen to our bodies, and I’m so glad you’ve started back at exercising before your pending surgery: I found I was able to recover from the left knee replacement almost 50% faster than the right one – because I’d been actively working out prior to the surgery.
    (My surgeon just smiled and agreed with me, when I mentioned it.)
    I don’t know whether there’s officially such a thing as “PRE-hab,” (as opposed to rehab,) but I promise you – you will be glad you’ve started moving again.
    And don’t worry if you think it’s just “baby steps” compared to what you used to do. Strength will come back with time.
    Meanwhile, add me to the list of peeps who say, “you are my hero.”

    1. Thank you Anne ♥ The few weeks between chemo and surgery really doesn’t feel like enough — it would be nice to have a respite where I can feel like ‘me” for a while before getting knocked down by another procedure — but my doctors feel I’m ready, and it will be SO nice when all of this is over! Hope your knee is 100% ASAP 🙂

    Last Tuesday I bought you a red square refrigerator magnet from a shop in Laguna that says “YOU ROCK” (come to think of it, the shop might say that too! haha) I will try to make time before the 8th to get it to you.
    You earned it! 🙂
    Lots of love

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