Time To Take Care of Myself

Photo by elycefeliz, via Flickr

Monday of last week, I hired a babysitter and ate my lunch on top of the bluff, then trekked down into a creekbed to sit and be still for a couple of hours. At the end of that time I landed in a chair at the office of my massage therapist, who greeted me with, “And what can I do for you today?”

“I want my body back,” I said. I pointed to the spot on my back where I wince every time my foot slips; I told him about the stiffness, the certainty of postpartum pelvic tip. I told him about the knee that went out from under me and hasn’t been right since, the ankle I sprained in June and still caused pain. He asked questions to narrow down muscle groups, connecting in problems I hadn’t told him about but he knew had to be there based on my other symptoms (he’s just that good), and then we went to work.

It has been a difficult summer for staying active. The ankle never returned to normal after I turned around on the bottom stair in June and landed on the floor moaning while all four of my children gathered around in worry, and Alex asked, “Do I need to call 9-1-1?” I got back to running, but it always felt like it could go out from under me at any moment. Then came the knee, and I couldn’t even do my Pilates machine. Keeping up with 4 kids is very physical–so physical I’m weary bone-deep every night by the time they go to bed. It seems the height of injustice that as physical as my days are, and as tired as I am every night, I don’t see any impact on weight. (As an aside, Michael now weighs virtually the same as his cousin twice his age. Imagine carrying that up and down stairs ten times a day. And he never stops moving–holding or carrying him is like a nonstop wrestling match. I call him moto perpetuo.)

For weeks, I kept thinking over and over, I’m too young for this!

And then I realized: it’s not going to get any better on its own. If I don’t take care of this, I will not be the salt-of-the-earth active old lady I want to be–I will be bedridden.

“I want my body back,” I told Christian. “We just have to grit our teeth and spend the money to make it happen.” Bless him, he agreed. So I started PT, and I called the massage therapist. The PT couldn’t find anything actually wrong with the knee. Turns out it’s because it’s not the knee, it’s the rest of the body. The massage therapist connected the dots, showed me where my legs at rest are pointing out at duck-foot angles when they should be vertical, and how the abnormal tension in one group of leg muscles puts stress on everything else.

There’s too much to do–I don’t have time to do daily stretches in sets of sixty and massages over the course of months (hiring babysitters every time) to put myself back in healthy order. But you know what? The alternative is worse. Four big-baby pregnancies and four C sections on top of the musculo-skeletal problems I’ve always battled ensure that if I don’t take care of myself now, the active lifestyle I value so highly will be taken from me. So this is my reality now, and you know what? It feels good. I’m taking care of myself, making investments on my future by showing respect for the body God gave me to use on this earth. It feels right and proper. Even holy. And full of hope.