by Abby E
It’s amazing what you can do in a year.
At this time last year, I was just getting off the cane for good, but after a long hard walk, my right leg would ache for a couple of days. That junky, piece of shit hip I’d had replaced only months before that had been jammed so high up into the pelvic socket that the joint was basically just bone grinding against bone, and because the femoral head was out of place, it seriously restricted my movement. Forget loss of muscle flexibility (that happened quite early) or the pain (which I was used to), the collision of bone stopped me from being able to take full-length strides. I couldn’t extend my leg all the way back before, and trying virtually guaranteed that my hip would start that deep, low ache that would get progressively worse through the day. By the time I was nineteen, my range of motion adducting/abducting was only thirty degrees. It’s supposed to be ninety.
Now when I walk, I can push forward hard. I can feel my glutes working and I can feel the length of the stride. No more grinding ache. No more shrieking pain. No more days as an involuntary shut-in. (I still do the voluntary shut-in thing, though. You’ll never take that away from me.) And now as I watch the Olympics, I marvel at the strong, sculpted body of the female athletes. I want those thighs, those shoulders.
I’m working on it, however slowly. I still think back to the two-day training and assessment I did back in April. I was worried about it. I didn’t know how my hip would hold up, since the muscles in my right leg are still weaker than my left, and I’d had trouble holding up a shield for more than a few minutes at a time before this. But I did it, and miraculously, the only thing that hurt were the bruises.
Now that I’m out of the re-enactment group, I keep falling off the exercise bandwagon and then jumping back on. Mostly, I’m trying to find ways to make it not feel like a burden while still gradually getting results. I’m combining light weights with light, low-impact aerobics and doing much more work to tone and strengthen my core and upper body. This is not about losing weight, however. In undergrad, I weighed about 135 pounds, and I looked good; now, I weigh 175 pounds and I fucking FEEL good.
One day I’d like to pick up a sword again, maybe get into competition fighting if I get good enough. But that’s an investment in time and money I can’t afford at this time. In the meantime, I will develop my physical strength and endurance, as I have proven time and again I have more than enough emotional strength and endurance.
I will fight like a girl. And I will win.
Abby E. is a Toronto-based freelance editor who loves science, philosophy, and speculative fiction. She is not a crazy cat lady, just a crazy lady who has cats.