fitness · health

Waiting it out on the sidelines of fitness

This week I write to you from my arm chair and ottoman, sitting grumpily on the sidelines of fitness activity.  I’m bummed to report that I have pneumonia.  I got sick with a cold December 22, traveled to see family for the holidays, and came back to Boston sicker.  I went to my health care provider (a wonderful physician’s assistant named Lauren, who works for Family Practice Group in Arlington, MA.  I love them.)  Lauren checked me out, gave me an inhaler for wheezing and cough syrup for the cough, and said I should come back if I’m not starting to feel better in a few days.

I went back a few days later, feeling much worse.  Turns out, I have pneumonia.  That word is scary– it conjures up images for me of Dickensian figures in inexorable decline, headed for the hereafter.  The reality is, for people who are lucky enough to have general good health and good insurance (like me), pneumonia means antibiotics (along with probiotics to help restore gut flora) and time– time to rest.  And rest some more.  And keep resting.

It’s shocking to me how much rest I need right now.  I am sleeping 10–11 hours a night.  I get up, make coffee and toast.  I look over email and do some (very late) morning online reading.  Maybe I do one light chore, like 3 minutes of dishes, or folding 5 items of clothing and putting them away.  Then I’m tired again and have to go rest again. Seriously.

It’s getting better each day, and at my followup appointment Friday, my vital signs were much improved, my fevers were over, and I was on the mend.  I asked Lauren when she thought I could cross country ski.  She paused, took a breath, and then said, “well, we recommend you restart light activity in about a week after your vitals/fever have improved.  Cross country skiing is not light activity.  Start with walking around the block.  I think that is going to tire you out next weekend.”

Okay.  Got it.  I need to rest.  So I’m resting. A lot.  This will pass, and I’ll recover completely– this is a great boon and I feel quite lucky.  But it’s also hard, as we are constantly told that the sidelines are not the cool place to be.

caption reads "You don't make progress standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining", Shirley Chisholm.
caption reads “You don’t make progress standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining”, Shirley Chisholm.
Caption reads "Don't sit on the sidelines. Life is either a great adventure or nothing." Helen Keller
Caption reads “Don’t sit on the sidelines. Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

 

The sidelines are never portrayed as a happy place.  I mean, look at this guy:

 

Professional American football player, sitting on the sidelines, head in hands. Not looking happy.
Professional American football player (Walter Payton), sitting on the sidelines, head in hands, not looking happy.

 

This little girl is by herself on the sidelines of a kids' soccer game. She's featured in an article about how we shouldn't feel sorry for ourselves. Sigh...
This little girl is by herself on the sidelines of a kids’ soccer game. She’s featured in an article about how we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves, but instead get out there and experience life. Sigh…

 

So the big message is that sitting out a round or two and hanging out on the sidelines while the action is taking place is not a good thing.

But of course this is absurd.  In this blog we write a lot about injury, sickness, ability and disability, aging, and other changes that happen in all of our lives.  Taking time out, taking the space and resources and support and company we need in order to make the sidelines a healing place– this is also a feminist issue.

To me, that little girl above doesn’t look unhappy at all.  She’s interested, taking in all the action, and biding her time.  She’ll be getting out there sooner or later.  And so will I.

See y’all back in the game soon.

Two female pro basketball players, about to high-five, when one is coming into the game.
Two female pro basketball players, about to high-five, when one is coming back into the game.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Waiting it out on the sidelines of fitness

  1. Get well soon! I’ve had pneumonia a few times as an adult. No fun. The worst was losing my first half sabbatical to
    pneumonia. It can be a long haul. Take care. Thinking of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sam! Your comments have helped me focus on slowing down and letting this take its course. Rushing won’t help and will probably prolong it.

      Like

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