An Evening To Exercise

I try to relax my head, my body, breathing slowly. I want to exercise today. I really do. My head gently thunks to the beat of my heart. That’s not going to work. I have to get rid of my headache before I exercise, or I’ll be in for a night of pain and dullness and a wasted day tomorrow.

I’m home from work for the day – seven hours in the office. You would think that the extra hour in the afternoon wouldn’t make a difference, but it does. It’s manageable, though. That’s what I tell myself, it’s manageable. The most difficult part isn’t being in my office all day trying to do work – although it’s tough some days – it’s about my quality of life afterwards. Can I stop on the way home and pick up milk? Will a little disappointment cause me to burst into tears? Will I find myself ranting at Mary over some minor relationship friction, sounding like a 6 year old child having a tantrum? It is all a precarious balancing act.

Like almost every day for the last two months, I lay down on the couch and close my eyes for a nap. Lying on my side, Otis, my dedicated companion, quickly joins me and starts purring by my chest. As his initial PURRRRRrrrrrr slows to a purrrr and then a p.ur…r…r…..r I take a deep breath and feel myself relaxing, letting go. My hand covers my eyes to ease the subtle aching caused by daylight streaming into the living room. My mind slows as the minutes tick by. Resting, resting… my body and mind are getting the break they need so I can enjoy the rest of my evening.

An hour quickly passes, and my alarm dings that it’s 5 pm. I slowly wake, scattering cats as I roll off the couch. Some water, some staring out of the window. Time to exercise? No, dammit, I still have a headache.

How about a hot bath? I start the hot water in the tub. I used the last of the epsom salt last week, but I add a few essential oils. I ease myself into the water’s warm embrace with a sigh of pleasure. Ahh… I feel my muscle relax. I submerge my head until only my nose is above water and soak. I rub the back of my skull for good measure. Tension soaks out of me.

Once I tire of the heat, I leave the bath and dry off. Time to exercise? Maybe. I still feel a headache, a mild pounding that promises more if I try to do anything substantial. Not muscle tension then, just brain injury bullshit. Frig.

I give it another half an hour of rest, of sitting in the rocking chair and watching the snow (!) fall slowly on the grass and bushes outside. Resting, peaceful.

I feel the best I’ve felt all afternoon, so I decide to risk it. I go upstairs, draw on one of an ample selection of spandex I have left over from roller derby, and come downstairs to begin my workout. Starting the timer on my wrist, I stride quickly around the house, swinging my arms. Not a dignified activity, but such movement is an easy way to warm up, to get my muscles ready for more.

I check my watch – 40 seconds in. The pounding in my head is already increasing with my activity. Wow, I’ve barely started. I keep going – 2 minutes in. Now my head is aching in a way that promises a painful night of fitful sleep if I persist. Fail. I’ve fought against myself too many times, and I always lose if I push it. Fine, I won’t exercise today. I was looking forward to the feel-good physical rewards, but it isn’t possible today. So frustrating. Instead, I worked and was paid money. Not a bad trade, I suppose, but certainly not one I would want to make every day.

I let my exercise dream go and change back into warm fuzzy evening clothes. I wander around the house, staring out one window and then another. What can I do? I’m not up for driving back into town to go to the clay studio. My mind is too tired to take care of one of the many bills or problems awaiting my attention. Video watching feels ridiculous so early in the evening, especially now that it’s (kinda) spring. I pet cats, sit and stare, have a snack. It sucks to run out of energy before the day is gone.

I see my guitar in the corner and decide to pick it up. Okay. I haven’t played in months, but I get out my tuner and sit down with my year-old friend. I strum some chords, and although they don’t sound great, the noise doesn’t make my head worse.  I choose one of many books, get out my music stand and play for a little while. I play a few rifts that I have played dozens, maybe a hundred times before, and it suddenly comes into focus – the music makes sense. I see a pattern, I understand what is being shown.

My guitar (left, acoustic) gathering dust next to Mary's guitar (classical).

My guitar (left, acoustic) gathering dust next to Mary’s guitar (classical).

My months of my guitar playing from last April to October were full of memorizing, of trying hard to do something by linearly following directions. Really, that was all I could do. The music didn’t make sense; it was just one note and then another. Now, this time, it makes sense. It feels so good to understand this little bit of music.

Yes, I did too much today and that killed my evening plans. However, I saw, understood, something new that I wasn’t able to see earlier in my injury recovery. The pieces are coming back together; the world makes so much more sense than it did a year ago. I guess I have healed.

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