It’s been a strange three weeks, beginning with the Sunday after New Year’s Day with a decision to get a quick workout at the gym. Resolution: be more health conscious.
A good friend’s health failed over the last year leading to his recent death. At the same time his wife came down with a life-threatening illness (which she is still fighting), a double whammy that has shaken many of us to the core: two of the most vibrant people we know, retired teachers still active on many political fronts, their family struck by the equivalent of a meteor. Only one year ago they held a party to celebrate their 70th birthdays.
That first Sunday in January was the memorial celebrating a wonderful personal and politically active life, especially in education. He even ran for Congress as a liberal in Staten Island.
Expecting to stand for three hours taping the event, a little time at the gym certainly couldn’t hurt. It had rained that morning but it didn’t seem so cold. Boy was I wrong – the dreaded black ice (as many others found out that morning). I didn’t get past the top step before finding myself sprawled out, my back hitting the edges of the brick steps. I staggered into the house, downed a few Advil, found an ice pack. Knowing full well the real agony would come over the next few days, I decided to go. And I’m so glad I was able to attend one of the most moving memorials I’ve seen, film it, and even get to join other speakers saying a few words in his honor. But by the time we got home around 8 p.m. I could barely walk. More painkillers and a heating pad that simulates a wet heat hydrocollator gave some relief as we watched the season opening of Downton Abbey. I was definitely more miserable than Lady Mary.
By Tuesday things were worse. My doctor is in Manhattan. I couldn’t bear the subway and it was the coldest day in 20 years – maybe my lifetime. So driving it was - when I finally got seated in the car I was able to bear the pain.
Dr. Mark said I landed on my kidney and suggested a CT scan (my first ever) to check for internal bleeding and gave me valium to relax the muscles. I practically screamed as I lay down in that CT tray and the technician had to help me get out.
Kidneys OK, the next day we drove a friend to the doctor which took most of the day. I decided “no more driving” and began the RHP cure - rest, heat and pills. All my education activist activities came to a halt. By Monday things were getting better when Susan Jasper of the Rockaway Theatre Company called: they need men for the chorus of the upcoming March production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Rehearsal was that night. Oh, my aching back, but if you know Susan, like everyone knows Susan, she doesn’t recognize the word “no”.
First thing when I got to the theater, director John Gilleece told me and another guy to walk across the stage, notice an extremely pretty young lady and ogle her. My back immediately felt better.
Why didn’t my doctor prescribe ogling pretty girls in the first place instead of CT scans? By Friday I was practically scampering across the stage with the rest of the guys in the chorus, most of whom are a third my age. When everyone else’s legs and arms went one way, mine went the other. My aim: try to hide in the back.
Tuesday it snowed and my back passed the shoveling test, digging out for a planned few days in Manhattan on the coldest days since the ice age.
Dressed in many layers we saw three shows, a movie and had two fabulous dinners. We retuned on Friday for my wife’s very important Mah Jongg game where she got all excited winning a buck and a quarter, which didn’t even cover the cost of one half-fare subway ride. I spent the afternoon tracking down flowers and a card for her birthday. Friday night I survived another rehearsal at the RTC without being laughed out of the theater. My strategy of hiding behind the other guys was working.
Sunday, three weeks after the fall, I was back in the gym doing my unique no-sweat workout, thus ending three weeks of some bad and some good. The ugly part will be clear if you happen to see me dancing when RTC’s “How to Succeed…” opens in March. Look for me behind the biggest guys.
Norm still blogs about education every day at ednotesonline.org, though you wouldn’t know it from reading this column.