Dad. He was right. Maybe 40 years ago, as I trained for a marathon, my right hip started to ache. But “I must run ten miles this week, 12 coming up soon. I must push on.”
Mid-runs, my body would burn to quit. But no. My mind insisted, “Go. Take Aspirin. Ignore the pain.”
The hip hurt worsened so I asked my dad, “Should I see a doctor? Which one?”
He said, ”It doesn’t matter who you see. They’ll tell you to rest.”
Maybe he didn’t understand my drive to do the training, so I tried, ”How about my primary care doctor?”
He said, “Your PCP will tell you to rest.”
Not happy with that answer, I asked, “Maybe a sports doctor?”
He said, “it won’t matter. Your hips are weary. You need rest. You’ll have to slow down.”
I continued to run and developed severe arthritis in the hip and a life-threatening aspirin allergy.
Fast forward. It’s 2022 and I’ve recently had a total shoulder replacement.
Before the surgery, I asked my physical therapist, “If I have this surgery, I’ll recover fast because I’ve done PT, right?”
She said, “After this surgery, you’ll need rest.”
I talked to my massage therapist, “If I do this surgery, my rehab will be quick because of massage, won’t it?”
She said, “After that surgery, you’ll need rest.”
I consulted a friend with whom I’ve done yoga for years, “The fact that I’ve spent decades on a yoga mat will speed my healing, ya?”
She said, “Maybe, but you’ll need rest.”
In spite of wise counsel, I held to the arrogant belief that I would have less pain than others, that Down Dog, that doing, that going, were in my near future. After all, I had visualized quick mending. I had a team of loved ones beam me good vibes at the exact hour of surgery. In my visualization I had not imagined sleepless nights. I had not included on-going discomfort. I would be up-and-at-‘em.
After the surgery, I told a friend, “I’m vegan. I’m fit. I manage stress. I don’t like being told, ‘twelve weeks before strength training.’ Isn’t that for other people? I don’t like, ‘you’re doing well for a woman your age’ because I planned not to suffer.”
He laughed, “Slow down, girl. I know. You eat kale, you are in favor of world peace and you recycle. It doesn’t matter. You need rest.”
I heard Dad’s echo. And I remembered these truths: It doesn’t matter how good we are (or how good we think we are). It doesn’t matter that we eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It doesn’t matter that we do everything right (whatever that means). If we live in a body, we will have times of suffering. We will experience pain. We will, if we are lucky, get to be ‘people our age’ with the struggles that accompany aging, with the need to slow down now and then, with the need to temper doing, with the need just to be.
As Father’s Day approaches, I wish I had listened to Dad. There is truth in “we need rest.” Especially now when we are all marathoning with Covid, wars, climate crises and mass shootings. We do need to eat berries and salads and care for our precious bodies. And we need rest for our weary souls. We are all in tough training. We can’t, shouldn’t, ignore the pain in the world, yet we also need respite. Since my surgery, I’ve been laying around more. Thank you, Dad, you were so right.