Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to be Normal, Part 2 - Naked in a small cold room



I am back in water therapy, an hour in a warm pool (90 degrees F) so that I can stretch muscles and move everything around to stay loose for another few days.  The physical therapist is welcoming, and my fellow back hurting, muscle cramping, rebuilding themselves cohorts keep things lively with conversation, perpetual teasing, recipes for good food.  My schedule for a normal week is now two days of therapy, one hour of bipolar support group, and a writing class (which is just as much therapy as anything else mentioned). This gives me three days to be with my wife and others for activities from dining out to movies to ball games, a chance to be, uh, normal.

But it is all so thin, that line we walk, and my goodness how the smallest thing can knock it off stride.  Yes, I'll get to the reason for the title in a moment.  Tuesday I was scheduled to have therapy at 2 PM.  I pulled into the parking space, and saw that one of the other folks in my group pulled in at the same time.  She told me to go ahead, and I opened the door to the health center and walked toward the pool area.  I was stopped by the reception people.

"You can't go back there, sir."

Uh-oh, said the Bad Part of my brain, here is a terrible moment in your life.

"Why?" I asked, telling Mr. Bad Part to shut up.

"The therapist had a family emergency and needed to go home. She'll be back for the 3 PM class. You can wait an hour, can't you?"

You know why she said that?, asked Mr. Bad Part.  Because you don't have anything else to do, like a job or sump'n. 

By this time my therapy cohort had arrived and we discussed options and said we'd be back near three.  As a courtesy, the health center gave us Dunkin Donuts gift cards and held on to our swim gear so we would not have to lug it back. Very kind.

Just all part of the plot to destroy you, said Mr. Bad Part.  Deeper into depression.  Whoosh City.

No one seemed to notice my mumbling as I made for the door, and drove off to Dunkin Donuts, while my cohort headed for Walmart.  I had an iced coffee, read the paper, checked e-mail, and then ran an errand.  Soon it was time to return to the health center.  I pulled in, then waited for my cohort, and we both walked in together.  Everything all right? Yes.

We went to the changing rooms, her to hers, me to mine. Only guy in the pool today, so the room was my own.  I got my trunks on and headed out. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise.  I lasted a half hour and then just took a seat. Wiped out.  Hmmmm.

If I could get in a comment, said Mr. Bad Part.  I'd like to point our that it is now 3:30, normally when you are home.  Energy and all the pills you take have done their job for Tuesday and they clock out at three.  Your brain is winding down, and you know what that means.

I left the pool, grabbed my stuff, and walked to the changing room.  I slid my swim shorts off and heard them plop on the floor. I blinked my eyes, and stood standing before my locker.  Why am I standing here naked? What do I do next?  It was just for a few seconds and then my brain rebooted and I got dressed, and got out of there.  I made it home and plopped on the couch.

I was lucky. There was no other person in the changing room, or would there be, and it was just for a few seconds.  Mr. Bad Part made it clear that this could be what waits for me as it did my father.  Maybe yes, maybe no. We shall see.

It is our choice to battle, to learn, to fight back, and maybe not win, but to make our losing as unpleasant as possible to our foe.  Mr. Bad Part should rue the day he ever crossed paths with us, and also used that lousy cartoon to represent me.  I've got less hair in some places and lots more in others.

Thanks for reading.  More soon.

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