“Does this mean you’re going to live to be 125?” my Sara asks. Her voice remains carefully neutral, non-accusatory.
The good news: All I need to do is drop a few kilos, I’m told, and I’ll have an overall fitness age somewhere in my mid-20s. (“Fitness age,” I have to imagine, refers to something like “health-span,” which is enjoying some currency among transhumanists and their ilk. More on that in a later post.)
The bad news: a) I can’t afford to live as long as that suggests I might, and b) no matter how healthy my heart and lungs and so on might be, the rest of my carcase is falling apart.
Sometimes, these days, I feel as though surgeons with scalpels are circling like hungry wolves. Or as though Mexican bandits have invited me to a knife fight where everyone gets a knife except me. A quick history of my surgical revisions over recent years: lasiked eyes, well worth the money; a two-tooth bridge I can’t bring myself to wear, no matter the dentist tells me that, if I don’t, my whole head will probably disintegrate; surgery for a hammer toe; and, only a few months ago, removal from my back of a benign cyst the size of a pirogi. (I won’t even mention the reduction of a “hydrocele” that I’d been afraid was testicular cancer, and the surgeon’s sympathy when I asked whether, instead of reducing this magificent item, he couldn’t instead pump the other one up to match. Alas. Medical concerns were to override cosmetic considerations.)
Two years ago I was also advised I should have surgery on a knee. Instead, I’ve chosen to stave this off with a kind of physical regimen. Various naysayers have promised me that my home-grown therapy, which includes jogging 40-50 floors in our apartment building a few times a week, is actually setting me up for knee-replacement surgery instead of terpsichorean stardom. (Yeah, that word just popped out of nowhere, much like my hernia… What hernia? Read on.)
“Don’t be a moron,” Sara advised me. “Get some professional advice.”
So I asked around till someone recommended I talk to Sandy, the manager at the Clark Hatch fitness center on Thaniya Road, a crackerjack personal trainer and wellness coach who is also a muay thai instructor and competitor and generally unafraid to see her clients sweat a little. (See below.)
After careful examination, she okayed my approach to life in general, but suggested ways I could be kinder to my knees while doing my various things. In fact, she said she could cure me of walking like a Neanderthal, if I liked, and this might improve some dimensions of my existence, both physical and social.
Then she asked me to show her the other procedures to which I’d been subjecting my body. As soon as I went into my patented abdominals workout, she hollered, “Whoa!”
“You have a hernia,” she said.
“No, I don’t,” I said.
“Yes, you do,” she said.
And so it went till the authority in her voice overwhelmed the skepticism in mine, and I consulted one of the circling surgeons.
“You have a hernia,” he said.
It didn’t hurt at all, but I now had to admit that, when I did certain exercises, a balloony thing reminiscent of the creature in Alien emerged from just below my solar plexus. Till then I’d chosen, the way one does, to ignore this phenomenon.
In a nutshell: my ab routines and other exercises had been exacerbating an old motorcycle-accident injury, and the muscles high in my chest had been gradually separating to the point I might soon have been able to pop my liver out on the coffee table as a conversation piece at cocktail parties.
Sandy tells me that there are three layers of muscle in my abdomen, and, for some reason, my innermost layer had been skiving off while I did many of my exercises, which made it progressively more likely I was going to give birth to this alien. So now she’s having me perform obscure rituals to rewire my brain and body, making sure all my abs become team players, thereby containing the alien and, as a bonus, contributing to the “let’s turn this Neanderthal into something more modern” program.
Never mind my youthful fitness age. Here’s this hernia that has popped up out of nowhere. The surgery, which I’ll have next month, is an overnighter. I should be able to go back to doing everything I was doing before within about six weeks, except, with Sandy’s guidance, I’ll be doing it better. And Bob’s yer uncle, as Leary might say.
But what’s next? Where will it all end? Oh, yeah. Now I remember. Those worms waiting in line just behind the surgeons.
Never mind. I realize all this is pretty minor, as such things go, and I’m not really complaining.
“So whining isn’t complaining?” Sara asks me.