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Everyone has their own method of keeping track of time. Some use a clock. Others use a calendar. Others still would prefer to use a sundial or an hourglass. Those methods are great, but for the past 30 days I have been keeping track of the passing time by another method all together- my prescription bottle.
For the past 30 plus days, I have been diligently taking my anti-inflammatory pills twice a day. Seeing the full bottle and the amount of pills I needed to take helped put my painful hiatus in perspective. I could visually see what it was I needed to do and my only goal was to make those pills disappear with due diligence (or digilence as Flynn Sensei would say- see a post from the fall if you need clarification on this new word).
The other methods of keeping time were strictly forbidden other then when I was at work. Looking at the calendar only made me painfully aware of each class I was missing. When my digilence would fade, I would forget and glance at the clock to check the time. Each time I made this mistake, I grew sad because it just so happened I always looked around the time I would be normally be bowing in to start class.
Each day that passed, I took my two pills, thinking that it would somehow make a difference. Once or twice a week, I would go to the dojo and watch my husband take class. I saw things I would be missing otherwise, though I found myself a bit bitter about being off to the side. I felt like I was the toy a child got the Christmas before. Now that they opened up their brand new toy, I was forgotten over in the corner. No one would play with me.
Okay, so I really wasn't neglected or forgotten, but I couldn't get out there and play nonetheless. My fellow dojomates have been very kind and ask how I am doing each time they see me. Sensei has done the same. Every class, he would walk to the back of the dojo and ask me how my foot was doing. Even if he saw me the day before, he would ask me again. More often then not, I told him that nothing changed.
On one Saturday class, he came and sat down on the mat and worked on my foot a bit. I watched what he did, but didn't feel anything remarkable happen, though some of it was a level just under painful. Later that night and the next day, my foot was sore. Despite being sore, I noticed that my foot had a great deal of mobility that wasn't there before. When I saw him the following week, I told him about the change. He told me that your body naturally forms a sort of cast around the injury site and what he did was remind my foot that it had all these other muscles, ligaments and tendons there that could be used. That was the first and sadly, the last big change I have noticed.
Besides taking my pills, I have also been following the doctor's orders about staying off my foot. I did fall off the wagon of recovery once. I went for a walk with a kid I baby-sit, which was probably at least a half mile walk. While at the park, I played with his stomp rocket and ran around the field for a bit chasing him (or the rocket he sent off). My foot was a bit sore the next day, but not as bad as I thought it would be.
Last week was the final stretch. My pills were almost gone and I grew a bit anxious. I had this horrible feeling in my gut telling me that I wasn't going to get good news when I went back. Tuesday I went and watched the class that could potentially be the last class I sit out and watch. To my surprise, I noticed a couple of new people on the mat. You go and miss a class or two (or a months worth) and all the sudden things have to change….
Before class started, I saw sensei on my way to the bathroom. He asked how I was doing and when I was going to see the doctor. I told him I was alright and that I was going to see the doctor Thursday. I assured him that I would let him know what I found out. When class began, I settled in and got comfy. I always get cold watching, so I had my fuzzy socks, jeans, hoodie and winter coat on.
It was a good beginner class. It was nice to be able to note the differences between complete beginners, somewhat beginners (like myself- a 4th kyu) and the yudansha training. I found the minor (and sometimes major) differences intriguing. If I saw something I wanted to remember, I would write it down in my martial arts training diary that I have. I've had it for years (since like 2001) but never really used it on a regular basis. I have only made a few entries over the past month, but they are little things I find important.
As I watched class, sensei would call people up to take ukemi for him. Even though a month has gone by, I still half expect him to look at me and call me up. Then he calls someone else's name and I am hit with the hard reality that I am not IN class, just merely observing it. Then my self pity fades away and I eagerly try to absorb what it is he is doing. Sometimes I watch the ukemi instead. I figure this is a good opportunity to watch the yudansha's ukemi because I don't have to worry about doing the technique once he has finished demonstrating.
Although I'm not a senior student and my ukemi isn't great, I have always enjoyed the privilege of taking ukemi for sensei. It is wonderful to feel how graceful and effortless a technique can be applied. Not to mention, the fact that I absolutely LOVE the feeling of weightlessness that he gives me. One minute I'm on my feet and another I'm airborne… except the transition is so subtle that I never really notice when or how that came to be. It just is.
Several months after I started taking aikido, he began using me for ukemi. I think he began using me because some of the higher ranking yudansha aren't/weren't able to take some ukemi due to injury or illness. I'm also fairly flexible, so he can do some things to me that he can't do to other people. So, he will pull me out there to turn me into a pretzel with my arms tied behind my back and then choke me. It seems like I am often called out there for rolls, shihonage or kotegaeshi. Regardless of the reasons he chooses me, I still find myself elated when he calls me up. Any opportunity to take ukemi from him is a gift and I truly have learned a lot about ukemi from him this way.
When class came to a close, I once again insured sensei I would keep him informed of the doctor appointment. I didn't tell him about the horrible feeling in my gut and I didn't tell him that I was contemplating lying to the doctor on Thursday. As I walked out of the dojo that now felt like another home to me, I had many thoughts streaming through my head. What would I tell the doctor Thursday and what would he tell me……
When I woke up Thursday, I was quite anxious. Several scenarios ran through my head throughout the day. Each one was slightly different depending on how truthful I was. In one I told the complete truth, another I totally lied and said it was better and in a third scenario, I told him it wasn't any better at all. Obviously, the last two were easy to figure out what the doctor would say. It was the scenario involving the whole truth and nothing but the truth that left that horrible feeling in my gut.
When I arrived at the doctor's office, I decided that I would tell him the truth. I had already missed a months worth of classes. If I lied and hurt it again and had to take more time off, chances are I would have to start at square one all over again and I don't know if I could do that again. At least now I am already a month into my rehab. He came in and we talked a bit. He used a tuning fork on my foot to make sure there were no stress fractures and then basically told me I had to take another month off and to refill the medicine he prescribed last time.
I told him I thought it was only better because I am being a lazy bum and I asked again if it could be a soft tissue injury. He shut me down once more and told me he was sure of his diagnosis. I asked if I still needed an MRI since he said if it wasn't better he would want me to get one and he told me he changed his mind. Although I don't want to pay the co-pay, I was hoping the MRI might reveal the cause of the pain since I still think his diagnosis is wrong. I'm just not sipping the kool-aid he is trying to give me. Instead, I'm downing haterade by the gallon.
When I got home, I called and left sensei a message and told him the bad news and said I would be watching class either Tuesday or Wednesday and that I would talk with him more then. Four days after my doctor appointment, my foot hurts worse then it did before. I don't know if I did something to it, if the tuning fork did something to it or if the pain is all in my head. All I know is that when I woke up this morning, it was pretty stiff and I was limping around for a while.
I also know that I have another month of no class ahead of me and I'm wondering what lies beyond that. Maybe I shouldn't look that far into the future; it will probably only discourage me further. My method of time keeping is now another full prescription bottle and those moderately sized gray pills have become a much hated enemy. My positive outlook I used previously has faded away and now I feel as if I am Empress Phoenix in "Curse of the Golden Flower." In the movie, she knows her husband is poisoning her tea/medicine with black fungus, yet she continues to take it multiple times a day, knowing she is dying with each sip she takes. Okay, so my situation isn't as dramatic or perilous as hers, but I am taking these pills twice a day despite knowing they aren't doing a damn thing.
Maybe I'm being obstinate. After all, I did mention that I don't have faith in my doctor. All I know is that my body is telling me that his diagnosis is incorrect. I'm sure I could get another opinion, but that is more doctor bills and more time off of work. Maybe the cause of the pain is due to a different reason, but maybe the cure is the same. Maybe I need to just take it easy for a while (whatever that means). Or, maybe my doctor really does know what he is talking about and I'm just drinking too much hatorade to give him a chance…….