“There is a 10% chance of reinjury.” I suppose that statement from my current spine doctor answers the question about whether I will ever truly return to 100% physicality again. Even though I imagine I can start rowing again by this essay’s publication, while writing this in mid-September, I’m not sure to what capacity I’ll row again. Do I need/want two rowers? I can still exercise and get into better health, but the specter of reinjury looms…
I suppose that’s my mind’s way of protecting the body.
It’s been a terrible past few months. The recovery process for my spine has been just as difficult, if not more manageable because of being able to use painkillers to wade through the worst of the surgical pains, but what will happen when I sit down on my rower for the first time since mid-April… or a few strokes in mid-June? I imagine it could go one of two ways. The way I imagine less is that I will want to go at my former pace. The way I imagine it going is that I’ll spend my first few sets, or even first few weeks, barely even moving at all on the rower.
Will I ever return to having any “good sets” as I once called them?
Will I ever return to rowing sets that pushed me to my limit, or at least, challenged me more than merely moving my legs and arms for a few minutes? I imagine so. Even though I don’t want to hurt myself again, I don’t think it was the rowing that did me in. I still believe it was suboptimal ergonomics, first at work then at home, that did me in. Rowing had not much to do with it at all.
I also think I found the root cause of this issue.
In this tweet, I mentioned bending over and my spine acted up. I remember that shift. I had returned to work in the midst of the unknown anxiety of the first part of the ‘send everyone home immediately’ part of COVID-19 because my ergonomics at home were not sufficient for me. I remember two things. I refilled my water bottle and I washed my hands in the restroom. Both involved me bending forward to arch my back to refill the water bottle and then later wash my hands. Between those two, my spine went from hurting enough to be a minor daily nuisance to taking me on this multi-month journey through the American Healthcare System.
That doesn’t give me an answer, but it does at least resolve that loose thread.
The months spent with an ergonomic sit/stand desk that was two inches too tall for me and the days spent at home with a desk that I designed to best suit my ergonomic needs, but falling short, did me in more than any rowing set. Two doctors told me that rowing would not have caused my spinal problems. Through years of rowing, I’ve learned the difference between dull pain – the body’s way of saying that a muscle is aching – and sharp pain – the body’s way of pulling the emergency stopper to prevent injury – and I never experienced any pain while rowing. I guess it’s unfortunate that I caught my spine’s dull pain too early, because it took until my spine was beyond its own self-repair before I could get to the state where I am today where I could eventually return to better health.
I do feel confident that I will row again; maybe even a good set.
However, I don’t feel especially inspired anymore to create a large gym for myself. I think having a rower, a Wii station for playing physical games, and maybe some light home gym equipment will be about the extent of what I will want to do going forward. This process of having my spine problem then spine surgery has left me feeling physically drained. As my spine doctor said, when I told him I’m not confident I’ll ever return to 100% physicality, “it’s too early to tell.” I’m doing everything I can, within my power, to heal up well.
Does that healing process include keeping both rowers?
While I enjoyed the noisier Concept2 Model B air-resistance rower when I lived in my last place, where I could raise as much noise as I wanted, whenever, I’m fine with the mostly generic magnet-resistance rower I own as well. The idea with owning both would be, say, I would move out of the city into a residence where I could have a sufficient home gym. It would be nice to have two rowers in case I had a guest over to train or to train me, or, in case I preferred one flavor over the other. In this dream home gym, I might even get a water rower for that sort of experience.
Does my current – or future anticipated – physicality preclude such dreams?
This is the private battle that I am facing today and over the next few months. I offered to give the noisier rower to a friend with the caveat that if he should not want it that he returns it to me; he’ll think about it. This sort of consideration is a materialistically existential question. How much of my life and residence’s space would I want to dedicate to my health? Currently, the magnet-resistance rower takes up a large portion of my dining room. I’ve wanted to move it into the living room, off to the side, for months now.
I feel more able to downsize/sell now. If the rearrangement goes well, I could even bring my Model B out of its long-term storage in the spare hallway. I could even politely use it in the apartment-mansion as a self-imposed reminder not to go too hard, or, as a reminder of its existence.
Do I want that dream multi-rower home gym for physicality improvement or as memento storage?
|Quotes:  It’s good to know the odds.|
|Sources: My fitness experiences.
– This week’s weight: 219.5
– Last week’s weight: 217.0
– Weight Difference: Two and a half pounds up is better than the nearly ten pounds that it was earlier in the week.
– Difference between writing and editing for publication: From mid-September to now early-November, I’m still dealing with having to find another doctor to help with things. In nine days I’ll be seeing a sports medicine doctor to help. It’s been rough there. For the rowing gym setup, I have an area I want to dedicate to rowing but I have to clear out the space in my living room first.
|Inspirations: This was the part of my meeting with my current spine doctor, soon to retire, that lingered in my brain in that negative space where it’s good to write about it to make those decisions. Would I even have a need for three rowers, besides my own personal pleasure? If that’s a dream I want, then the two rowers would be fine to keep, but if not – if I’m fine with one – then why keep the second?|
|Related: Past weekly column entries. Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2020 September 16 [8:3333am to 9:06am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 September 16 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|