I Have a Cold. Pity Me.
See, my bosses graciously gave everyone this week off. (That’s not the sad part.) Damned nice of them, I say. I had a few plans. Tops on my list was to enjoy myself this holiday season. But what happened? I came down with a cold! Yes, a cold! On my vacation!
I begged you not to read this. Now you know.
This is one of those colds that keeps getting worse and worse. This morning, I feel crappier than yesterday, which rated pretty high on the Crap-O-Meter. My main activity yesterday was a short walk to the bank and then to the local greasy spoon where I bought myself some breakfast. Here’s another thing: my appetite sure ain’t what it was. Although I’m skinny, I can really pack a meal away, and yesterday there was some doubt as to whether or not I could finish my mushroom and cheese omelet with home fries and toast. Listen, I have been described as a remorseless eating machine, and there I was picking at my food! My God, this can’t be happening to me!
Then all I did for the rest of the day was watch DVDs. I watched Run Lola Run, The Bourne Identity (staying in Franka Potente mode — how I love the way she says “scheisse”!), a bunch of Simpsons episodes, and The 40 Year Old Virgin. I just stayed in my armchair and vegged the whole day. This is not me! I swear to God it’s not.
Right now the cold has settled in my chest. My voice is a wreck of what it once was. I have no lung capacity at all. I need to keep a box of Kleenex with me at all times. I’ve been sucking on throat lozenges like they’ve been going out of style. And it’s hard to stop coughing once I start. If I were a horse, I should have been shot by now.
In my last post, I mentioned seeing the doctor about my knee. It turns out I have patellar something something something — it’s “patellar” with three words after it. Last September, while I was toiling madly away for Ms. Smith, I thought it might be a good idea to run every morning to help control my anxiety. I sort of meditate while I run, and I reasoned the preemptive stress burn-off resulting from the exercise, combined with a little positive visualization, might be just the thing. So every morning I got up extra early and ran my modest three-mile route, counting my footsteps mentally by repeating, “one-two, one-two, one-two…” while I pictured Ms. Smith giving me a little pat on the head and exclaiming, “Very nice layout, Mr. Schprock! Hold still while I put this sticker on your forehead!” And, you know, to some extent, it seemed to work! (Except I never got that sticker put on my forehead.)
However, on the seventh straight morning, my knee started to not feel so good. The part of me that sounds like Winnie the Pooh warned I should take a day or two off, but it was quickly overruled by the part of me that sounds like Clint Eastwood. Which voice do you think should get obeyed? The one that calls you “Christopher Robin” or the one that calls you “punk”? So I kept right on running. No pain, no gain, right?
On the tenth day, my right knee was swollen and sore. At that point, Winnie the Pooh suggested one of us was of Very Little Brain, while Clint Eastwood remarked, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” I tried using a knee brace a couple of times, but that didn’t work. So I shut the running down and it’s been shut down ever since..
The funny thing about this knee injury is, while it still hurts to run across the street or walk down stairs, I feel absolutely no pain pedaling a bicycle. Why that is, I can’t tell you. If I sit any length of time with my leg bent, my knee gets very stiff and sore when I finally stand up to walk. But I can ride a bike for 60 miles with no ill effects.
So, for the past couple of months, I’ve gotten into the habit of heading down to the basement to pedal my old, semi-retired bicycle for exactly 30 minutes. Of course, I don’t ride it in circles around my basement — that would be silly. Besides, I keep knocking into the dryer and water heater when I do that. Instead, I have it hooked up to a trainer, a device that attaches to the rear wheel of a bicycle, which keeps the bike upright and applies resistance to the back wheel while you pedal.
Here’s what I do: I wake up in the morning, do the bathroom thing, and pull on the bike shorts that make me feel half naked; in other words, the ones I don’t allow myself to be seen in public in. My wife bought them for me a few years ago, but I much prefer the type of bike shorts that look more like regular shorts. I guess I’ve gotten modest in my old age. So, anyway, I pull on the skin tight shorts, tie a rolled-up bandana around my head for a sweatband, grab my water bottle and Walkman and head down to the basement.
Once I warm up, I pedal hard for one minute, then ease off the next, and alternate until 30 minutes are up. It never feels particularly strenuous, but after ten minutes I discover I’m breathing pretty hard and am starting to seriously sweat. I listen to audio books and plays while I do this. When I began, I listened to a production of Othello (Iago, by the way, must be the worst villain in all of literature). Then I followed that with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, several Sherlock Holmes stories and, lately, Agatha Cristie Miss Marple stories. You know, it’s not a bad way to start the day, listening to stories. I can think of worse.
If you’re interested, here’s the rest of the Daily Schprock Work-Out: after I’m done, I change, pack all my gear up for the day, and ride my newer bike to work. I always get in before everyone else. I do a set of sit-ups, assume the yoga tree posture for exactly 10 breaths, and then do a set of push-ups. And that’s it! That’s how I keep from looking like a broken down old man.
Well, that’s all for today. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!