52: Who Would Have Thought?

52: Who Would Have Thought?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Who Would Have Thought?

Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.

~William Shakespeare

I heard screaming — a piercing, terrifying, series of screams. As I regained consciousness, I came to the realization they were my screams. I lay on the floor, screaming shrilly into the phone as my daughter, on the other end, told me to calm down. An ambulance was on the way.

Moments later I was surrounded by paramedics. I wondered how they got into the house. A neighbor showed up behind them. I was embarrassed to have her see my house, with all the messy piles around. Why hadn’t I gotten my house cleaned? I vowed to never let piles get the best of me again.

I’d broken three metatarsal bones in my foot when I fainted from dehydration from food poisoning. I was in a cast, a boot. Months of physical therapy followed before life returned to normal.

The hospital did a bone density scan, and found mine was low. I was shocked. Why would I have low bone density? I always drank three glasses of milk a day, and took calcium pills.

The doctor put me on medication that was supposed to help aging women with this problem, to stabilize further decline of the bone mass. After a few years, he took me off it because he said new evidence showed it could produce problems in the neck. I went natural, hoping my bones wouldn’t deteriorate further.

When I was sixty, I heard that First Lady Laura Bush had a physical trainer come to the White House to work with her on weight resistance machines so she wouldn’t get osteoporosis. Weight resistance machines? I didn’t know what they were. I’d never exercised in my life, but thought if Laura Bush knew how to ward off this debilitating condition, I’d follow her example. I joined a gym, and a whole new world opened up to me!

I’m now sixty-eight years old, and I love my biceps and triceps. When I see other women my age with, their lower arms flapping like the wings of a bird, I wish they knew about weight resistance machines. They don’t need to look like that.

It’s more than just looks. My husband is eighty-six years old, and because he doesn’t go to the gym he can no longer physically carry heavy things. When we fly on an airplane, I’m the one who puts our carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment. I carry the logs to the fireplace. I carry huge cases of water from the car into the house. I wonder, if I keep going to the gym and working with the weight resistance machines, will I still be able to do these things when I am eighty-six? I intend to find out!

This year, I started taking ice skating lessons. I fell during the second lesson, really, really hard — spread eagle on my front. That fall taught me the ice is to be respected!

I decided I’d better get a bone density test, and see where I stood before I committed, long-term, to the sport. I didn’t want to break my hip in a fall.

My doctor’s office called. “Dr. Lo said your bone density test came out normal.”

“Really? I’m not even heading towards a problem?”

“No, perfectly normal,” the nurse said.

“Pretty good for a sixty-eight-year-old woman, isn’t it?”

“That’s what Dr. Lo said. He said you have the bones of a young adult.”

Imagine that, I thought, as I hung up the phone. Thirteen years ago I had a terrible break in my foot. Today, I ice skate. At sixty-eight. Thank you, Laura Bush. Who would have thought?

~Esther Clark

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