No Pain, No Gain

November 10th, 2016

We hurt. 

We were played like a cheap fiddle, and now we have to face the music.

That hurts.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, November 11, 2016, and in The Memphis News, November 12-18, 2016



Javier repeated, “I said, bend over as far as you can.” I replied, “I already have – this is it.”

“Hmmm,” he murmured. He would do that a lot in our first session together. Javier is a physical therapist and his task is to give me my left hip back. And stop the pain in my left leg. And left foot. And right leg sometimes. Shoulder’s not great either. And something weird’s going on in one elbow.

I’m on the table, knees up, and Javier grabs my left knee and pushes it down. “Tell me when you feel this,” he said. I told him I not only already felt it, but that I was going to need a bullet to bite before he did it again.

“Hmmm,” Javier said, and then took my arm to “extend it a little,” a little means taking it out of the socket and walking across the room with it – I really couldn’t see how far due to the tears in my eyes.

Then he told me to roll over and he began to probe the muscles and tendons in the back of my legs. He had to have found what he was looking for, because he kneaded every inch like biscuit dough.

As I struggled to remain conscious, I heard him say, “Hmmm, hamstring issues.”

I got issues. I’m an old white male and like the proverbial old gray mare, I ain’t what I used to be, and this whole year has been like my time on that table. We’ve been told we have to bend, and we don’t want to bend. We like our position. We’ve been asked to be more flexible, and we’d rather just stand still, or go back to somewhere that didn’t hurt as much.

The fact that we aren’t in shape anymore to shape the world has made us mad, and the con artist that played to that anger left us in worse shape than we were before, and in raging denial.

We’ve been told that we have some place in the past to go where everybody knew their place, a place less painful than dealing with the realities of a rapidly changing society, less hurtful than loss of relevance, less scary than the rest of the real journey in front of us.

Javier handed me some illustrations that looked like a combination of Cirque du Soleil and a pretzel ad and told me these were the exercises I needed to do several times day. When I asked how long, “Hmmm,” he said, “a while.”

Last Tuesday, we got up from the table and now we have to do the hard work of healing.

We still have a lot to offer but only if we acknowledge the truth of what it’s going to take to get better.

In the words of old white male, Billy Joel:

“‘Cause the good ole days weren’t always good – And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”

I’m a Memphian, and we can do this.


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