Before 2015, I had been physically active. For many years I was a runner—that was how I injured my knee. And I had lifted weights all my adult life. I didn’t run or work out for health reasons; I did both because I enjoyed them and liked the way they made me feel. I regularly got runner’s high and a similar pleasure from hoisting weights.
But after the chemotherapy, radiation, and two surgeries I described yesterday, I was unable exercise. It was all I could do just to get around. I was a mere shadow of my former self. The man I saw in the mirror wasn’t me anymore. It was a feeble old man unstable on his feet.
In the long recovery after 2015, I continued my life’s work, writing. I worked on short stories and novels. I gave presentations and readings. I knew that due to my messed up knee surgery I would never be able to run again, but I tried repeatedly to resume weight lifting. Time after time, I failed. I simply didn’t have the physical strength. Stubbornness is one of my primary characteristics. I refused to concede to my fate. I kept trying.
Then, in February of this year, I tried yet again for the umpteenth time. I started off as always with very light weights and only a few routines. To my surprise and pleasure, I found that I could do it. I was actually pumping iron. Little by little, I increased the weights and added more routines. It worked. Now I’m up to fourteen different exercises, with three sets of twelve reps of each exercise and respectable poundage. The exercises include all the standards—sit-ups, push-ups, curls, military presses, rows, shrugs.
I feel better than I have in years. I have more energy and move with confidence. I still have my limp (and always will), but I now regularly go for long brisk walks.
Best of all, I look in the mirror and I see me. I look like Tom Glenn again. Older, yes, but the same man I always was before my surgeries. After five years of recovery, I’m back.
It’s me again.