Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fresh Meat? I'm Ground Beef

I had Derby training today. Remember, back in the day, spending an afternoon skating around the rink with the lights flashing while they played YMCA? Yeah, this isn't that.

This was my second Fresh Meat training session. We skate Wednesdays and Saturdays. Last Wednesday was challenging. An hour on skates with the rest of the rookies, followed by an hour of strength and cardio training with the entire team. On Saturdays, we start with the off-skate workout.

I missed the first Saturday session, so I didn't know that the hour one training would make my hour two training--the on-skate hour--even more difficult for me. I did not do well. My legs were shaky and tired. My right hand started getting this tremor that did nothing to help my balance. (The hand tremor is a result of the MS meds. It usually occurs about 48 hours after the shot. The shaky legs are a result of me being woefully out of shape.)

I stink. And I don't mean I am bad at skating, which I am. I mean that this t-shirt I am wearing would mask the stench of Limburger cheese. But, yes, I am still bad at skating. Here is my four-point plan to improve:

1. Skate in the park with Sara a couple times a week. Make her literally skate circles around me.

2. Work on my core strength by planking at random points in the day. I apologize in advance to my coworkers.

3. Go to the roller rink to practice my crossovers and practice my subsequent falls. Watch the second graders deftly avoid my sprawled body while YMCA plays. Yes, they still play that.

4. Slowly transition the time I take my shot, so I give it to myself after my Wednesday practice. I can sit and shake in my cube at work. My tremor-filled typing will make for some interesting copy editing.

As I am typing this, I am feeling exhausted and sore. And happy and pleased. For the first Saturday since I started the Avonex, I am tired and sore for amazing reasons. I'm Fresh Meat.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Avonex and 8 Wheels

There are two things in my house right now that I never even imagined might be there: Avonex and Quads

The Avonex is Interferon beta, an injectable medicine that is supposed to reduce the frequency of MS relapses. I keep it in my fridge, right next to the half drunk bottle of white. 

Quads are the speed skates used in the Derby. Four wheels on each boot. They are supposed to go fast. I keep them in a gym bag with my pads, helmet, and a couple of dryer sheets to cut the wonderful stink.

My favorite thing about Avonex? You might think it is the needle in my thigh every seven days. Ha, you would be wrong! It isn't even the flu-like symptoms that visit me about 24 hours after the shot. Who doesn't love the chills! No, it is this, straight out of the stack of literature that gets delivered with the meds:

"The way Avonex works in MS is not known."

What the…

I got my first pair of skates yesterday. I had been borrowing the skates I used for the last two team workouts. As soon as I opened the box and smelled the leather of the boots, I laced them on. I wore them around my house for an hour. There are parallel wheel tracks all over my carpet.

My favorite thing about my skates? I was brave enough to have a need for them.

Being My Own Hero

So, I can’t skate. I used to be able to. I used to skate with those old-fashioned roller skates that went on over your shoes and you tightened with a key. I used to wear the key around my neck because I had visions of loosing that special tool and having to go through the rest of my life with these strange metal contraptions over my shoes. At five, I had some trouble envisioning a world where there were other ways to unlock the skate.

I remember getting my first pair of skates with the white boots that lace over your ankles. I would pretend I was Dorothy Hamill, skating in the Olympics. I would skate with my sisters for hours on end. I never feared falling. It never occurred to me that I would fall. And if I did fall, I would spend the next week showing off my scabby knees.

Somehow, between then and now, I lost the ability to skate. Maybe it is because I started being afraid to fall. I forgot the thrill of going fast. I couldn’t remember the high of trying a new technique and successfully pulling it off. I forgot how to skate.

But I am learning how again. I am learning how to balance. I am learning how to fall. I am training my body to move forward, and I am figuring out how to take a hit and stay on my feet. Oh, and I am also learning how to skate.

41 Is a Prime Number

My Year 40 was a shitty, shitty year. I was stuck in a bad job that continued to get worse with a long commute and an asshole boss. I had some "female" troubles in early 2013 that resulted in a hysterectomy and a week in the hospital. Relationship troubles plagued me, and hurt my very scarred up heart. There were chickens loose for years that were coming home to roost. (Said chickens will be named in future posts, I'm sure.) I was certainly not feeling especially happy or optimistic.

Then April happened. That month started with this weird, funky light flashing in the corner of my eye and ended with me sitting in a neurologist's office with him explaining that I had MS. I had 18 "holes" in my brain--areas bright as a dying star that were evident on my MRI. Life was about to change dramatically because of the golf course being constructed in my head. Well, fuck...

My good friend Sara did something then. She made me join her one Saturday for tryouts. Roller derby tryouts. She dragged me to the warehouse that contained the track. She strapped skates on my feet. Feet that have had no wheels on them for 30 years. She grabbed me by the hips and launched me forward into the pack of incredibly cool women that all harbored the dream that I had secretly had since I first learned about Derby. And I fell. And I fell again. I was fighting the side effects of a medication that I was taking that was making me shake. It was making me dizzy. And I tried to balance on 8 wheels.

My endurance was terrible. I couldn't skate forward. I couldn't stop. I was completely drained after a single lap. My legs burned from the exertion of muscles that had long since retired into a quiet existence.

Exhausted, shaky, and drained, I sat on the bench and watched these amazing women skate. And fall, and get up, and skate some more. I couldn't hold the tears back. Trauma, the team medic, gracefully skated over and sat near me on the bench.

"I'm not hurt," I told her. "I'm just frustrated."

"No you're not." Trauma looked at me and said, "You're pissed off. Your pissed that your body has betrayed you."

She told me to stand up, and try again. Then try again, then do better next time.

Biz, the Fresh Meat mama (that would be the veteran who is in charge of teaching the rookies how to skate), called me aside. She looked over my tryout sheet with notes about my woefully pitiful test scores. She asked, "Do you want to do this?"

I wanted to do this. Hell, yes I wanted to do this. If I had to go through the Fresh Meat class ten times, yes, I wanted to do this. I wanted to take my body back. I wanted to get strong in preparation for the days ahead when my physical abilities might be tested. I wanted to know that if I was in the emergency room, it was because I took an elbow in the nose while blocking the other team's Jammer. Not because by brain was being rebellious.

Biz made the announcement. We were all invited--I was invited--to begin the Fresh Meat training. Sara leaned back and gave me a wink.

Fuck you 40. Fuck you body. This is going to be epic. 41 is a Prime number.