I arrived at the airport today around 1 PM for my 8:15 flight home, after listening to some atypical whining at our leadership training. Early arrival avoided another day’s charge for the rental car and helped out my associates who needed rides. There was plenty of time to eat, read, manage e-mail and eat some more. Ultimately, our flight was canceled by fog in Walla Walla. Tim, one of our physician leaders, was also awaiting this flight, and he’d played this game before. We were first in line to re-schedule, betting on an 11:10 flight to Pasco, an hour from home, as well as the kindness of his wife who would pick us up. The thing is, this was a good day!

Maybe the “bad” days are vital for perspective. I remember enjoying Christmas and a nice long run the day after. Then I slipped into flu-like symptoms, followed by a sinus infection. Soon afterwards, I faced debilitating lower back spasms, accompanied by sciatic nerve pain. What had happened? Was I getting a little taste of what it’s like to be old and dying?

I tried rest and heating pads, muscle relaxants and OTC pain killers, movies and sleep. Two courses of antibiotics killed the sinus infection, but the back problem lingered. Then it got worse; I couldn’t even bear to go to work. Sitting in my desk chair after the arduous challenge of getting there seemed like too much. Would I get better or worse?

Small acts of compassionate kindness can be pretty big. My co-worker Sue mentioned to our Director of Rehabilitation that I was in a rough place, and gave him my phone number. Tom called me promptly that Friday and carved time out of his busy schedule to see me that day, a week sooner than my scheduled visit. What a gift! He manipulated my lower spine with twists and bends. The pain relief was significant. I was on the road back to life! I was able to take long walks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as do the backlog of chores and my assigned rehabilitation exercises and stretching.

I’ve had several follow-up sessions of physical therapy, as well as deep tissue massages, and my condition continues to improve, especially when I have the time to walk, stretch my back and legs and tone my abdominal and lateral movement muscles as prescribed. My new masseuse is the best I’ve ever had, so I’m back to regular treatments. I am moving towards life balance that I didn’t realize I was losing.  Running and lifting were good, but not a complete health solution. I am reminded of the need for balance in my life: yoga, stretching, massage and diet are integral parts of my wellness, in addition to strength and endurance training. Will this recent wake up call help me remember to do all these things, consistently, that make me well? I surely hope so!

What might the future bring? Will I run and golf again soon? Will I be able to to do whatever I want?

I think it’s time to dream again. Yay!

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