Back to the future


At some point, all of us wonder what our future has in store for us.  More than likely, we think about this at multiple points across our lifespan and it’s interesting how those ponderings change as the years and experiences pile up.

For example, when I was young, I imagined all sorts of exotic things circling around fame, fortune and fun.  As I got older, more of my future thoughts turned to when I could retire and what I could do and afford, such as travel and sports.

Recently, as I near the final destination on my “official” working life, my thoughts turn more towards life expectancy and health.  With half of my family on the short end of the lifespan/fatal illness stick and the other half on extended age (and the degradation of the body and mind that often accompanies those years), I find myself curious as to which path my own life will follow.

I’ve become ever more aware of the precious value of good health, even above the ability to afford things in life.  Possessions provide less pleasure when you’re hurting and fun is, well, less fun, when you’re not as capable.

My most recent condition is what has prompted this revisit down future lane.

As mentioned in previous posts, during my Grand Road Trip stop in Washington D.C., I slept on an air mattress situated next to the co-op apartment’s floor a/c vent.  Since there was no thermostat, I was left to sleep in my jacket for most of the nights there.  A combination of the cold and the air mattress surely led to my experiencing some persistent lower back pain.

Upon returning home, I had a number of days where I needed to do a lot of lifting and carrying, so my back didn’t exactly get a lot of rest, but in my warm home and firm mattress, the back began to feel better.

This past Saturday, we had our first truly cool day since last winter.  I went out in a full warm-up suit and did my usual stretching exercises before playing tennis and pepared to serve the first game.

My service motion is vaguely similar to John McEnroe’s; not entirely coincidental considering his heyday was right at the same time as my becoming more “serious” with tennis.  Being a left-hander (like McEnroe) certainly helped.  My demeanor on the court, sorry to say, was also a tad like the oft ill-tempered McEnroe.

The service motion, in brief, is nearly perpendicular to the court and involves a significant amount of torque on my lower back.  It can create a devastating serve away from right handers on the ad side of the court.

On this particular cool (upper 50s) morning, I tossed my first ball and felt a tweak as I moved through my motion.  Over the course of play, the tweak changed to a stab and eventually, I could hardly turn my body but for the extreme pain in the lower left part of my back.

As usual, I stupidly played through the injury for a total of four sets, finally stopping after literally falling down on set point as I feebly stretched for a shot to my right (cross body).  I could barely sit in the car as I drove home and by the time I arrived, I had to lay flat on the carpet.

Heat was the incorrect treatment, as I found I could not easily get up from my prone position.  Later, after struggling through a shower, I jury-rigged an ice pack and that had some positive impact.

Today, three days latyer, my back is still sore, though I was able to complete my usual daily stretching routine for the first time since Saturday.  I am less restricted on turning, but getting into a pair of shorts is still a challenge, especially trying to raise the left leg.

I can’t imagine how miserable it woud be to have these types of injuries/conditions occur regularly as I age.  Just having it for the last few days has been incredibly frustrating.  To lose the opportunity to take advantage of all living in Florida offers would be devastating.

So I do wonder about my future.  Despite eating reasonably well and exercising fairly regularly, my body is starting to show signs of wear.  Does that mean I’m already headed downhill?  Does it mean I need to cut back on physical activity?  Or is this just a freak thing exacerbated by a series of strains unlikely to be repeated in the future?

I just hope that when I get there, I get to take a good back to the future.

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