Friday, August 29, 2008

On the court, a shadow of my former self

Like my old self. I run out of the house, late as usual, holding a bunch of stuff …tennis clothes, tennis bag, bottle of water, lunch, book and full coffee cup because Ben ran off with all of my travel mugs. The lunch is a boring peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My friend Tami from high school is coming from Connecticut to meet me in Longmeadow for lunch. She will buy a sandwich from a deli; I am still under post-transplant dietary restrictions and am not allowed deli food, which is why I bring my lunch. I have the book in case she’s late. The tennis stuff is because after that, I will head over to Agawam to play doubles with friends from my team, Korby, Deb and Debbie.

On leaving the house, I drop the book, which causes the coffee to spill and splash on the door. I make it to the car and turn around because I forgot my keys. The sun is shining, the sky is blue. I turn the radio up high. It could be any normal day…except that it’s Thursday and I’m not working, which, frankly, doesn’t bother me at all.

Tennis is fun but it’s a little hard. I have adapted to this week's hematocrit of 25 (normal is 34.8 to 43.6), but I obviously don’t have a normal amount of energy. I huff and puff a little. I hold my own and I make a couple of really good shots, but, as my father used to say when recovering from heart surgery in his 80s, I was a shadow of my normal self. (He built his strength up enough so that he played tennis until a year before his death at 87.)

Korby , my partner that day, kept asking if I was OK and if I wanted to stop. Of course I didn’t want to stop. Good friend that she is, she said, “You should stop before you’re tired.” The others, too, kept checking in.

I served one game with so many deuces I lost count. Eventually we prevailed. That wore me out. I started hitting crazy shots, some even going onto the other court.

I wondered if they might be annoyed with me. Then I realized that of course they wouldn’t be. I had shared this concern with a non-tennis friend who said, “They’re just happy to be playing with you.”

I was tired at the end, but it was a good tired, and I was happy to be playing with them, too.


Ann said...

You are amazing! After my first transplant I was just happy to be able to fold a full load of laundry without passing out. Go easy on yourself and try not to worry about those counts. Easier said than done, I know.

Gail said...

I know exactly what it feels like to be a 'shadow of my former self' It is a great quote from your father.

esm said...

Aren't your friends wonderful too. So nice to visit from afar and so nice to play tennis with you when you are not the player you were.

Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration to us all just trying to get back into the game. It's probably what makes you feel so alive and so you refuse to be a patient, and remember that you are an athlete by getting out there whenever you can. Your post is a reminder to me not to complain about my achy knees -- just a sign of getting old -- and how important it is even if we are all "shadows of our former selves" to keep being ourselves and do the things we love.

Marilyn said...

It looks like you are still on the road to recovery. My lyme disease from Aug 2007 seems minor to your condition. I still have "numbish" toes on my right foot and I might never lose that "feeling". I have managed to get back onto the court. Hope to see you on the court soon.