Señor Chang: [Arriving to class without a shirt] Yes, I was robbed at the YMCA…again.
—Community, “Beginner Pottery” (3/18/10)
For those of you who don’t know, Wife’s dad has not been doing excellently in the cancer treatment department. The first round of chemo did a great job, but it didn’t knock out everything. So the next step was something called RICE, which is a chemotherapy cocktail that, as I understand it, can take out a tumor but is never known to be a permanent cure; the tumor will come back. The RICE is essentially a placeholder for the next treatment, which is a bone marrow transplant.
Let me tell you something: donating bone marrow is, to quote Joe Biden, a Big Fucking Deal. They take a big honkin’ needle—I’m pretty sure they wheel this thing out of a separate room—and they have to put it into your pelvis, or your thighbone, or sometimes your sternum, in several places. And they extract the marrow. This isn’t practically painless like donating blood; this hurts like hell by all accounts. What’s more, they have to do it under general anesthesia. So it hurts like hell afterwards. Meanwhile, the recipient goes through something called “marrow ablation” which essentially brings them right up to death’s door and has all kinds of side effects that will last for weeks. This essentially creates room for the transplanted marrow cells to move in and, in theory, take over. This cure is almost worse than the disease.
But if this doesn’t work, it’s going to be pretty much Game Over.
Naturally, the best candidates for donating this sort of transplant come from the immediate family, specifically the children of the recipient. So, Wife and her brother are both in the midst of testing to determine who the better candidate is. I was told a couple of weeks ago that there was an awkward moment when the doctor explained to Wife that, frankly, she weighed too much to be considered a candidate, and she would have to lose a bunch of weight between now and the date of the procedure in order to be able to donate her marrow.
So Wife went to her doctor, explained the situation, and got some directions for how to safely engage in a Crash Diet. Do you know what this means? Yes, it means that Wee One and I are on a diet, as well. Maybe not as extreme as hers, but still. She’s already lost 14 pounds in two weeks’ time; I’ve lost something but I’m not sure what, since I don’t have easy access to a reliable scale.
The other thing that we did was to join the gym, specifically the Parkville YMCA, which opened just a few weeks ago. Because while Wife may be on the overweight side, I would be described by doctors as—and I apologize for the medical terminology—a “fatass” who could also benefit from some exercise. And last night was my first evening at the gym.
A few years back, I tore the meniscus in my left knee. It doesn’t bother me often but every once in awhile I’ll have a moment of OWOWOWGODDAMMITFUCKTHATHURTS which will last for a little while. When I was first diagnosed I did some Physical Therapy, the point of which was to strengthen everything around the knee, thereby giving the joint a little more support. This worked out pretty well and, while I was in PT, I actually lost some weight. (Don’t worry, I gained it back!) So my goal this time around is much the same as when I was in PT: strengthen the leg muscles to support the knee, and if I manage to lose weight in the meantime, well that’s just gravy (you should excuse the expression).
When you go to the YMCA, they have computerized training machines. They look like your typical treadmill, recumbent stationary bike, etc., but they’re connected to a computer program called FitLinxx. So you get on the machine, punch in your FitLinxx number, and away you go. This way, you can track your calories burned, miles run, whatever, through the program. And you’re supposed to be able to track this information through the YMCA’s website. I say “supposed to” because there’s a thing you have to go through to get into the system and they’re kind of backed up, so I can’t get in until next week. But you can use the equipment anyway. The odd thing about this is that, even though you can go a central website to look up your information, the data is still somehow not centralized, which means that while you can go into any YMCA of Central Maryland and use the stuff as a member, you can’t transfer your FitLinxx information from one location to another. So if I’m in, say, Waverly and want to work out there, I’d have to get a separate FitLinxx ID number.
It’s possible that the person who explained the system to me was mistaken, but as I say, I won’t know until next week.
Anyway: I remember some of the things I had to do in PT, so I figured I’d just do that informally until I get set up with the FitLinxx stuff. My first stop was the locker room to get changed. Here’s where I learned that maybe I should buy flip-flops: the floor is kind of wet because of the pool and the showers. It’s also been a long time since I was in a locker room, so let’s face it: I was a little bit shy at first. This was cured almost immediately by the next guy to come in, who thought nothing of taking off his clothes to get into a bathing suit. He was about my size, but it was also clear that he’d lost a LOT of weight. Hell, says I, if he can do it then so can I. And now, out to the machines.
So I did about 20-ish minutes on the recumbent bike (I accidentally re-set the timer so I’m not sure how long I was on that one), and another 20 on the treadmill. I wasn’t going especially fast on either one (about 13 mph on the bike and something like 2.5 mph on the treadmill), but I’d worked up a little bit of a sweat by the time I was done. Into the shower (another minor trauma), then I went home and celebrated with some ice cream.
Ha, Ha! Just kidding. I did, however, have a bit of cheese, one of those little baby Laughing Cow things in the wax. And a Honey Crisp Apple, because Honey Crisps are awesome.
Next time in (probably tomorrow), I’ll likely do 30 minutes each with a little bit more resistance. Oh, and I’ll make a point of weighing myself on the scale they have, which I didn’t see till I was already on my way out. Wish me luck!