Tuesday, September 19, 2017

9/11 - 9/17 (and The Shoulder)

I did it again. Or I didn't do it again. Another week of almost no training has passed, a week I cannot get back. Life is like that. You have one shot at a day, one at a week, one at a month, one at a life. When it is gone it is gone for good. Mostly. If we die in Christ, our works do follow us.

Monday I met John at the pool and swam 3,000 meters. The next day the shoulder was a gimpy and for that and some other reasons I was out of the water the rest of the week. 

One reason I was out was illness. I had a sore throat and a low-grade fever for several days. Then John and Gerald and I went to an Alabama football game. I will tell you about that trip later. For now, lets chat about the shoulder.

Yes, I have been visiting a physician, an orthopedist, in case you were wondering. I thought about going back to see my cousins wife, the one who put my left arm back on after it fell off. I chose to stay local because I am working now and deep down I believed I was going to require surgery to fix this one. The whole thing has been a little frustrating. Forgive me, Lord for that lie. The whole thing has been driving-me-crazy frustrating. On the first trip, the doctor gave me steroid shots in both sides of my shoulder. Ouch! I was six weeks after the injury when I had that first appointment. I did learn something on that trip. I learned that my shoulder joint is basically in good shape meaning I have no obvious arthritis. He gave me the shots and told me to come back in three weeks.

Three weeks later, I was back and better but far from healed. He said come back in three weeks, that we were only three weeks in, and most likely it would completely heal. That is where my frustration began, a frustration I have felt before dealing with medical people. When I reminded him that we were nine weeks in (I injured the shoulder on June 26th) he argued with me. That made me angry. In the past, I have had doctors display this attitude: nothing is official until you enter their examination room. So for him it was three weeks but for me, for reality, it was nine weeks. That's a big difference when you are an athlete and are lounging around depressed and growing fat. Then he told me to come back in three weeks. Who woulda thunk it?

The second three-week comeback was yesterday, September 18th. Before hand, I did lots of praying. I asked God to guide his mind. If I needed an MRI, let him suggest that. If not, well God, You are the Great Physician. This visit was better, and this time I left not frustrated but hopeful. He at least pretended to listen to me and he didn't argue when I told him I was concerned to be twelve weeks in and not well. He mentioned two options: 1) MRI, and 2) something else. Something else was, "What I want to do," he said, "is shoot you again, order four weeks of physical therapy two times per week, and see you after that. If that doesn't do it, I can order the MRI."

I liked that. It sounded reasonable and restrained. And MRIs are expensive. I have only had one and it took a year to pay off what the insurance didn't cover. He went on to tell me that when shoulders make significant improvement, they usually go all the way and totally heal and yes he was trying to save an expensive MRI. So I was happy and hopeful and I took my physical therapy prescription and drove straight to Advanced Fitness to set up the first session with Trey Hodges, a PT who has worked with my mom so I have good feeling about him. I am happy now and am praying and trusting God to get me there. 

That night, Monday, Penny and I went to an over 60s meeting at First Baptist in Itta Bena. We had a nice time and ate some good fish. After the meeting, which was mostly a social, I spoke with the pastor, Brother Harrington. He had mentioned diabetes and I told him it was an issue with me and I would be praying for him. I also told him about my swim and my shoulder. He prayed for me right then and there and I felt the Holy Spirit as strong as I ever have in any Pentecostal church. I left there determined to believe God that He would get me through this.

I am doing everything in my power to get it right because it is time to at least begin dreaming about Chicot Challenge VII. I apologize to You, God, for my lack of faith. But I needed some good news, a change of attitude, an upswing in my mood. I am there and by faith I will stay there. I will work like it depends on me and pray like it depends on You.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Need to Play

Yeah, the coffee is pretty good, and CC has been on my lap most of the morning. I just finished an hour of sermon preparation. I'll do more later. Right now, I want to peck on the computer.

I woke up this morning in the wee hours, and I was dreaming when I drifted from sleep back into consciousness. My subject was the motivation of my obsessive behaviors, or at least one motivation. I may have written on this before. Maybe, I'm not sure. Pecking on the keyboard is therapeutic for me so I will write without doing a search on former posts in EndangeredSwimmer. 

In years past, I rode my bicycle crazy distances. One year, 2010, I did 37 rides of 100 or more miles the longest being 174 in one day. For several years I did one day journey runs going the marathon distance or more over and over and over. Once, I did a five-day run. And then there is swimming, the all-day swimming. I have worked that up to sixteen hours, to 23.5 miles.

I really do have more than one motivation for this behavior, and I am convinced that it is part of my nature, part of the way God made me. But my dream this morning was about something I had previously identified and may have mentioned a time or two. Part of my drive to do these things lies in the face that I am attempting to regain something lost in my childhood. In short, I am trying to play and trying to recapture that feeling of freedom I experienced so much and always took for granted when I went out to play as a little boy. 

Do you ever have it? experience it? seek it? that feeling of freedom? For me it is delicious, precious, and rare, and the older I get the more rare it becomes. Part of becoming an adult, of course, is self-discipline and dependability. You have to do stuff, a lot of stuff, a lot of the time. There is always a schedule and staying married and remaining employed is contingent upon keeping schedules. Even now, on my day off, I have an index card on the bed beside me with a list of things I need to accomplish today. I'd rather tear the card up, put my running shoes on, and head out Money Road for the day. But presently, I am neither fit enough nor healthy enough to make the effort. And the list remains.


But I still want it, want that feeling that I am free, that there is no schedule, and that I have to answer to no one. I want the wind in my face, the sun in my eyes, and the long road under my shoes. I suspect it must have been much the same for Adam and Eve had after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. Only after losing paradise could paradise have been truly appreciated just like only after growing up do we realize how magically wonderful childhood was. So my yearning to play is really just the cosmic urge of mankind to return to his roots, to the Garden God made us for. But according to the Bible, it is not a Garden we will go to but a city. God will make all things new, remove the curse, and bring the city of God to earth. I suspect a big part of heaven will be the the incredible sense or our freedom, our release from sin, sickness, and death.

In the meantime, some of us keep trying to scratch an itch only God can cure with temporary fixes and that is OK. OK if we realize where the real answer is. The real answer is in Jesus, in his eternity. But meanwhile, he has "put eternity in the heart of man" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sam Slapping Haikus

Sam struggles hard 
trying to write a haiku,
one day I'll teach him.

truck stops on bridge,
morning glory grows to edge,
big gator goes down.

fresh turned ground 
borders pasture with tall tress,
lambs lie in shade.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Signs and Wonders

"It's a judgment from God."

I've heard this expressed from people as disparate as televangelist to liberal, atheist activist. Despite the words of Jesus that alerted us to signs and wonders, I paid little attention until recently. Jesus, speaking of the end of the age, uttered these the following among others on the topic: 

     And there will be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and          upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves          roaring. (Luke 2:15) KVJ

Sound familiar? We recently had a solar eclipse (sun and moon), over a hundred huge wildfires raging out West (distress of nations); back to back huge hurricanes made landfall on the US (the sea and the waves roaring), a few days ago, Mexico suffered a 8.2 earthquake (another sign Jesus gave of his return), and then it happened. IT happened. I was shaken, startled, stunned. 

I was supposed to meet John at the pool Monday afternoon at 3:30. I got out of bed and drove over to Twin Rivers to swim alone. Then it happened. IT happened. When I drove up, I saw John's car sitting in the parking lot. What?!?!?!?!? What is going on? Why is he here? Is something wrong? Does he have bad news? I looked up to see if Jesus was in the sky. I hope I don't sound sacrilegious saying that because that is neither my nature nor my intent. But my surprise was off the charts, off the chain, over the top. I think this is the first time ever in four years.

Notice John in the background.

The water was 78 degrees foreshadowing the coming fall feeling nippy starting out but wonderful once the body was warmed up. This was one of the few times I have swum with John all summer and it was nice. I just poodled up and down the pool for 3,000 easy meters, my best since the shoulder saga began. Both I and the shoulder felt good, but I still don't feel strong and fit and like a porpoise. It will return. If John can be on time, anything can happen. 

Meanwhile, I am in class, we are journal writing, and I am wondering what signs and wonders I could hear about if only I had access to the news right now. Oh well, praise the Lord anyway. Thank you Jesus for the rain. John and I are supposed to meet again rain or no rain. Will either of us show? Stay tuned.

Monday, September 11, 2017

For a While (9/11)

My mind tired of working through Hebrew flashcards and somewhere just south of Batesville, Mississippi, I put the cards on the empty passenger seat and turned the radio on. The little blue Nissan I drove that day had only an old fashioned push button radio, but instantly I was bombarded with the Twin Towers struck, the plane down in a field somewhere, the Pentagon attacked, and the White House on fire. Yes, I later learned that the White House report was erroneous, but that is the what I heard that morning.

My mind wobbled. I turned off I 55 and stopped at a gas station in Batesville. I went into the bathroom and heard two men come in. They were chatting about golf. To talk of such a trivial matter as that at a time like this, I thought, meant they had no clue as to what was happening in New York City and Washington, DC. I was almost giddy with the idea that I would be the first one to inform them. Still, I don't know whether or not to be ashamed of this or not. I don't know why I felt that way. The whole affair had me reeling and I couldn't wait to tell them.

Back on the interstate, my ear was glued to the radio as I heard the DJ talking live with someone in New York.

"The tower just fell down."

"What do you mean?" the DJ asked.

"It fell down."

"What do you mean it fell down."

"It fell down. It collapsed."

"What do you mean it collapsed?"

"It fell down."

He didn't get it and neither did I. The DJ couldn't comprehend the words he was hearing.

When I reached my destination, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Germantown, Tennessee, I flew straight upstairs as fast as my feet would carry me to the Doctoral Studies Room. This was our little cave of scholarship. As usual, my fellow students were engrossed in reading books, writing papers, prepping for class. I let it fly out of my mouth that the USA was under attack, the Twin Towers both had fallen by then, the Pentagon was on fire as was the White House itself. No one paid me the least bit of attention. That's the way it was when we were PhD students. We lived the a little cocoon of a world, a universe of Hebrew words and theological arguments and scholars no one else had ever heard of. We couldn't be bothered. But for a while I was. Bothered. Drawn out. Shaken.

            Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
                                                                  Hebrews 12:26b KJV

9/4 - 9/10

No week is nothing if it has God in it. But as far as training goes, two weeks ago was almost nothing. And that kind of nothing always leads to something: an expanded waistline. 

Since Monday was Labor Day, we had a much needed day off work that the wife and I spent at Hillbilly Heaven. I did a little bit of walking there (1.61 miles) and too much eating.

Tuesday I did nothing. ?!?!?!?

Wednesday I made my way to the pool at Twin Rivers and swam 1,700 meters and also snuk in a little bit of walking (.7).

Thursday I did the Delta FITT thing and got some leg work in there then went back to the pool for 2,100 meters. The water felt like it was 79 or 80. Nice.

Friday, Penny and I went to Jackson where we both ate too much and sat a lot. Then Saturday, beside mowing the lawn, I felt like it was time to attempt some very light upper body work at Plate City. On the bench I did

10 X 8 (dumbbells) Yea, you read that right.
10 X 45 (barbell)
11 X 45

The bench felt OK but I was just a little tight at the bottom. On the Swim Pull I did 

20 X 16.5
25 X 18

One Arm Bent Row

10 X 8 (yeah, that's right)

Lateral Raise

10 X 3
10 X 3
11 X 3

It wasn't much in volume or weight, but at least it was a start. I can no longer watch my right arm shrivel away. The wasting must stop.

Later in the day, I felt sorry for the dogs so we went to the pond. They haven't made that trip since late May and they have been begging to go somewhere. I called David and he said D10 would not be good to swim, but suggested PD 29 instead. Since that was the pond Randy Beets and I made famous, nostalgia pulled me out there in a hurry. When we arrived, they had just fed and the water was being churned like a bunch of piranha devouring a dead mule. I did some walking and thinking. Eventually, I did wade in to swim and took two strokes. On the second stroke, my right ram crashed into a fish causing a huge and sudden dose of pain in that shoulder that has been my obsession for two and a half months now. I stopped, screamed, and climbed out. Swimming for the day was done.

Bear and Pee Wee at the pond.

For the week, I 

walked 4.62 miles,
lifted weights two times (once upper body and once lower),
and swam 3,800 meters.

Better but still inadequate. Thank the Lord for that much.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Swam Again

The water was cooler when I finally made it back to Twin Rivers Thursday afternoon. I guess about 79 which is why when I drove up the first time, the ladies aerobics class was occupying my pool. Yeah, it's my pool. At least this time of year. I could have swum with them, but I drove back home to wait them out. I'd rather have the place to myself, especially since there are no longer any lane lines so swimming straight is a trick. Ordinarily, they meet at 9:00 a.m. I guess they couldn't take it then. Soon it will be too cool for them even in the afternoon.

Let me back up and tell you about another thing I did before I left work. The Delta FIT Wellness Center is getting ready to open and I jumped through all the hoops to get access to it. That is a small but new gym next door to Horton Building where I teach on Tuesday and Thursday. Why not qualify for access? Currently, I need all the help I can get. So I had to acquire a new ID which has a bar code that will open the door, had to fill out a bunch of paper work, and had to talk to someone-- you know how I am about names. After doing all that, I did some leg work on their nice leg press machine and some extension too. Then I went home. I had hoped to ride out and see Jr., but a text from my sister meant I had no night for swimming. That was later changed, but I didn't know that at the time. I napped a little, got up and drove to the pool only to be turned back by the water-dancing ladies.

At the swimming pit, I tried to take some underwater pictures. Penny gave me a plastic cover thingy for my phone which allows me to submerge the phone and take pics. For some reason, however, it did not want to snap a pic when submerged. I tried several times and finally managed to get a few. I swam

2 X 50
2 X 100
2 X 150
2 X 200
2 X 250
1 X 300
total: 2,100 meters.

My pace was quicker, most likely due to the cooler water. Just like hot days and running, cooler weather brings faster times without any discernible difference in effort.

The shoulder felt good. I pulled with a little more confidence. Thank you, Lord. Comeback number four is on track.