Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Atrophy

"It's ironic," said TV's Tony Soprano, discussing his post-bullet-wound recovery, "You lose muscle, not fat."

My cell phone camera and my dad's nice Kodak are full of injury milestone pictures. The first: there's me in my little booties and hospital gown about ten minutes after my surgery. The picture was my idea and not my dad's. I remember feeling very, very cold and having a horrendous sore throat (from the breathing tube that had been inserted and removed during and after surgery). My head was covered with the kind of hat cooks and ladies whose hair will soon be in rollers wear.



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Why the picture then? Part of it was probably my post-surgery loopiness, yes. But I must say that part of me wanted to immortalize this moment, maybe as a reminder of a low point, as I lay there with a freshly-constructed and incredibly-fragile Achilles tendon. I was, in many ways, starting over again.
A little over four weeks after my surgery, four weeks with no measurable exercise, and man, my muscles have morphed. Atrophy has set in, and as Tony said, it does attack muscle and not fat. Though I have very little fat outside of a mini-gut, I still wish the atrophy would have happened in my neck or foot-ha!-somewhere that is not as visible.
Upon uncovering my hibernating left leg from it's four week cast, it has been quite obvious that both of my legs, the left one more visibly, have morphed to childlike proportions. I've always had chicken legs, but dang! The affected left leg hides inside its cavernous home, a boot which at least allows me some freedom to move. Four or so times a day, per my doctor's instructions, I take off the boot to do some basic flexibility exercises. As I do about ten reps, moving the foot left to right, and up and down, I see that something is missing. The telltale widening of the calf about halfway up is not there.
Though I cringe even picturing any weight being borne by my weakened left leg, I'm sure that a left leg calf raise would show very little, if any, of the characteristic plumping of the back of the leg.
In many ways, with the leg and certain parts of my life, I'm starting over. Starting over is often that wish we address to that invisible genie we desire, but in this case, I'd love to have skipped the starting over. Now, how about this, how about I start over with no Achilles tendon injury instead of starting over with muscle development? Deal?

The two embedded videos show my boot in all its glory, as well as a comparison of my two atrophied legs. Enjoy, and blame my partial-Mediterranean heritage for the hirsute legs. I also would like you to observe the award-winning television that is on in the background. There is some really, really bad television on the airwaves. Yes, I was watching "Jerseylicious." For the uninitiated, it is a "reality show" that follows the trials and tribulations of the employeees of a New Jersey beauty salon.
I know-you're sitting there judging me.

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