I saw Taya today, whose self-created bodywork system is suddenly becoming THE THING for massage therapists to learn and who is, therefore, more often these days traveling around the country teaching courses than waiting at her Everett-area office for my call, and she scolded me when I told her I was rock climbing regularly again.
"Bu . . . I . . . No, reall . . ." I kept trying to say, and she just kept scolding.
"Your body is still in healing mode! You are still on drugs! Rock climbing is hard on you! Horses, yes, ride those, horses are good for you. But this climbing! You need to be careful! You need to not overdo things!"
"I already have ONE mother," I finally managed to wedge in poutily, when she paused for breath.
"I'm the one keeping your body healthy, though," said Taya, "not your mother!"
When she finally petered out, I had had time to ready my response. "I'm not climbing high walls," I said, "I'm just bouldering. I mostly climb with a friend, for about one hour, once a week. We take turns on the walls. We stop when we're tired."
"How safe is it?" she asked.
"Very safe—there are big thick mats on the floors, and I'm conservative about what I attempt. One thing I've discovered is that, from doing Gyrotonic, I have a really good sense of my body and what I need to do—which muscles I need to use—to accomplish a climb. And if I can't do it, I can't. But climbing's REALLY FUN!"
She looked at me sideways, still unconvinced.
"Look," I said. "In my horseback riding lessons, I'm jumping, but I'm jumping two-foot fences." I held my hand off the floor—short. Two feet. "I am not jumping Olympic-level jumps." I raised my arm over my head—tall. Scary. "Likewise, in climbing, I am doing beginning-level climbs—they are barely harder than ladders."
She didn't exactly humph, but her "okay, well, I just want you to pay attention to your body," sounded humphy.
What I remember from several years ago, when I first started rock climbing, was that going twice a week was ideal. That would allow my hands to heal and my muscles to stop aching—ready to be broken down again. I also used to horseback ride twice per week, and it's possible I even Gyrotonicized two times per. Certainly, when I was doing Pilates, that was two per. But I just can't do it now, this two-timing—I don't have the energy. I'd love to be able to ride twice per week and double the speed at which my jumps get higher (because 2 feet is higher than they used to be); or climb a couple times so that, likewise, I would be improving more rapidly, and able to handle the routes that weren't just like ascending ladders. But those days aren't these days.
These days, I sleep 8-9 hours per night, usually waking between 8 and 9 in the morning (I used to rise at 7:30 on the dot—for years, really). I don't usually schedule more than one thing per day, and I get a bit worn out—emotionally, physically—if I don't have a day completely off every week (I'm continually learning this). I still revel in difficult physicality, in the day-after burn, in the intense sweats and the gulping of water—but I have to revel at half-mast now.
I've been feeling faintly frustrated by this half-mastedness; the flagrant sloth of sleeping until 9 or—heaven forbid—later some days; my begrudgingly recognized inability to anymore go all out, all the time. In part, this may be a side-effect of fully incorporating cancer into my life: I don't really think about it unless I'm directly involved in it (i.e. someone is sticking a needle into my chest to access my port, or I'm putting in my ear plugs so the noise from the MRI doesn't deafen me or drive me bats), and so whatever my body is doing to integrate the pharmaceuticals and the supplements and keep the cancer at bay, whatever incredible amount of work that that takes, I'm pretty much completely unaware of it, at least in any conscious way.
And so, thank you Taya-mom for reminding me that I am, in fact, still (always?) in healing mode. I won't take your advice and stop climbing altogether, but I will allow myself to start finding 50% to be sufficient. Glorious, in fact.