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Copyright © 2002 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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pedaling towards good health
june 22, 2002
We are now the proud owners of a Body-Solid Home Gym, and it only took us two days to figure out how to assemble it.
Mary has been riding an exercise bicycle each day at the rehabilitation center she's going to, as part of the therapy for her recent stroke. One night at home she showed me how much she enjoyed using the bike, by holding her hands up around invisible bike handles, looking around the room, smiling. So we bought one for home use. After we had the bike about a week, pedaling each day towards good health, but nowhere else, she indicated by raising her clenched hands high above her shoulders she wanted a home gym, to get a full body exercise. We went on the Internet together, and found that Body-Solid was rated a "Best Buy" by Consumer Reports (incidentally, even though we subscribe to Consumer Reports the magazine, in order to access the information on their website we had to agree to sign up for an on-line access subscription, at $3.95 a month, not such a best buy).
Rather than tension rods, like Bow-Flex, the home unit relentlessly advertised on cable TV, our gym uses old-fashioned weights, which provide different levels of resistance through an ingenious system of pulleys and steel cables.
We set it up in our living room. It fits right in with the Accentrics furniture we collect, looking like a seated flying machine.
I've never felt healthier. My muscles ache all the time now, and I walk with a limp.
Mary noticed the other day that Rudo, one of our cats, was shuffling around with a pronounced hitch in one of his back legs.
Rudo, at twelve, is our oldest cat, a black, long-haired mix of Himalayan and Persian. He's got beautiful green doll eyes, innocent and inquisitive. Even with his difficulties walking, he still follows us everywhere around the house, upstairs and down, like a little dog.
This past Tuesday, after dropping Mary off at the rehab center, I stopped by home, put Rudo in a cat carrier, and took him to the vet's. He yowled all the way. He's got a particularly heart-rending call that sounds practiced. It starts with a rising cry, turning into a series of broken continuations, as if throat damage is being done, then finishes with a melodramatic meow of abject despair. Over and over and over again. At the vet's, the receptionist said, "He sounds like a bird." "Give him enough time and he'll run through the distress cries for all the different animal species." (While Rudo and I were in one of the small examination rooms, I heard a dog, far off, in one of the other rooms, yelping like a monkey).
Because of Rudo's age, we figured he might be coming down with arthritis, to where he'd need some medication. Two x-rays later, the vet was talking about a thousand dollar hip surgery.
Rudo's left hip socket has deteriorated to where it no longer supports the socket ball. The most likely cause is a genetic predilection, which has now progressed to where it's noticeable to humans.
I looked down at Rudo as he made his careful way around on the floor, tail up, sniffing shoes. "Then do you replace the socket?"
"We don't need to. In a human you would, but at Rudo's weight, he only needs to support about four pounds on that hip, and he can do that with his muscles."
I scheduled an appointment for the next day, Wednesday, when the hospital performs all its surgeries for the week. The doctor took a blood sample, to make sure his internal systems were all right, and Rudo and I left. The doctor's parting words to me were, "If you don't hear from me tonight, that means Rudo's systems checked out, and we can proceed with the surgery."
Around seven that evening, our phone rang.
It turns out Rudo has elevated BUN levels in his kidneys, which means his hip surgery will have to be put off until the levels stabilize.
Mary and I brought him back to the hospital the next morning, so he could be put on IV therapy.
I picked him up yesterday morning, Friday. His levels are back to normal, but from now on he'll need to eat special food. He has another visit next week (I hope he doesn't read these Latelys), to see how his levels are doing.
The vet told me Rudo did not enjoy his hospital stay. "He'd refuse to eat while any of us were around. But each morning, his plate would be clean."
Rudo was less mournful on the way home, maybe sensing the direction in which the car was headed. I stuck my right index finger through the grate of the cat carrier's door while I drove. He rubbed the sides of his face against it, whiskers and wetness.
As soon as I put the carrier down on our kitchen floor and opened the door, Rudo popped out, looking left, right. He started exploring his kingdom room to room, making sure nothing had changed in his absence, the broad red strap they used for the IV therapy still around his right leg, like a protest armband.
This past Friday, we had steamed lobster for dinner. Once the lobsters were red, I carried the big pot over to the sink as I always do, and tilted it so the lobsters and hot water could spill into the sink. This time, the water chose to rise up over the edge of the sink, splashing the front of my right thigh. I still have a large burn mark, though I'm hoping it'll go away. Right now, it's assuming more and more the visage of Satan.