Friday, June 24, 2011

The Golden Girls

I just wrapped up my third week of Cardiac Rehab.  These days, I have my routine down pat: Get up, put workout clothes on, brush teeth, etc.  Wake up Cameron. Change diaper, clothes and feed him.  Let Mowgli out. Eat breakfast.  One grandma or the other arrives to watch him and off I go to St. Mary's hospital. Then, I weigh myself, fill out my intake sheet, get my blood pressure taken, attach my monitor, do the warm up exercise and get started on my workout.  25 minutes on the treadmill, 20 on the bike, 10 lifting weights and 10 on the hand bike (the hand bike is a hilarious sight to see, I'll try to take pictures soon).  Then there's cool down, a 2nd blood pressure, and stopping at the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee (half-caff) before I head out to my car.  This is pretty much my routine every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

I've gotten to know my classmates (who I now call the Golden Guys and Gals) better -they are quite the cast of characters.  "Gloria" is the most colorful and probably the youngest (in her 50s) next to me.  She comes to class in wildly colorful outfits and large, dangly earrings.  Usually, she's stopped at the cafeteria before class and arrives with a breakfast burrito in her hand - clearly, she's not following the diet guidelines.  The TODAY show is usually on for the treadmillers to watch and Gloria always has interesting things to say (That Ann must be pregnant! Why else would they put her in such loose clothing? Ooh-ee.  Al Roker can be my weatherman! Let it rain, jesus.)  Then there's "Doris", who sort of reminds me of Eeyore or Debbie Downer from SNL.  She always makes sure to ask how I'm doing and when I reciprocate, she goes on to tell me about how she hates Mondays (and Wednesdays and Fridays) or how her muscles hurt from the previous workout or how she sweats too much and her socks get damp.  Doris can't wait to be done with rehab, though I'm not really sure she'll be any happier when she graduates.  Lenny is the class clown.  Probably in his late 50s or early 60s, he wears Tommy Hilfiger polos and jeans to class.  He flirts with the nurses and shows his progress off any chance he gets.  He was very upset that I didn't bring birthday cake to share with the class (though for the record, I did not have my favorite birthday cake this year - Miss Hullings Five Split Layer Chocolate Cake.  This has been my birthday cake since I first started eating cake!  But it is the absolute opposite of heart healthy.)  Marlene and her dad, John, come to class together.  They always arrive late because Marlene waits for the best parking spot.  She keeps an eye on her dad to make sure he's doing everything he is supposed to, but I feel like she might be slacking off a bit herself.  She always asks me about Cameron and then brags about her grandchildren.  Example:

Marlene:  Well, my precious *blah* is in Bible school now.  He can quote Genesis.  And *blah* is taking swimming lessons this summer.  She can swim laps!  How's Cameron?

Me: He's great.  He's noticed the ceiling fan and is blowing spit bubbles.

Marlene:  He's not rolling over?! 

Me: Well ,no. Not yet.

Marlene: Well, don't give it too much time.  My *blah* skipped rolling over and went straight to crawling!

Walter reminds me of Chief Weber from Grey's Anatomy.  Very quiet and calm, comes to rehab, gets his workout done and leaves.  But he always wears these crazy button-down, hawaiian shirts.  Today, his shirt had flowers and dragons on it.  Walter also has an oxygen tank, which his wife ties a ribbon to, to make sure he knows which is his.  And last, there's Padma, who I have mentioned before.  She grew up in India and wears gold bangles to class.  She also wears New Balance sneakers with pink ribbons on them because her sister is a breast cancer survivor.  She also asks about Cameron (having only seen him once) and inquires as to whether or not he takes after his mother (i.e. is getting browner).  I can tell she wants to talk more about India, but she's in the class after me, so we don't overlap too much.

Upon realizing my birthday was Monday, each person in my class took a moment to share where they were when they were 29.  Gloria was pregnant with twins; Doris was taking care of her ailing mother; Lenny was driving trucks; Walter was in the navy and Padma was still living in India.  Listening to everybody reminisce really made me stop and think.  We have led such different lives and were brought together by a significant health scare.  Most of my classmates find themselves in Cardiac Rehab because they ate poorly and did not exercise regularly when they were my age.  They seem to see me as a complete anomaly and rather unlucky. As "unlucky" as I may be, I'm glad I'm still kickin'!!  And hopefully, when I'm their age, part of my regular workout will be chasing my grandchildren :)

“…‘the good old days.’ The only good days are ahead.” ― Alice Childress

"Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty - they merely move it from their faces into their hearts."  — Martin Buxbaum

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