0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds – A play in one act
Scene: A generic hospital room on a hot summer morning, 2013. A nurse is standing over a patient while orderlies and other nurses wheel assorted things in and out, taking various measurements of the patient’s state of being:
Nurse: So, you know you won’t be able to drive a car after this operation, right?
Patient: Well, I don’t drive, so that’s not a big deal.
Nurse: I don’t understand…
Patient: I don’t drive, at all.
Nurse: But how did you get here?
Patient: On a bixi.
Nurse: Oh. Well, you won’t be able to drive a car this afternoon.
Patient: I couldn’t drive one this morning either. I’m not that bothered. What else can I expect?
As an aside:
The nurse then goes on to describe a litany of horrors, including but not limited to hemorrhage – both internal and external, fever, vomiting, days of being mostly unconscious, weeks of being immobile, and calls the anesthesiologist in to talk to me about the dangers of morphine addiction. Clearly, her failure to scare me with the driving restrictions only motivated her to try harder; and clearly, she’s never heard the piano joke. I’m taking it all in, but not taking any of it to heart, especially when I start asking how long until I can do things again and get non-answers that tell me the nurse is perhaps used to dealing with a very different kind of patient.
OK. So how long until I can ride a bike?
Nurse: You won’t be able to drive a car today for sure, and probably not for the next few days either.
Patient: I won’t be able to drive a car until I take lessons and get a license. How long until I can ride a bike?
(Nurse gives blank look)
Patient: Let’s try this. How long until I can go jogging?
Nurse: Months probably. Most people take at least six weeks at home completely before they even try going to work.
Enter two residents.
Nurse: Here, ask one of the doctors.
Patient: Hi! How long until I can ride a bike?
Doctor: Uh, I guess when you feel ready? Not right away, for sure.
Patient: So if I ease back into it as soon as I’m feeling good and ride slow until everything’s healed, that’s cool?
Doctor: Of course. Just listen to your body.
Patient: And since it’s so hot, how long until I can go hang around at the pool?
Doctor: One week, minimum. Do you have a pool near you?
Patient: Believe it or not, we have one in Hochelaga.
Doctor (jokingly): Oh, it’s in Hochelaga? Two weeks minimum.
Patient: Amazing. And how long until I can go to yoga?
Doctor: … Why would you want to?
Patient: Why… would… I want to?
As an aside:
Because having a regular practice has made me so aware of how things feel and just generally so good at listening to my body that once I woke up from the general anesthetic, I was fully alert right away, I didn’t need any more major painkillers, knew exactly what each feeling in every part of my body was – this must be where they passed an instrument, and my throat is obviously sore from the breathing tube, and so on – and knowing what everything is from makes it so much easier to deal with. I actually walked out of the hospital on my own two feet that afternoon, took the metro home, and was back on a bike two days later. Because having a regular practice has made me so good at keeping calm and managing my breath that despite the needless stress of dealing with a nurse whose best moments are described here, my blood pressure never got above what the staff considered normal. Because having a regular practice has made me so strong and made my body function so well that of all the many horrible after-effects I was told to expect, I’ve had exactly zero, and the very few others I have had were easily managed with – guess what? – gentle and non-sweaty yoga, walking, and slow bike rides. Because right now, five days post-op, my biggest concern is whether or not someone without the mental and physical resources that come with a regular yoga practice is being scared into staying at home for weeks, zonked out on narcotics, listening only to that nurse and not to their bodies, and letting a doctor’s flip attitude keep them from ever trying any kind of yoga.