Going no where for five miles
I spent the month of December going to the Cardiac Rehab Clinic at St. John's Hospital in Berryville. Three times a week I'd get hooked up to some sort of monitor and then treadmill or bicycle for a few minutes. Nurses would test my pulse and measure my blood pressure between events. If you're still standing at the end of session you've passed. If you're not, well...
The cost of my version of Cardiac Rehab was $250.00 a session, or $750.00 a week. I guess that paid for the roughly 90 weekly minutes of nursing oversight, the monitoring equipment and bicycle use, and probably some hospital overhead and a little non-profit profit. Maybe--maybe not--my cardiologist will see what all the tests measured up to. It isn't a sure thing because St. John's in Berryville hasn't been able to get my medical records to St. John's in Rogers yet. But it could happen. Maybe. Maybe not. We'll see.
"There he goes again," you're saying to yourself. "What a crabby old fart. What a snooty damn Yankee. Why is he picking on our hospital?"
I'm not. It's a fine hospital and everybody who works there is as nice as can be. I just can't afford the $8.33 a minute it costs on an indefinite basis. Frankly, I'm not worth that much and anyway, I learned what I needed to learn: I'm still standing after what was or might be moderate exercise. Here I am, howdy 2012.
About Christmas time the missus and I joined the Berryville Community Center. It cost $105.00 a year for both of us. What a great place (!) and, based on what I learned at Cardiac Rehab--I'm still standing--I go five or six times a week and engage in what may or may not be moderate exercise for a person of my age and slothful history. The only downside that I can see is the lack of nursing oversight; if I stop standing I'll need a bumpy ride to the emergency room instead of the quick hop down the hall afforded by Cardiac Rehab's proximity to vital resources.
Oh. No medical records are not shared either.
The Community Center has got some really excellent equipment. I walk on a treadmill for a mile; that takes fifteen minutes. I lift weights: finally, just on the horizon, buns of steel. I pedal a bicycle going no where for five miles. FOX News is on the TV in the corner. It isn't as stupid as Mike Masterton in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, but I still get to roll my eyes and shake my head so they get exercised too.
I usually show up at about 6:30 in the morning when the Community Center first opens up. Surprisingly, there are a lot of slow moving but determined folks there despite the early hour. "Do not hurry. Do not rest," Goethe said, advice these exercisers seem to have taken.
A couple of times a week a boy of about 12 is shooting baskets down on the basketball court, located below where the exercise equipment is. His mother, a pretty woman, rebounds for him and tosses the ball back so he can take quick shots. I imagine that she is a busy, working person, and has found this early morning time to spend especially with her boy. I like her for it, and hope that what I imagine is true.
A serious looking Mexican woman is always there when I arrive and she's always there when I leave. She hustles around the track for at least an expeditious half hour, and then does some more on a treadmill while I bicycle my five miles. I don't know what her exercise goals are--surely they are more complex than my simple goal--but I feel sure that she's going to attain them. By comparison I am an exercise dilettante.
Two people from my church, a couple, are also among the early arrivals. They walk briskly around the track and ignore me as I lumber ponderously on my treadmill. They are handsome people, and you can tell by looking at them that there isn't much room for nonsense in their life. Maybe that's why the wife never smiles at me, or talks to me. She puts me in mind of something Henry James said--
"If this life is not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will."
--and causes me to assess my cardiac fandango and the road ahead. A heart attack is by any measure a private theatrical, but one from which one cannot withdraw at will--it is a real fight. While I may draw the line at an $8.33 a minute recovery, I am more rather than less self-consigned to a morning exercise routine--and will be edified by the example of my non-smiling church family, the serious Mexican lady, and the dedicated and pretty basketball mom.