July 3, 2018
She pulled uncertainly into the parking lot of the gas station-cum-garage and rolled, confusingly, over the now out-of-date line that rang a bell in the dark bay ahead of her.
“Haven’t heard one of those in decades,” she thought nervously. “Maybe I should wait until I’m back on home turf…”
Too late. From the shadows an overall’ed form was moving toward her. The mechanic was nondescript and plain. He didn’t seem menacing, so she put the car into park and got out.
“Hi,” she said brightly, hoping he wasn’t one of those Neanderthal men who make women feel small for neither knowing nor caring much about the inner workings of the four-stroke combustion engine.
“Help you?” he asked as he wiped his hands on a filthy cloth. (Why bother?, she wondered. His hands can only get dirtier from that.)
“My car has a – well, it’s a shimmy. If I go over about twenty miles an hour, it begins to feel like things are going to fly apart.”
“Uh-huh,” he said flatly and toed a rolling dolly over to the car. Without preamble, he disappeared under the car and she heard him banging around. Knowing he could only see her well-shod feet pacing nervously, she held her questions until (it seemed) eons had passed.
“Can you find anything?”
He rocketed out from under the car and walked to the office. “C’mon,” he said shortly.
“Oh, well…” He ignored her, so she moved ahead but stopped in the doorway, uncertain of the situation. Hedging her bets, her head was inside while her feet were still on the pavement outside.
He was rummaging in a worn metal desk, discarding oily bits of metal and poorly folded road maps as he went. “Here it is,” he muttered. He turned and held out…
Startled, she reached out instinctively and took it from him. Then she regarded the apple with profound suspicion. What the hell was it? Why hadn’t she refused to take it?
“Hold that,” he said. And then there was silence.
“Um – okay.” They regarded each other blankly.
Finally he clarified. “When you drive. Hold that when you drive.”
Words failed her. She shook her head and raised her eyebrows. Her forehead creased.
“Go on,” he said. “Try it. You’ll see.”
“You want me to hold an apple… to fix the shimmy in my car?”
“Is it a MAGIC apple?” she asked, not able to bite back the sarcasm.
He grinned. “Once around the block. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. Go on, now.”
Thinking she’d entered a madman’s lair, she scurried back to her car, clutching the apple, and drove off.
“Insane,” she muttered. Then, as the car began its alarming shuddering, she looked suspiciously at the apple, lying innocently in the drink holder. Her frown of contempt became a moue of frustration. “All right!”
She reached out and grabbed the apple – and the shimmying stopped. “What the hell?!?”
She put the apple down and the juddering began; she picked it up and it stopped. I do NOT understand, she thought – but it’s working!
* * * * *
This tale is a parable. A fitness parable. I composed it to explain how WEIRD is the power of Barbara Gallagher Benson at Body Dynamics, and of Gwynn Hegyi, and of Grace Ball – my BDI team of WIZARDS.
Listen: About 18 months ago, I came down with a strange numbness that was diagnosed as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (which I incorrectly call Guillaume Barré because it sounds like an interesting protagonist in a French thriller). For reasons unknown, my own immune system attacked the sheaths around my nerves from the ribs down, leaving me mildly numb.
Some people have quite exciting experiences with Guillaume Barré; I don’t happen to be one of them. Despite being slapped into the hospital for five or six days, I was fine. I was numb and then I slowly got better. My right leg is still a little numb; I barely notice it any more. Not a big deal.
But I (now) know that at some point, I began shifting my weight to the left, which woke up more rapidly. And the muscles on the left got correspondingly stronger. The muscles on the right, relieved of duty, decided to take a break. Everything that was SUPPOSED to be done by those big old glute muscles on the right began to be accomplished by the muscles on the left, except the movements that HAD to come from the right side.
I now know which movements those are, because I have two sets of muscles which have begun to rebel – like colonists throwing tea into Boston Harbor. My adductor magnus runs up the inside of the thigh from knee to groin; the magnificently-named quadratus lumborum sit above the butt muscles like two mainsails.
Mine have been shrieking with increasing fury for the last six weeks or so.
And then Barbara said… “…tighten your glute mede.”
Barbara probably CAN tighten her gluteus medius without engaging minimus and maximus. I can’t – but I can clench a butt cheek in general.
And what happens?
ALL THE PAIN CEASES IMMEDIATELY.
Immediately. I can go from mid-wince to limp-free in the span of time it takes me to flex my ass.
This is VERY WEIRD INDEED – but honey – it’s a freaking blessing.
It is VERY CHALLENGING to see how these things are related, anatomically, but they are. Like solving a car problem by holding an apple. It makes no sense. But Barbara figured it out anyway. And Grace. And Gwynn. They worked my complaints until they solved it. And by damn, they DID solve it. I can’t believe it.
Of course, my glute mede is weak – so to make the parable complete, the apple that makes the car stop shaking has to weigh about twenty pounds; you can’t ALWAYS hold it until you build up some endurance and long-term strength (I have exercises now to add to my Home Exercise Program)… but you can be sure that building endurance is easier to do when NOT doing it causes pain.
I don’t know how those geniuses keep doing it, but I’m damned glad I’ve got them in my corner!
“Oh – here’s your problem: Your ass is totally weak on the right side. Think of it as a bad boot around the CV joint, got it?”