I am staring up into the brightness of a single, exposed light bulb that hangs from the ceiling amongst beads of sunshine piercing through holes in the zinc roof like stars in a night sky. What does Miguel do when it rains?, I wonder.
Miguel has just managed to find a way to turn me over from the face down position where I have been laying on his therapy table for an hour.
When he initially told me the session was over, I had inhaled deeply and tried to raise myself onto my forearms. I tried twice to no avail, my body painfully immobile, my core frozen in the position of an eternal plank. Oh, the irony, I thought.
“Miguel, I can’t move,” I whimpered.
“Let me help you,” he offered and he gingerly rocked me up on one hip folding my legs under. “And now?” he asked.
I tried to push up, but my hips couldn’t take the weight of my upper body. I was deadlocked. “Miguel, I am stuck. I swear, I can’t get up.”
“Okay, okay, we will do this.” He lay me back down on the table again where I could ponder the holes of his battered roof as he worked to loosen my body enough to be able to stand.
“Now, we will try again,” he says hopefully and I grab his strong arm and pull myself up to him until I am sitting with my legs dangling below me. We both laugh nervously in relief. “Now,” he says, “slowly, slowly, you will stand.”
I lower myself until I feel the floor at last and put my weight down onto my feet. I am standing, but barely. I instinctively move over against the edge of the wall.
“Yes,” he says. “When you need to, use the wall for support.”
“Miguel,” I ask. “Can you feel it? Can you feel what’s wrong?”
“Mmmm,” he nods. “The nerve is inflamed like this…” and he motions his hands as if they are both grasping around a 2 liter bottle of pop. “You cannot do anything, I am sorry to say for two weeks. Not even see me. The inflammation must come down first.”
Oh, my gosh. I am not even thinking about not being able to exercise for two weeks, but how will I walk? How will I drive? I don’t even know how I am going to get home! I have driven from Granada to Masaya to see Miguel and now I fear that I will have to find a chauffeur to get me back to my house.
“You must have an injection,” he says as he begins to write. “You will walk to this pharmacy and get this medicine and they will inject you there.”
Fine, I think. I don’t care what it is or even who does it. I will do anything to get home.
“But your disks are fine,” he consoles me. “You will be fine.”
He looks me straight in the eye. “Reposo, reposo, reposo,” he says ordering me to rest.
Then he looks at me meaningfully and points to his head. “ANIMO,” he says forcefully.
My heart lifts and we connect. I feel myself smiling because I know that he is right. The resting is the prescription, but what he has advised me now is the real cure.
Animo is the raising of spirits, energy and life force. It is the feeling you have of empowerment and rejuvenation. ¡Anímate, Nicaragua! reads the signs on the local billboards. Signs that may advertise something as common as the brightening effects of a morning coffee or a nation organizing a political campaign to seize its destiny.
It is a feeling of hope and taking control. Not giving in to despair or complacency. Animo is the key to all comebacks and it starts not in the physical body, but in the conscious mind where decisions are made and plans are executed.
When I wrote my tag to my site, My online journal to train my mind to build my body every day I was aware that every success in my fitness journey would begin by my mental commitment to attempt it. My body’s ability to fulfill my mind’s desires was secondary.
Although I was now injured at the edge of immobility it would be no different. I would do whatever it takes to get back to where I was and forward on to new heights. I would combat the weaknesses that caused the injury by correctly strengthening my core so that I can go further than I have ever gone before.
Following the slowest walk of my life, I arrive to the pharmacy and eventually lift my dress to get the requisite shot in the glutes that is the hallmark of Nicaraguan medicine. As I sit on a bench waiting for the injection to take effect, I read a text from a friend who has let me know that his own athletic injury has heeled and he was back on the pitch that night playing with levity and ambition.
From thousands of miles away he consoles me that I will be better soon if I give myself time to recover (reposo!) and I don’t give up (animo!). There! I have heard the message again.
I feel instantly reassured. Repetition is always a serendipitous sign of an important cosmic message.
And another universal sign of good things to come is when a pain medicine begins to take effect! Feeling alleviated of some of the pain and stiffness, I stand up and pull myself together testing my legs and straightening my posture.
I am going to get home, I tell myself. And I am going to start again.
I start by putting one foot in front of the other until I find myself at my car and then at last safely cruising down the Carretera Masaya back towards Granada feeling the fragility of a physical weakness and the strength of my own commitment to do all that I need to do in the coming weeks so that I can get back to this: