Today was not such a great day for me. Last night my allergies were so bad I had to sleep on the wedge, which isn't very comfortable, but it's better than not breathing. Hot flashes woke me up several times, too. So I knew when I got on the treadmill this morning that I might not perform very well. I was armed with tissues, an inhalant and my wet rag. I had all the windows open.
Yesterday morning I made a plan for today and I thought it was quite brilliant, but yesterday I felt good. I PLANNED to walk 3 laps for warm up, then to run a lap at a 12 minute mile pace, walk 1/2 to 1 lap, run another lap, walk 1/2 to a lap, etc... until I had gone 3.1 miles.
However, this morning I started my warm up honking and snorting and sneezing and blowing. I almost immediately realized that today was NOT the day for anything resembling interval training, sprints or any other kind of foolishness that required breathing. Today I would just focus on form. I am using my treadmill time to keep my feet low to the ground and my foot fall light. I am a heavy girl and I don't have good knee cartilage. I learned to walk quietly a long time ago from a friend who fancied himself 1/2 Lakota, but who may have been half loco. Now am I learning that running quietly is good for knees. (Another 20 pounds gone would be even better for this lacking cartilage. Interestingly, my knees never do hurt when I run. Only when I walk up stairs.)
I did check my blood pressure and pulse immediately before and after. Despite my enormously red face, my numbers were quite good for me. 131/90 and 80 before and 129/83 and 125 after. (My blood pressure is always good, but my pulse is usually higher before and after.)
I ended up running and walking whatever the heck I could run and walk. I was hot. I was congested. My inhalant turned out to be empty. My dog kept trying to get on the treadmill with me. I did 3.1 miles in 51.52 minutes.
But today is Memorial Day and I've known several soldiers who wanted to serve in WWII who have passed on - and one who still lives. I also have served and still serve a number of solders who were drafted into Korea. They did not want to go. They left good jobs, families they loved, nice beds (who cares about my wedge... at least I have a real bed!) Only one of the soldiers I work with actually wanted to go to Korea. The same soldier also served in Cambodia and Vietnam, willingly. If he hadn't been so badly injured that he couldn't serve in a 5th war, I think he would have kept serving. But he is rare. Our politicians like war. Our soldiers, it turns out, almost never, ever do. Go figure.
There is nothing I can experience here on my treadmill or on the streets of Oakland or on the technical trail I found (even though the hill looks to me like it never ends) that can remotely approach what those men experienced.
I will not have to slog through waist high snow. I will not lose three toes on one foot. I will not get shot. I will not have to march to a "mailbox" to receive communications from the enemy that turn out to be cartoons making fun of my mother. I will not have to try to stay awake in a fox hole when all I want to do is sleep, but sleeping means almost certain death. I will not have to carry packs through 110 degree heat. I am unlikely to get malaria even once, much less two or three times. I do not have to eat strange brownish, unidentifiable glop or go to bed hungry.
Whatever I do today - or tomorrow - is voluntary. No one drafted me to do it. This is my choice.
Many of the men (and women) who served in Korea and Vietnam were drafted. Those who signed up voluntarily were often made big promises that we would take care of them - and their families. We promised many of them the best medical care. Some of the veterans living in major cities may, indeed be receiving it. I don't know. I only know what I see here in rural counties. I also know that Korean vets are often ignored and Vietnam vets are often stereotyped. Let's properly care for those who live and properly show respect for those who have passed on.
And today, at least, while it feels like my head is plugged up with tube socks, let me remember that my suffering is nothing.