"Give me your tired, your weary and people with foot-long scars on their chests."
That little phrase popped into my head one afternoon as I was punishing myself on the rowing machine. Of course, my sense of humor is not for all. It's best to keep a close watch on such things sometimes. It can save you a lot of puzzled looks.
Sometimes, when I look around at the people attending the 4 o'clock cardiac rehab session, I wonder how in the hell I ended up there. Even over four months later, my brain cannot wrap itself around the shock of open heart surgery. I suspect that, despite the cavalier attitudes I've heard from some patients, all of us in this exclusive club have felt this way.
The 4 o'clock regulars are a motley bunch, ranging in age from 30 plus to at least 60 plus, all in vastly different shape. Some have to deal with diabetics, others gout, others still obesity. By some standards, I am "young." Even my cardiologist calls me this ridiculous "mistruth". I smile and run with the compliment, but remember what young really was and meant ( I accept my age and you won't see me in some pathetic beyond-mid-life-crisis red sports car. Mostly because I can't afford one).
My attitude is like the overly enthusiastic nerd. I look forward to that blissful hour where all I do is build my strength. Cell phone, TV, wallet, Facebook, worries, stressed-out situations are all left at home.
Call me Mr. Chatty. I have to dial down my outward enthusiasm. I'm not seeking long term friendships, but I try to get a few words out of the people next to me. Fuck, we are here for twelve weeks, why not? People there are generally friendly, though I sense some feel that this is a form of punishment. Sure, when I arrive after work and body parts are slow and slightly achy, I don't feel the purpose until about 4 minutes into the treadmill. After that, I'm born again.
Jimmy: Like a mean motherfucker, sir!
When I first arrived, I was told, "You are only here for a short time." Yep, that turned out to be true. I am in week five and it feels like week two. Two have "graduated" and were given a round of applause, a t-shirt and a certificate of completion. Most give a short, heartfelt (pun inserted) speech encouraging those to carry on. Some say they will continue with walks at home, some over to Nautilus.
That's the point. It's a lifetime choice, not a passing fancy.
That's what that scar is: a promise of change.