We’re a Little Like Sharks

I’m supposed to get an X-ray of my neck.

And I will. Soon.

About 8 weeks, I made a mistake and succumbed to a Saturday night challenge to arm-wrestle. No, I had not arm-wrestled in 20 years and if I wasn’t on my third glass of wine, I probably would have deferred. But I didn’t, and I woke up the next day wondering why my arm was sore. Kept waiting for it to get better. But after 3 weeks of waiting (and, in fact, feeling it get progressively more sore), I went to the doctor. As I explained myself, he kept shaking his head. Arm-wrestling. He scribbled it down and shook his head. Lifting weights. Head shake. Basketball. Head shake. And then he said:

“Listen, my friend. How old are you?”


“Right. 44. Do you know how many guys come in here with all sorts of injuries from things like basketball. You should stop playing.”

He then gave me a prescription for an NSAID, and scrips for a full panel of bloodwork and a neck X-ray.

I listened and I have to tell you, I don’t think he’ll be my doctor going forward. Because I’m not going to stop running because my knees ache, or lifting because my shoulder gets a little sore, or playing basketball because I occasionally hit the deck.

I am firmly convinced by my 44 years that we’re a lot like sharks—when we stop moving, we start dying, little by little. But the damage accrues, and more quickly than I’m comfortable with. With my family history, I cannot afford to leave those kinds of openings to the gremlins that take guys down—heart disease, high blood pressure, blockages and general immobility. I will not sit waiting for congestive heart failure. It’s gonna have to hunt me down. And though I’m not very fast, I’m not convinced it’s any faster.

My dad died at 70 of an array of ailments, but to me they all sprung from the fact that once he was unable to move about vigorously, it was all a matter of time. He could have laid off the booze and the smokes, but it was the lack of movement that proved the capper.

I have no plans to be that easy to catch. And if that means eluding a doctor who thinks the answer to aches and pains is to stop moving, well, there are a lot of doctors out there. I’m betting I can find one who will support my choice of an active life, even if it means periodic trips to the Disabled List—and as long as I keep returning to the Game.

And if that some day becomes impossible, we’ll deal. But not until then.

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