I’ve been humming the same musical theatre song for the past week.
“I’m through accepting limits, ’cause someone says they’re so.”
The lyrics go around and around in my head. If you painted me green and called me Elphaba, I’d be ready for my West End debut in ‘Wicked’.
It’s all because I’ve been defying gravity. No, I haven’t learned to fly. I also haven’t gone completely mad. I’ve been using the Alter G.
I wasn’t immediately sold on an anti-Gravity treadmill. Rubber shorts and a sweaty arse were not my idea of rehabilitation. Superman was convinced that I’d like it, but I couldn’t imagine it. I was sure that in some cultures, this was a form of torture. Since he’d first suggested it two weeks earlier, I’d managed to avoid it through a mixture of blind luck, schedule clashes and begging, but I’d run out of chances. There would be no more delays. My arse was destined to sweat rivers.
The rubber contraptions hung from a high rail and Superman slid them along like hanging carcasses in search of the perfect pair. They were shorts, rubbery and black, with a large round ring and zip at the top that would enclose me into a vacuumed pod for the anti-gravity machine. If they were white, they might have fitted in with the uniform at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. They were ridiculous. And they looked uncomfortable. They had to be tight. They had to fit. This was the part I’d been dreading. I wondered if it was too late to plead, or beg, or run.
God, I wished I could run.
Superman had the Oompa-Loompa shorts up around my arse before I had a chance to head for the hills. He tried to pawn them off as a giant upside-down sorting hat, but I was adamant that no sorting hat was meant to be pulled up around a sweaty crotch.
I wondered what house my ass-sorting-hat would pick for me and settled on ‘slither-in’ – which, it turns out, was not to be the case.
Superman heaved and I hauled. He called in reinforcements and another physio came to assist. It took three of us to clad my arse in rubber and zip me into the contraption.
What the hell was happening?
I had visions of being frozen in time and waking up in the future, long after the hospital and all its staff had been annihilated in some apocalyptic event and the world had changed beyond recognition. I
was in a Luke Wilson movie. Society had become infinitely more stupid and an idiot reality tv star was president of the United States.
Anyway, I made the mistake of sharing my daydream and earned a few raised eyebrows for the effort. Note to self: contain the crazy.
I took one small step for man. Or rather, Superman lifted my foot onto the machine because my rigid knee-high brace was weighing down already weak legs. I wasn’t quite able to lift my feet enough to take any step, whether it be for man, mankind or any other species.
You know you’re in trouble when you’re on a treadmill set for 1km per hour and you’re already clutching for anything that will support you. Superman disappeared to find a fan. He was prepared for the inevitable sweat-fest. The Physio assisting him started up the machine and set the anti-gravity but my hip didn’t get the memo.
I knew I shouldn’t have gone along with this.
“I hate you.” I told Superman.
I might even have convinced myself that I meant it for about a moment.
He laughed and turned up the speed.
As if by magic – or, you know, science – Superman sets the machine to the correct level of anti-gravity. I suddenly feel more balanced. My hip starts to play along, at least a little bit. The legs, no longer so weighty and cumbersome, are easier to move. I take bigger steps; faster steps; steps that actually involve putting one foot in front of the other and touching down heel and toe in the correct order. There’s no dragging or twisting. My knees bend and straighten as they should – for the most part at least. It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty damn good.
I was walking at 2km an hour and I beamed. It was about 4 times faster than I’d managed in the unit with a Zimmer frame and I was definitely able for far more than the few measly steps I’d achieved so far.
It felt like real walking and I didn’t want it to end. Twenty minutes had passed before I asked what the reverse button was for.
You’d swear I’d just given him a puppy on Christmas morning.
“I didn’t know it had a reverse function.” He was giddy. “Do you want to try it?”
I was pooped and ready to keel over. As per my usual form, I might have begged and pleaded and threatened to run, but I couldn’t bring myself to say no. After all, he’d been right about the anti-gravity treadmill. I did like it.
Don’t ever tell him I said that.
I don’t know who enjoyed the reverse walking more. Superman crouched down beside the machine, watching my legs intently and directing me.
“Take bigger steps.”
Why, of course!
I stepped it out, more confident now than ever before and delighted that I’d been talked into this crazy adventure.
With the Wicked soundtrack playing in my brain, I felt like I really was defying gravity and nobody was going to bring me down.