When I was in the ER earlier this year, recovering from serotonin toxicity and one week post hip replacement surgery, I said to the attending physician, “Please save my left eye because if I can’t play tennis I don’t want to live.”
I was in a bad place. I had multiple health issues at the time. I was half-mad with serotonin toxicity (mistake by hospital staff post-surgery). I was on crutches. Now, by scratching the skin below my eyes with hospital tissues for two days after hip surgery, I had instigated an outbreak of my herpes simplex I virus. Now I was in the ER, upon suggestion of my internist, because the blisters were creeping toward my left eye. If the blisters opened and the toxins entered my eye…
The wonderful attending treated me correctly and today I am fine. Thank god. Thank you to my excellent doctors; it takes a village of healthcare professionals to care for me!
But my surgeon advises me not to play singles tennis–my best friend. For over 10 years I had been fortunate enough to play tennis once or twice a week while living in a major metropolis. I didn’t know how to organize my week without tennis. My life outside work revolved around tennis. My mood depended on regular tennis games. My psychotherapist would routinely ask me to “up the tennis” if I fell into a brown study.
I haven’t stepped onto a tennis court in 12 months. I am a tiny bit surprised that I am still alive. How has my body, mind, spirit been able to survive without tennis?
ODAT. Find a way to get through this hour, this night, this day. This hot summer day will pass. This hot flash will pass. I will sleep tomorrow. Call a friend. Text my nephew. Write a letter to a close friend. Breathe. Eat a good meal. Go to physical therapy. Baby steps.
Twenty physical therapy sessions (thank you to my wonderful physical therapists and their assistants) later, I was able to walk longer distances without pain. I said goodbye to my beloved tennis club/teacher/personal trainer and found a basic fitness club.
I have new habits now after losing my best friend–I fast walk near my apartment; I go to the gym on the weekend; I do some exercises at home.
I fantasize about playing doubles tennis with fun partners on a forgiving surface. I rarely double fault, I make crisp volleys and hit successful overheads, and I always leave the court laughing.
I have a pink (for breast cancer) tennis ball that says “HOPE”. It sits next to my treasured Billie Jean King signed tennis ball. I must hold onto both.