This is what happens when J. goes to the doctor (or the dentist)

Yellow upper case: Can I have your attention please?

You must be eager for an update on my last post. First off, thus far Jelly remains an only pup. I’m not hopeful.

Also, I am pleased to report that J.’s condition has improved dramatically. She has reduced her pain medication substantially, is eating more, and even sucked down a few potato chips yesterday. These are all excellent signs. Keep your fingers crossed that her infection has finally been quashed.

This medical crisis was uncharacteristic for J., who rarely visits the doctor. She doesn’t even have any specialists! When she does make an appointment with one of the medical professionals we share (Dr. Family, Dr. Tooth), I know she is terribly ill.

Sometimes when J. sees these docs, instead of focussing on her concerns, they ask about me. “How is Annie?” they inquire timidly. J., who oddly enough is not at the appointment to talk about me, finds their queries annoying. “Hello! I’m the patient here!” screams her inside voice.

I was first to see Dr. Root, the go-to guy for dental crises, years ago when I had a dental emergency that landed me in hospital. He treated me upon my discharge, ably fixing what a colleague had botched.

Dr. Root and I got along famously from the outset. Since my injury was so dramatic, he remembers both me and J. well from that initial encounter. He managed my care so well that J. has sought him out in her subsequent times of need. Of course she landed back in his chair last week.

While J. was writhing in pain in Dr. Root’s office last week, he asked her, not unexpectedly, how I was doing. As they chatted, J. could feel his anger escalating at how I had been treated long ago and the danger his colleague had placed me in. Then he showed J. the PowerPoint presentation he has used in his teaching ever since, which includes two head shots of me at my worst. I look like a monster, one side of my face and neck completely black and blue. When J. told me about this exchange, I realized I’ve become a haunting celebrity to local dental students. Thankfully I am unrecognizable in those shots.

I didn’t meant to hijack J.’s emergency appointment; I wasn’t even there. Even when I’m not there, I am, it seems.

Focus on the positive, J. You should stop complaining about these queries about me since occasionally our sharing medical professionals works in your favour. For example, I know you have slyly asked Dr. Family to check my thyroid if I’ve been crankier than usual. What joy you must feel seeing Dr. Family respond with her knowing smile.

Enough about J. already; let’s get back to me. Shortly, I will head to the Cancer Centre. Once I am in a drug-induced loopy state, Dr. Blood Lite will complete a procedure on me akin to tapping a maple tree. With the help of my Ativan, I will not leap off the hospital bed and flee in a panic. Today is no big deal, I say, but I’d appreciate your praying for me two weeks hence when we will reconvene to review the results. I’d do the same for you.

Picture of tap running out of maple tree


The glories of distraction, sometimes

When my life is in upheaval, as it was last week (Who am I kidding? It still is), distractions can help. I hope for good distractions, like the birth of a baby or a wedding or coming home to the new puppy I’ve been begging J. for.

[Insert short break here to complete daily check of rescue animal websites.]

What do you think of this one, J.?

Basset hound looking up at camera.Alas this New Year has been dismal from the start. My health issues are small potatoes; J. has provided the sought-for distractions, but not the kind I was hoping for.

On Christmas Eve, her elderly father was admitted to hospital three hours away. He is still in hospital and fighting a terrible infection.

How about this one? Just trying to distract you from your pain, honey.

Wild haired rescue dog--terrier typeOn top of that tremendous stress, J. is also suffering from a painful tooth infection that has spread to the surrounding bone. This is J., who has the highest pain threshold of anyone I know. She left hospital the day after abdominal surgery, and was completely off pain medication within a few days. It is heartbreaking to see her in so much agony that she is unable to function.

This one’s precious, don’t you think? 

Rescue puppy mixed breedThere are several other signs of the seriousness of this infection:

  1. J. has placed her kind and caring periodontist on speed dial.
  2. She is on her second round of antibiotics, which so far have not put a significant dent in her pain.
  3. J. actually allowed me to drive her home from the periodontist this morning. (We all know there are drivers in relationships and there are passengers. 99% of the time, I am the passenger.)
  4. Since eating has caused her such pain, J. has been on a mostly fluid diet for a few weeks now. She is hallucinating about the first hamburger she will eat once she can return to solid food.
  5. Because she is not eating, her nightly indulgence of a small bowl of potato chips has gone unfulfilled, and unfilled. A bag of chips has never lasted this long in our home, and you know I’m not the one dipping in to this sodium bomb.

So what if my bone marrow is misbehaving? I’ll sort that out soon enough. Right now what matters is that I be there to support J. It is not the distraction I might have hoped for–I still want that puppy–and hopefully it will end soon, for J.’s sake, but it will divert my attention from my own health, which is a good thing.

How about this one? Does she remind you of anyone?

Heeler cross rescue dogThis is a dramatic role reversal, as I’m sure you are aware. J. needs to be well so she can take care of me. We joke about this often, but it’s true. I am a naturally born caregiver with limited resources of late. Taking care of anyone for any length of time exhausts me.

Let’s all hope that J. is feeling much better soon, for her sake but also for mine. I’d hate for those chips to go wasted. And I’m thinking I may need her help over the next few weeks. She’ll have to get back behind the wheel the day I take that Ativan, for sure.

Resolutions are made to be broken

How are those resolutions going? Are you eating better? Are you down a size yet? Have you thrown out your money on that new gym membership? Well, if you’re struggling maintaining your commitment to yourself, you’re not alone.

My resolution to stop catastrophizing about my health lasted a total of 8 days. Then I went to the cancer centre for my regularly scheduled check in. I arrived with my resolution in tow, fully expecting an uneventful visit. I hadn’t noticed any new or different symptoms. Sure I’ve been napping most days, I’ve had the odd bruise, and I don’t quite feel myself, but that’s nothing new.

I knew I was in trouble when the lovely Dr. Blood Lite entered the room with an unusually grim look on his face. He pulled his chair in close to mine and asked how I’d been feeling. Then he said, “I’m worried that….” I can’t tell you how that sentence ended because, frankly, I was stunned by his lead in. A opening like “I’m worried that” is pretty high on the list of sentiments no cancer patient wants to hear.

It turns out my blood counts are dropping and the doctor is not sure why. I’m tired because I’m increasingly anemic and I’m bruising because my platelets continue to drop. Since my leukemia is well controlled, these changes likely reflect my wild card, polycythemia. I’ve had polycythemia for 18 years now, and in that time no brilliant medical researcher has devised a way to stop its advancing. The symptoms are manageable but the polycythemia train keeps moving, and I can’t jump off.

There are other possible explanations for my changing blood counts but this one needs to be investigated. The doctor suggested I reduce the nonessential chemotherapy that addresses my polycythemia symptoms since this drug could be responsible for my declining counts. No problem. If, after 6 weeks, reducing the meds is not the answer, the doctor will have to inspect my bone marrow for clues.

A long time ago, I wrote about the little minions who might one day start squatting in my marrow, building homes in the spaces needed to produce healthy blood cells. I’ve never invited them, but I have no means of kicking them out. Landlord-tenant bylaws do not apply. The only way to know whether the minions are squatting is to take a closer look.

J. knew that waiting six weeks to search for the minions would torture me. She asked whether I might have the bone marrow aspiration sooner so at least I’d know what I was–and we were–dealing with. For me, not knowing is much worse than knowing, even if the news is grim.

And so, dear readers, I blew my resolution completely yesterday. The doctor’s appropriately asking me about my advanced care plan didn’t help. (More on that another day.) I will now reinstate my resolution forthwith, knowing that in some situations, follow through can be challenging despite our best intentions. Next week, I will have no trouble following through since an Ativan will help me visit La La Land during the procedure.

I will keep you posted. I always do. If I can deal with this, so can you. And don’t forget, inside every anxious person is a brave person itching to get out.

Weiner dog in cape flying through air

This psychologist’s theories of fostering close relationships

Quote: Strangers are just friends waiting to happen. Rod McKuen

You may have thought I was finished talking about last Thursday’s fiasco, but of course I’m not. I spent the weekend reviewing what happened and how I resolved the situation. I’ve decided that, except for driving into a parking lot knee deep in slush, I would not change anything else. This conclusion has nothing to do with getting home in time for my client, nor sparing myself the cost of a tow truck.

I relied on three people that day, two of whom I have an established relationship with, and a third who is a friendly acquaintance. All came through with flying colours. I told them what I needed and they graciously jumped at the chance to help. Shouldn’t that be the way the world works?

I frankly expected Drs. Basset to help me if they could. Our friendship is well established and built on give and take, as is any good relationship. When I first got sick, I realized how extensive our incredible community of support is.

I don’t know Ms. Good Neighbour nearly as well as Drs. Basset. She’s told me her name before but it took last Thursday’s encounter for me to commit it to memory. I’ve never seen her outside the park (that’s often the way with these relationships) but I know she lives in the neighbourhood. She happened to be there when I needed help, and I sensed that she would come through. I asked, and she graciously took 20 or so minutes out of her day to do what she could.

While Ms. Good Neighbour was accepting my thanks (I believe I only thanked her 7 or 8 times over that 20 minutes), she wisely said, likely to shut me up, “If I were in your situation, wouldn’t you do the same for me?” Of course I would, and I have when asked, and sometimes even without asking. Easing another person’s load makes me feel needed, useful, trusted, even happy.

You all know that I’m not the sort to rely on others; in fact, I abhor having to do so. Leukemia has been an excellent teacher here, rendering me without a choice some days. Leukemia had nothing to do with last week’s incident, however, unless the illness has unknowingly interfered with my problem solving. (That’s a distinct possibility.) Let’s say there was a carryover effect from the needy person leukemia has made me some days: I needed help on Thursday because I did something stupid, so I asked for it.

If someone is needy all the time, that person may burn out the people around her. Recall the energy vampire described in an earlier post. But I believe it is possible to be needy on occasion without breeding resentment and friendship fatigue. According to my newly developed theory of human relationships, Neediness + Reciprocity = True Friendship.

I haven’t been back to the park since that day–I’m a little car shy–but when I do, I’m hoping I’ll bump into Ms. Good Neighbour. Now that I know her name, this friendship may take off, especially once she tastes my baked goods.

Which leads to my second theory of human relationships: Appreciation x Unsolicited Baked Goods = Undying Devotion. You know it’s true.

The things Dutch people say

Small car in deep snow

Yesterday, J. headed out on a day-long field trip, leaving Jelly and me to get into trouble on our own. And so we did.

Soon after J.’s departure, Jelly and I drove to the park to see our friends. Do you know that experience of realizing, as you’re doing something, that you’ve made a terrible mistake? An impulsive expensive purchase you know you’ll need to return, or an order of pasta when you know you’d prefer the burger and fries? Imagine how I felt when I parked in our usual parking lot at the off-leash area, which is down a small slope. I immediately questioned whether my car would get stuck in the deep slush when I tried to leave.

The answer to this question could wait. First, we were there to walk. Jelly had a great romp with her buddies, and I couldn’t delay our return to the car any longer. A client would be at my office within the hour, so I had to leave.

I could tell you that hindsight is 20/20 vision. My Dutch friends have a better way of expressing this sentiment. “Afterward, it is easier to look the cow in the ass.” Had I only noticed the cow, I would have not risked entering that parking lot.

Somehow missed the cow. In my attempts to drive out, I circled and circled and circled the lot, my tires unable to grip anything through the slush. A kind woman I walk with occasionally, Ms. Good Neighbour, took the wheel and gave up in no time. I parked my car in the lot again and Ms. Good Neighbour drove Jelly and me home in time for my client. I’d deal with my predicament later in the day.

Following my client, I contacted my friends, Drs. Basset, who happened to be on staycation this week. Faster than a speeding bullet, they jumped into action, driving me back to the park. One friend got behind the wheel while I pushed the car with the other. Let’s be honest: if it were between me and another person to push a car, I’d choose anyone over me anytime. Anyone over 12, at least. I am a self-proclaimed weakling. For the final stretch, I got behind the wheel while my very strong friends pushed. Thanks to their brute strength, my car was back on the road in no time.

When I first contacted them, my friends could have refused to help, telling me I’d have to get myself out of my own mess. In a situation like this, the Dutch say, “When you burn your butt, you need to sit on the blisters.” That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think? Still, I can’t disagree.

All’s well that ends well for me. I have promised Drs. Basset my best Dutch baked goods in thanks. Upon their first bite, I’m expecting they’ll say, “It’s like an angel is peeing on my tongue.” A true Dutch compliment couched in divine urine. I won’t forget Ms. Good Neighbour. as well Hopefully she won’t liken my baking to the taste of peeing angels, unless she too is Dutch, in which case I’ll take it as a compliment.


The Syrians are coming! The Syrians are coming!

Over the holidays, I was seated beside a lovely fellow at a get together. Out of nowhere, he said he didn’t understand why Muslim women had to wear head coverings now that they were living in Canada. “They should dress more like us,” he said. Then, to my alarm, he added, “We won’t be able to tell if they are terrorists.” Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that.

I challenged him politely, suggesting I thought everybody should be able to choose the way they dressed. Maybe I was too polite, though, because he then asked me if I agreed with him. I fumbled. I didn’t want to offend someone I’d known for a long time and would likely see again, but I strongly disagreed, and told him so. The conversation was unsettling.

I frequently interact with Muslim women wearing traditional garb in my day-to-day life. They may be students at the university who pet Jelly during her visits, or professional women, or moms shopping with their children at the grocery store. I’ve never worried that they were terrorists because of the way they were dressed. Why would I? We’re all more similar than different.

Thank goodness my unsettling experience was followed by a quick counterexample. Thank goodness I volunteered at Canadian Blood Services on New Year’s Day. For weeks now, the volunteers had been reminded that a large group of recent Syrian immigrants would be donating blood that day for the first time in Canada.

When I arrived, the clinic was hopping. I’ve never seen it so busy. Syrians filled every donor bed. Giving blood is ingrained in the Syrian culture because of all the political unrest: when they were back home, they never knew when a sister or child or friend might need blood, so they gave just in case. They may have donated blood regularly in Syria, but they were out of practice since their arrival here.

The Syrian group was accompanied by a bevy of interpreters to ensure they understood the process. There was genuine warm camaraderie amongst the (mostly) men. It was a social outing for them, a time to hang out with friends. I couldn’t understand their language, but it looked like some donors were being chided by the others for being nervous. Each donor had the company of a friend or two to chat with while he gave. We volunteers were to provide refreshments to these donors after they’d finished donating.

I am pleased to report I didn’t spot one terrorist among the group. These were warm, friendly fellows who seemed happy to be there that day and grateful for the chance to socialize with fellow Syrians. Whatever stresses they’d surely endured since arriving in Canada seemed irrelevant for that short time. They were simply enjoying the company of compatriots.

I wasn’t the greatest volunteer that day. I was too busy tearing up. I was astounded by the generosity of this group of newcomers. It was quite a sight to see such a crowd making an effort to give back to the country that had welcomed them. Know that I’ll gladly take your blood if I need it, Syrians. I, for one, thank you for donating.

Nurse with Syrian blood donor making peace sign as he donates

New Year, Same Old Me

Typewriter with paper typed: New Year, Chapter One

Have you noticed I’ve been quiet on the blogging front? You know my motto: If I don’t have anything to say, I don’t say anything at all. I wanted to come up with a compelling post that would provide inspiration for the year ahead, but I drew a blank. I decided to wait until inspiration struck.

I can’t come up with a decent New Year’s resolution, despite asking everyone around me for their resolutions so I could steal their ideas. I envy people who say, “I don’t make resolutions.” Why do I get caught up in this absurdity every year?

In 2017, I had resolved to be happy with myself the way I was. You’d have to ask J. how successful I was at this goal; I’m not the best judge. Nonetheless, I intend to reinstate the self-acceptance resolution again this year. Let’s assume I am the best me I can be at this time, and that I’ll do what I can to maintain that me going forward. I’ll take care of my body, be kind to myself and others, and stop apologizing for my existence. The third one will be the most challenging for me.

But I can’t merely recycle old resolutions; I have to add something new, so here it is: I hereby resolve to jump off the health-catastrophizing bandwagon. No more making deadly mountains out of molehills. If my body is off, I’ll assume it will right itself rather than concluding my death is imminent. I’ll focus on living rather than dying. It’s only taken me 5 years (18 if we count all those other ugly health issues) to consider addressing this issue.

Rather than viewing bad news as deadly, I’ll consider it a blip. Blips pass. I anticipate setbacks, especially when one of my doctors expresses concern, but I can manage this. I’ve got all the tools in my psychologist’s toolbox; it’s time I apply them more consistently to my own life. My new mantra is, “Who, me? Worry?”

Plus, when my mind turns to the death monologue, I’ll remind myself of all that contradictory evidence. This past year, I’ve been healthier by all objective standards than I have been since my leukemia diagnosis in 2012. I’ve had no hospitalizations, no blood transfusions, and no major medical issues. Even the health challenges I’ve had have been manageable.

I’ve been remarkably stable for someone with leukemia and all that other ugly stuff. I am truly the picture of living well despite cancer. Sure, I brought a virus back from Israel, but it passed. At least the virus had the good sense not to interfere with my trip. I would have been angry if it had.

In the future, when I start thinking of my impending death, I’ll have to remind myself of how strong and healthy I’ve been. I am not going down without a fight. My body is in a good place to overcome whatever health challenges come its way. And if I fall off the anxiety-free horse, I trust you will be there to hoist me back up. Thanks for that.

Happy New Year. May you resolve to be happy in 2018. That’s all that really matters.


This is Annie reporting from my new headquarters

Thank goodness Christmas is over. I’m exhausted. J. tells me she couldn’t distinguish my snoring from Jelly’s last night, and Jelly is quite the snorer. I must have been loud.

I am writing to you from my new office. Since I donated my basement desk to the woman cave a while back, I have not had a place to park myself. I have been writing at the dining room table or on the couch. For months I’ve been talking about adding a small desk to my yoga room so I could reclaim a office space of my own. Every writer needs a place to write, doesn’t she?

I’ve been looking for a small desk that would fit in the room while still leaving space for a downward dog, and a live dog, or two. I had found the perfect one and planned to secure it after Christmas. It would be my holiday present to myself.

But let’s go back a few weeks, when I dared to visit our basement, only to see a threatening sign on the guest bedroom door:

Sign on door: STOP, NO ENTRY ALLOWED, Santa's workshop is closed, This means YOU!!!, Yeah you!! Any violations will result in ALL gifts being returned to point of purchase. So there, Bah humbugI may be Jewish, but isn’t Santa’s workshop in the North Pole? Now he has branch offices? Out of fear for my life, I heeded the threat and I did not enter. I assume the threat was intended for me; it sounded more like something J. would say than Santa, with good reason. I am not trustworthy in situations like these.

On Christmas Eve day, J. went downstairs with her computer to work. I knew she had a few upcoming weddings but, two hours later, I was questioning what was taking her so long. She came upstairs for scissors at one point. Did I need to introduce her to the cut-and-paste functions in her word-processing program? Then I heard what sounded like hammering, piquing my curiosity.

On Christmas morning, I woke up and showered, and then we opened our modest gifts to one another. The gifts were carefully chosen and perfect. Oddly enough, I unwrapped nothing that required assembly.

J. often thinks I’m so spacey that I don’t notice things–so what if a full 24 hours had passed before I spied the outdoor Christmas decorations she’d hung this year?–but I do notice. Why was Santa’s workshop off limits? Where was Santa’s handiwork? It wasn’t adding up.

In fact, when I exited the shower that morning, I spied the work of Santa’s labour in my office-to-be. I decided to pretend not to see the gift until much later that day. On closer inspection, she’d bought the exact desk I’d wanted, although I’d never shown her a picture. She is psychic. It fits perfectly. I’ll still have room for my yoga mat and even a dog bed, if Jelly chooses to grace me with her presence.

Later in the day, I was forced to enter this room to grab something, and I feigned surprise at my discovery. (It turns out I had heard drilling, not hammering.) Unable to delay acknowledgement of my subterfuge, I immediately confessed that I’d found the desk hours earlier. So J., despite what you may think, I do notice lots of things. But I thought a little torturous delay might be fun. Indeed it was.

Shot of office desk with chair, dog mat with dog on it, and yoga mat



Sorry you didn’t get my Christmas card

Picture of Ebenezer Scrooge

I think I’ve been a great Jewish sport this Christmas season. I’ve taken in the Christmas lights. I’ve welcomed the tree in our living room, which J. insists on decorating herself. I’ve wrapped J.’s gifts in Christmas paper, and placed them under the tree. Not once did I complain about the Christmas music everywhere. That is a Christmas miracle.

Last night I even participated in the most festive of Christmas events: I attended A Christmas Carol, an annual sold-out play in town. Thanks to the kindness of our dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Generous, J. and I enjoyed the live production for the first time.

Thankfully J. explained the story to me before we left. As a child, she had watched the movie on television every Christmas Eve. She didn’t believe me when I told her I had no idea who this Scrooge character was, or how he’d gotten so humbuggy.

I’d have been lost without J.’s excellent synopsis. I was captivated by the music and the dancing, and, in this one evening, my Christmas spirit grew three sizes. I was so inspired that next year, I may attend the Calgary Philharmonic’s annual sing-along Messiah. Hallelujah!

There is one Christmas task I have utterly failed this year, however. Early in December, J. began writing out our Christmas cards. Antiprocrastinator that she is, she set a clear deadline for me to contribute my good wishes before sending them off. Otherwise, she’d mail them without my contribution.

If I’m honest with you, I dread the Christmas card ritual every year. As a Jew, I hadn’t had a lot of practice with this task. Completing the cards was last on my list this December. That fateful weekend, I had Christmas baking to do and you know, from a recent post, how much mental energy that involves. We were celebrating Hanukah, and that involved latkes and menorahs and gifts. I was busy with other things that mattered to me, and the cards slipped my mind.

The day after the deadline, I remembered and asked J. for the cards. Of course, she’d already sent them. That’s fair. (Parenting 101: Set an expectation only if you plan to follow through.) Frankly I was relieved. I’ve decided my Christmas gift to myself is never writing another Christmas card.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching since that fateful day (not really, but I am trying to sound remorseful here). Am I a bad person? Do I not nurture my friendships enough? Of course I care about all of you, but a Christmas card is not my preferred way of communicating this. I never know what to say, so I write the same trite thing on every card.

As it is, three or so times per week all year, I burden you with the endless minutiae of my life. You are kind enough to follow along. You must know I’m grateful for your friendship now and always, but whatever I write in a Christmas card won’t convey that adequately. Trust your value to me.

And so, because this is the best I can do, I wish you a Merry Christmas x 3, and a Happy New Year. Be healthy, be happy, and find joy in the every day. I plan to.

Sometimes the doctor does know best

This morning, I had my planned 6-month review with Dr. Foie Gras. I had seen the doctor last month when he performed my annual upper scope, when I get to experience the glory of sedation. Since I slept through that visit, it wasn’t a great time for us to catch up.

Today I was fully alert, and I was blessed with both the doctor and a wonderful student (fellow? resident? I don’t know for sure, but we’ll call him Dr. F.G. Wannabe who was calm and self-assured. His questions were spot on and he inspired confidence. J. liked him because he looked to her for her input.

We addressed a number of issues, including the fact that Dr. F.G.’s young son will soon be crawling. Oh yes, and my recent liver unhappiness, which seems to be resolving without intervention and causes him no concern. I pointed out the significant weight loss since the last appointment, a good reminder that no one else scrutinizes my weight as much as I do.

We also spoke of the findings of his recent scope, which were largely positive. Nonetheless, he decided there was a need for a follow up next month. Over the past several years, each scope has revealed a pancreatic rest. Let me tell you my layperson’s understanding of what this is, in case you don’t know. Some wayward cells from my pancreas have taken up residence in my stomach, where they’ve been resting for some time now, and although their appearance is unchanged, the doctor wants an internal ultrasound and biopsy done “just to be sure”. My low level of platelets will necessitate a platelet transfusion immediately prior to the procedure, so I don’t bleed excessively from the little snip snip. If you have any platelets to spare, I could use them January 24. I lost a few nights’ sleep over this procedure when I first booked it, but Dr. F.G.’s explanation has reassured me.

At some point in the visit, Dr. Wannabe completed a manual exam, which included his fondling my one-of-a-kind spleen. The doctor was poking around, trying to figure out how my organs were doing that day, and I started whining. “Ouch, that hurts!” I said. He responded, “It shouldn’t hurt there.”

What could be more patronizing? A doctor I’ve never met before tells me that my tender abdomen shouldn’t hurt? It’s not his body; how would he know? But then I thought about it for a minute. My abdomen wasn’t the only thing that was hurting; the rest of my body was sore too.

Then I had an insight. I had forgotten, as the doctor was manipulating my belly, that I’d attended a killer Pilates class the day prior. Every week, I undergo 60 minutes of torture. I never know which body parts are going to hurt the next day. The teacher, who has a striking likeness to Mr. Rogers, except for the sadistic streak, upped the ante yesterday because the gym will be closed next week. Maybe he was preemptively preparing us for our overindulgence over the holiday.

Turns out the wise doctor was right: my pain had nothing to do with his manual exam. Needless to say, I skipped my planned workout today. God forbid I should strain my abdomen any more than I already have.

Pilates movement outline--abdominal crunch