Restoration of the Body by Anonymous
The contributor of the following article is a 30-year-old attorney living in Massachusetts who loves all team sports, jazz, blues, camping, and hiking. He first experimented with cannabis when he was eighteen, near the end of his freshman year at a small liberal arts college. We are instructed on stretching our bodies, and our minds.
I awake on Sunday morning, and I feel fine, until I try to roll onto my side. My entire body aches, forcing me to stretch the process of standing up into a two- or three-minute process. All of my large muscle groups are inflamed and so tight that it feels as if they might snap free from my bones. My rib cage is tender, so that coughing and laughing are painful. It is difficult to avoid excruciating leg cramps as I move to a standing position.
Yesterday had been the first day I had played rugby since the prior year’s alumni game, and despite my efforts to tune up my aging frame during the previous months, I could not have prepared myself for the contact and the intensely physical nature of the sport. Although I had faithfully administered a healthy dose of ale at the party which immediately followed the game in an effort to reduce the pain and inflammation, this strategy only served to provide a brief hiatus fro the groaning complaints of my aching muscles. The hangover and accompanying headache were now extracting their payment for the respite for which I had bargained.
I walk slowly to the refrigerator and drink a quart of water. I then hobble into the backyard with a roach I have poached from my host’s ashtray. I ease myself onto the grass, and I take just one or two long puffs. Almost instantly, my head stops pounding. I begin to appreciate the rhythmic sounds of nature, and I focus on breathing deeply. At this point, the only thing I want to do is to loosen up my aching body, each part of which is clamoring for individualized attention. All other concerns fall away from me.
I draw myself up to a yoga-like position with straight back and feet drawn in, and this prompts me to take stock of my physical state. While I continue to be so sore that standing up would be a major chore, I now am certain that I will be able to find my way out of this extreme discomfort through a careful stretching routine. I begin to sort out those areas which were most traumatized from those which are simply tight. My proprioceptive powers are enhanced, allowing me to clearly address the pain experienced by each limb. I take inventory, noticing bruises for the first time. I piece together which particular tackle or scrum-down caused the more severe aches and pains. The stiff neck is from the whiplash I experienced when I was sandwiched between two burly forwards. The tender rib cage is from when I ended up on the bottom of the pile made up of ten 200-pound players.
Just a moment before, I was moving as gingerly as possible, trying to avoid moving and stressing my muscles. It is now deeply satisfying to stretch out each large muscle group in turn. I reach far into each stretch, beyond the pain. There are moments when fluorescent colors push into the periphery of my vision as I hold a stretch. I lose awareness of my surroundings as I listen to the blood coursing through my arteries. I am able to intuit when and how to stretch each muscle group, and after perhaps twenty minutes, I gradually move out to the finer muscles of the hands and feet. I massage my hands and feet, my neck and jaw, and a wave of pleasure washes over me as I recognize my body as a unit again instead of as a mob of warring factions. While before my “wake and bake” I had been unable to even begin a stretching motion, I was now limber. I would not be able to play rugby today, but some Frisbee, volleyball or hiking would certainly be in order. Without the herbaceous assistance, even croquet would have been out of the question.
Prior to my stretching routine, I was able to think of very little save the pain I was experiencing. The prospects for the day seemed dim, as my goal was minimizing and avoiding pain rather than enjoying life. Now, the oppression of my body has been lifting, and my mind flits easily to anticipate the tasks and pleasures of the day. I feel very spiritual and in tune with my body and the earth, and I give thanks that I am able to appreciate the day despite the harm which I inflicted upon myself (with the assistance of my fifteen opponents) the day before. When they arise, my friends are slightly annoyed at my chipper outlook, which only reminds them of their own hung-over state. Those among them who have been socialized to believe that the kindest herb is for evening or afternoon consumption only will have a much more prolonged state of discomfort than I experienced.
I am certain that this form of self-medication drastically reduces the amount of recovery time which is required before normal activity may be resumed after over-exerting the body. I tend to “overdo it” regularly, whether on the basketball court, ski slopes, or touch football field, and I have been the unhappy subject of numerous “control” experiments wherein I was forced to cope with severe muscle strain without the benefit of cannabis. Whether the cause was due to a failure in the supply lines or the result of some misdirected, self-imposed period of prohibition, my recovery period was always longer, grumpier, more painful, and more sedentary than it needed to be. I am very wary of beginning the simplest stretch due to the pain I am experiencing. I simply cannot get past the feeling that, if my body is protesting so vehemently I may do damage to it if I try to push it past the pain. No amount of hot showers or Advil can begin to loosen the muscles like a few puffs. Even a trained masseuse would have difficulty untangling my knotted muscles – self-massage is advantageous because of the immediate feedback I get, as well as the sensation of each muscle calling out for the manipulation which will allow it to peaceably co-exist with its neighboring muscles, tendons, and joints.
I should point out that on the second morning after the overexertion, I again awake to extreme soreness and tightness, even if I have gone through the ideal routine as set forth above. While I believe that a couple more puffs would be the most effective means of approaching the day, I may forego these if, for example, a Monday morning meeting looms. In this case, I am able to go through a stretching routine which returns my body to a functioning unit. This stretching process is clearly facilitated by the time I have spent the previous morning. If I had neglected my body by not smoking the previous day I would be every bit as sore as I was the previous morning, and equally unlikely to make it past the pain to get into an effective stretching routine.