COVID-19 AND THE BOWLING BALL

Eli Lasky was a very proud man. He always made sure to keep his body in good shape by working out like a fiend. There wasn’t one day that he wasn’t at the gym. His girlfriend Tamara commented all the time about how chiseled he was. She once said ‘’I’ve never been jealous of other women approaching you, or you flirting with waitresses, but I can’t compete against the gym or mirrors.’’

When Covid-19 rolled into his community, the first call he received was from Stan ‘’The Man’’ Woo, who owned ‘’Woo Hoo 24 Hours.’’ This was the gym that Eli and all the local guys worked out of. Stan called with some disconcerting news ‘’Hey man, they’re closing me down. No gym time while Covid’s around. You’re going to have to work out on your own at home. There’s some pretty good programs online. I heard Peloten and Mirror are excellent, but check out all the online shit, I’m sure you’ll find the right one for you. See you on the other side man.’’

Eli was stunned, it was like his right arm was being detached from his body. The idea of not being around his friends at the gym was hard to swallow. It disrupted the flow of his entire day. He liked having the structure of a regular routine.

Tamara was staying with her elderly parents in Encino, and he was in Palo Alto, so the only way they could communicate was via FaceTime and he missed her. She was worried about her parents as they both had underlying health problems and she was scared about Covid-19 coming near them. She decided to be their care giver until the pandemic was no longer such a major threat. It meant leaving Eli, but their relationship needed a break anyway.

The first few days of no gym meant waking up, going for a run and hitting weights. On his second week of working out, he twisted slightly while he was doing a two hundred and sixty pound lift and he heard his shoulder pop.

It was very tough situation, there was no way he could work out and there was nobody to pop the shoulder back in place. He stopped lifting and couldn’t work out following his normal routine, things sucked.

Tamara called one morning and looked at him in surprise. ‘’Why haven’t you been to the Emerge about your shoulder. Get over to Stanford Health Care and get checked out.’’ Eli didn’t want to tell Tamara that he was nervous about going to a hospital when Covid was everywhere, and just nodded. ‘’Yeah, I’m going to do that this afternoon.’’

When they hung up, Eli looked in the mirror. He had to make a serious decision. Could he handle the pain or should he go to the Hospital. He decided a nap would help him figure things out, so he slowly slid into bed and he fell asleep immediately.

Three hours later, he woke up and made himself dinner. The Hospital visit would have to wait.

Eli was a Physical Education teacher at Henry Gunn High School. Since Covid-19, the school had been closed, but he was grateful to still be receiving a regular paycheck. The fact that his shoulder prevented him from his regular workouts was a problem but he could still run.

It was during a run that Eli stepped off a curb and tumbled down. His shoulder that was injured throbbed more than ever, and his knee for some reason stiffened right up. He tried to stand up and had terrible problems with his balance. Every step he took was beyond painful. The shooting pain from his shoulder was being matched by the sharp painful aches coming from his knee.

Under normal circumstances it would have taken him eight minutes to get to his house on Addison Avenue from where he fell, instead with his injuries it took him almost a half hour.

He drew a bath and after the ordeal of taking off his clothes, he carefully climbed into his bath. He put his head back and submerged himself into the hot water. For a few minutes he felt whole again. He thought about his predicament and what he was going to do, and decided that in the morning, he would put on a brave front and drive to the Hospital.

His plans changed when after an hour in the tub, his leg didn’t want to cooperate in getting out of the bath. He tried to pull himself out, which made it feel like he had a bullet in his shoulder. He tumbled to the floor, and found his cellphone. He dialed the emergency number and asked for help, explaining that he had fallen and was having a very difficult time getting up.

After slowly crawling to his closet and hoisting himself up, Eli was able to put on a pair of Roots Sweatpants and a LA Rams tee shirt, he next made it to his front door which he unlocked. That was the extent of his abilities. He slowly went to the floor and waited.

The Paramedics were exceptional, they got him to the hospital in record time. They took his vitals along the way and his heart and oxygen levels were all good.

He was given a mask in the ambulance and taken to the Emergency ward where he was greeted by a very efficient and officious nurse. She asked a bunch of questions and escorted him to a small room, where he would wait for the Doctor to do an analysis of his predicament.

Eli stayed through the night, and under went a battery of tests. In the morning the Doctor confirmed he had a dislocated shoulder and told him no heavy lifting for at least six weeks and there was a possibility he shouldn’t lift anything heavy for three months. He would refer him to an Orthopedic Specialist who would provide more insightful advice. He gave him a sling to wear. As far as his knee, he had injured his Medial collateral ligament. That meant he would have to put on ice packs on his knee, he would have to wear a brace and keep his leg elevated. He would also be given nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The bottom line was that the Doctor explained that if no surgery was require, and he doubted there would be, it would take about six weeks for the Medial collateral ligment to be healed, but there could be no heavy exercise in the interim.

The Emergency Room Doctor laughed when he said ‘’Whoever your Orthopedic Doctor is going to be, at least you know you’ll be able to stay in a one stop shop, he can look after your shoulder and your knee.’’ Eli didn’t think it was funny.

The uber ride home seemed to take forever but the driver was a very nice woman who insisted on helping him into his house. She guided him through the door even though he was equipped with crutches provided by the hospital for the low cost of two hundred and twenty seven dollars.

Once she left, Eli sat down on the couch and tried to elevate his leg. It was not as simple as he thought it should have been, and he was overwhelmed by the pain. He reached in his pocket and took out the Hydrocodone and Ibuprofen that he was given before he left. He hated taking any kind of pain killer as he was afraid of getting hooked, and he didn’t like the idea of masking the pain. Against his better judgement, he pill popped.

Eli woke up two hours later and managed to make it to his bedroom, he lied down and FaceTimed with Tamara. After telling her all of her problems, all she could do was shake her head. ‘’I’m so sorry Eli, what a mess. My problem is I am in this bubble with my parents and I can’t risk coming in contact with anyone who might have come in contact with people who are around the virus. It sounds like you met with different people at the hospital so I’m really sorry, and I know this sounds cruel but you’re on your own.’’

As he was going to sleep, he thought about calling his Sister, but she was in New York and all that would do is cause her to worry about him. He was on his own.

Over the next few weeks, Eli had a routine, go to the bathroom, shower, look after personal hygiene and go into the kitchen and eat something. In fact during the day, Eli found himself going into the kitchen a lot. He ordered in his food from Trader Joe’s and he always made sure there was a Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie, Chocolate Brooklyn Bubka, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Cups. He also loved Joe’s Key Lime Pie and it was included in every order.

Over a six week period he talked to Tamara at least once a day, things hadn’t changed in terms of status, but at least they kept in touch. He met with Dr. Marder an Orthopedic Specialist. Dr. Marder arranged for a Physiotherapist to visit Eli’s house and work on his shoulder and knee. Each session seemed painful but the Physiotherapist claimed they were making progress.

Life was very different during Covid-19 and Eli felt mentally drained. Sitting around and doing nothing was taking a toll on him. He did get to know the Uber Eats and Door Dash drivers very well.

One day, Eli received an email telling him that the school he worked for was planning on re-opening in September. He felt pressure to get better faster, but he knew it was a pipe dream. He wondered how he would explain his predicament to the principal when he couldn’t walk to a gym class, let alone lead it.

Another few weeks flew by and Eli started to walk without his crutches. His balance slowly came back and the pain in his shoulder, while still present wasn’t close to as bad as it had been.

The best news was ‘’Woo Hoo 24 Hours’’ had reopened. When Dr. Marder said it was okay to go to the gym, with the proper mask and social distancing plan in place Eli was excited.

He arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and Stanley was delighted to see him but looked at him in a very strange way. ‘’Dude, what happened to you, you look like a bowling ball.’’ It was the first time that anybody had commented on his physique. Eli went to the mirror and looked at his distended stomach. He stepped on the scale and felt sick. He had added over forty pounds while in home isolation and without working out.

When Eli tried to get back to a regular routine, he had nothing but trouble. His body and muscles ached and he wasn’t enjoying himself. So, he quit. He stopped going to the gym.

Eli Lasky decided he would work his way back to shape slowly and by himself. When school would start, he would ask to be transferred to a different department till he had lost all his weight.

It was a hard and difficult struggle but Eli did his best everyday. He came to a major realization, the threat of Covid-19 was one of the scariest things he had ever encountered, especially when injured. Not only had it slowed his progress but it was indirectly responsible for him becoming a bowling ball.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.