The extra vertebrae in my back along with their respective degenerative disks cried out in pain. The terrain was a glorified walk of only 2 miles with no altitude gain. And while my backpack was not light, I had carried far heavier far further far higher in my past. I expected my back to hurt but even my legs were getting a bit wobbly by the second mile. My dog paused obediently whenever I had to stop for a few seconds to catch my breath but she looked at me expectantly. She had cardiac damage from heart worms and she was kicking my butt. What the hell happened to me? I used to be able to do far more physically.
I recalled an email from another student who was also older than the average student. In it he counseled me, "Man, stay in shape now while you still can or med school hours WILL damage your
health." It seems that it had indeed taken its toll on my physical health. But sitting on a rock, petting my lone and faithful furry hiking companion, med school may have taken some toll, but I was stupid to think it was just that. I laughed grimly at myself. What had happened to me? I really had to ask such a question of myself? Life had kicked the ever living shit out of me. Physically, mentally and emotionally. That's what happened to my body.
And while I reflexively resolved to get myself back into shape with some gung-ho enthusiasm, I immediately tempered that with realism. Be a bit more forgiving towards myself. That's great to get back into shape, but first, I must endure. And enduring metaphysically is the ultimate goal for me right now and that's ok. That philosophy of life has served me well.