Since I don’t get the opportunity to play often, I throw everything I have into each outing. I approach each shot as if I must set a pace and placement record. I hit as if I’m still in my teens when I used to play almost daily. NOTE: I’m not in my teens anymore. Duh. My body parts begin registering their complaints at different intervals. My neck is typically the first to raise the white flag as I have (had? I’m still not sure I believe the last “healed” diagnosis I received) herniated disks in there, and this is usually when I begin taking things down a notch or five. And I promise myself I will quit playing soon. But if my neck doesn’t register another complaint, I won’t stop playing soon. Because I lack common sense when it comes to tennis. I love the sport too much to acquiesce when a few body parts have politely requested that I shut it down. I wait for them to insist that I shut it down. My back will cry “Uncle!” but the odd thing about this is that my back doesn’t register its complaint until I bend down to pick up a ball. I don’t realize it’s hurting until then. And I can retrieve the balls without bending down so as to avoid hearing from my back. HA! I don’t hear you, whiner! Now, suck it up! But eventually my neck will register another complaint, and I’m not dumb enough to ignore a second complaint from my neck. I stop playing, and I curse my lack of conditioning, my older body, and my horribly inconsistent approach to exercise. As I leave the court, I begin to tally the pain regions. It usually will appear to be centered around the neck and lower back. So, ok. We can do this. Later in the day, I might raise my arm for some reason or another and notice that it feels …. different. I don’t feel alarmed because it’s not different enough to register much. It is something that catches my attention for a moment. My neck will most likely be the constant source of noticeable pain. My back will probably continue to hurt a little, but it’s not something that I pay a lot of attention to. Then, the night comes. I go to sleep. I don’t sleep long before I wake up and think OH SWEET JESUS WHERE DID ALL THIS PAIN COME FROM?!?!? I masochistically begin cataloguing the body parts that are reporting in with pain. When this process takes too long, I give up and go to the bathroom to retrieve the Advil. Advil assures me that it’s got this. I take it, and try to go back to sleep. I wake up again an hour later. Advil is all, COME ON! That pain was way too much for me to tackle. You’ve got no one but yourself to blame. Put on your big girl panties, and deal. So, I spend the rest of the night in a sleep/wake cycle and curse myself thoroughly. The next morning I google “full body ice bath” but I don’t want to inadvertently put myself into a cryogenic sleep so I abandon that idea. I stare down a day of stupid pain and resolve not to do this to myself again.