Weighty Matters

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Simple Joy of Walking

A couple of days ago, I had the first of three Euflexxa injections in my right knee.  The goal is that the substance will replace at least some of the natural material that provides a cushion between some of the bones in my knee joint.  On one side of the knee, that natural material is pretty much gone and the bones above and below are “kissing”.  I’m scheduled for two additional shots, administered at one week intervals.  Getting the injections doesn’t cause pain; maybe just a twinge of discomfort after the topical numbing spray wears off.  The post-shot care calls for icing the knee several times a day for a couple of days and restricted activity.

So, I did only minor walking and no Tai Chi.  Today, since it was now a full 48 hours post-shot, I wanted to walk a little further than I have been, mostly for the benefit of my dogs.  The twice-daily walks are as important to their well-being as they are to mine.

I’m happy to say that the walk was one of the most comfortable ones I’ve enjoyed in the last month.  I believe I’ve mentioned that, in addition to the chronic knee pain, I’ve also been suffering a bout of plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  Right knee, left foot — yep, walking has been a chore when every step hurts.

I hate to complain.  When I do, I think of all of the military veterans who have suffered devastating injuries in the war and are now home having lost limbs, among other things.  Sure, my left heel and my right knee hurt, but hey, at least I have a left heel and a right knee.  Every Monday night, I’m inspired by veteran Noah Galloway and his presence and performances on Dancing With the Stars.   One of his legs was amputated above the knee.  One of his arms was amputated above the elbow.   If he can train, practice and perform with those challenges, I can certainly walk without whining.

Before I had weight loss surgery, I could barely walk a long block without breathing heavy.  Stairs made my heart pound.  If I had to walk too much or otherwise be on my feet for significant periods in a day, I’d need ice packs and 800 mgs of Ibuprofen to recover at night.  Even when I stretched out in bed, my legs sometimes jerked or trembled from the trauma of simple activity.

After the surgery, the doctor said get up and walk.  I was on my feet and trundling down the hall a couple of hours after I got out of the recovery room.  Yes, I was accompanied by a nurse the first few trips, and I had to roll my IV pole along with me, but I did it.  Maybe not far, but it was a start.  Every walk I took over the next day or so in the hospital, I made sure to go a little further.

Once I got home, I walked a little each day of my recovery and, gradually, added steps.  That was the foundation to which I added more distance over time.

More than the physical activity, I grew to enjoy the pleasure of taking a walk.  It’s not just the surroundings, or the simplicity of the exercise.  I began to revel in the simply enjoying that I was capable of walking at all, compounded by going any distance and, in some cases, pushing myself in the occasional 5K event.

There are other exercises that I enjoy.  I loved Zumba when I did it, but needed to give it up because of the risk of really messing up my knee more than its existing arthritic condition.  I love riding my bike, too.  I also derive great pleasure and peace from regularly practicing my Tai Chi.

But there is something so complete, so wonderful, about walking.  I didn’t realize how much I missed being able to do so comfortably until today, when my knee felt better and I’ve also resolved most of the heel pain of the plantar fasciitis.

In marketing terms, I’d say that I get a great return on the investment of my time and effort when I walk.

In regular terms, I’ll just revel in the feeling of simple joy.

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Creaky and Cranky

Day two of the lean-green-clean effort is pretty much a wrap.  I had another strong day of recovery eating-wise.  I’m working the tools by planning and preparing, doing readings, engaging in some spiritual reflection, and regularly giving myself pep talks.  I’m not, however, going great guns on my exercise.

You’ve all heard me whine often enough about my right knee with the considerable osteoarthritis.  I just got my tax refund back so tomorrow I’m calling the orthopedic doctor I was examined by last year and scheduling the two remaining shots on his suggested treatment.  I sure hope it helps because I know that my knee is worse than it was.

Worse or not, I can function and stay active with it as is, but what’s hampering my activity level right now is the heel pain I frequently experience in my left foot.  I haven’t been to a doctor yet about it, but I’m familiar with the symptoms and am 100% confident in my self-diagnosis of plantar fasciitis.  When I first get out of bed or stand up after sitting at my desk for a while, it’s almost comical how much I hobble for about a dozen steps.  That’s how long it takes for the knee to loosen up and the tendons, etc. to stretch out in my foot.  The heel pain comes and goes but when it’s aggravated, every step nearly makes me wince.

There are things I try to remember to do, such as stretching exercises before I get out of bed or while I’m sitting.  I wear some comfy slip-on sneaks more often right now because of the cushy protection for the heel and the better arch.  I’m a big baby about having to wear shoes instead of flip flops.  I know the doctor would also tell me to not go barefoot.  Silly as it might be, I hate wearing any kind of footwear in the house and can’t quite bring myself to take this next healing step, as it were.

I hope that with the little treatments, stretches, some occasional over the counter meds to reduce inflammation, and at least wearing sneaks more frequently than I normally do, the plantar fasciitis flare-up will go away.  It did before.  In the meantime, when the foot doesn’t hurt, or doesn’t hurt horribly, I walk.  If I’m experiencing a lot of pain, I’m not a masochist.  I take things a little easier.  So far, even with heel pain, I can handle the pivots and steps that are part of Tai Chi.

I also try to not whine too much, even too myself.  After all, it’s only an arthritic knee and an inflamed foot.  There are worse physical problems I could have.

Do any of you watch Dancing with the Stars?  One of the celebrity contestants this season is a military veteran named Noah Galloway.  During his service in the war, he lost one of his legs above the knee and one of his arms above the elbow.  Let me have a cougar moment and tell you that the man is totally hot and ripped.  Go ahead and Google his image and you’ll see.  He’s also quite the dancer!  Every week I watch him and am inspired.  I’m so grateful to him that he put himself out there in the public eye and goes for it week after week after week.

I’ve seen Noah in person.  I’ve met numerous other veterans who have undergone truly horrible injuries.  My knee and my heel are nothing to complain about.  Not when there are men and women who deal with lost limbs and more.

When working to recover, it’s important for me to keep things in perspective.  For me, right now, that means not indulging too much in my creaky crankiness.

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