Crossing Over to the Other Side

crutches-350x350[1]I blamed Tae Kwon Do for the broken foot and bum knee. I told myself I’d be all right If I did an alternate exercise.

Not so.

I’ve learned that I’ve reached the age where you don’t fight through pain. You respect it. Pain means I stop what I’m doing and alter my workout. If not, I’m likely to be using crutches.

A couple of weeks ago, I could feel a twinge in my knee every time I took a step. It wasn’t from Tae Kwon Do. I hadn’t returned to Tae Kwon Do since I broke my foot last year. I thought I could walk myself right through the pain and come out the other side where it would feel better and I would be the stronger for it.

Yeah, right.

By the end of my workday, I could barely hobble to my car.

At home, Jody got me a broom to use as a crutch. The thought of walking upstairs or downstairs was too much. I wanted to fly up those steps. You miss being healthy the most when you’re not healthy.

182[1]Saturday morning, I was TRIA’s first customer. I told Jody I could drive myself. I knew once the receptionist saw me coming in the door that I’d be placed in a wheelchair. I put the broom in the back seat of the car just in case I needed it to get from the car to the door of the clinic.

A knee brace, steroid shot, and a pair of crutches later, I shuffled out of TRIA.

Lesson learned. It wasn’t Tae Kwon Do. It wasn’t the Boot Camp at YMCA. It was me who had crossed over to where the truism, “No Pain, No Gain” wasn’t true anymore.

I’m still learning lessons. I went to the YMCA to see what I could do with my newfound knowledge of respecting pain. I went from machine to machine. If it hurt, then I tried something else. Finally, I found what I was looking for—a cardio machine that is similar to skating and skiing that allows you to prepare for all sports that require lateral movement in your legs. I would have been okay had I stopped there. There was a diagram on the machine that showed how you could do squats at the same time as your lateral movement.

The next day, I felt as if I was kicked in the side by a horse. Now, I limped and I couldn’t straighten up.

You don’t miss health as much as when you don’t have it.

Well, there’s swimming. If I don’t drown.

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It’s Not An Old Lady’s YMCA Anymore

3cb050fafa80ad3bf2fe1d84831c62e6[1]Maybe it never was. The last time I was there was over 12 years ago when the kids were eight months old. Even then all I wanted was to go sit someplace that wasn’t our home with them. But, they’d never let me leave the nursery. Bawling, grasping at me, I became content to sit with my back against the wall while they played with toys that weren’t theirs. That was no reason to keep a Y membership.

A few months ago, Jody and I returned and bought a family membership. I had broken my foot in Tae Kwon Do and thought that I should check out other alternatives.

Today, it’s not the treadmills, ellipticals, row machines, all Motion Trainers, stair steppers, cardio machines and more that keep me coming back.

It’s the Boot Camp class. I can’t keep up with anyone. I’m the old lady trying to beat the other old lady in the gym who is wearing a pink shirt and who has declared that she is 70 years old. Forty others are also in this class doing the same rugged workout of sports drills, weights, jumping rope, boxing, circuits, and interval training.

I’m always happy when the class is over. I’ve survived. I’ve made it.

All shapes, sizes, and ages are welcomed at the Y. This makes it comfortable for me. Even though I’m chasing down the old woman in pink.

I wonder if this was the way the Y always was? Or did it evolve like those bawling eight-month-olds who are now 13?

I’m glad I found my way back. I’ll be staying.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m OK with No Pain or Gain

After watching a movie like Unbroken or reading a book like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, I try to imagine how I would cope with ongoing physical hardship. Would I be able to endure it? I hope that if my life depended on it, I could summon the strength. But who am I kidding?!? I’m a wimp. That’s why the psychology of physical toughness fascinates me. What drives people to push past pain in the name of sport?

I’d like to think that I have mental toughness. I’ve faced down situations that were emotionally and mentally challenging. Generally, I’m calm in a crisis. But I’m the last person who would seek out physical challenges.

Hike 10 miles uphill on a tough Rocky Mountain trail? Well, maybe if I were lost and that was the only way to find civilization. And civilization included a lengthy massage and fine cuisine.

Take a 75-mile bike ride? In my case, that would take days, not hours. Perhaps if I was guaranteed to win an all-expense paid trip for two to Paris I could push myself to do it.

Run a marathon? As in pounding the pavement, sweaty and delirious for 26 miles? I can’t imagine what would drive me to run that long. Even if a rabid mother bear was chasing me, I gotta think she’d get tired after a mile or two. And I would have collapsed and the bear would be snacking on me, so perhaps that’s not a good example.

I’m not knocking athletic efforts.

I know a number of runners, hikers, distance bikers, and others who like nothing better than testing their mettle. I admire their ambition and focus, but I truly don’t get what makes the hardship appealing.

sitting on rock by lakeAs soon as I’m panting and my muscles are burning, I think, This isn’t any fun. Why am I doing this? I don’t have to prove anything to anybody.

I’m curious about the psychology of endurance.

The will to stay alive drove Louis Zamperini to endure horrible conditions. Cheryl Strayed was troubled and her self-imposed hardships were a way of gaining perspective and finding peace. If sheer survival or recovering from emotional trauma isn’t the motivating force, what drives distance runners, bikers, hikers, and other endurance athletes?

Fitness? That’s certainly a worthy goal, but you can be fit with a whole lot less effort than what’s required to train for and run a marathon. Plenty of people (like me) just work out or take an exercise class. I exercise because it’s good for weight control and my overall health, but aside from the health benefits, most of it isn’t that enjoyable to me.

City walking--my favorite exercise

City walking–my favorite exercise

Pleasure? I’ve read that runners, hikers, bikers and others who practice endurance sports get into a groove and experience a mental high. At some point the pain of exertion must diminish. I assume the sport must begin to feel good. I’ll have to trust you on that, since it’s never happened to me!

Certainly, the view you’d see after hiking to a mountain’s summit would be breathtaking. Maybe someday I’ll actually find out . . . but whenever I’ve hiked in the hills (and really, we’re only talking about a few miles at the most), I spent most of my time looking at the trail and figuring out where to place my feet so I wouldn’t trip over a rock or twist my ankle.

Looking down

Trail in New Mexico

 

A sense of accomplishment? Obviously. If I could do any of the endurance sports I’ve mentioned, I’d be proud of myself. Is the sense of accomplishment enough to sustain you and drive you while you’re training? Because I have so little experience with it, I’m curious about people who say, Yeah I hurt, but I’m gonna get up tomorrow and hurt some more.

Maybe my klutziness has prevented me from discovering the joy of physical hardship. I can walk . . . and well, walk. If I sneeze while walking I have to come to a full stop to blow my nose. I can’t do both at once. I’ve never been great at any sport, let alone the ones that call for endurance. Perhaps if I weren’t so awkward, I’d begin to enjoy sports and then doing A LOT of something would seem fun.

For now, I’ll stick with my basic exercise—walking a few miles daily and doing yoga. But I’ll be cheering on all of you serious athletes and liking your Facebook photos of cool accomplishments. Athleticism is a nice place to visit even if I don’t want to live there.

Cat on a Walk

Silver, getting suited up for his walk.

Silver

Antonio stood at the door, a clipboard in his hand. “Would you like to buy a wreath from Boy Scouts?”

The man holding the door abruptly stepped outside and side-stepped around Antonio.

“Ssssh. Quiet. Stay still.” He crouched into a linebacker pose.

I watched from where I stood a few feet away.

The man was advancing slowly forward. He looked as if he was going to make a move.

I glanced to the side of his house. Suddenly, I understood. “That’s our cat,” I said.

“Really?” His body taut, still ready to pounce. He clearly didn’t believe me.

“Yes. He’s on a walk with us.”

“Really?” He wasn’t yet ready to give up snaring the cat.

“Yes. We live a few blocks over.”

Resigned, he stood up straight. “Someone said they were missing a cat that looks just like that.”

Rosie, Silver, and Oreo

Rosie, Silver, and Oreo in Donaldson Park

“No, that’s our cat,” I repeated.

Antonio came down the steps and turned to walk towards the next house. “Here, Silver. Here, boy.”

I caught up to him.

“Did you see that?” Antonio whispered. “He was going to take our cat.”

“Yeah, I did.” I looked at Silver a few respectful paces away. I studied him. “He looks homeless,” I said. “He doesn’t have a collar.”

Jody, Antonio, Crystel, and I are responsible cat owners. We take our cats in for their checkups. They have all their shots. They are also outdoor cats. We put collars on them when they were kittens. That didn’t go so well.

Oreo waiting for us.

Oreo waiting for us.

For the past six months Silver and/or Oreo have gone on walks with us. I first noticed it on a May morning when I was walking the dogs. Silver followed us up Morgan Avenue, down 73rd, all around Donaldson Park and back down 73rd and then Morgan Avenue to our home.

What to do? I gave him a treat just like I gave the dogs.

One of Antonio and Crystel’s chores this summer was to walk the dogs each day. More often than not, Silver and Oreo – his sister, accompanied them.

Sometimes, cars will stop and ask us if that’s our cat(s) following us. “Yes, we’re on a walk,” we’ll reply.

Adults with children will stop to pet the cats and/or dogs.

But, until now, we weren’t worried about the cats appearing to be homeless.

Orea and Buddy in-between walks

Oreo and Buddy in-between walks

Antonio and I continued knocking on doors. The further we went from our street the more Silver meowed. I understood. We were going further and further from his territory. His territory was east of Morgan not west where we were.This was confirmed when a woman said, “I haven’t seen that cat around here before.”

“No, that’s our cat. He’s on a walk with us,” I replied.

“That explains it,” she said.

I can’t say that we sold more wreaths by having Silver with us.

The next day all three outdoor cats had collars on whether they wanted them or not.

They’re our cats. They have a home.

 

 

My MCL Sprain is Trying to Age Me

Years ago before I was a black belt and the children were young

Years ago before I was a black belt and before the children were 2nd Dan

It’s become this independent burning sensation on the inner part of my knee.
Oh, there it is, I’ll say, when I feel it. Then I’ll take an ibuprofen.
I’ve Googled, What is that burning? Does that mean my MCL is healing? Or, that it’s getting worse? An MCL sprain is a nag.
I didn’t listen to the nag in Tae Kwon Do even though I felt a twinge in my knee that told me to take it easy. I’m not that old, I said to myself. I’ll kick my way through it. And, besides, at that point it was just a minor annoyance. I didn’t ice my knee after class because my knee would be okay the next day just like it always was.

My former self.

My former self with Jody.

The next morning, I almost fell getting out of bed. I couldn’t bear my weight. Without warning I was transported to my chronological age of 56 year(s), 6 month(s), and 2 day(s).
I hobbled for weeks before I went to the doctor.
I wanted to know if I was injuring myself beyond repair for not listening to the nag and I wanted the medical term for what was badgering me.
An MCL injury is a sprain or tear to the medial collateral ligament. The MCL is a band of tissue on the inside of your knee.
I refuse to let my MCL age me.
11034339_10205241803538815_4078779682495764301_oI’ve continued to kick at Tae Kwon Do (just maybe a little slower, a little lower and a little more carefully).

I stood all night long as a Police Reserve Officer at a middle school dance (well, maybe I sat for a moment on the bleachers in the darkened gym).

I still walked 3 miles at lunch time, (okay, a few times I turned around because I didn’t think that I could walk through the pain).
Sometimes, I don’t appreciate my health until it diminishes. Then all I want is to be returned to my former self. And then I read a Facebook post about someone who has it a lot worse than me. That is where I presently am. Feeling the burn, taking ibuprofen. Putting it into perspective.