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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Not so Happy Knee Year - To Hike or not to Hike - Pain is the Question

Went on an incredible hike on Sunday, 01/03/16....

Into the high desert north of Nambe.... Chimayo Badlands was the name of the hike.

Began with a Spiritual Circle by a cross at the top of a hill..... Hmmmm.....

And went through some of the most beautiful high desert terrain I have ever seen.

Kinda like the scenery from a Spaghetti Western.

Loved the Hike and Love my Hiking Group....

But after making the ascent to the top of the above mesa and sitting down for lunch, I stood up and faced my nemesis.....

Mr. Pain.

Yep - somehow in the course of sitting down and not moving while eating, my Left Knee decided to take its own hike.... to a World I have tried to avoid.

To make a painful story even more painful, I spent the 1st 3 days and nights of this week crippled.  My left knee was incredibly swollen and painful and refused to straighten or bend.... basically locked up with deep bone pain.

So much so that I resorted to taking Tylenol 3s - which are basically Extra Strength Tylenol with Codeine - left over from my painful bone spur removal surgery in July.

I iced the knee, did hard and deep massages to the painful areas on the outside and under the knee cap, forced it to bend and straighten with gritted teeth and shortened gasps and scheduled an Emergency appointment with a local orthopedic guy I had heard good things about - Dr. Brant Bair.

Had an X-ray taken which the good doctor gasped at when he walked in the Exam room.  

"Don't have to get any closer... can see it from across the room... that knee is trashed.  No cartilage, lateral displacement, gross enlargement of the joint..... I'm amazed you're walking on that thing!" 

Sing me a song I haven't heard Doc..... I related Dr. Woods - my surgeon at the Fondren Orthopedic Group - assessment of my knee -

"Your performance with that knee is grossly abnormal".

The Good Dr. Bair seemed to like that.... 

"Ice the knee.... Force it to bend.... Force it to straighten.... Ride a bike" was Dr. Bair's recommendations.

Geez Doc - Thanks - I think I got this.

Realized I was in deep pain shit this week so went to bed early, slept as long as I could, took the pain meds only when I couldn't stand it any longer.... and kept working the knee.

Woke up at 3:00 am this morning in intense pain.... made some hot herbal tea with honey and an open faced pastrami sandwich, took 2 T-3s and forced a set of squats, a set of leg extensions and leg lifts and went back to bed.

Woke up at 7:15 and slid my legs out from under the covers and stood up....

For the first time on a straight left leg with much reduced pain.

Went downstairs and sucked down a pot of strong coffee, took a hot shower, did my stretches and warmup with almost totally restored flexibility and almost no pain, threw on my workout gear and raced to the 9:00 am Anytime Fitness Core Strength and More class.

Did reduced weights on the leg exercises but skipped through the lunges, squats and front squats with ease and relatively no pain.

I was ecstatic.... I was excited... I was like a little kid....I just couldn't quit smiling.

I was so happy to be without Pain.

Which brings me to a point.... or maybe several points so I'll just list them out:
  • While I would never wish Pain on anyone, I do believe that most people would be better off if they were forced to deal with some sort of sustained physical pain at some time in their life because it supports a premise that has become a Life Learning for Me..... You cannot appreciate a Life Without Pain until you have experienced a Life With Pain.  It intensifies your appreciation and gratitude for every minute of every day that is without Pain.  It makes you feel more alive, more in tune with your body and the world around you.  Once you have been in Pain, being without Pain is kinda like being High.
  • It is amazing to me how the Body can restore and heal itself given the proper environment of sufficient sleep and recuperation, nutrition and prudent and knowledgeable use of recovery techniques including icing, stretching, massage, forced range of movement and yes - drugs such as NSAIDs and Pain Relievers.
  • One of the reasons I moved to Santa Fe was to experience the incredible diversities of terrain and environment this region holds.  The best way to explore this incredible resource is by hiking and the best kind of hiking is with a group led by a knowledgeable guide.  I have this with the Santa Fe Hiking Social Meetup Group.  I love to hike..... but I've come to realize that it's just something I can't do anymore.... at least not now.... my knee just won't take it and after the 3 days and nights of intense pain I went through..... No hike and No amount of social interaction is worth it.
I like walking too much.... and ironically the brief but intense CrossFit style workouts at Praxis and the Boot Camp style Core Strength and More class and the PIYO Strength classes at Anytime Fitness don't hurt my knee at all.... in fact, my knee feels better, stronger and with better range of motion after these workouts.

But the impact, dynamic angles and stresses of hiking in a mountainous terrain are just something my knee cannot take.

I am stubborn.... and I can endure a lot of Pain.... but not that much Pain.

So my Happy New Year so far has not been a Happy Knee Year.

But I have finally realized what I can do and what I cannot do and I have resolved to do what I can do.

Learning and Adapting to your Limitations and Weaknesses and Exploring and Exploiting your Strengths are all a part of Life and....


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