17 August 2013

Oh the glory of aging

I used to walk every morning at 5 am for an hour regardless of weather. Way back, fourteen or so years ago, I went to the doctor because my heart felt like it was actually skipping beats. Much to my surprise, it was. There are three heartbeats in succession - top, middle, and bottom. Your heart must beat these three with the correct timing in order to function properly. I was told that my middle beat was out of time as a result of too much adrenalin in my body. Exercise was prescribed, preferably early in the morning. While I didn't follow up on any of that I did notice that walking every morning made the squeezing-heart feeling stop.

Fast forward six years to find my ex and I separated and I needed to find a job, found one, and haven't walked much since. At first I was getting up at 3 am to go to work, now I get up at 5:30 am and haul my butt to work. No heartbeat problems as my job is heavy physical labour. 

I had always thought that I would take up walking again someday, that maybe when I found a different job or maybe even retirement. The joy and peace I felt while walking by myself at dawn is something that I have yet to replicate. Being alone before most of the world wakes up is calming for me. Walking to see the neighbour's gardens and change in the seasons was peaceful. Even on the coldest days of the year I was bundled up and forging through the snow. On the hottest days I would be found walking the same path with a gentle sweat forming down my back. Walking at any other time of day simply isn't the same thing. The air isn't as sweet, the environment isn't as quiet, the feeling of being at one with myself isn't as pronounced. 

Very recently I found I could not put any weight on my knees at all after work (and mowing the lawn and weeding all my gardens). Deciding that I was not finished with the idea of using my knees, I went to the doctor to see what's up. Arthritis. That's what's up.

Osteoarthritis in the knees. Both knees. And it will never, ever get better. The doctor couldn't be certain if it was a work related injury due to the heavy lifting, or partially hereditary as my younger sister also has it. The doctor did say I was too fat...but my neck also crackles like my knees did before the pain, does that mean my head is too fat? Anyway, I noticed I had to adjust what I did and for how long before pain arrived. 

As I was learning how to lighten up the load of work in my life a thought wormed its way into my consciousness. My belly froze and heart stopped as I wondered "will I ever be able to walk in the mornings again?" Here I'd been counting on the idea that I could have early morning walks back in my life at some point. But I had never considered that I simply wouldn't be able to physically do it when I was ready. The mere idea of disability had never even been a grain of thought until that very moment.

Some research I did told me that exercise is good for arthritis and resting is bad. So walking is a good idea as is wearing a brace on each knee (already doing that) and taking glucosamine to help lubricate the joints (doing that too). But...but. But I can't get up any earlier than I already do to walk. But I'm not ready to change jobs based on my physical limitations. But I expected my body to be the same as it was several years ago. But I don't want to age negatively. But...but, but. Maybe I can learn to accept that when I do rearrange my life for morning walking it won't be a long walk, or a far walk, or a fast walk. Maybe accept the idea that it will be more of a hobble with cell phone at ready for emergencies.

Sigh. Aging sometimes sucks.

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