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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Joy of Walking Again

Hi friends,

It continues to be a busy Fall. It has actually been an incredibly busy year for me with lots of personal business to attend to and very little real holiday time. Instead I've just been moving forward and whenever I get a chance throughout the week I take moments to relax with coffee and a good book, watching good or funny television programs, getting together with friends and going out for movies.

This week at my diabetes group, I learned that I've made some wonderful progress on my health goals of losing weight. I've managed to lose 30 pounds.  This is weight that I gained in the last few years when I began experiencing tremendous knee pain and had problems walking. There were long stretches of time when I could not even walk one block. Suffice to say that this lack of mobility was not good for my health.

I tried many different things to regain mobility before I discovered that I actually have osteo-arthritis in the knees.  This problem seemed to come out of no where and hit me suddenly so it was rather a shock. I struggled with knee pain for a very long time and self - treatment before I finally told the doctor about my knee problem.  She promptly sent me for x-rays.

Some of you might remember me writing on this blog about the many ways I tried to deal with the pain:  cranial-sacral therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbal medicines, supplements, and pneumatic compression therapy. When the doctor learned of my knee pain she sent me for x-rays and physiotherapy which helped temporarily.  Ultimately, when I contacted a fitness helpline it was recommended that I buy myself some rehabilitation walking poles and start a walking program again.  I was very skeptical as I had tried using a cane to no avail and I couldn't walk more than a block. I thought how on earth am I going to walk with poles?  Anyway I did purchase the poles because I was desperate to try anything.  I  am very grateful that I did for they have given me a new lease on life.

Photo Credit: Urban Poling, Activator Poles

It took awhile to be able to learn to walk longer distances, stand for awhile or be out of the house for any length of time.  But I am now able to do all these things and lead a more or less normal life.  Some days are easier than others. I still get pain and stiffness but nothing like what I was experiencing a few years ago. I also can't just go out for a long walk like I used to. These days I limit my walking to errands and appointments. In future though I do hope to get back to long walks just for the fun of it. But over the summer there were many days when I left my home and forgot my walking poles behind. That is because I was walking so well and without pain and stiffness.  With the coming rains the stiffness has returned and I don't walk quite as upright. I can still get by without my poles most of the time but I take them wherever I go and use them when my hands are free of shopping or when I need the extra support.

I've worked very hard to walk again and have also worked hard at implementing various forms of health and fitness on a consistent basis.  The loss of 30 pounds has been an incredibly slow process despite all my efforts.  But I am very pleased with what I've been able to accomplish so far and try not to think about how some people would have lost the weight more quickly.  I've never been one of those people. In fact I gain weight incredibly easily so to make steady progress toward my goals is a good thing.  I'm hoping to be able accomplish much more in coming months.

One of the many benefits of walking again and losing the weight is that my blood pressure has improved a lot over time. Though I have never been on any blood pressure medication my blood pressure was on the high side of normal (134/76).  Then I brought it down to acceptable levels for diabetics last winter (130/76) and sometimes a bit lower (128/70).  Last week it was 122/77 and three months ago it was 122/66. I'm sure I can improve this reading a bit more in the coming months. My blood sugar levels also dropped from 8.4 in April to 7.4 in July.  I need to get tested again very soon.

If you are experiencing a limited form of mobility or are experiencing pain in your knees, I highly recommend you get yourself some walking poles or even two strong sticks that are tall enough to hold at right angles when you walk. The rehabilitation poles are not exactly like nordic walking poles since you hold them at right angles when you walk (as in the photo above).  Once you are experiencing less pain in the knees you can graduate to regular (nordic) walking poles that you hold at a slant when you walk. An ability to exercise or remain mobile really helps us keep healthy in  many others ways.  Of course, a good and healthy diet helps a lot too.

Addendum, October 30, 2014:  What most people won't know is just how much I relied on my faith in God during this multi-year process of trying to get better. Trust me folks, the journey has been very difficult and not without challenges.  Especially since during this same period of time I also had a lot on my plate as a caregiver for my mother and all the many things that entails when a parent is elderly and not well. 

In addition to praying a lot, I found it helpful to set goals, stay focused on my priorities and eliminate extraneous things and distractions, actively working on relaxation, learning to go with the flow and listen to my body and last but not least, making a daily choice to remain positive.

When one is fighting a battle of any kind, one must do everything possible to remain positive and it helps to look for daily blessings in life.  Ultimately it is God who is in charge and we must learn to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves or we can become quite miserable and discontented.

A wonderful scripture that has always helped me is

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." 
Romans 8:28

So whenever things look bad or indeed are bad, I remind myself that all things will work out for the best.  By the time God is through I will understand why even the bad times and the difficulties have worked together to bring me to the right state. As I look back in life I can see that this has always turned out to be true though we never see it at the time we are going through it.

19 comments:

  1. Sorry for your pain. Wish you're getting to fit form, walking and enjoying. Love your pictures of your area. Enjoy fall.

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words Terriea. xx

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  2. Hi Joyful, What a great story. Congratulations on getting back into walking and mostly without the walking poles. Once again your blog is an inspiration … For a long time I was walking around Green Lake, daily, about 3 miles. For several reasons I got out of the routine and miss it. Yes, gained some weight too! Your story is an encouragement to get restarted. I’m sorry to hear about your trouble with osteo-arthritis. It seems these things can hit us without warning! Back in 2010, before I started blogging, I had open heart surgery. Heart disease snuck up on me … shortness of breath and so on … I was lucky not to have a heart attack. Anyway, since the surgery I have been thankful for each and every day. And I am thankful for encouraging blogs like SNAP THAT. Thank you for sharing this story. And, by the way, thank you for your comment yesterday on my post about Off the Grid. I smiled and nodded in agreement! Wishing you a fine day ahead! John

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    1. Hi John, I'm so glad you found my post to be inspiring. It is often difficult to know just how much to share because someone may not relate to what I'm saying. I do remember when you would mention taking your walks so did you stop recently? Like perhaps over the summer when it was so uncomfortably hot and humid that it was nicer to stay indoors? I hope you will get walking again. Even walking in the hallways of your building if you live in a house or an apartment would be good or walking up and down stairs if your knees can take it. If not a stationary bike is also good. It is just good to keep moving even a few minutes here and there. That is what I'm learning. I didn't know you had open heart surgery. That is partly what I am trying to avoid by working on all my little issues as heart problems go hand in hand with diabetes so it is real important to get control of the diabetes. A friend is going for open heart surgery any day now. She has been waiting quite a long while for a surgery date but it is getting close as they are doing all the pre-op testing now. Have a great weekend!

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  3. Good for you. You're taking charge!

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    1. Yes, I am. I always like to try and find solutions to problems. Better than feeling overwhelmed by things. xx

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  4. Wow, good for you! I have arthritis, too, so I know it's hard to walk through the pain. I walk a lot--up to 9 miles a day when I was in England--and I also do yoga which has helped me immensely. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Nine miles is a long distance. I find I walk a lot too when I travel. I haven't travelled much for some time and it would be hard to do it the way I like just now since I cannot walk quite so far.

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  5. I love your determination and I wish you better health x

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    1. Thanks for your visit and your kinds words, Ms. Abbott. Nice to see you ;-)

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  6. HI Penny, you've shared such an inspirational post that will help so many people with similar problems. Although I have not seen anyone in our area here in S. Florida using these poles to help with walking...(maybe because they wouldn't even know how to use it) We have so much therapy options for aches and pains, and some folks just don't take advantage of it. As for me, I have a bad right knee which is caused by years and years of standing on my feet...12 hr cooking jobs...could even benefit of knee surgery; been doing my own therapy, and walking does help ease he stiff joint; sorry about your knee pains...I only have the one knee problem and I can really sympathize with what you're going through! Take care, and wishing you a full recovery so you will be able to use both knees w/out pain! xo

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, you are so sweet. I didn't know you were suffering from knee pain too. I hope you find something to help you out. See my post (day after this one) and look at the product I am trying now to reduce inflammation. With the advent of rain and the coming winter, the knees tend to act up. I noticed a few little pains since Friday which I haven't had for ages. But nothing too serious. It just makes the poles that much more useful. The poles I purchased were invented here so they may not sell them in Florida. Even so I'm sure they sell something like it. I totally agree that we are so blessed in this day and age to have so many modalities to help ourselves. Things will only get better in this regard. The key is whether we can pay for it and I'm grateful that there are some things that don't cost too much :-)

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  7. Hi Joyful, Thank you for your especially kind comments on my blog. Wishing you a fine day! John

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  8. Congrats to you my friend, 30 pounds is a LOT! I actually do cranial sacral therapy in my practice and I thin it is amazing.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. Hi Meredith, I enjoy CST and find it very relaxing. I haven't been in awhile because I just haven't had the time. I hope to go again some time. Hugs. xx

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  9. You inspire me, bless you. Congrats on the weight loss.

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  10. Wow, faith and determination. Glad to hear your progress. I wish you good health, hope that progress continues so you can extend your whereabouts.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Lyn!

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