February 8th, 2006


Is it or isn't it?

About a week ago I was prepared to go on record that swimming actually helps compensate for the joint damage I've suffered in my knees. I have been waking up less stiff and recovering from stiffness and overuse more quickly, and I've been able to walk on hard surfaces without pain, for short periods.

My daughters and grandson visited me this last week. We went to Costco - spent time cruising the aisles, went to Farmers Market downtown Thursday night, strolling up and down, stopping to listen to performers (particularly Incendio - wow!), spent more time on the streets Friday night, "First Night", visiting art galleries. Saturday was less intense. We went to a rehearsal of the symphony at the PAC, and had dinner out. Sunday we went to a play in the afternoon, then while Joey and Mary visited friends Elaine and I went downtown for a bit, not long, and then back to the motel. It doesn't seem like we did that much Monday. What did we do? I felt very tired at the rehearsal that night. And yesterday afternoon Elaine and I visited two wineries and went down to Santa Barbara to do some business at a bank, then back.

Yet yesterday I started to feel like I was losing ground. I had some difficulty standing at the bars where they serve the wine tastes, and I felt greater pain going up and down stairs than I had been. And last night my knees, both of them, went into some kind of "dislocation". I don't think anything actually shifted but it felt like that, like things were out of place, causing sharp pains and noticeable inflammation.

It's possible that some of the things I had eaten had an effect. I may have eaten foods that cause increases in inflammation or that remove, somehow, protection. That's something to explore, that possibility. It's also possible that I just wasn't ready to do as much as I did in the way of walking on hard surfaces. I suspect that this is about the worst thing I can do for these knees. I may have jumped the gun.

Mary talks about getting me a wheelchair when we do these things. I do not want to do that. That would mean no exercise at all, no effort needed to stay erect, no ability to build those muscles. There may be a compromise possible, though. I feel that if I can just sit down now and then I can renew myself temporarily. Again, I think of finding a "shooting stick", the kind my stepmother Elizabeth had.

So back to the question. Is it or isn't it helping? The swimming. I don't know.

The swim follow-up

Today I wasn't exactly looking forward to swimming. To be honest, I don't usually. But even more today, because my knees were both acting up. I had to lift myself carefully out of my chair each time I wanted to go for coffee in the break room or use the bathroom. Climbing the stairs to my office was very painful. I felt the way I did when I first got back into swimming last November. I wondered if my knees would protest in the pool.

In some ways they did indeed. My left knee was really stiff and after I tried a flip turn (Mary showed me how the other day) and didn't do it quite right I somehow twisted that leg and the pain came back, bigger and better than ever. I kept on, of course. It would be unusual for me to cut this swim workout short. I didn't try many of those turns. That can wait. I climbed out of the pool at the end, quite stiff still. Now, though, I am  noticing an improvement. The kicking does help. The walking does not. At least that's my conclusion at this point.