Search This Blog

Monday, February 26, 2007

Week 6

Six weeks seems like a magic number. I think that is the length of the trial of ginger supplement, the one that showed that about 2/3 of the people found ginger to be as effective as tylenol arthritis. I am starting week six and not too auspiciously.

It's snowing outside, and wet. There are so many variables to account for that I can't sort them out, can't determine if this program is definitively helping me or not, but I suspect that I need more time. Five weeks doesn't undo so many years of pain. Today, anyway, I am feeling extra pain, and I think it may have to do with the weather more than anything else.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I finished my bottle of glucosamine and chontroitin yesterday and moved to my new bottle of vegetarian glucosamine. I was not taking the recommended dose of glucosamine, I realized when I reread that section in Arthritis Rx. Now I am. However, I am now taking no chondroitin. Unless a vegetarian source is found I won't be. I am hopeful that the full dose of glucosamine will make a difference, though. My ginger supply is running low. I will probably need more before I leave New York.

This is the fifth week. I believe I am in less pain than I was when I was here last November. But I can't prove that definitively. Perhaps in a few more weeks the differences will be more noticeable.

Monday, February 19, 2007

good day

This morning I took some extra-strength excedrin because I had a headache. So I can't sort out what's happening. I felt less pain going both up and down the stairs this morning, and the walk was pleasant, if cold, because my knees did not hurt. I am tempted to keep taking the excedrin but I think it makes more sense to try again without it, to sort out what's happening.


Last night I slept in a bed for the first time since I've been in NYC. I woke with less pain in my knees. Getting up was not excruciating. It seems odd that the way I sleep would have an effect on my knees. I can understand it helping my back, but don't quite get the knees.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fifth week

I start out my fifth week somewhat unhappy with my progress. It is difficult to measure changes in pain levels incrementally. I do not know if any objective measurements could be made at this point, either - measures of ligament improvement, for example.

I am in a challenging situation, with stairs and a cold outside. It's possible that when I return to Las Vegas, and then San Luis Obispo, I will notice more of a change. But at this point I suspect it may be another several weeks before I can say definitively that this program is working.

It would help, of course, if I followed the food recommendations more closely. I would be eating fewer inflammatory foods (I think the main transgressors right now are white bread or crackers, the wrong kinds of oils; I continue to eat many kinds of vegetables but not as many fruits as I could). If I were doing a better job on the food end I would also be losing weight, which by itself would make a big difference. Which, of course, leads us to the question: when the pain is reduced will it be because I lost weight or will the exercises and supplements take the prize?

I can only wait and see. Today is "rest day". But I will still be walking the doggie. I am sure that "rest day" does not mean one plops on the couch and stays there all day long.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bad knees day

Today I am out of sorts physically. I made it through the exercise series this morning but it seemed to hurt more than usual. I made it down the steps and out the door with the doggie, and later out the door by myself, but my knees didn't get over hurting.

I suspect a ride on the subway last night did this to me. It wasn't such a long ride, but we stood up the entire trip, pushed on all sides by other riders. I gripped the bars and clutched the papers I was carrying and kept feeling the camera I had in a side pocket, in case anyone near me was an opportunist. So I was tense the whole way and standing up and that's not a good combination. Today I seem to be paying for it.

It sucks when one small thing like a subway ride can have such an effect.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How to measure

I don't know how to measure my progress with the arthritis program. I am currently in New York, staying in an apartment that is two slippery flights of stairs from the street. The stairs are a challenge. It is cold outside, there is snow on the ground, and I think the cold also has an effect on my arthritis.

I am still in pain, particularly when I wake in the mornings. I dread standing up for the first time. But do I dread it more or less than I did before I started this program? I don't know. I am sure not more, but because I am challenging myself with this visit to New York I know I have pushed the pain out there more.

I have done a few things, though, that seem to suggest there has been improvement. My daughter and I visited the site of the World Trade Center and walked about a bit the other day, and I noticed that I was walking all right. The stiffness was still there but I didn't go into pain mode. I had the sense to move to places to sit when I had the chance, though.

Last night I took the subway to Symphony Space to see a radio favorite: Selected Shorts. I had dinner, then went to the program and returned to the apartment. The last time I was in New York I felt too drained and in pain to do anything at night. It's possible that this excursion, too, means something.

But the real answer will come when the pain is gone. Will the pain go? Completely? Keep reading. And I'll keep writing.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Finding space

Today I did my A series exercises early in the morning. I pushed the couch out of the way and lay a sleeping bag down on the wooden floor to make it softer. When I lay on my back to do the sun salutation lying down, I was not able to make my arms stay straight as I stretched them to the side and then on up above my head.

I have to make compromises every time I do these because I do not have a large flat floor area, free of obstructions, no matter where I am. I do not think that bending my arm here and there, while lying down, is a significant amendment to the exercise, however. The joy of doing these exercises has been that not only do they take a short amount of time but they also can be done just about anywhere you find yourself. No, I do not think you would do them in the middle of a crowded airport but generally where there's a will there's a way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week Four

Week four begins today! Sunday is rest day, but I took the pooch for a walk, thereby getting a jump on the aerobic segment. I am in NYC, in the cold, and I'm feeling it in my knees, of course. Yet I handled the walk today, about 12 blocks, without severe pain.

Tomorrow is a test I do not need. We have to stand in line for about three hours to get into a show I want to see. I am going to look for a shooting stick or something else I can sit on.

Friday, February 9, 2007


I flew to Las Vegas last Wednesday. I took a small plane to Los Angeles, had a two-hour layover, then took a larger plane to Las Vegas. My home airport is small, can only accommodate small planes and has only three ticket counters. So there was no walking there. But in Los Angeles I had to trek some distance from one gate to another. When I got to Las Vegas I had to make my way through the terminal, to the shuttle, through the main terminal to the baggage claim area, and finally to the passenger pickup area, where my daughter Mary waited.

Mary and I had lunch, then went to the Tropicana Casino to see the Bodies Exhibition. There was a bit of walking involved in getting to and through the exhibit, although I did take advantage of the benches within the exhibit.

All of this walking on hard surfaces took a toll on my legs, on my knees. I followed up, yesterday afternoon, by heading back to the Las Vegas airport, trekking through to the same distant terminal, and flying to New York City. I arrived at midnight, took a cab to my daughter and son-in-law's apartment, and tried to sleep. But it was just about no use.

My knees hurt a lot. I couldn't get comfortable. Wednesday night, at Mary's place, I took a couple of Tylenol pm tablets, giving in. But I didn't take any last night and perhaps I should have.

So here I am, as stiff as I ever get. Dealing with stairs again, feeling quite a bit of pain. Is it a setback? Or just a challenge? The last time I visited New York my body took a hit but it wasn't permanent. I expect the same to happen this time.

This morning I did the A series of exercises. I haven't missed any since I started this program. I feel this is where the change will start to take place. Right now it is hard to feel there has been any difference, but it is only week three.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Third week

I'm starting my third week on the program. Yesterday morning I managed to do my A series exercises in a hotel room I was sharing with a friend, while she was getting dressed in the bathroom. It's encouraging to find that there is little to prevent anyone from doing these moves. I don't have a lot of room in my house so sometimes I have to move my arms a little differently when doing the "sun salutation lying down" but I don't think my minor adjustments affect the basic exercise.

Sunday I drove to Desert Hot Springs and yesterday I drove back. It takes over five hours each way. I am happy to report that I have no lasting effects in my knees from the drive and I didn't have any difficult times along the way. I say this because sometimes pressing the accelerator or clutch can be very painful. I am not saying, of course, that the program is entirely responsible for a reasonably pain-free drive. Certainly I still had to stop a few times to get my legs working again after they stiffened up. I wonder if this will change over time.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

In the swim

Today, for my aerobic activity, I swam. When I left off swimming last October I was doing 20 laps a day, four days a week. There is no doubt it was helpful for my arthritis. Yet I don't really enjoy swimming and I really dislike having to fight for a free lane. When I went traveling for extended periods I got completely out of the habit. So today I started over again.

That's me, Ms Start Over. If I dwell on how much ground I've lost I will give in to depression. So I don't. I give myself a minute here and there for self-pity, tell myself that it isn't getting me anywhere, and charge ahead. "Charge ahead" really does not describe what I do, though. I take steps slowly and carefully.

Today I swam 10 laps. I could tell I wasn't even as good as I was last October. But I'm doing the program. 22 minutes (min) three times a week; today's swim was about 25 minutes.

I realized while swimming that one reason swimming is good for the pain is the breathing. I swim freestyle, breathing, no devices except goggles and a swim cap. It's harder for me to do the breathing underwater but I know it's better and I have it down in a basic way. Today I did no flip turns. That I can get back to.