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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


As I understand it, there are two primary camps in "prepared childbirth". By far the most-used has to be the LaMaze method, which emphasizes distraction from discomfort. Through breathing and focal points, the woman diverts her attention from labor discomfort. Even the term - "discomfort" instead of "pain" - is a diversion, a distraction. The Bradley method emphasizes essentially being one with the pain, going into it.

These two methods seem like opposites but I suspect they accomplish the same thing physically. They cause us to slow down our responses, to relax.

I use distraction when I hike. I bring a camera with me and stop to take pictures. My focus is on what I see through the viewfinder and away from my knees. While I hike I am always looking around for possible photo opps, which is also distracting.

When I do other types of walks, like the one to Marigold, I try to distract myself by reading a book. This isn't all that successful. Reading isn't all that conducive to walking, or I should say walking isn't all that conducive to reading. I have to keep an eye out for things I might stumble over and cars that might run me over.

What I have found to be remarkably effective is listening to podcasts on my ipod shuffle. The Shuffle is so small and light I can clip it to whatever I am wearing. There is no fiddling with numerous controls, either, as there are very few of them. I download free podcasts from iTunes, along with the occasional paid tune or paid book.

Some of my favorites are "The Ethicist" and "LSAT Logic in Everyday Life". These titles certainly reveal where some of my interests lie. These podcasts are short analyses of everyday situations or issues that arise in the news, from ethical and logical standpoints. As I am naturally logical, really logical, mathematically and philosophically logical, and because I have a strong ethical component, these podcasts are enlightening and entertaining to me. I think, too, that because they are spoken words they tend to be more distracting than music would be. I am paying attention on what comes next, what the argument is, how the reasoning goes. I believe that takes more focus than music usually does.

Today I walked up to Staples and back, certainly more than a 30-minute walk, and on concrete, and I did not rely on many stops for rests. I was able to plunge forward with the aid of the shuffle and it even seems like my knees feel less pain as a result.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

As I end week 13

Today I walked to the Marigold shopping center again. The walk there was relatively pain-free. I was hopeful. I spent an hour there, most of it sitting in one place or another, so I hoped I would be refreshed for the walk back. But I wasn't. It was painful the entire way. I stopped whenever I found a rock or branch or anything I could find to sit or lean on.

I am certain that my heavy weight is a huge contributor to the pain and possibly to the inflammation as well. I have got to focus on losing some of that excess. Every ten pounds means a relief of forty pounds on each step.

Friday, April 20, 2007

You know you want to. VOTE FOR ME>


I drove to Los Angeles this last Monday and returned yesterday, Thursday. While there, I visited ("toured") three different buildings, and on Wednesday went to some exhibits at the Getty Center. These activities had me standing a lot of the time, and walking on hard surfaces frequently. My knee stiffened and did not handle it well.

I look at this as a goal, too, then: to be able to see exhibits at museums or galleries and not be in pain.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Recovery time: take two...or three

After yesterday's trip to the store, walking mostly on concrete, I was limping. This morning I awoke stiffer than usual and stayed that way longer.

I mention these symptoms because I want to see a difference. I want to look back later and say that I can now walk to that same store and come back and not be limping and not have any recovery time the next day. I'm not there yet.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A walk to the grocery store

Today I walked down the tracks and over to the Marigold shopping center, a walk of a bit over 15 minutes. I brought a folding shopping cart with me.

The walk there went well, but by the time I was heading back my knee was bothering me quite a bit. What would have made a difference would have been a place to sit. There is a rock I can sit on close to the center but later, when I'm near the tracks, nothing.

I will feel like I have come quite a way when I can make this walk regularly without pain.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Recovery time

Yesterday I hiked partway up the Irish Hills trail, near the south end of San Luis Obispo. This hike is fairly steep, especially at the start. Keeps climbing and climbing. I decided I would go fifteen minutes up and then turn around. To allow for the faster descent and the stops on the way up, though, I modified my plan; I went up for about 22 minutes, then turned around and came down. I therefore probably was actively hiking for about 32 minutes, more or less, because I stopped to get my breath several times.

Steep hikes can play hell with the knees, and I was tired out by such a short hike when I got back to my car. I didn't want to subject my legs to anything more.

Today, though, no ill after-effects. And last night, no cramps or anything else. I think this is a change. It feels like it is.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Into week 12

Here, in the midst of week 12, I am again taking stock. What I have noticed most of all is that my legs are more comfortable when I sleep, when I sit for long periods (like in a theater), and when I am in any situation where I have to put them up. Yesterday I went to the dentist for a teeth-cleaning. I remembered that usually my leg is uncomfortable and I am constantly trying to find a place where it won't bother me. Yesterday it did not bother me at all.

I suspect the primary reason for this change is the exercises. They work the muscles that need to be worked, enough so that they don't get "restless".

And speaking of that. That "restless leg syndrome": I really think it has more to do with lack of exercise than anything else. But I have no evidence at all. Just my own experience that when I exercise regularly my legs are more comfortable resting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Surface differences

Last Thursday I hiked along a part of the Bob Jones Bike Trail. I mentioned in here that my knee was hurting before ten minutes was up. That trail is asphalt, a great surface for bikes, not so great for a person with arthritic knees.

Last Saturday I hiked along the Reservoir Canyon trail, not far from San Luis Obispo. The trail is mostly flat, winds through trees, across a small creek, within a typical riparian forest area. Yesterday I walked along the trail that borders the Oceano Lagoon, a lovely little lake near the ocean. The first picture on the left is from the Reservoir Canyon trail. The other three are from the Oceano Lagoon trek.

I found it much easier going on these dirt trails. My knees did not suffer as much, although my back felt a bit of pain - most likely from my weight.

I was limping when I finished the Bob Jones walk. I was feeling good when I finished the other two, and in both of those cases I trekked a little longer than I had on the bike trail. I think it pays to look for the softer dirt paths.

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