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Monday, May 31, 2010

Pain and Progress

For the last two or three nights I have woken in the night with pain in my legs - usually my right leg in particular - that did not want to calm. My calf was stiff and there was a pain saturating the calf, usually involving part of the foot and the knee as well. I have been unable to stretch it into submission so I stumble out of bed and try to walk it out a bit until it calms down. One of the nights I took a hot shower.

I think these were nights after days when I have walked and used my legs more than usual. In the long run I am not experiencing any damage from these experiences but it's uncomfortable while it lasts.

Yesterday I went to the gym and swam ten laps - 500 yards. It isn't much but it's more than two! My left arm is far from having its full range of motion but I did not feel any pain in it during the swim. My swimming is awkward but possible. Today I swam four more laps after Aqua class and felt good about that. I call this progress and I'm hanging onto it to keep myself motivated. I do feel tired after class and I don't always feel looser or without pain but later I do seem to move better. It's hard to see and feel progress. I see it in my swimming, though, in being able to swim at all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back to the gym

Yesterday I did an Aqua class in spite of feeling back pain and leg pain and in spite of having pain in my right leg when I drove (pressed on accelerator). After the class I did all of two laps of swimming! My left arm is not all there yet and I don't expect it will be completely recovered for quite some time but I was able to make my way across the pool all right.

Today I did my regular routine, feeling punk again when I left for the gym but better later. I have to remember that this is how it is. Just keep doing it unless there is something way off with my body. Today I no longer had the pain in my right leg when I drove. Improvement! I also slept well last night, just some getting up for the bathroom and a brief time reading in bed. I'd say B+ for the sleep.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Day Off

So I took yesterday off from exercise. I went to sewing class and made it through that without difficulty. I had pain in my right leg - hip, knee, calf - but not too awful. When I left the class and drove home I felt some of that same pain in my calf and knee when I used the accelerator that I had felt the day before, driving home from Palm Springs. Overall, not too awful a day.

I slept well and woke without as much pain as yesterday morning. I am going to Aqua this morning, still in pain, remembering I must do this even when I am not feeling all that well. If I avoided exercise every time something acted up I'd soon quit altogether.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not-so-good road trip

I drove home from Palm Springs today. Usually the biggest worry for that trip is the traffic. Today it was my right leg. Right from the start I felt searing pains in my right calf, thigh, and sometimes foot when I used it on the accelerator.  It felt like it would when I've been already driving eight hours. As much as possible I switched to cruise control but that option was not always a reasonable one, so I stopped here and there, tried to walk out the pain, and took a couple of cat naps on the side of the road. But the pain was soon back again when I  got back behind the wheel. At one point I was wondering if I could even make it home, was thinking, "I should call someone". But I didn't.

I have no idea what caused this extra pain in that leg. I am hoping that over the next few days it eases off so I can get back to my regular routine here. I have already decided I won't be going to the gym tomorrow. A day off cannot hurt right now.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Today was not one of my best days. So when this afternoon came and I found myself at the PS museum again, with the possibility of standing while talking, I accepted the offer of a wheelchair. It was an odd experience. I was grateful for not having to endure the pain in my right leg especially but I felt a little out of it, being the one sitting down while talking to three people who were standing up. I can see a disadvantage in being in a wheelchair for this reason alone.

It was nice to be accommodated this way, I have to admit, to have somebody recognize the signs of pain and offer help.

Doing it on the road

For the last few days I have gotten on the exercycle where I'm staying, and then done the resistance band exercises as well, except for the lat pulldowns - I didn't find a chair in the vicinity until I realized there were some outside, which I then dragged in today. After doing these exercises I hit the pool next door (our gang is using two homes) and did some water exercises, as I mentioned in the last post, and swam some. So I have been getting something done.

Today I woke with back pain and leg pain and it was a while before I felt a bit better. It isn't a great day for my body, exercise or no, but I suspect it would be worse if I were not doing anything.

I do feel some control over my fate, so to speak, by having the resistance bands with me and knowing what to do with them. And now that I can more-or-less swim again I can do a bit of that, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Yesterday, when I left home, my legs hurt, my back hurt, and I just generally felt lousy. I figured I'd really be a basket case by the time I hit Palm Springs. I stopped a couple of times on the way to get my legs working and get snacks but I did the last hundred miles, about, without stopping. And I wasn't worse when I arrived. A bit stiff but not even as much in pain as when I left home.

I did take some tylenol arthritis on the way, which may have helped. The dry hot air may help, too, although I can never be sure of that.

Yesterday I went up and down the driveway a few times, going from my guest house space to the main house, and I noticed that I was not having that much trouble climbing the driveway. It isn't super steep but I suspect I would have had a harder time a few months ago.

Last night and again this morning I used one of the exercycles in the guest house, for 11 minutes each time. That's the time I have been giving to the bike when at the gym, before I do the strength training stuff. I'm trying to work up the time I spend on a bike so my seat gets comfortable with it and I can ride a regular bike and eventually the special "spinning" bikes. After my bike time last night I did the rubber band exercises, except for the lat pulldowns. I could find doors but no chairs. I'll have to work that part out. This morning I did two of the exercises with the bands. i will do more later. Then later I put on my swim suit and hit the pool here.

I did some cycling, some cross-country, some stretches, some running in place in the water. Then I moved into a swimming position and tried to swim. I was able to swim with just a bit of an issue with my left arm, much much better than I was the last time I tried swimming, which was also in Palm Springs.

The exercises are starting to work! These little changes are encouraging me to keep on. Nothing like a little success to keep me going.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not a gym rat, but...

Today I woke, straightened the bed, took a shower, got dressed. Just like old times. Today I am not going to the gym so I will not be showering there and I have a little time to get things ready for my trip. It seems funny not going to the gym. Already I expect it of myself. I did pack up my elastic bands, as well as the simple rubber bands in case Mary might want to use those. I can't remember how just yet.

I slept well, waking for the bathroom and to read a little. My legs hurt and my lower back hurts. I have been limping around the house, packing, tidying a little. I am leaving my dining table covered with sewing stuff and machines, my office desk covered with papers, and possibly my piano covered with folded clothes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It is another day

Last night I slept well. I have slept well for the past few days, with just occasional wake-ups  for water or bathroom and for one time when my right foot was a little crampy. Sleeping well means, of course, that when I get up it is a while before I can stand up straight because I haven't been up for several hours.

That was certainly true this morning. Bent over, trying to regain good posture, put my weight in my heels, suck my tummy in, I got the cats fed, did my usual early morning chores, and got a bit ready for my next trip, which is tomorrow, checked email, did some small stuff. By ten I was ready to head out to Aqua class, not really looking forward to it but knowing it would be good.

My right hip was bothering me and getting up and down was painful and getting into the gym was painful. By the time I left the gym I was loosened up a bit and finding it easier to walk and to concentrate on my posture and on not limping.  My theory is that as I continue to work the muscles and build strength, over time the extra strength will be there when I need it and I will find it easier to walk all the time.

I was feeling pretty perky so I took myself out to lunch and got myself an all-fruit smoothie afterwards, from Jamba Juice. By the time I got home I was feeling a little taxed and I lay down to take a nap. An hour or so later I got up, folded clean clothes, fed cats again, and realized I am doing better. My hip still hurts but I am managing it better.

Tomorrow I will head out of town and bring my resistance bands. I would like to get a stick to bring along, too, so I may head out to find something, a broom handle or something like that, in a bit. This trip will be a test of how well I do away from the gym. There is a pool where I am going, so I can do some water exercises in addition to the elastic band ones. I can't wait - well, I have to but I don't want to - until I can walk well enough to take hikes again!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

If its Tuesday it must be sewing class

Yesterday I did the Aqua class with Kerry. It was cool and wet so the class size was small, so Kerry jumped in the water with us. I liked that. I managed pretty well, having most trouble with the "core" activities. I can't believe my abs are that weak! Maybe they are.

I took some tylenol yesterday and again this morning to take the edge off the right hip pain. The pain is most certainly back now. I did my regular workout this morning before sewing class and managed all right in class but when I left I went to Costco to pick a few things up and the pain was just awful. Of course concrete floors don't help but it was beyond that.

For my record: I am doing three sets of ten seconds each on the stick stretches, and I am doing all of three minutes on the treadmill at 1.6 mph. Or 1.6 whatever it is. I am managing five weak squats on the ball and again at the rail.

I am tired and hurting. Just a bad day for the hip, mainly.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I like to do my workouts every other day, which means they change weekdays from week to week. But there are considerations. I really like Kerry for Aqua and she is there only on Mondays. I have sewing on Tuesdays. So doing Aqua on Mondays makes sense, and moving my regular workout to Tuesdays, before class, make sense. So I guess that's my schedule for now.

Yesterday afternoon I took tylenol arthritis. It helped. I didn't have much hip pain. Last night I took acetaminophen pm to help hold that line. This morning I don't feel that intense hip pain.

This morning I will do the Aqua. I admit I feel really lazy and not like doing it but I know I'll be glad I did...I hope I don't have to keep psyching myself up for these things. Eventually I want the exercise to be its own reward.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I took the elevator

Today I went to the gym to do a small cardio thing. I chose 30 minutes on the upright bike. My right hip - actually right thigh, upper, inner mostly - still hurt, had been hurting during the night too, and I limped into the gym. The hell with the stairs, I thought, and took the elevator both up and down.

I think it's good that I chose to go with just a regular upright bike, because that was enough. I found it quite uncomfortable after a while. If I can get comfortable with that bike then later I can work on getting comfortable on those "spin" bikes. When I rode my bike regularly I did get used to it and was able to go longer before it got uncomfortable, so I expect the same to happen here.

I managed the 30 minutes and actually built up a little sweat and a heart rate of 115. Not high, but for somebody 64 years old it's okay.

I limped off and went down the elevator and limped to the locker room. I decided to indulge myself a little by taking the disabled-persons' shower. I spent part of that time sitting on the seat in there and just washing the hot water over me. It felt good. Got dressed, went to the farmers' market in the parking lot, went home, still limping, still hurting. I think I will take some tylenol.

Blogging Minutiae

I don't believe this blog actually has any readers at this time, and with good reason: the entries are so full of minutiae, details of my daily life living with my particular arthritis. It's got to make even the most patient reader want to go away. Frankly, when I joined forums on weight loss the last thing I wanted to read was what other people ate for breakfast, or how many pounds they lost last week. Yet here I am detailing my exercises, going on about how this felt and how that felt, and how can this possibly be of interest to anyone else?

I don't expect it to be. What I expect is that over the long haul there will be changes that can be traced by looking back at these early days, and if I don't write what I feel and what I am doing now I won't remember then. So it will tell a tale to me eventually that may interest others in time, that will certainly interest me.

That said, I expect to settle into some sort of regular routine that doesn't change much in time, and so I will be blogging less about every day and perhaps more every few days or every week. Not yet, though.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

pain again

Back to the gym for my expanded routine today. I got through it, glad that it is getting more comfortable for me, but I noticed that doing the three band routines was hard on my legs. They require that I stand and standing just seems so hard right now. It has been for a while, of course, but it seems worse somehow.

Again, I lay down for a while when I got home. But I didn't stay as long as I have lately. I got up to make myself some tea, to move around, and pains in my right hip came searing at me. I don't know what is happening here but it isn't making me happy. I am wondering if the "walking" book might help with some of this. Stay tuned for that.

For the record, my present routine:

11 minutes on bike (I am using upright bike now but not the "spinning" type yet) at level 8
1 set of 15 reps on row machine at 65 lbs
1 set of 15 reps on lat pulldown machine at 65 lbs
1 set of 20 reps on leg press at 140 lbs
chest stretch, 30 sec each side
calf stretch, 30 sec each foot

rubber band exercises:
compound row, red & green bands, 3 sets of 15
shoulder external rotation, red, 3 sets of 15
empty can, green, 3 sets of 15
lat pulldown, red, 3 sets of 15

squats on ball on wall - I put large ball in small of my back, put weight in heels, do squats - I'm doing five
squats at rail - weight in heels too, I'm doing five
stick stretch - I'm doing two stretches where my right arm helps stretch my left (the problem arm). Right now I am stretching three sets of ten seconds each
treadmill - walk normally, focusing on feet, knees, posture - I have managed all of three minutes

It takes me about 45 minutes, maybe a little more. As I get more comfortable on the treadmill and with the squats I figure it will take a little longer.

My goal is to do the chest and calf stretches every day, plus I figure I'll get in the stick stretches too once I get me a stick. Also, I am doing the lat pulldowns at home because I don't want to use a door at the gym.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back into the water and out on the deck

Today I put together a dish for the potluck and went to the Aqua class this morning. Led by Cindy again, it was similar to last week's in that we moved backward and forward a whole lot, changing activities licketysplit. Sometimes I would just figure out what she wanted when she was on to the next one. The hardest ones are those that work the "core", I find. I have certainly lost a lot of strength in that area. I also find it hard to keep track, figure out what we're doing. I think that when I get stronger I might like this particular class a lot. I really hope so.

Then to the shower and back onto the deck. The potluck was held at the far end of the pool, next to the sand volleyball court (nobody was playing, good thing). Between 15 and 20 of us were there and there were a few salads so I did fine, with bread and crackers and all. Almost everything else had cheese in it. One person brought home made lemonade from her tree and that was delicious.

I talked a little to somebody else there and then to Cindy, who wanted to know a little more about me and how long I'd been at the gym. She clearly takes her job seriously. Another class member said she remembers everyone's names. We all signed a card for a class member who is in the hospital recovering from knee replacement surgery (I signed too, even though I do not know him). Then off to home.

This afternoon I have been feeling tired again, or still. My legs do better if I get up now and then and move around...

And now a word from our sponsor...

At the beginning of this month I wrote about the Arthritis Foundation's new campaign, "moving is the best medicine", at the request of a company representing the foundation. In that post I offered you, dear readers, the chance to win one or more of the items in a gift package from the foundation.  The package includes:

  • A copy of Walk With Ease (book)

  • A DVD of Tai Chi For Arthritis (2-DVD set, actually)

  • A set of light dumbbells

  • A coupon for Scrubbing Bubbles automatic shower cleaner

  • Pilot Dr. Grip Pen

  • Hefty 1 zip storage bag coupons

  • Cardinal EasyOpen Binders.

  • Well, the sponsor said she'd like to send me a package, too, just for me. And she did. I got all of the above except the dumbbells (darn!). I have been investigating the take since then.

    The DVD set includes 12 Tai Chi lessons, which sounds great. I haven't opened it yet. The coupons, pen, and binder (just one) are all examples of products designed for "ease of use". The binder opens really easily, no sprained fingers (and it's easy to insert labels into the plastic as well), the pen has a grip that is easy to hang onto, the scrubbing bubbles is of course meant to make cleaning easy (I don't use these sorts of products), similarly the storage bag coupons.

    I have started reading the book on walking. I used to love walking. It was perhaps a favorite activity. Now I can barely walk a half-block before I go into pain that makes me want to turn back. So I am interested in what this book has to say on that subject, if it can actually offer me suggestions that might help.

    If any of these items interest you, go to the original post and make a comment on it! Leave me some way to reach you (either in the post or by separate email) and you will be automatically entered in a drawing for one or more of these items. You have until May 31 to do this!

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Later that same day

    I left the gym this morning glad that I had done it but feeling not much different. Stiff, my right hip hurting, heaviness in my legs. From there I went to a facial waxing appointment, where I got to lie down for a while, and then limp out. And so to home.

    I felt so drained that I lay down for a while, napped, later got up and turned up the heat. Maybe this is just me, this tired thing.

    No progress?

    Yesterday I volunteered to help at an event to be held at the recreation building in my mobile home park. The rec building is just a couple of doors down from my house, across the street. I carried over two trays with cups and pots and a water pitcher and tea bags and similar items, then went back and forth several times to bring other things or to take things back. It isn't a great distance and nothing I carried was particularly heavy.

    During the setup time I was on my feet in the building for a bit, but then sat down and didn't spend a lot of time standing, comparatively. Afterwards, of course, I carried stuff back again. By the time I got in the door of my house for the last time my legs were screaming. I felt exhausted and in pain. I took two tylenol pm tablets before going to bed.

    I woke with my legs still feeling extra-heavy. The feeling is something like what it feels when I am carrying something heavy, like 50 or 75 pounds. Each step makes my legs tighten and hurt. I had some time getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth, doing my little bathroom cleanup routine, feeding cats, getting dressed. Now I am dressed, all but shoes, and finally the heaviness is starting to back off a bit.  I will be off to the gym in a short time and expect to work some of the stiffness and pain out there by just doing my new routine.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Trying the new expanded routine

    I have a sewing class every Tuesday and I didn't really feel like going to the gym before the class started but I went anyway. I know that if I can get new routines done soon after learning them that I will be relieved at knowing what is involved, at having done it.

    So I did all of my usual, except for the calf and chest stretches, and then did the new ones, except for the lat pulldowns with the rubber bands, because that one calls for a door and I didn't want to interrupt people behind doors to do it. So I will do those things at home today.

    The additions were less arduous than I had imagined. Only a few call for three sets of fifteen so most of them can be done quickly. I like this. I got done with my slightly abbreviated workout in a bit over 45 minutes. I also like that I can do the treadmill and the squat exercises as much or as little as my body wants. I look forward to seeing changes in those areas.

    I am noticing less pain in my left arm. That is, it hurts less often.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    No longer such a little workout

    Today I met with Clara at 8:30. To be sure that we had enough topics to work on, I mentioned that I go out of town often and could use some way to continue doing some of the workouts without special equipment. She said she could show me some alternatives using rubber bands, which I already own. We talked about how it's going with the rest of my work and what I hope to achieve. I mentioned that I tried the Tour class and that the bike was uncomfortable but that I might want to use an upright bike for a while and try again when I feel more ready. Clara said she isn't a big biker herself and she thought the bikes used in the spin classes are designed to maximize the benefits for your body, which makes sense, and that yes, they tend to be uncomfortable but people adjust to them, get used to them, after three times or so. She said there were two bikes of that type among the bike and treadmill section and we could try using one of them for my regular workouts for a while.

    So we began. I tried a Spinning bike, which comes with a screen that can be used to play a spin program or plug in a movie or music or whatever is on one's mp3 player. That part seems pretty cool. I had some trouble fitting my feet into the stirrups, which doesn't bode well for my doing this too often. The bike was okay, not wonderful, and I might just try it from time to time.

    She then showed me several exercises using the rubber bands. Some take no extra equipment, some require that the bands be attached to something like a door knob, and one requires that a band be folded and slipped over a door and then the door closed. So all could be done at home or in a motel room. Then she showed me an exercise using a stability ball, for strengthening my legs, and another one using a table or short wall for the same purpose.  We then moved to a treadmill and she showed me how to use it. Start slowly, walk my normal pace, concentrate first on my feet, heel-toe, straight ahead, then focus on my knees, keeping them from pronating, then on my hips. Just spend a few minutes a day "practicing walking", really. For some reason this excited me, this opportunity to improve my stride very gradually and carefully.

    Another one that excited me was the use of a "stick". Lie down on a weight bench or bed and use a broomstick or similar object to help stretch my left arm. I would use my right arm to move my left, thereby helping it achieve a position it cannot get to on its own. Because I am so constantly aware of the limitations of my left arm these days this really makes me feel hopeful.

    After our time together I did my regular routine, minus the new parts, then headed to the locker room to change into a new swim suit for an Aqua class. It was Kerry's class and so I enjoyed it. I stayed mostly in the shallower part this time, moving to the deep occasionally when it felt okay. Pamela was in the class and afterwards she said I was standing straighter, doing better this time.

    Perhaps because of my lack of sleep last night I was pretty beat when I got home to eat lunch. I took a little nap and now I am about to head out to do some errands. My left arm is hurting again.


    Well, last night I went to bed early and got hardly any sleep. For whatever reason I just didn't get sleepy enough. Taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon yesterday probably didn't help.

    On the plus side, no cramps from the Tour class yesterday. Of course I could get them tonight. Sometimes it works that way. But today is my second meeting with Clara and then an Aqua class after that, so if I do get cramps it may not be possible to determine from what.

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    I survived it.

    It wasn't long after I began the "Tour" class this morning before I was wondering what had gotten into me. I wasn't at all sure I'd make it through.

    I got there early and introduced myself to Barb, the leader, and she helped me adjust the bike and showed me the resistance dial and the brake (brake!) and told me to keep my back straight, do not hunch over, and just do what I can, don't stand up on the pedals if it doesn't feel good. She said "give it three tries. By then most people either love it or hate it but it takes three tries to find out". Maybe so.

    The seat felt uncomfortable, to say the least, and I didn't like being pitched forward onto the handlebars. The minutes ticked by very slowly. After about fifteen minutes I was ready for the cool-down and we hadn't even gotten to the real work yet. Of course I stayed on my seat, except for the few times I stood up just to take the pressure off my groin, and of course I kept the resistance low compared to where it might have been. Essentially I just rode the bike for 45 minutes, in pain. I wondered if the pain in my seat would get worse and I wondered if I'd have some kind of issue with my left knee. I wondered if I'd need to get off the bike early, leaving the class in disgrace. I felt like a prisoner, almost, trapped there, afraid to leave and just too uncomfortable to enjoy it.

    And yet after about a half-hour my knee was no worse and my seat no worse and I was trying to do some of the things Barb said to do, raising resistance, peddling faster, slower, faster, in my fashion. I was sweating and trying to enjoy the hard-driving rhythm of the music. What is that kind of music called? Glam? Not dance but similar. Techno, maybe, sort of, although not too tech. I grinned and bore it, watching the fit bodies on ALL of the other riders, including the elderly gentleman in the front row. I was truly the odd one out in that respect.

    I made it through. At the end we stood on our bikes to do some stretches of our legs and I found that interesting, rather liked it. I was glad I didn't give up, even though some might say my modifications made it rather a different experience than it is for others, rather easier.

    One of my class mates asked me afterwards how my first class was and I told her "uncomfortable". She nodded, said yes, it takes getting used to. Somehow that helped.

    I took myself to the locker room, took off my sweaty clothes, and headed for the steam room. After a nice little time there I took a shower, got dressed, and headed out. It's Mothers' Day so I went downtown to Jamba Juice, had a Five Fruit Frenzy (nothing but fruit) and an apple-cinnamon pretzel.

    Will I do Tour again? I think I will, but probably not right away.

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    The regular workout plus

    This morning I ambled my way into the gym a bit after nine. Festivities were already underway for a thing the gym called "MayDaze". There were tables set up with information on gym classes, tables selling jewelry, body lotions, and organizing equipment, and there was a space set aside in the lobby (near the tables) for demonstrations of various activities. I passed by the lobby, smiling at the woman fronting the "classes" table, and made my way to the locker room.

    I put my stuff away, went upstairs, and all looked about as usual for a Saturday morning. These mornings are about medium-busy, so I can get onto my machines without a lot of trouble. I do feel for those who have no choice but to fight for machines in the before- and after-work crowds. After I was done I went back downstairs, smiled at the woman again, took a shower and came out to look more closely at what was offered.

    First I talked to the woman at the classes table. She had descriptions of the various classes spread out, plus schedules, and she was happy to talk to me. I explained that I did Aqua classes, that I have arthritis in my knees and elsewhere, and that I had tried one Active class without good results (for me). She nodded, understanding, I think. I asked her about Pilates but then interrupted myself as I saw the descriptions of the classes. It is floor-based. As is the yoga. I am not there yet. When I can get up and down more easily I can revisit. I asked then about the "tour" classes. These are bike classes where the participant can choose the level of resistance, can adjust the bike to fit, and these classes come in different times. There is one for 45 minutes, one for an hour, perhaps one longer. She said these are good for people who need to make adjustments and might be fine for me. We looked at the schedule and I decided I would try one tomorrow morning.

    After this I met a woman at a table where she was selling tools for organizing. She offers "organizing parties", which I asked about. I am not a great organizer and maybe this could be a fun way to get better - she would talk for 20 - 30 minutes about some core organizing principles, then we could look at her goodies. And have refreshments. I have been thinking about what friends I might invite to such a thing.

    From there, I went to the cafe, where orange juice and pieces of bagels and pastries were available for free. I had me some juice and a bit of bagel while I sat and read for a while and watched the action. While I sat there there were announcements of "water endurance" classes at the deep end of the pool as well as some other type of water class at the shallow end. I looked out at the pool but didn't see anyone in the pool. Perhaps nobody wanted water endurance at that time. There were announcements, too, of abs demos and of different classes available during the day. I didn't think I needed to hang around any longer so I took off. Only thing I regret is that I did not get the 2-for-1 smoothie deal. Maryann was not with me and there was no point in my downing two of those. Good though they are!

    So on to tomorrow.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    An Aqua with a Twist

    Today was my first time taking Aqua with Cindy. The class was large and Cindy was friendly. She identified me as new to her class and frequently complimented me on how well I was doing. Until Pamela took over, anyway.

    Pamela was down in the deep end, like me, and wearing long dangly large earrings. When I first saw her she was telling somebody else of her plans to go to Puerto Vallarta in the summer, rent a house and stay for a month of so. She calculated it would cost her less than $1000 a month there.

    As we started doing some traveling action I started having some difficulty following Cindy. It takes different moves to travel in the deep end than in the shallower water. Pamela saw my difficulties and stepped in, offered to help. She said if I did not want her help that would be fine, she'd step back. I figured I had nothing to lose and maybe something to gain so I said sure, I'd take her help.

    She started me out doing some moves with a noodle between my legs, holding it tight and pushing down with my feet while I pushed forward with my arms, holding foam "weights". She corrected my position (tummy in, butt in, straight up) and when I seemed to be getting that move she showed me a related one. After a while I moved back to what the class was doing, trying this and that, and Pamela offered additional suggestions on doing some of the moves ("Slow it down. Lift your knees up. Better for your knees and for your age.") and encouraged me by saying my pain would go away if I keep doing it.

    At the end Cindy said let's have a potluck, and class members chimed in and she invited me so I said "where?" and she said "right here".  I might just do it. A potluck out on the deck by the pool at the gym. I sure didn't expect that when I joined.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Another Night and Another Morning

    Last night I conked out easily and stayed asleep until about five a.m. What a lovely feeling. No uncomfortable leg things, no waking all night long. And I took no drugs.

    This morning I made my way to the gym after nine, feeling somewhat lazy, and did my usual little workout with the machines and so on, then took a shower and dressed for the day. I had a cup of tea at the gym cafe before leaving. Because I was up and about I decided to do errands around town. I went to Costco to pick up some things and found that the more I walked around the store the more in pain I was. I could hardly wait to get to the car. The pain was mostly in my right leg, my calf and thigh, but also somewhat in my left knee.

    I talked myself into going to Petco to pick up cat food, managed that okay but still in pain, and finally stopped at CVS to get paper towels (I get them there because they have 100% recycled paper towels as well as 100% recycled TP in 1000-sheet rolls). Then to home, where I managed to get everything inside before I heated up some soup and some Boca burgers for my lunch.

    What I want more than anything else is to be able to walk around without pain. That's it.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Aqua Aqua with Barb

    Overheard in the Aqua class this morning:

    "A good horseback ride is a good horseback ride. You don't have to marry the guy!"

    It is tidbits like this that make the class really enjoyable, and in the case of today's class, also the spontaneous singing along of one of the class members, to some western songs. She was hilarious and the teacher, Barb, joined in and seemed to enjoy it as fully as the rest of us.

    Otherwise, I felt Barb was a bit too much one-note in the cardio area, doing way too many jumping jacks and little else. It was funny to watch her, though, as she raced from one end of the class to the other (on the deck), calling on us to "face me!" so we had to turn around and do more jacks in opposite directions again and again and she got a hell of a workout just running back and forth and then demonstrating the jacks. Once we got into the weights I was happy enough, but I worked my way to an area where I could put my feet on the bottom of the pool (I had been hanging in the deep end for cardio) so I could manage the moves better. It takes a little more control to do these things without the stability of feet on the ground.

    I still feel rather like death warmed over in my head but my body feels more loosened up and in less pain. This is a good thing.


    I can't get any meaningful amount of sleep tonight. My legs won't relax sufficiently, my arm hurts at times, I keep trying to get comfortable. When I went to bed at a bit after ten I immediately noticed that my legs were being troublesome so I took some acetaminophen pm tablets (two) and hoped that would get me through it. But they did not work. I have gotten up numerous times, read first one book, then another, took a shower, basking in the heat, tried to sleep again, and nothing.

    Even before I tried to sleep I experienced some cramps. My right inner thigh went into cramping shortly after I went to bed. I worked that out, then about an hour later my left leg started to feel crampy but it did not get too far with it, then another bout with the right leg.

    I only hope this does not impair me significantly later today, when I get up for real and head for an Aqua class again.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Pity Party

    Yesterday morning I joined friend Maryann in the pool for an Aqua class. It went well, with the instructor I like better, Kerry, and I realized I'd do better in the future if I stay in the deep end. Little by little we learn these adjustments to take the stress off our joints.

    We decided after that we'd try the "Active" class this afternoon, at 4:30. I was a little reluctant to try it on the same day because it just might be too much but also reluctant because I figured it would be a problem for my arthritis. I had no idea what it would be but I knew it was a floor class and the information didn't say anything about chairs, for example. Still, it is listed as a class good for people just getting started so I thought maybe it would be okay.

    I arrived at the class to find friend Peggy there and Maryann chatting it up with somebody else, sitting on a balance ball. Peggy has a way of taking over things and she took me in hand, and I got my equipment out: steps and weights and a mat. I was a little concerned that it was a step-type class but I didn't know, again, what to expect. Peggy said the steps are not complicated and you don't have to use the step, of course (which I knew I would not do). When the instructor came in I went to talk to her. I said I had arthritis in my knees, hip, and shoulder and she said just take it easy, don't go on the step, use lower weights.

    Turns out that wasn't enough. My legs and knees were in pain just about immediately and stayed there through the cardio section. I felt pain in my knees, tightness and discomfort in my calves, pain in my right hip. As the section progressed I felt less and less able to do the simple steps. Then came the weights. We had to lie down on the steps to do the weight work. Nothing I haven't done before. The weight work was not difficult except that my left arm could not do much of it. I ended up using my right arm most of the time. Then, getting up again was difficult; Peggy offered me her hand but she has no idea how much of my weight she would have had to take; I simply worked my way up, somewhat painfully, from my knees (not good) to standing. Finished the weights there, again only my right arm.

    Balance work was tricky with my pronated knees. Of course I knew this situation and I did what I could. Balance work is good for me. Finally, there was floor work. I ended it there. I wasn't going down on the floor to do abdominals. I can do abs other ways that don't require that I rise painfully to my feet afterwards.

    So when the rest of the class was doing abs I methodically took my equipment back to the storage room and put it away, then left the class. I went downstairs to the showers and found myself crying in there, tears joining the hot water that felt so good.

    I felt a mixture of pity for myself along with a kind of anger at others. I recognize that it isn't fair of me to assume or hope that one of these type instructors would understand my limitations. Other people have arthritis but it isn't always painful in the same way. Believe me, I knew when I looked at the step and heard of the 20 minutes of cardio that this would not be a good thing for me. Yet I indulged in my feelings of sadness and self-pity and anger at the misunderstanding world. I hate it when people assume I am having trouble because I am new at something or out of shape when it has nothing to do with that.

    I felt this minor depression last night, as my body accused me of overdoing. My back hurt, my legs hurt, everything arthritis hurt, and I wondered how I'd sleep. With drugs is the answer. Acetaminophen pm. Then this morning, as I rose creakily from bed I decided to help my chances and took two acetaminophen tablets before heading out to do my usual little workout and then went to my sewing class.

    Right now I feel recovered, as much as I usually can be. My right hip is not bothering me and I am getting up without a lot of pain. I think doing the simple workout this morning was a good thing because it loosened the joints a bit and gave my body some little bit of work to do that, as the Arthritis Foundation says, is "the best medicine".

    As I sit back, a day away from the worst of it, I think my venture into the Active class does have a purpose: it sets a baseline of sorts. I can look back later, probably much much later, when I try the class again, when I feel more stable and comfortable on my feet.

    photos are generic, do not represent the actual classes I took but look similar

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Arthritis Foundation Agrees with Me

    The Arthritis Foundation (AF) is celebrating Arthritis Month in May, and is kicking it off with a campaign called "Moving is the Best Medicine". Well, I have to agree! I can't say I have cured all my ills in the short time I have been back working on the bod more seriously but I do know I am better off moving than not moving.

    An advertising company representing the Arthritis Foundation asked me to write about the AF campaign and let others know of some of the components of it. In return, they offered me a basket of goodies, which I will describe below, along with a way YOU can win something from that basket! (I don't feel right grabbing it all myself.)

    Figth Arthritis Pain

    I am happy to write about this because it is something I believe in. I hope, through my experiences described here, that I will be joining others who do this too and will offer some tips here and there that might benefit others as well.

    Here are the basics of the "Moving is the Best Medicine" campaign:
    • Light exercise and staying active can help reduce the risk and pains associated with osteoarthritis.
    • It’s easy (and fun!) to incorporate more movement into your life – watch the entertaining campaign PSAs here:
    • And throughout the month of May (National Arthritis Month), there will be over 100 Arthritis Walks held nationwide to help raise awareness and funds to help improve the lives of those that live with arthritis. For more info visit:
    So that's a clear message. And here's the fun part:

    If you leave a comment below, related to this post - tell us what kinds of exercise work for you or how you feel about the Arthritis Foundation or how much you love this blog...anything related to this post - you will be entered into a drawing for one or more of the following gifts:

    • A copy of Walk With Ease
    • A DVD of Tai Chi For Arthritis
    • A set of light dumbbells
    • A coupon for Scrubbing Bubbles automatic shower cleaner
    • Pilot Dr. Grip Pen
    • Hefty 1 zip storage bag coupons
    • Cardinal EasyOpen Binders.

    All of which are gifts from the Arthritis Foundation. Note: it appears that the Arthritis Foundation's website does not include any advertising, but its cohort Arthritis Today does, and it includes advertising for drugs. Use common sense in following any advice on the use of medications.

    I'll need to know how to reach you to get your address if you win. You can include your email address with your comment or, if you don't wish to do so, just send it to me at judith (at) judithlautner (dot) net.

    You can include in your comments what gift(s) you'd like if you win and we'll try to get that one to you if it hasn't already been taken. Another disclosure: I really want to try out the Tai Chi DVD before I send it on to somebody else, so it will be slightly used and slightly delayed.

    We will hold the drawing for the winners at the end of the month.

    Sunday, May 2, 2010


    I left the gym feeling about as achey and in pain as when I went in. My back hurt, my legs hurt, my hip hurt. The pain in my hip is partly on the inside, I realized. I had been thinking it was mostly outer thigh but it isn't, or at least not entirely.

    I went to the Farmers' Market right there in the parking lot of the gym and bought mainly food that is already prepared - Chana Masala and a seasoned basmati rice, falafels and whole wheat pitas, cucumber salad, and a lovely strawberry juice. Just juice, really refreshing.

    I limped and ached my way back to the car. As I sit here my left arm is hurting so much I need to stop writing.

    A Day Off?

    Yesterday I didn't do any exercise.  Instead, I went to a bookcrossing meeting, offered some books, took some books, then went to a fellow bookcrosser's home to grab a bunch more books (she's moving and has to cull). In that process I stayed standing quite a bit of the time, as I chose books and moved them from place to place. I mention this as a possible reason I was uncomfortable last night, in bed, restless, unable to get my legs comfortable.

    I finally got up and took a hot shower. I sat under the very hot water for a while, until I felt relaxed. After I got back into bed, sleep came more easily.

    Last night, too, though, I went to a concert. I sat in a concert seat for about two hours without getting up. My legs weren't uncomfortable at the time but perhaps that contributed.

    This morning I woke feeling sluggish, uninterested in exercise. Nevertheless, I put on exercise togs and I will be off to do my usual routine soon. Yesterday I thought I might try an "Active" class too but right now I don't think so. I just feel tired and that's that. Not to mention my legs just hurt.