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Thursday, November 18, 2010


This morning, when I awoke at about five a.m., I got up to feed the cats, who were hounding me mercilessly. The pain in my left calf and knee was bad. I had to hold onto the wall and work my way down the hall, taking deep breaths, trying to stay upright. I went back to bed and slept for another two hours, and when I woke again the pain was much less. As I got dressed it was less and less and I was able to do my usual workout at the gym without incident, except for one time. I was doing "resisted hip" exercises - extension, abduction, adduction - with my left leg in a loop, my right holding the floor down, when suddenly my left calf went into another pain strike, similar to what was happening yesterday. Fortunately, it  came out of it and I was able to finish my workout and get home without any further incidents.

For the rest of the day it has been its old self. I am even reminded of what it is like after I have a particularly bad headache: it seems better than before. I don't think it actually is better but I feel such relief that I almost float.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And it continues

Unfortunately, after a bit of respite earlier today, the pain in my left calf and knee returned, with a vengeance.  I had some plans for the afternoon but the pain sent me limping, holding onto whatever I could get, to my bed. I took another codeine-acetaminophen tablet and a nap and woke still in pain. I made my way back down the hall, bent over and sobbing, wondering if this was it, if it would ever get any better.

Little by little I got up and down, walked as well as I could, worked my way around the kitchen, and the pain subsided enough.  I can now get around the house without searing pain. I am hoping that I wake tomorrow over this! Over it!

Pushing through

I have had lower back pain for the past several days. I get back pain now and then but usually it only lasts a day. Not this time. It is hard to do things when my back hurts, needless to say.

This morning I woke with back pain again but it was a little less. My legs, though, were doing worse. It was very painful straightening my legs out for some of my morning exercises. But, as usual, it helped a little just to do them. I found my way to the couch and my computer finally and thought I would do all right. Then I got up to get ready for Aqua class and a sharp pain hit my left calf, from knee on down. It was excruciating. I limped to the counter, which I grabbed, and considered not going to class. I could hardly walk.

The pain was so intense I decided to take an acetaminophen and codeine tablet. Just one. I can sometimes avoid nausea if I take just one. It was soon after that I got my stuff together for Aqua. During the class there were many times my knees and calves hurt, but it was manageable. I could not tell if the pain reliever made a difference or not. Just moving helped.

Lately I realize that I go to the gym more for day-to-day living than for longer-term goals. I find that the exercises help loosen me up a little, make me a little stronger, help me through the day. I know when I go that I will likely leave the gym feeling a little better than when I arrived. It's enough of a reason. And so it was today. I was able to go to the store and do a little shopping without much pain.

Having pain, even these bouts of extreme, burning pain, is not enough of a reason to avoid exercise. Especially because the exercise can help and rarely makes it worse.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cool in the Pool

I live in a place that has a mild climate. Rarely does the temperature dip below 60 degrees F during the day. But there is wind, and in an outdoor pool a temperature of 60 and a bit of wind can make for a chilly experience.

Monday was the first day I really felt it. We were moving actively, as we always are in Aqua class, yet every time my shoulders were outside the water I felt the chill, the goosebumps, on my arms. The water was warm then, however, so it was nice to stay as much under it as possible.

Today it was perhaps chillier and the water was not particularly warm. Probably warm enough for a summer day but not so much for right now. I heard different stories about this: 1)  that usually the pool gets cranked up a bit in the winter but perhaps the staff was caught unawares by the sudden temperature drop; and 2) the pool heater is broken and needs to be fixed.  I could buy either one of those. This is a nice gym but some things are neglected, obvious things, which I don't know if I will ever understand. Could be just a lack of consistent management or a real maintenance plan.

Barb, the cheerleader, was our leader today. She is the queen of the intervals and today she was really into that, to keep us warm. For example: We twisted, suspended (no feet on the pool bottom), as fast as we could, for these intervals:

30 sec, 15 sec break
45 sec, 15 sec break
60 sec, 15 sec break
60 sec, 15 sec break
45 sec, 15 sec break
30 sec, 10 sec break
60 sec, 5 sec break
45 sec, 5 sec break
30 sec

The "breaks" were times we put our feet down and usually did jacks instead of twists.  Following these intervals, we did five minutes of kicks, noodles under our arms and legs extended in front of us, kicks from the hip, alternating flexed and pointed feet. Five minutes is a LONG time doing that.  We did several other activities in intense concentration as well. I will say it did get us warm, as warm as possible given we were not entirely under water. When we "bicycled" in the water with our hands in the air our hands froze. I was reminded of that commercial: "I can't feel my feet!"

There is another class member who always wears a wetsuit top that covers her head as well as part of her face, plus a hat on top. She is practically unrecognizable out of the water. I asked her about her outfit and she said she was still cold but that she had tested the top by not wearing it one time and there is a big difference. She said it is very worth the cost. So I am seriously thinking I'll get me one before the next Aqua class.

The good thing is that all this activity, which really was not different from an average aqua class with Barb, just colder, did seem to be good for my joints. I was able to go to a market and do a little shopping without pain. And now I am moving around the house all right. Much different from yesterday.

More Pain

I had a hard time last night, limping around the house, because my right leg - from the thigh to the knee to the calf to the foot - hurt so much. I took a couple of tylenol arthritis capsules when I went to bed, but woke at about 1:00 am in such pain that I actually cried. I tried pushing my right knee into the bed (one of the twice-daily exercises), an exercise that was so painful I gave it up. I finally took two more capsules of tylenol arthritis and tried to sleep. I found some ways of placing my leg that helped ease the pain a little and finally dropped off to sleep again.

This morning that leg was much better. Still not back to "normal" but more manageable.

I don't like taking pain relievers because I feel they distort my experience with arthritis and skew how it feels (among other reasons). But last night I even looked hard at a bottle of acetaminophen with codeine, just for a moment. That stuff takes away pain, most of the time, but it does so by making me so nauseous and headachey that I usually cannot tolerate taking it. So it was last night. I left it on the shelf.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some Pain Here, Some Pain There

A couple of nights ago I woke two or three times because of sudden pain in my left calf. It wasn't a cramp. I don't know exactly what it was, but it was sudden and sharp and impossible to ignore. By morning it was okay again.

Last night I had pain in my right leg, the calf area also. I limped around a bit and when I arrived at the gym I had sudden pain in my right hip. I managed to get through the gym routine and was feeling a lot better afterwards. But by the time I was off to sewing class, less than an hour later, I was feeling a lot of pain in my right foot. This pain remained throughout class and beyond, and is still with me. I limped around all day, feeling discouraged but trying to stand straight as much as I could.

I may go for tylenol pm tonight.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Up From Pain and Slipping at Times

After my few days of unusually bad pain  I went back to a "normal" that isn't so bad. I have managed to get around without a whole lot of pain, my times on the treadmill have generally not included pain, I have felt well enough to get up and do some cleaning and shopping. Not all wonderful but better.

There are times that I do slip from the path. Last night, for example, I just watched television and did not do my nighttime exercises. If I do not get them done earlier in the evening chances are I will not do them at all. I forgive myself. I am human. It doesn't happen often.

Also, yesterday morning I got started later than usual and skipped the resistance band exercises at the gym, along with the left arm stretches with the wooden stick. These are all exercises that I could skip one day a week, really, considering that I do similar moves in Aqua and that my arms and shoulders are doing much better than my knees and hip. I planned to pull out the bands at home and do them after sewing class anyway, but I didn't do it.

This blog is as much a confessional as a record of pain and progress. I am not looking for advice unless it relates to what I am doing. I am not looking for cheerleaders or coaches, telling me to buck up, get going, don't ever skip an exercise. I know what I need to do and I am doing it. If sometimes I slip that does not mean I need anyone standing over me reminding me that I need to keep this up. Do I not know that?