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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weary bones and a backache

“Weary bones from waiting” wails Madeleine Peyroux and I think about my backache.

It started with my anklebones. I was twelve years old when I twisted my left ankle learning to dance the Highland Fling. I don’t remember when I first sprained the other ankle, however both ankles had many subsequent injuries. I was fourteen when an orthopedic surgeon suggested that I would be in a wheelchair soon if I did not have them surgically fused. When he said he didn’t think my bleeding disorder was a problem, I refused his recommendation. Fifteen years later, I was still using my feet to get around when another orthopedic surgeon looked at my x-rays and made the same prognosis. I refused again. Then I walked out. Thirty years later the ankles had fused by themselves and sure enough they no longer hurt.

The anklebones are connected to the knee bones. Both of my knees have torn cartilage and calcium deposits. The only knee injury I remember happened when I fell in1980. I landed hard on the right knee. I called the hematologist and explained that I had just started a new job and must get an infusion to stop the bleeding into the joint.

His answer was simple, “No way. Blood products are not safe. Put ice on the knee and keep it elevated for as long as it takes to heal.”

The next morning I loaded my lunch bag with ice packs, pulled out my cane and managed to get into my car. I used the cane to hit the gas and the break pedal while I drove to work. When I got to my job I turned the trash can upside down under the desk, elevated my leg and put ice on it. I don’t think that was what the doctor had in mind, but I considered it a reasonable compromise. I kept this routine up for ten days. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else though.

The knee bones are connected to the hipbones and even though I can only remember one hip bleed it was a whopper.

The hipbones are connected to the backbones. Wow, does my back ache! So enough already, I say to myself. It’s time to get serious about physical therapy.

This morning I was in the exercise room working on strengthening core muscles and balance. It is not exactly pumping iron, but for me it really helps. Two days a week I do my physical therapy in the pool. I never learned to swim but I sure do like being in the water.

Half of the pool is about 4 feet deep. I do the warm-up walking in this shallow end and then I work through my routine for about an hour. As my reward I stuff the noodles under my arms and inch my way to the deep (5.5 feet) end to just swing my legs and then just hang. It's great for my back tension. I sort of let my eyes close half way and pretend I am a frog.

Frogs, I believe, do not have weary bones.

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