Saturday, August 16, 2014

Once Again, PT Restoreth My Resolve

For the sixth time in the past decade, I am finishing a round of physical therapy. The first round back in Northern Virginia was for spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the lumbar spine, a condition that makes it challenging to sustain a good walk, one of the prime joys of my existence. That was followed within a year by cardiac rehab after some heavy-duty heart surgery. (By now I had begun to realize that I hadn't hit the 60s so much as the 60s had hit me.) Next I was introduced to knee therapy in Roanoke after laser repair of a meniscus. After moving to South Carolina, I soon had some refresher PT for the back, and then strenuous PT after my total knee replacement about which I blogged extensively last year.

The most recent round this summer has been to try to contain or even reverse further ravages of spinal stenosis (plus bone spurs and osteoarthritis) so as to retain mobility. I may be due some more sessions. I will find out after a visit to the orthopedist this week. In any event, PT once again has made me think about what it is I need to do after I no longer have the fancy exercise machines and expert guidance on hand for me.

In short, as I learned in my most inspiring first round of aqua-and-gym PT with Michele way back in 2004, I need to work out regularly, watch what I eat, and shed excess pounds. As I found back then, losing even five pounds starts to relieve pressure on the lower spine. Imagine what a loss of 20 or 30 pounds would do for my ability to walk miles without pain.

It is easier said than done, especially in our current circumstances. In a household that has been preparing home-cooked meals for nearly a half-century, laboring in the kitchen has lost its luster. And we live in the land of milk, honey, and hush puppies. There are more than 300 fine restaurants in the area, many of them featuring fried seafood and buffets that are just about endless.

In face of the challenge to do better, I today rejoined Weight Watchers (online version for men). I was making good progress with WW back during the past winter, but with Spring I fell off the celery wagon and regained all I had lost. Disgusted with myself, I dropped out; however, I find now I miss the daily discipline of tracking what I consume and seeing how it fits (hopefully) within WW's points system. The system also yields a lot of good information about food choices, even when you eat out. So I have re-upped.

The second step I need to take is to try to duplicate the great exercises I have done three times a week in PT. I don't think I can afford to hire a personal trainer, but I could rejoin the family YMCA and get the staffers there to teach me how to use the back-stretching and power-lifting machines most resembling those that were available to me in the lower-back PT. Plus, the "Y' has a nice pool and aqua classes. It wouldn't hurt for me to do some of my exercise in the water, with the pressure off the joints and back.

So today a plan started coming together. Of course, daily walks with Superdawg will continue to be a must. She will see to that. But I need to do more. With the advance of years, exercise becomes more important, not less.

                                         © Robert G. Holland  2014

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