Not The Comic Book Hero
As a young man, I had no understanding of stiffness after exercise. I had no idea of the pain that came with the arthritic joints of unsteady elderly folk. This would never happen to me.
In the 1940s, I happily skinned my knees in South London streets devoid of motor cars. During the ‘50s, I was introduced to cricket and rugby, two sports I continued regularly to play until, aged forty-five, I moved to Newark on Trent and considered it a little late to join new clubs.
From thirty-five to forty-five, I undertook weight-training three times a week. Throughout my forties, I ran 25,000 miles on roads, including participating in eighteen marathons. Having covered nine miles to work with a knapsack on my back, I showered in my workplace, and then breakfasted in a nearby cafe. On the day I ran fifteen miles before completing a rugby training session, I felt smugly comfortable with the epithet ‘Superman’, bestowed somewhat facetiously, I’m sure, by a group of Social Work students.
I shrugged off sporting injuries, notably tying a broken finger to its neighbour with a bootlace before completing a match. That joint has never bent since, rendering picking up coins rather difficult.
As I entered my sixth decade, a recalcitrant calf muscle forced me to concede that my daily mileage would need to be walked, not run.
During a game of touch rugby at the end of Sam’s December 2007 stag day in the Margaret River wineries, a seventeen-stone friend of the prospective groom, forgetting the rules, tackled me to the ground. I leaped to my feet and tackled him back at the first opportunity. The father of the bride halted the game soon afterwards, saying that ‘someone’ would get hurt.
The best way to overcome the wall—the point in a marathon at which your body tells you that it cannot go on—is said to be to run through the pain until it subsides. When, towards the end of 2008, my left hip developed severe discomfort, I applied that belief. Sometimes I couldn’t sit down afterwards.
About three months after receiving a prosthetic joint in October 2009, I was back to an average of two hours a day of undulating perambulation.
When we began reclaiming our neglected garden in April last year, both Jackie and I spent about six hours a day throughout the summer engaged in heavy tree work, removing stumps, and shifting substantial rocks and concrete.
Abruptly, this March, I shuddered to a halt. My right knee was in such pain that when I visited the GP, I was offered a wheelchair, which I declined. After some improvement, I can walk an occasional two miles and my gardening is somewhat restricted. Were I to be tackled today, I would need helping to my feet.
Exercise is now required to reduce stiffness. It has happened to me. I am not the comic book hero.
That is what I have learned in 2015.
© Derrick Knight, 2015.
Derrick blogs at derrickjknight.com
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