The best laid plans of mice and men …

Other people have sore knees or knees that can’t walk downhill without discomfort or pain. Not me.  That is, until a week or two after my walk to Gretna.  For the first time in my life, I noticed my knees.

On a couple of occasions since that walk, a shooter of a pain in one of my knees left me staring wide eyed and grunting. During a visit to my GP, she listened to both knees and (they didn’t speak to her but …) she heard them grinding away.  Subtle noises, of course.  Noises not available to the common ear.  Now, after X-rays and ultrasounds, the verdict is clear. I have little to no cartilage left between my knee bones.  Yes, you guessed it. Walking is not advisable.

I whined … ‘but the source of the Derwent River is still a long way off.’  My GP looked at me purposefully, ‘it’s going to take you a long long time to finish that walk. You can add ice or heat treatments, compression knee bandages, and walk with two poles to help, but you shouldn’t walk too far, too often or on uneven ground.’  I pursed my lips. I knew cartilage does not regenerate and I realised that a lifetime of walking has gradually taken its toll on my knees. A number of expletive deletives passed through my mind.

Can I let such a ‘little’ thing get me down? What’s my plan for the future?

I have some day walks planned along the upper Derwent with friends who are ferrying me to and collecting me from various locations. I plan to walk those. If my knees fail me then I will crawl or slither back to cars or buses. No probs!  But I feel that scenario is unlikely.  I suspect I will get through a shortish day walk just fine. Nevertheless the remaining cartilage is a finite quantity and I have to think about how much I want to aggravate the situation.

Many of my blog posts have mentioned my sore feet and how by concentrating on taking one step at a time, I can continue for hours with that focus.  Each walk in the future will continue on this basis until my knees indicate it is unwise to go on.

What else can I do to achieve something like the original goal?

Thinking laterally – here’s the first idea which comes to mind and that therefore is not necessarily one to be converted into action: so far I have covered about 90 kms of the 215 km length of the Derwent River.  If, during the future planned walks I cover another 20 or 30 kms of the river (which I expect requires lots more actual walking kms to achieve those few), I am now considering the idea that whatever kilometre gap remains, I might swim that length, not in the cold Derwent but in a heated Olympic-sized swimming pool located next to the Derwent. One kilometre at a time. Maybe swimming two or three times a week.  One of my original motivations for the Derwent River walk was my need to create a personal physical challenge; the goal of swimming 100 or so kilometres would give me something major to pursue (one armstroke at a time – until the shoulders fail . Hmm perhaps I shouldn’t tempt fate by making such jokes.). Watch this space for the continuation of this idea – or a new one.

18 thoughts on “The best laid plans of mice and men …

  1. Helen Langenberg

    Bad news about the knees. With a sporting past and one reconstruction behind me, I sympathise. I like your alternative!

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Thanks Helen. I guess reconstruction will be in the future for me. But meanwhile I am trying not to sink into misery; can’t walk, can’t drive, can’t can’t can’t… rather I am trying to stay uplifted and can do, can do, can do … something.

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  2. DeeScribes

    Well, you only have one pair of knees and you must keep them for as long as you can. Swimming or aquatic exercise is often better than the constant pounding on pavement. When I win the Lotto and build the “Lotto house” in Tasmania, it will have a heated therapeutic pool. You are welcome to come us it any time.

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Lovely offer. And when I win the Lotto, ditto. But, are you like me and never buy a ticket these days???? We get our lot in life and then go on living. Its the end of a dream for me but not the end of my life. But there will still be more Derwent postings maybe just with less walking.

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      1. DeeScribes

        Sadly, yes. I never buy a ticket. This just means if I ever do buy one, I’m sure to win, right?? I am sure you will continue with your adventure in some way. This is just another chapter in the book!

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  3. Alexandra Farrow

    What an ironic twist! I think you know this river well enough now to be able to set your visualisation in tandem with the strokes and achieve your goal. We will be barracking from the banks and your knees will be conserved. I pledge to join the ranks of your many friends and admirers to shuttle you wherever you desire.

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  4. RuthsArc

    Sorry to hear about the knees. Take care of them. I love the way you “adjust your sails” when your original plan seems impossible. Good luck with walking, swimming or however to take this journey forward.

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      In an attempt to stay positive, I remind myself there are many moreworse things that can happen than bung knees. Part of me wonders whether I should walk until its impossible to do so, and get to the knee reconstruction stage quickly or whether its a more sensible idea to hasten slowly, and delay the inevitable.On this gloomy drizzling day I am putting off such decision making.

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  5. theoldfellowgoesrunning

    My heart sunk when I read this. I am SO very sorry. You have put so much into this, and it has got to be very tough news to take.
    Our knees are very important, and I have so much respect for what you have already accomplished,
    With my running, my heart health and my mental has greatly improved. My knees are not the greatest, there is that fear there will come a time when I can no longer run. For myself, I will have to cross that bridge when it comes.
    Please take care. Take some time. And whatever decision you make will be the right one.
    ~Carl~

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Thanks Carl. I realise there are worse things than bung knees. Now my decision is whether to force my knees into an early reconstruction by continuing to walk (which my rationale self tells me is rediculous), or to hasten slowly towards the inevitable reconstruction and just walk the comparatively easy and simple bits and space such walks over months. Inland Tassie can be very hot in summer (if blizzards aren’t coming through unexpectedly), and winter there can be impossibly cold, so I am conscious there is only a window of opportunity and I feel a pressure to get on with what I can achieve now. But its a gloomy drizzling day down here and therefore not the sort of day for me to make major decisions.

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      1. theoldfellowgoesrunning

        Your health is so important, and I know that gut instinct will be there to show you can safely do, and not to safely do.
        I have learned so much about this area of Tasmania already through your blog, if the walk stretches out longer than anticipated it will mean more reading enjoyment for me. 🙂
        Please take care,
        ~Carl~

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        1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

          Trust me – it will stretch out further. I will be going out there many more times, somehow, somewhere …and soon. Like you I have been learning so much more about Tasmania – when you live in a place, you always imagine that you have a pretty good grasp of it. However the truth of my experience is there is always more to discover. And so close to home. After all the Australian and international travel that I have undertaken, I don’t think I have enjoyed myself more than when researching the Derwent and vicinity, then out on this walk, and of course all the writing up later.

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  6. mamamunho

    I’ve been meaning to write for days but work has taken over. So a bit late in the day, I’m just dropping a line to say how sorry I was to read this and to echo what others have said about looking after your health. Knees are vital! I have been having some twinges from my left knee and I know that this is related to all the walking I’ve done 😦 Well, it sounds as though you’ve got some good plan Bs and Cs and I look forward to seeing how you adapt to this and continue with your adventures!

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Great to hear from you and I am sorry you have knee twinges. We are all, regrettably, built for obsolescence. Some days I hate the concept. My planning is all over the place at the moment because I keep prevaricating between various decisions. Still … I have a couple of solid walking commitments scheduled over the next three weeks. I will do those walks and see how I go. One step at a time – that’s all I have to do, I keep reminding myself. But I would hate to have to press the SOS button on my Personal Locator Beacon. But forever positive ‘I’ll be right!’.

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