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.