Title photograph : Calstock boatyard, Tamar UK. ‘la Desirade’
The current series of blog posts that are scheduled for the next couple of weeks were all started in the last few weeks leading up to my knee surgery. I did have a manic burst of writing and editing posts, some of those were old projects and many readers will realise that the latter ones relate to a failed project. If that project had gone ahead i would now be trying to work out how to do the practical jobs, such as laminating new frames, while feeling like that’s the last thing i wanted to do. I’m glad i didn’t go down that route because, to be honest, i don’t feel much like doing very much at all. Luckily though, having developed the habit (and discipline) of sitting at the keyboard nearly every day and writing about something boat related i can at least do that….although it won’t necasarily be boat directly boat related for a while.
This post then, and my apologies for the long introduction, is the first post that i am actually writing from new since my knee operation last week. In real time terms i am on post-operative day 7 and home, moving around on crutches….slowly. I am walking, in fact i have already walked several hundred yards on a couple of occasions and yes i really knew about it when i sat down !. This week feels as though it needs to be a combination of rest and exercise.
I didn’t get much sleep at the hospital, certainly not on the operation night but spent most of it talking with the other patient in our 4 bed bay ; mainly swapping stories and anecdotes about our travels in New Zealand which was nice. In days past a night sister would have come in and told us to shut it and get some sleep, luckily we had someone sensible on duty who supplied us with regular coffee, biscuits and analgesia and largely left us to it. I think we both managed maybe an hours sleep at best each so the first day was going to be a bit rough. I had high hopes of getting home that evening as i had done everything that i needed to ie walked safely on crutches, done the stairs, x ray ok, bloods ok and so on……but was absolutely shagged and sore at the end of it. By the time we had said hello to the next 2 arrivals, had something to eat and a dose of something nice we were both out for the count. Today at home i’m still a bit tired and lethargic but just getting into a new routine of working upstairs and then tackling the stairs to go down and make a coffee….the stairs in an 1840’s miners cottage being a little bit on the challenging side balancing on crutches.
My exercise routine this week is mainly about trying to get the new knee joint to bend a bit more…and a bit more after that. To get home i had to achieve a 90 degree bend, walk with crutches reasonably competently and go up and down stairs just on the crutches. For some reason i seemed to remember that a straight-leg raise was the goal on the operation day and it was hilarious trying to do that after the spinal aneasthetic as i couldn’t even feel where my feet were at that point. A couple of hours after after surgery i tried a straight leg raise as soon as i could feel my feet again, that was frustratingly hilarious and even harder the next day when the swelling around the joint was peaking. This morning i not only got it up but waved it around a bit….ooh-err nursey ! This week’s admin jobs are to make an appointment to see the physio at the local hospital and go see my GP about another problem that got picked up during my hospital stay. I must say that nurses usually make for difficult patients and i was no exception, not being ‘difficult’ in a challenging sense but that i got a mild telling-off for getting myself up and dressed a few hours after my operation. It was however only a mild telling-off from the nursing staff and both the surgeon and physio’s were much more ‘go for it’….it was generally a good experience in the hospital.
For today’s post i was trying to find a theme for this as a first in a series of posts and that’s because i have found that i can develop a theme better over a series of posts rather than as a one-off. Hopefully by now many of you will have seen that approach with the series on starter boats. I have got a long recovery and rehab time ahead of me now and i don’t want to ‘peak’ at a limit of ‘normal’ activity but want to aim a lot higher….for a much higher level of fitness and mobility again. This, last year, has been pretty deadly for my health and fitness because i have been limited more and more by pain from that knee especially given that my job involves me standing for long periods. Without being able to walk a lot and not being stable enough to do free weights my fitness has gone down and down and my weight up and up. Standing for long periods at work became a truly miserable experience too so of course i questioned even being at work at all. What i intend to do is start working on all of that as soon as i can. Given that my base fitness has always been most determined by my life in the outdoors it’s a problem now that don’t really have that at all and may not have it the same way in the future. The reality is that my days of tramping (hiking) for miles across moorland, mountain, river and deep bush is probably all in the past….especially carrying heavy load. My hard routine of ‘rucking’ heavy weight, usually firewood, might well be off the menu. To get any long term benefit out of the new knee i have to get my weight down and again and quickly…that probably means joining a good gym and several sessions with a knowledgeable remedial physio/trainer. I know that i respond much better to hard exercise than say ‘light’ exercise and that really means getting back under a barbell again.
If there is a theme it is about finding a new daily routine for the next few weeks and then working practically into the rehab. Before surgery i did get a few books in, read one while i was in hospital and have several to work on although right now i’m struggling a bit to concentrate on some of the heavyweight stuff so i counter that with lighter stuff on youtube. Often in the morning i spend some time in the intellectual dark web with anyone from Petersen, Sam Harris, Dave Rubin and so on….in fact i am going to talk about a bit of that in today’s post. Today by mid afternoon i already had cabin fever so we just went down to the yard,had a walk around, had a coffee in the honesty cafe and chatted with a couple of boat-owners including the French owner of this voyaging/liveboard….he has got engine problems but managed to sail up to the yard after a 50 hour passage over from Camaret. Something that struck me at the yard is generally how physically competent and agile we have to be just to move around a traditional riverside boatyard like this one…narrow and steep greasy ladders, muddy and uneven slipways….not called slipways by chance ! Of course right now even moving around on an uneven surface is ‘interesting’ let alone getting down the narrow walkway to the dinghy pontoon.
‘La Desirade’….Steel Colin Archer design.
The ‘second rule’ that i put in the title comes directly from the book that i took with me to read in hospital..Dr Jordan Petersen’s ’12 Rules for life’. I talked about JBP in one post and then mentioned the book in a separate post after i had been to his first public lecture in the UK. Petersen now seems to be a jet-setting rockstar moral philosopher running around the world giving major public lectures. I got the book as part of the ticket price but then put the book aside for several months mainly with my surgery and this period in mind when i thought i would need some mental stimulation. The first rule , by the way, mainly concerns lobsters ! The ‘second rule’ here is taken directly from the book so i will talk about that briefly. The context here though is thinking about this blog’s audience. If Dylan Winter has it right and my readers demographic is about the same as his, same subject and so on, then mainly our visitors/readers are, on average, blokes between the ages of 50 and 70. I’m right at the centre of that distribution and from what i can tell many of the readers that i have got to know are about in there as well.
There are a couple of problems with being in that demographic and they are : firstly that we aren’t the best group for looking after ourselves and secondly that it’s the age range where things are starting to wear out or other major problems are starting to appear. An example of the first is that i have had my ‘poo-stick’ sitting here for months and still haven’t dealt with that*…..and i work in the very department where we deal with that kind of stuff, the second of course is that one set of bearings have already worn out. The reality of our gender and age group is unfortunately’simple’ problems such as arthritis but also early prostate cancer, bowel cancer……the list goes on ! Although a poor example statistically i just happened to work out, from the medicines being given out, that 2 out of the 4 of us in that bay had been treated or were being treated for prostate cancer and of course we were 100% on joint replacements….for only the younger 2 of us was it a first time.
I’m not here to lecture but you know, generally, we MOB’s are going to start wearing out or getting potentially serious health problems and we aren’t the sharpest blades when it comes to recognising and dealing with this stuff : sorry-but, it’s generally the case that men just aren’t. My recent experience with my lovely GP and the hospital threw up 2 other problems which i have got to deal with so if there is any message today it is to have a think about this stuff a bit.
The ‘second rule’ taken from Dr Jordan B Petersen’s ’12 Rules for life’ by the way is :
“Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping”
For a few posts at least boats are going to be in the background, although definitely there (don’t panic) and i am going to talk to you good people about health related stuff using my own experiences during this time to highlight some of the problems of being a ‘young’ MOB (moany old bloke).
Edit and re-post.
After i published the post i came across a series of podcasts narrated by Dr Petersen himself taken directly from his book.
Here is the ‘second rule podcast’ obviously this is his unique work and rights belong to him.