Old dog….new tricks.

A health update post.

I hope that some of you will have seen my health related posts in which i am talking primarily about mens health by relating my own experiences.  Today i am going to give a quick update on my own progress and what i intend to do next to get back to full fitness.

Firstly the surgical scar is healing very nicely, i didn’t realise that there were no sutures or staples and that the skin over the knee was only glued together but it’s an amazingly neat result.  A small area of skin just over my kneecap is still numb and there is still some obvious swelling just above the knee.  Last week i saw the physiotherapist for the first time  and she was very happy with my progress in that the range of movement is increasing and that i am getting on with it.  She did say though that i am possibly pushing it a bit too hard.   The big problem is still lack of sleep as once i lay down at night the whole lower leg just aches continually and doesn’t seem to respond much to analgesia….or at least not for very long.  The end result of that is that i am still groggy and fuzzy halfway through the morning so the blog is a bit of a fight.   We did have a talk about what to do next and what i could be doing right now…..going to the gym for example but not doing weighted lower body exercises.    When  started thinking about what exercises i could do, even how to warm up properly, i was at a bit of a loss except perhaps for doing lots of bench-press and pull-ups…..everything else being either lower body dominant or requiring me to get on the floor.

Today, as i write, i have decided to take on the responsibility for getting myself back to full fitness so that work isn’t literally painful and so that i can do everything on the boat.  In fact i want to achieve maximal fitness for this decade so that i can get stuff done.      My main problem is that although i know quite a lot about exercise i don’t know where to start given the very obvious limitations of a new knee replacement.         Now, one good question is “why not ask the physiotherapist” and i have already done that.  The problem there is that the physio’s goal is simply to get me back to a relatively normal degree of function and not to get me to the much higher level i need for my sailing life.

Although i have never been what you would call an athlete i have had times in my life where i have achieved high functional fitness, enough for example to be an extreme grade climber.  In more recent years i learnt a whole load about fitness after the gastrocnemus tear and for about 2 years just experimented with how high i could get my own fitness.  I was pleasantly surprised at how far i got but it was hard to keep up the sheer amount of time required and neither did it really have a goal or end-point to aim for…rather it became a thing in it’s own right, possibly as a reaction and stress relief to my work life.   Now, i don’t need to be ‘Volvo-race’ fit as nobody has asked me to go run the grinders on a maxi but equally high physical fitness now would be very good for the things i want to do and might just be very important at this stage of life for things which aren’t so obvious……for example to slow down any mental decline.

Update 2…..exactly one month post-op.

As i write i am fresh back from the physiotherapist again and from my point of view my progress is frustratingly low.   I have pushed the exercise routine a bit such that i have been doing 3 ‘circuits’ of a walk around the block here….remember that this is inland Cornwall and the circuit starts and finishes with a steep uphill section……Cornwall eh !  Unfortunately what has been happening is that the swelling at the bottom end of my quads just increases…..physio says that is a good indication that i am pushing too hard at it.  Last week as well when i was doing one of the simple quads exercises, a push down at the knee….the whole quad muscle was just shaking like a leaf.   You can probably understand that with lots of walking, lots of standing and a base of heavy lower body exercise like the ‘rucking’ i used to do that it’s positively scary how quickly i have lost muscle bulk that side.

Last week i had to drive over to the hospital anyway so i dropped in at work just to say hello….people did remember who i was which is always a bonus….and i used the trip to check out the 2 gyms that i might be able to use.  The physio has cleared me to do any upper body exercise that i like and advised me on what not to do in lower body stuff.  Most of the exercises that i would normally do, lets call it ‘leg’ day i simply can’t do so i can’t actively work on quad strength yet.     The reaction in the 2 gyms was fascinating : the trainer in the gym at the hospital leisure centre was very positive and only needed a clear guide from the physio about what to do and not to do.    The other gym was a major disappointment……just near the hospital we have a community college which has a strong sports science programme and they turn out some very good trainers in the professional sports world.   They also have a community/public access gym and pool at a reasonable price.   The disappointment on the day was the duty trainer : it was like going into a chandlers or outdoor store and meeting the saturday boy who knows nothing about the kit or part you are asking for.  I think we can all guess which gym will be the one i go to.

Talking about gyms…..i said some time back that i had gradually worked out an exercise routine here that totally relied on what i have at home (free weights) the body weight routine i used to do at work and the heavy rucking for brutality and cardio.  Well, all of that is out of the window for quite a while yet so it’s back to the gym like a complete beginner and learning how to do stuff almost like a beginner.  Something i am going to look into is borrowing the heavy old rowing workboat at the yard and simply going out on the river in it…..as soon as i can get in and out of it.  It’s a heavy old tub to row and the most simple fixed thwart and heavy old oars but it’s good exercise and it will be good to get afloat again…..i just need to work out the difficult moves between dock and boat.

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