Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DAY 51 - My Left Knee

Not nearly as popular as the Academy Award winning 1989 film, My Left Foot, Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, the saga of my left knee is the story of a doctor’s struggle to get off his rear-end and take care of himself. It is also a story of redemption and a great detox fast.

I was 54 in November of 2005 when my left knee began to hurt. At times it ached. At times it felt fine. Most of the time it was mildly to moderately painful to walk. I often walked with a limp.

As any chiropractor would know, it was reasonable to assume that my low back was a significant, or THE cause, of my knee pain. Nerves that come from the low back, supply all the muscles of the hips, buttocks, and legs. If these nerves are compromised by associated causes and effects of a stiffening of the joints of the low back, the function of the muscles that support and control the knees can also be compromised, resulting in knee pain.

Given my history since childhood of low back pain that developed into serious degenerative disc disease, and given my poor track record for doing daily stretching exercises, my low back was most probably the cause of my knee pain.

That same November of 2005 I knew that I needed to clean up my act and start stretching 30-60 minutes per day to restore mobility to my low back, regain the function of my knee, and end the pain. And I meant to.

On April 28, 2006 I entered this honest self-appraisal in my health journal:
“And now ..... my own frailty. I have been doing a poor job of caring for myself over the last 3 years. Doing an hour's worth of yoga helped. But I have not done my yoga regularly. Today marks 2 days straight that I have done an hour of yoga each day. I have let my stretching go so long, that now it is both painful and exhausting. But, at least, what is happening makes sense. My current goal is to see if I can do an hour of yoga each day until the knee pain is completely gone for a week. Then I can stop until the pain comes back. :)  I would like to get back to being able to put my palms on the floor when standing, and head to the floor between my legs when seated.”

The years rolled by, and on December 12, 2008 I posted the following:
“The left knee pain continues in a non-debilitating way – but clearly limiting. And I still haven’t changed my life to fix it.”

Without making excuses, it is worth noting that I wasn’t watching soap operas or professional sports when I could have been stretching. I was leading a very full life that included many personal, family, community and global health enhancing activities. Daily I talked with myself about the choices that I was making, and the risks that I was taking. Sometimes I just had to put an election or an issue like nuclear weapons or global warming before my bodily ills. At other times I was just too exhausted to make the time and get myself on the floor for an hour of stretching.

Nonetheless, March 17, 2010 rolled around, and this is what I had to say:
“My left knee continues to be a problem – I limp nearly daily – I am very limited in my ability to walk any distance. My low back has been stiff for the last 5-6 years and I have done little to change it.”

Here comes the redemption part. I started writing this book, Turning 60 Consciously ... With Something to Say, on my 59th birthday on October 5, 2010. I’m spending 2-4 hours per day writing, and let me tell you, I am more conscious. Though I am not doing a great job, the consciousness seems to be having an affect and I am doing better with my stretching; 3-4 days a week of 30-60 minutes. And guess what, my knee is doing much better!!! The last 2 evenings I have gone on a 45 minute walk, and had very little pain, and just the slightest limp!!!

The question now, as it is for each of us, is can I stay on the wagon.

I promised you a gem of a detox fast:
On January 25, 2006,  3 months into my knee problem I began a 3-day UltraClear-only (a hypoallergenic meal replacement for improved metabolic detoxification) detox diet/fast (not a true fast, but a fast from regular food). I don’t recall if I had knee pain on day one of my UltraClear diet, but on days 2 and 3, I had no knee pain. On the morning of January 28 I began to eat regular food. For breakfast I had a bowl of homemade applesauce with cinnamon (no sweetening); a banana; a bowl of brown rice with avocado, salt, and flax oil. During the first half of the day I experienced a tiny amount of knee pain. For lunch I had a bowl of plain brown rice. When I stood up from eating my rice, I had mild-moderate pain in my left knee.

Food allergies and intolerances can cause pain anywhere in the body; commonly in the knees. Removal of suspected foods from the diet can often result in symptom lessening and functional improvement. Using UltraClear as a food/meal replacement can be an excellent way of continuing nutrient intake while avoiding possible allergic reactions.

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