Walking with New Boots - and Louise
I haven't been able to go for a proper walk for several years. My left knee was disintegrating, ditto right ankle. Last year, 2012 - feels like last year - courtesy of the NHS and Prof Haddad's team at UCH, I had second knee replacement (first one, right knee, done at his UCH clinic in 1997). Over the past year strength has gradually returned to the left leg, which has eased the pressure on right ankle. Throughout this non-walking period and with whatever has been going on I have kept up T'ai-Chi and Qigong practice and teaching. The gentle yet powerful movements of these practices has maintained my core strength, flexibility and, more importantly, confidence in the power and recovery of my body.
There is a price to pay for leading an athletic life. A professional dancer's career is short and intense, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. But it does wear away the joints, especially the knees. So on Saturday, just over a year after the second insertion of titanium (I always get a massage at security when travelling) was the day to try out new walking boots.
Finding them had taken a bit of a search. Over the past few years I have from time to time - and in hope - bought myself a new pair of shoes, shoes that differ from the only ones I can wear: sandals in the summer and soft boots in the winter, anything else puts pressure on the disintegrating ankle and makes walking impossible - but not of course, for a few feet in a shoe shop. These unworn purchases ended up in charity shops. Finally I managed to find some walking boots, men's, that seemed to accommodate the always-swollen right ankle and, more importantly, allowed me to walk more than a few yards. I had been wearing them around the house for the past few months to get used to them.
Today I put them on and went for a walk!
I am surrounded by perfect walking countryside. For the past few years I have had to look at it but not be in it. Today, walking boots on, I reached for the walking pole and up the hill I went.
Marvellous! The views. The peace. The air. Celebration!
Louise insisted on following me. My slow pace allowed her to keep pace whilst also investigating all the interesting smells in the hedgerow. It is a narrow lane, so any traffic is slowed down, but I was concerned. Neighbour Celia came down the hill in her car, and Louise ran back to the house whilst we chatted.
Outdoors is now once again my back garden.