October 18, 2022

walking around the apartment isn’t quite as idyllic…


Pain is temporary.  Quitting lasts forever.

-Lance Armstrong


This past week has been an ordeal.  It’s not unusual for me to feel some pain when I walk – back pain and muscle pain mostly.  Usually, I can ignore it, “walk through it,” as they say, and carry on.  After a couple of hours of rest in my beloved recliner, the pain is gone and I’m ready to continue the next day.  Sometimes, I’ll have an extra sharp pain, somewhere or other – doesn’t ever seem to be in the same place, and I’ll take a day off for a little extra rest so I won’t make it worse.  That works pretty well and it has always taken care of the problem.  I’m not particularly surprised when I get a pain here or there – I am 73, after all.  But for the past week, something else has been happening.

A week ago, I noticed a mild, barely noticeable dull ache on the right outer side of my hip.  Not in the joint, but on the top end of the femur at a place called the greater trochanter.  I figured it was just the usual muscle pain, an overuse kind of thing, and it would go away.  For a couple of days, Waldo and I did our usual trek and the pain didn’t get worse while I was walking.  But it didn’t go away.  On the third night, when I lay on my right side, the pain got significantly worse and the ache kept me awake much of the night, even when I rolled over.  Next morning, I decided, much to Waldo’s disappointment, to avoid the rail-trail to see if it got any better.  It didn’t.  Day by day, it got worse, to the point where it’s difficult to walk even a half-mile without periodically stopping.  Ugh.  Now I don’t even attempt going to bed – I get what sleep I can in the recliner, the one place I can get some, though not very much, relief.

I diagnosed myself with greater trochanteric pain syndrome, a fairly common occurrence, and tried to get an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.  A surgeon can inject steroids into the trochanteric bursa which will decrease the inflammation that causes the pain.  Complete relief usually follows soon after.  However, the best I could do is get an appointment in another week – the surgeons are pretty busy.  Until then, I have to just suffer through as best I can.  Nonsteroidal pain medication doesn’t help any and ice gives only some temporary relief.  Sigh.

Over the years, I have had enough pain that when I get some, it feels like I’m meeting an old acquaintance.  An irritating, bothersome acquaintance, for sure.  But one I’m familiar with and, like a troublesome family member who overstays their welcome, I know that it will sooner or later depart and become just another memory.  Perseverating about it, trying to push it away and getting agitated about it will only make it worse.  The key is patience.  Lots of patience.  Accept it, make friends with it as best you can, and wait it out.

Pain and pleasure are different ends of a spectrum – you can’t have one without the other.  It’s all just a part of the human experience.  A bar magnet always has a north pole and a south pole.  You can never have one without the other.  They come only in pairs.  You chop a bar magnet in half and you end up with two bar magnets, each with a north and a south pole.  In the same way, no life can have only pleasure without pain.  Everyone will have pleasure sometimes, but they can never avoid pain and even the roughest life has some pleasure in it.  They’re different ends of the same stick.  Wishing life to be something it isn’t is just a waste of time.  You just cope.  Sigh.

Waldo is coping quite well too.  We only walk a half-mile around the apartment complex, several times a day, and he isn’t able to work out all his border collie energy in the distance I can now walk.  He tugs at the leash a little more than normal because I’m walking significantly slower.  But he still romps around and goes after sticks and chases rabbits, although he’s a bit more frenetic about it than usual.  He’s patient with me and seems to know that this will not last forever.  After all, he had to wait a good six weeks before we could return to our full rail-trial trek when I sprained my ankle a while back, so he’s been here before too.  But I do worry about what I’m going to do if something happens and I can’t even take him out to do his business.  I’ve not yet come up with a good solution for that.

We both take a deep breath and just sigh.


…and yet, even here, she shows off her beauty.

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