Lessons in patience

(Mogadore. December 2005.)

One of my favorite activities is walking. And hiking, strolling, rambling, wandering, and meadering. I enjoy putting my body in motion, especially when I can get outdoors to do it. Almost nothing cheers me up as much as a good, long hike.

In the beginning of the back pain and sciatica, walking and standing were just about the only two activities I could do that didn’t cause pain. Being used to walking 3-5 miles a day, I continued walking. But as time has gone on and the pain has worsened, standing and walking are no longer painfree.

This has been frustrating for me, to say the least.

After following the advice of my physician and my physical therapist, things got worse. Having had enough, I gave up. I stopped doing most of the things I was told I should be doing. I was too tired and in too much pain to go on.

I’ve spent the past week mostly resting and getting to know this pain. Now I feel ready to move and move I did. I happily stepped onto the treadmill this morning, starting out at a very slow speed. I’m used to powerwalking and a slow speed to me is usually about 2.5 – 3.0 mph. Today I managed to find a comfortable walking pace at 1.5 mph. I started at 1.0 and worked my way up. So far, I’ve logged in .25 miles in 11 minutes, having to split that between 2 sessions with some rest in between.

I won’t be entering any races or marathons at this speed. A long hike in the woods is not in my immediate future. But it’s a good start. Just that little bit of exercise has lifted my mood. I think the pain has lessened even if it wasn’t long enough or fast enough for the release of those wonderful endorphins.

I keep reminding myself to be patient, to take baby steps. Don’t push, don’t force, don’t overdo it. It might take me all day to make it to 1 mile. That’s okay.

I’m hoping to advance to taking a little stroll outside later today. I’ll have to take my hiking stick and my phone (in case I need some help). I’ll have to take my time on the uneven ground. I’ll have to pay attention to my body so I don’t push, don’t force, don’t overdo.

I’ll let you know how it works out. I suspect just getting outside and soaking up some sunlight will lead to more healing.

You’ve heard this before, my friend, but I have to say it again because this is my last chance to say it. You’re not going out there to prove anything. You’re not going out there to rough it. You’re going to smooth it. You get it rough enough every day! —HARRY ROBERTS, Movin’ On, 1977

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