Saturday, June 2, 2018

Tours: More Walking and Hiking Than I Thought I Could Do!

At the Ponte Vecchio
Between my knee pain from patellofemoral syndrome and my foot pain from hammertoes, for years I've had some limited mobility. At first I could hardly walk or stand. I could no longer ride a bicycle or walk down stairs. At my local YMCA I had to use the disabled locker room, because I couldn't do the stairs. With each diagnosis, I went through anger and depression. My thoughts ranged from "What?! I'm not even halfway done with life!" to "I give up."

I dutifully attended my physical therapy appointments, and initially did all of the prescribed exercises. Once the intense pain subsided, I often slacked off, lazily skipping my exercises until the pain returned. And some exercises made the pain worse, so I had to stop doing even gentle squats or leg presses.

But over time, I got better. I was able to get rid of the stool in my classroom, because I was able to stand. I eventually was able to walk down stairs again. I hike, walk, lift weights, and swim. And my husband and I have even started going on walking and hiking tours.

Two years ago we went on vacation to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park with Road Scholar. The trip was fantastic, and the guides were wonderful.

This spring we went to Italy. Again, fantastic guides and an amazing experience. Walked and walked and walked. On cobblestones, marble floors, and up and down stairs. Most days I had sore feet, but so did everyone else. And oh, what an experience!

The Colosseum in Rome
Stairs in the Colosseum

Walked all over the Forum, and up Palatine Hill for this view

Walked many stairs in Rome!
The Vatican

Gallery of Maps in the Vatican

The Pantheon
Inside the Pantheon
Bernini's David

Ancient Roman Sculptures 

Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Ponte Vecchio
Michelangelo's David
Brunelleschi's Dome at the Piazza del Duomo
Market Stall

Meat Counter

Inside the Palazzo Vecchio

Walking Around Florence

Doesn't every city have a dollar store?

Catching the high speed rail to Venice

The Grand Canal
Bridge near our hotel

One of our wonderful Road Scholar guides

The Grand Canal

Venice alley

Fashionable Italians
Replacing a bulb

Fresh fish

Gondola ride

Venice Canal

Gondolas near Piazza di San Marco

Venice light

Venetian windows

Glass blower on Murano
Murano canal

A night cruise

New and old together in the Jewish Ghetto in Venice

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Footwear Experiment

Barefoot is still the best!
It's been five plus years since my last post. I've been busy with life, and through many changes: fledging a young adult into the world, retirement, learning to make mosaics, becoming a watercolor painter in earnest. And through it all, my knees and feet have survived pretty darn well.
Watercolor sketching at the beach 
Last year I unwittingly did a foot experiment. My feet had been feeling great, so I gradually wore other normal shoes more and more, and my Vibrams less and less. Nothing crazy, no high heels. But not my Veebs. Eventually I noticed that my feet were hurting, mostly in the ball of the foot. The pain became more and more persistent until I could no longer avoid it. I tried lots of things: massage, epsom salt foot baths, ice, rest. Those things helped a bit, but the pain wouldn't go away.
A lovely beach hike
Then I finally realized that I had stopped wearing the Vibrams altogether.  I put them back on. Wore them for one day. And after just one day, the pain was gone!
My four favorite pairs of Vibrams: all Komodos
So now I make sure to wear them at least a few days a week. My foot muscles need exercise, just like the other muscles in my body. And they need stretching, and massage, some tender loving care every so often.
One of my favorite places to walk
I'm still an avid fan of "The Veebs."  My Vibram shoes have proven to be a lifesaver for me. I'm now on my fifth or sixth pair of Vibrams. It's definitely time to buy a new pair!