Saturday, July 12, 2014

On Pain and Training

4 months and 6 days ago I had my left Knee replaced.  Total knee replacement.  I had not been able to run for over 3 year because of the bone on bone pain, though I did not know that was the problem until a year and a half ago.  So, from a pain point of view, the total knee replacement is not nearly as painful as the ACL repairs I have had over the last 30 years, but it is a different and enduring pain.  4 months ago 3 days ago I left the hospital with the admonition to use the walker until I was strong enough to walk with crutches, which was to take, according to the PT people, 4 weeks or more.  Never used the walker. Within a week I was down to 1 crutch, within 2 weeks I was walking with a cane. Within 4 weeks I walked most of the time without a cane.  

Last week I did a 3 mile walk, (I did my first 2 mile walk at 4 weeks) and  ran 1 mile of it.  Today I did 1.72 miles, running 1.2 miles of it.  It still takes forever, 22 min a mile, as opposed to 28 min a mile walking, which is also slow, but I did it.  Not supposed to do it, but I also gained 50 lbs since surgery, and that has got to go.  It has got to go right Now.

So what does this have to do with pain?  Day 1 - 3 pain was at a 10 out of 10 most of the time, even with morphine and oxi.  After PT 5 -12 hours later the pain was still 10 out of 10. Right now, on that scale, there is no pain.  It feels like hyper soar muscles from working out with some awesome swelling, and there is pain, but it is not going to stop progress. Its tiny. It's good.

It is high enough, however, to slow me down, and is debilitating enough
to prevent normal actions, but such is the recovery from total knee replacement, and having the bone on bone pain gone might yet be worth the effort.  

How would I know if it is better than before the repair, you might ask?  Well, my right knee is scheduled for replacement in a month and a week, so it still is bone on bone, bone spur central, so I have a direct comparison. The right knee prevents me from bending at the knee, walking up a 6 inch curb, walking down stairs one foot over the other and getting up and down into a chair, without drama and time.  It hurts.  It really hurts.  It makes the surgical pain vanish by comparison.  Yet, the pain at surgery makes them both float away to nothingness.

If it were not for the comparison of the the good to the bad, I would most definitely NOT get the other replaced.  Yet, I am going to do it, because I can deal with it and I do know the difference.

And I am going to Run, 5 days a week.

And I am going to do Bas Rutten bag drills 5 days a week.

And I am going to lose 50 lbs, even if I have to exercise on day 1 after the next surgery.


No, not because they are goals of mine.  I really don't respect goals or those who have to have to them to function.  I am part of the 10 % who hate rules and goal, and looks at everything as a problem that needs solution.

The problem I am trying to solve is as old as man.  Everyone gets older, and dies.  It is more constant than anything else in our lives.  Some claim they will never get older, but that is because they are blind and are deep in denial.  I am older now than I was when I started this martial arts journey back in '72. I am much older now.  I have broken joints, torn ligaments and destroyed cartilage, all as a result of the athletic life I have lead, though very little of it has anything to do with martial arts and genetics. 

The problem is, as I get older, I have slowed down, and I don't really wish to.  I have to adjust and use the wisdom I have gained in my nearly 60 years to overcome the inertia that our biology demands. I have to find new ways to demand more of my body now than when I was 13 years old; ways that don't destroy tissue and bone, as healing is an order of magnitude slower now.  

And I have found the way.  When I took my first karate class back in college, I was told that this was not a sport nor even a self defense at its heart, but rather a life style that would change my thinking, teach me discipline, condition my body, train my mind and carry away my spirit to a place of peace with self knowledge and an attitude of the possible.  Thank you Sensei Gary Berry for my early lessons in Shorin Ryu and GM Bob Cheezic for teaching me that it is more than just karate.   It is that knowledge I am now leaning on. 

Karate is the way of the warrior to be sure, but it is the inner way too.  The way of self knowledge and acceptance, but it is a life time of training that backs it up.  My strength and power that comes from the movements of Hyungs or Kata have built my body to a place where self defense is natural and correct without thought.  I can and do learn new things in almost every class situation I am in; about myself and about how to communicate and help other. I have even found my faith because of my acceptance that I am not the Master of my Fate, but rather I do have the ability to be the master of my reactions, though I have not yet arrived at a place where I can say I own that lesson. 

Life happens, and I make the best of it.

So I train now as much as I did 30 years ago, maybe more.

I will train more, and I will not ignore the pain.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, superman.  I will accept the pain, and use it to motivate me over the next hill.  I have done this my whole life, and I see no reason to stop now.

I will train more Because I can. 

I will train more Because I have spent a life time getting to the point I am at now, and giving up on students and myself is unthinkable. I have trained all my life so that I could continue and improve right now.  I have trained all that time so that I could accept the conditions of my life and not deny them.

I have returned to my roots.  Acceptance.  I am not the master, but the student.

Tang Soo

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