Exercise and excursions

Well, look at me! Blogging twice in the same month! Let’s hope this becomes a habit. First of all, I have to add a post script to the previous blog. I started doing my pre/post surgery physio and, well, I overdid it. Knowing I may have an 80% bend on my bad knee, I pushed too hard, and for the past week, I’ve had probably closer to a 25% bend. Yeah, I pulled the muscle at the top of my calf, and behind my knee. Even walking was extremely painful and this has all put a delay on my personal preparation for the surgery. But, not much keeps me down. I’ve been doing my own home recovery and have been putting heat on the muscle, and while it’s warm, been doing deep massage on it. I’m very happy to say that in the last two days I’ve gone from not sleeping at night, and being barely able to walk; to sleeping almost normally and walking with a lot less pain. The knee still won’t bend, so stairs are a challenge, but I’m getting there and I know I need to do the physio, just not so exuberantly. Unfortunately, my doctor took some time off during the holidays, and there is now a wait to get in to see him. I have an appointment in another week to get a prescription for a real deep tissue massage, but my method seems to be working for now.

OK, enough of that. I just wanted to do a quick blog about my trip to Cuba. I know many of you have been to tropical locations, but until this past November, the most tropical place I’d been was Southwestern Ontario in the heat of summer. I traveled with my sister and her husband, who have been to Cuba numerous times. We stayed at a little 3-star resort, Villa Tropico Jibacoa, which is halfway between Varadero and Havana. The majority of the rooms at this resort are in small bungalows, with an additional three storey building near the entrance to the complex. A large number of the staff have worked at this resort for 20+ years, and they really do treat you like family. We were very lucky in that our bungalows were pretty much in the middle of the resort. I didn’t actually measure it out, but we appeared to walk the same distance to go from our bungalow to the pool, the lobby and the buffet. Because I was still dealing with my bad knee, it was nice to be in a location that had few steps and where I didn’t have to walk long distances to get where I needed to be. Before I went on this vacation, everyone made comments about what the food might be like. For me personally, I found nothing wrong with the food. No, there wasn’t the variety I’m use to at home. Yes, there was a lot of fish and , but you know what? It’s what I expected. If I wanted french fries and hamburgers, I could have stayed home. My version of traveling is going to other countries and experiencing the country, it’s not going to another country and seeing how they change things to accommodate me. I’m someone who likes to try to things and new cultures. When something new appeared on the buffet, I tried it. I didn’t always like it, but I gave it a chance. 

I had a great chat late one evening, OK, it was early one morning, with Daniel Sanchez Rodriguez, who is the Director de Relaciones Públicas (Director of Public Relations), and we had a wonderful discussion on the expectations and realities of those traveling to a country like Cuba. I told him I heard people had complained because the food was too “Cuban”….folks, you’re in Cuba. I heard people had complained because there wasn’t much of a night life….you chose a 3-star resort midway between Varadero and Havana that, if you read any previous visitor’s comments, is loved by repeat clients because it’s quiet and it’s a place they go to relax, reconnect with friends and not have to deal with crowds and noise. From what I’ve read, they continue to make improvements to this particular resort, including delivering new mini fridges to every room on our last day.

I guess my thoughts on all of this are, if you are taking a vacation, anywhere, do your research. If you want to be pampered and have 4 or 5-star meals, then find the resort that fits your needs. If you are more interested in relaxing, getting to know the people working in the resort and living in the nearby communities, experiencing local food and not having to deal with crowds, then choose your location wisely. I was very happy with the location we chose, and I have no doubt I’ll be going back to Cuba, to this resort, and I’m sure to others as well, because I have so much more of this beautiful country to explore and experience.  

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It’s that time again

It’s yet another new year. Another chance to make promises to ourselves, some may call them resolutions, that the majority of us break within the first month, if not the first week of the new year. img_0250

I choose not to make resolutions, but instead, make promises to myself that I am under no obligation to fulfill. This being said, blogging regularly is one of those promises I’ve made to myself, yet again. This one I really am going to push myself to meet. I’ve added to this: reading a minimum of one book per month; purging my home of “stuff” (it isn’t cluttered by any means but there are a lot of items I haven’t used in a number of years, and I’m sure someone else could make use of them); and, doing more preparation for knee surgery than I did last time.

So, the first item, blogging regularly. I’ve spent some time over the holidays writing up some blog topics. My plan, whether I follow through or not, is to write a piece about each item, possibly two or three at a time, and post one per week. OK folk, don’t hold me to this since I’m not even sure I can hold myself to it, but it’s a goal and we all need goals.

The second is to read a minimum of one book per month. I’ll have to say that this is one I owe to myself. I’ve always enjoyed reading, and tend to have two or three books on the go at a time, but I’ve struggled to find time to finish any. So, I’m making myself stick to one book at a time, and I’m alternating them. All of the books I read are ones I want to read, but some I just have a more intense desire to delve into. My plan is to alternate the books so that I am reading one I want to read, followed by one “I can’t wait to read”. I’m currently finishing up Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book, What Happened, and have Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, sitting in my living room tempting me to crack it open. I must say I did read, Bob Woodward’s, Fear, during my stay in Cuba (the trip will be another post), and got through that one rather quickly. I need to get away for the US political intrigue and will be moving on to, Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, after Mrs. Obama’s book of course. 

The third is to purge my home of “stuff”. I’ve started already and plan to pick a closet, dresser, or cupboard to go through each weekend and be brutal in my assessment for the items within. If I haven’t worn the item of clothing in the past two years – it’s outta here. If I’m keeping something for sentimental reasons, and it’s really just gathering dust or stuck in a box somewhere, what is the sentiment behind the item? Do I need to continue to keep it, or do I know someone who would appreciate it and use it, or honour the purpose of the item?

As for the preparation for knee surgery. For those who know me, I had a total replacement of my right knee two years ago. At the time, the left knee needed to be done as well, what with being 90% bone-on-bone, but I’d used up a fair bit of sick leave with my stroke the previous year, and needed to build up my sick leave bank again. My surgery is scheduled for April 5 of this year and, having gone through the process before with flying colours, I plan on making this recovery even better. I did my pre-surgery exercises, but now know that my own issue when recovering is getting the post surgery bend as quickly as the doctor would like. My surgeon would like you to have a 95 degree bend by the time you leave the hospital, which is usually three days post-op. I was struggling to get to 85 degrees and cannot tell you how pissed off I was that the gal doing physio beside me each day was easily reaching 115 degrees! Yes, I know everyone is different, and I know reaching that bend is my main issue going in, so I’m preparing for that ahead of time. I’ve started going for purposeful walks. Not just the daily steps, in fits and bursts, that my Fitbit has me trying to reach (I’m reaching it pretty daily and the damn thing keeps adding more steps), but longer walks specifically to help build up the muscles around my knee. I started yesterday with a walk around my block. Most of you would think, “Hell, a walk around the block is nothing!”. To me, it’s a challenge. My home is at one end of the street and by the time I get to the other end, I’m starting to limp. By the time I get the other three sides of the block done, I’m hobbling pretty good, my knee is swollen and I’m verIMG_20170508_090206y uncomfortable. Am I in pain? Sure, but my knees have given me a fair bit of pain for the past 20 years, so I do have to say I’ve become somewhat use to it. I’m also bringing out my glider, one of the tools used in physio post-op, to help reach that bend goal. I currently have a less than 90 degree bend in my left knee, and want to push it as much as I can to stretch out the tendons so their memory is there post surgery and, hopefully, I can reach that 95 degrees before leaving the hospital.

Well, those are some of my promises to myself…..let’s see how many I fulfill. Happy New Year all!