Dace Kramer: Old Arthur and me: How to enjoy winter
December 4, 2006
Winter has come. My source in this matter is more reliable than the most respected meteorologist. He lets me know a storm is coming for sure-in my knees, my spine and even the knuckles of my hands. Old Arthur is his name.
I had a mother-in-law once upon a long time ago. She was a wonderful grandmother to my two young children at the time, playing for hours with them on the floor, peeking around corners and tucking them into bed at night. She was in her fifties then, and groaned as she got up from her endlessly patient block-building, game-playing, floor-sitting devotion to my adoring children. She sat with a pillow at her back and slept with a rolled up towel in her bed. I asked her about that once; unable to conceive why she used such props. She explained that it was just Old Arthur acting up. “Who’s Old Arthur?” I asked. She laughed with delight, replying, “My ‘arth-er-itis’!”
Now I have grandchildren of my own, and a new-found respect for Grandma’s fortitude as a floor-sitter. I can’t do it myself, although I pretend for the sake of the babies. Getting up, I groan and contort, trying to return my back to its proper position, my spine popping one vertebra at a time. The pillow on my couch has a permanent place at my back. My favorite feature on the car I drive is its heated seat. Old Arthur and I are becoming old friends.
And here’s the thing. I’m only 55 and until just a couple of years ago had never really experienced chronic pain. Granted, I realized somewhere along the line that if I kept myself in tip-top shape, aches and pains would not creep up on me. I worked hard at staying fit for many reasons, and enjoyed it, not thinking about what lay ahead. But now? Now nothing I do makes much difference – Old Arthur will not be ignored! As a result, I have modified my workout routines significantly. I no longer go to the step aerobics classes I enjoyed so much, preferring instead the measured and controlled movements of Pilates and yoga. I don’t run anymore, taking my rightful place on the elliptical trainer a few days a week. I even bought an expensive orbital floor cleaner so I don’t have to bend over to mop my hardwood floors.
Chronic conditions that come with age are as insidious as a fog that creeps in with the night. No one is necessarily exempt. So what can we do about it?
Through Aging Well, a program of the Northwest Colorado VNA, Arthritis Foundation exercise classes are currently being held across Routt and Moffat Counties, taught by knowledgeable certified trainers. After the first of the year, Aging Well also will sponsor a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program; lifestyle classes for people 50 and Better living with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, COPD and depression to help cope with and manage their condition. These classes have been tested and proven to help anyone affected by arthritis and other chronic diseases/conditions learn appropriate skills and obtain greater quality of life, no matter what your age. There are also a variety of fitness and exercise classes offered by private businesses throughout the region in partnership with Aging Well. Check out the calendar of weekly classes and events published on this page to keep up with what’s going on.
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Start enjoying winter, even if you know in advance that a storm is coming. Call for information, or to sign up for a class. Tell them Old Arthur sent you.