Keeping in shape

Tom and I spend all our spare time in the spring and fall hiking for edible mushrooms. We are hoping for a good year this year because of all the moisture. We find oysters, morels, agaricus, and boletus edulus.

Today I walked 4 miles and didn’t tire out. I guess I’m still in pretty good shape after not so much exercise this winter!

When I was 30 I learned that I have osteoarthritis. By the time I was diagnosed, I had already been suffering with symptoms since the age of 14. I have it in my knees, cervical and lumber spine. I also have a form of bursitis on my hips called trochentaric bursitis that I have had for years. After I was first diagnosed, I could not receive treatment because I found out I was pregnant with my third child, my daughter. About a year after she was born I began a series of years of medicinal treatment, physical therapy, participating in research studies, and underwent two knee operations. The disease progressed to the point where I was having to use two canes to be able to get around. I had to use electric powered chairs for some things. My doctor, a research rheumatologist, fully expected me to have knee replacements by the time I reached 50, something unheard of. He had never seen the detoriation like mine in the knees of someone so young. I was the perfect research specimen!

When I found out that the disease had taken hold in my lumbar spine, I said “enough is enough”. I immediately began my own exercise and diet program at the age of 35. By the time I was 36 I had lost 70 pounds, thrown away the canes, was in the best physical shape I had ever been in my life, and was wearing size clothing I never dreamed of wearing.

Although I still experience some mild difficulties, I have been able to maintain this changed lifestyle for myself and rarely have to visit a doctor. My rheumatologist was ecstatic to release me from his care. I hike, bike, walk, climb and backpack and don’t eat meat – something I never, ever thought I would be doing. Although I am going through the “change” which brings with it a whole new set of symptoms, I am determined to keep the same pace I have now to stay healthy.

I never thought I’d be bushwacking to hunt mushrooms. Thanks to my determination (inherited from my adventurous grandmother) and the support of my wonderful husband, it’s one of my favorite hobbies.

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