Three and a half years ago I went hiking with some friends on an un-restored section of the Great Wall. My right knee hurt so bad I was almost in tears the whole time, and I could barely walk when we were done.
It was that hike which finally pushed me into deciding to have surgery done on my knee, something I did 9 months later.
Yesterday (three years on from the surgery) I went on another hike with some friends at the Jiankou section of the Great Wall. It’s one of the highest and most remote sections — one I’ve long wanted to hike but assumed I would never be able to because of my knees.
But I pressed on and was rewarded with the thrill of accomplishment, and these views.
See the Wall on the ridge up there? That’s where we are headed.
Looking back towards Beijing (which we could actually see)
Love all the greenery. Most of it planted in the last 20 years.
More importantly, on this hike, my operated-on knee didn’t hurt at all!
If you are in Asia and having knee problems, I cannot recommend highly enough Dr. Kong at the Asia Medical Specialists Group in Hong Kong. When my other knee needs fixing, that’s where I will be headed.
For now, I’m already plotting my next trip to Jiankou.
After making noticeable progress on a daily basis for the first couple of weeks, my improvement seemed to slow down a bit this week. I had more pain in my leg, continued fatigue, and was still dependent on the crutches. By Wednesday I was a bit discouraged and let my physical therapist know how I was feeling. She assured me that my pain, fatigue, and continued use of crutches were normal, and that it was also normal at this stage that the improvements would not be so noticeable.
I’d hit the proverbial plateau. This reminded me of the years that I was director of a language school for Americans learning Chinese and the pep talks that I constantly gave to keep them going when they felt like they were stuck and weren’t learning anything new.
I passed along what my language learning mentor had told me; namely that plateaus are inevitable, but the key is not to get stuck on them for too long. “Pitch a tent,” he would say. “Don’t build a house.”
So yes, I may have plateaued in my rehab a bit this week, but I’m just pitching a tent because I don’t intend to be here long!
And if you’re learning Chinese (or any other language for that matter), the advice is still great!