A Tale of Two Hikes

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.


Pitching a Tent

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!

Happy Thanksgiving

A week after knee surgery in Hong Kong, here are some specific things I’m thankful for…..

  •  A skilled and attentive surgeon
  • Great care at Matilda Hospital
  • A smooth trip back to Beijing (wheelchair service at both airports, on-time flight, and an empty seat next to me)
  • A warm apartment in Beijing
  • A fantastic set of crutches
  • Friends who are keeping me company and keeping my fridge filled with food
  • That I was able to give myself injections….and that I don’t have to do that anymore!
  • Good physical therapy at the Beijing SOS Clinic
  • Minimal pain, although I found out today that one reason is because I’ve been doing an exercise wrongly!  “No pain, no gain” is NOT just a silly saying.
  • That each day The Great Physician gives me what I need for that day. Not more, not less.

A friend brought turkey / mashed potatoes over tonight from a dinner I was invited to, but unable to attend. Here’s hoping yours is / was a Happy Thanksgiving.

And a couple of photos……

2 crazy friends from New Mexico “happened” to be in Hong Kong the day of surgery, so they helped turn my hospital check-in into a party.

A couple hours before surgery, the doctor came in and produced this piece of art to help him make sure to operate on the right (correct) knee.