Friday, July 17, 2009

Oh, My Achin' Back

Do you know any Senior Citizens like me who DON’T have an “achin’ back”? At least SOME of the time?

Probably not.

Not all the time, mind you. But, for me, if I walk too long, or even stand too long in one place, my back aches.

Not an actual “pain”, I guess. But, a disturbing “ache”. Still hurts, though, unless I sit down (or even better, lie down) for awhile.

“You know”, Dr. Buchanan said, “At your age, it’s ‘bone on bone’ and when they rub each other, it hurts.”


I had that demonstrated for me this week, when I visited the Columbus Zoo with Jodi and Rylan.

Rylan’s “school” is the YMCA pre-school program provided at the former Town and Country Gym on Van Buren Avenue in Springfield. He turned 4 years old in February, and now, he has been “promoted”. Same gym, actually, but with an “older” group, and a different teacher.

About 10 days ago, Jodi called me and said that Rylan’s “school” was taking a trip to the Columbus Zoo, and that she had bought 3 tickets - one each for Rylan, her, and Grandpa (me).

“Do you think you’ll feel like goin’ with us?”, she said.

Quickly thinking of the walking involved, I said, “Sure! I may have to sit down occasionally if I walk too far, but let’s do it!”

“Oh”, Jodi said. “I’ll get a wheel chair and push you around.”


“Fat chance”, I said to myself. “I’ll be in a wheel chair soon enough, and I’m not going to push it!”

So, I got up an hour earlier than I usually do, skipped breakfast, picked up a cooler and ice at Kroger’s, and picked up Jodi and Rylan at 7:15AM. (Jodi had said she’s packing a lunch for us.)

We arrived at the YMCA Facility at 7:30, and waited for instructions.

Shortly, one of the workers came to my car window and said that they were going in a “convoy”, but if we knew the way, we could go ahead, then meet them at the gate where she would produce our tickets.

“Will do”, I said.

We took off, heading for Columbus. I started to open up my GPS in my BlackBerry, but since I was driving, that seemed not the best thing to do. I knew how to get there, anyway.

I headed north on Belmont Avenue, and Jodi wanted to know where I was going, since Columbus should be reached by I 70.

“I know a better way - going on Routes 4 and 161, through Mechanicsburg and Plain City. I 70 bores me.”

No problem.

We made good time, arriving at the Zoo at about 8:30. We didn’t realize it, but we pulled in right behind a high school friend of Jodi, who had two boys in the “school”. The group had arrived at about the same time we did.

We went to the gate, then waited for the “ticket lady”.

Before long, she arrived, and stood at the “turnstiles” to verify our ticket purchases.

Jodi said again, “Grandpa, let’s get a wheel chair”.

“No way, Jose!”, I replied. “I’ll be in a wheel chair soon enough, and I’m NOT goin’ to push it.”

“Ok, Grandpa, but if you need it later, let’s do it.”

The interesting thing is, I walk like I’m going to a fire all the time. I still do that, but, after a “long” walk, my back aches.

“Let’s try it this way”, I said.

To eliminate the suspense about the wheel chair, we were there - walking - for about 5 ½ hours, and several times I refused the wheel chair. Jodi was trying to be helpful, of course.

But, I sat down on provided benches several times - when my back began to ache pretty badly. After a few minutes, though, I sufficiently recovered to “walk on”.

We toured most of that Zoo, looking at many, many animals. Rylan was ecstatic, because even though he used to visit the Brevard County Zoo in Florida, he hadn’t seen any of these big animals - such as:


He even took a ride on a Carousel - steadied by Jodi.

Jodi took a picture of Rylan and me.

We ate lunch at about 11AM, after I took a couple Tylenol tablets.

At noon, there was a stage presentation called, “Animal Safari”. There were 100 live domestic and wild animals running across the stage, climbing ropes, doing tricks, etc. VERY remarkable and enjoyable.

By the time that we felt we had seen all we wanted or needed to see, I was stopping more frequently to sit and rest.

We got home at about 3PM, and to rest my back, I lay down on my bed for a couple hours - took a couple Aleve, and a nap. Back was now OK.

Next day, after a good night’s sleep, I got up without any back problems. However, when I began to walk, my calves “screamed” at me, since I had not walked that much in one afternoon for months. I could still walk OK, though the calves hurt.

At 10AM, it was time for Exercises.

After the regular stretches Timi Neff puts us through, she asks each one of us what exercise we want to do - different from what she has just taken us through, of course.

Each one suggested an exercise.

My turn: I said, “Timi let me look at some pictures of you guys in 2007 and 2008 after Jean and I left here, and I saw some of you doing “push-ups” - from the floor.

“Oh no”, many said.

“Sure”, I replied. “How many will join me?”

One. And she is 92 years old. The rest watched - and kibitzed.

We went to the floor, she about 15 feet from me, and Timi began counting, while Bessie and I “pushed-up”.

Each time Timi gave a new number, down we went. She kept counting past 20, and I wondered how in the world Bessie could go that long. I couldn’t see her, so didn’t know how she was doing. Turns out that Timi had Bessie stop at 15, but she kept counting, until she laughed at 25, and I caught on and stopped.

Next day - still no problems with my “achin’ back”, but my calves STILL hurt from walking two days before.

I used to think that increased walking would cure my back aches, but I guess it’s not to be. I’ll still walk, though, as long as I’m able!

Thank God for His Mercy - and Grace!

(My shoulders ARE a little sore after the 25 push-ups.)

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