Vacation Planning

Last August I took a vacation which required a great deal of walking.

The opportunity for me to join the man of the house at a convention came up just 2 or 3 weeks before the event, just 5 months after I’d used all the physical therapy my insurance company covers per year so that I could walk.   I was keeping to my PT exercises and walking a half mile or so, 3 or 4 days a week.  I was going to a convention where people would routinely walk up to 5 miles a day.  It was also in the mountains — about 5000 ft above sea level, which is a much higher elevation than I’m acclimated to.  Also with a much warmer climate.  What to do?

I rented a mobility scooter for the week.

Did some of the people who saw me on the scooter assume I was riding because I was too lazy to walk?   Possibly.  Maybe even probably.  But I don’t know for sure.  I don’t read minds.  I’d often “park” it (taking the key with me) and use my legs where convenient — parties, for example.  In restaurants I’d ask if there was an out-of-the-way corner I could park the scooter.   I left it in the hotel room when I went to the hotel gym to swim or lift weights.

What the scooter gave me was the ability to get to more events with no pain.  I had a good time and didn’t re-injure myself.   Let me tell you something else:  whirring around on the scooter was fun. There, I admit it :)

Last week we made hotel reservations for November.  Once again, this destination will involve lots of walking.  But I have more time to plan, and am feeling more confident that I won’t re-injure my leg. This year’s destination is even at sea level.   So now I’m putting together a training plan.  I’m getting more focused on my weekday mile-or-so walks and planning some longer training walks on the weekends.  I’m also continuing the weights and yoga.

Could I do the scooter thing again?   Yes.   But I’d rather avoid it.   This is affected by:

  • Cost: Last year the convention had enough people wanting to rent scooters that they arranged a group rate, which reduced the cost.
  • Ability: I’m already stronger than I was last year.
  • Fears:  I’m feeling more confident that I can avoid re-injury.  Partly because this year’s destination is a place I’ve been to before.
  • Stubbornness:  I’ve been to this year’s destination before and I handled the walking fine then.  I was a little lighter then, about 360 lbs (and, OKAY, 11-12 years younger (like THAT matters)) but still, deathfat is deathfat, right?  I was fine before.

So…we’ll see.  In the meantime, I’m tracking my workouts and making plans.

18 thoughts on “Vacation Planning

  1. Ok…so I’m NOT the only “deathfatz” woman who has contemplated using the motorized scooter! THANK MAUDE! Even when in excruciating pain, I have talked myself out of the scooter thing…mostly because of the embarassment I would feel….being mostly able bodied. It’s just….THE PAIN. Shooting down my leg feeling as if my connective tissue is SHRINKING with every step. Then the low back pain kicks in, causing me to stop every few feet and sit or shift my stance. The worst part of it all is that it doesn’t happen every day…and I can’t figure out what the problem is. Like, is it worse when I have more swelling? When I slept poorly? When I’ve been out in the boat the day before, rocking and swaying? When I’ve lifted or moved differently?

    Do you have any of those factors that leave you stumped as to what’s different about TODAY than yesterday? If so, have you figured it out?

    Sorry for all the questions…..your post got me thinking. I’m glad you are feeling more confident about this upcoming trip :) I hope you have a great time!

    ps…..Have you ever tried those Segway things? I’ve been tempted, but never looked into whether or not they would work for my weight.

    • The pain that sent me to the doc and eventually physical therapy was:
      – Pain in my right knee joint
      – Pain down the outside of my right leg when driving, walking, sometimes just sitting
      – Right knee / leg weakness (knee would “give way” trying to go downstairs, wouldn’t lift me upstairs)

      I thought I’d hurt my knee or that it was arthritis. Turns out I do have some arthritis in both knees. But what eventually fixed it in ME was strengthening my right quadriceps muscles to better support my leg/knee. But that may not be what’s going on with you. :(

      I do sometimes have problems with my leg. Usually it means I’ve done too much (and need to stretch and/or rest more) or that I’m not doing enough (and need to work out).

      Re: my lower back, if it starts aching while I’m walking I usually need to stretch my quadriceps. Not sure why. Sitting can give me short-term relief but stretching quads usually is much better. Bending over to touch my toes can help too.

    • Have you checked to see if you have any back issues? I had really bad sciatic pain that sounds somewhat like what you describe- strength training and chiropractic adjusts helped a lot. good luck :)

    • Regina, I’ve looked into the Segue things and thought they would be cool, but the weight limit is 250 lbs. (or was about two years ago – maybe they’re made some stronger ones). :-(

      I wish that manufacturers wouldn’t assume that the biggest person who might use their product is 250 lbs. I could rant about all of the equipment use that I’ve been excluded from because of that, but I’ll hold my tongue.

      Anyway, I wish I could use a segue, becuase they look so totally cool. :-)

  2. I have arthritis in both knees due to injuring them several times as a kid. When the weather suddenly changes, sometimes one knee will hurt, but not enough for me to stay off of it.

    I’ve been lucky so far in that I haven’t had moderate to severe knee or leg pain. I think having jobs where I had to stand for long periods of time, and the frequent dancing I do helps to keep them steady and used to pressure from my weight.

    I’ll be going to NYC this October, and that’s A LOT of walking and climbing steps.

    • I think having jobs where I had to stand for long periods of time, and the frequent dancing I do helps to keep them steady and used to pressure from my weight.

      Yup. I injured my leg when I dived into a walking program after being very sedentary. Back when I had more day-to-day walking and went dancing weekly I didn’t have these problems ;)

  3. I think it’s great that you could use the scooter when you needed to, and park it when you didn’t.

    It sounds like you are ready to take on the next trip! Have fun.

  4. Please also understand that needing help with mobility is not ‘bad’ or shameful or something which only happens to fat people & that we can injure ourselves with our stubborn pride. This is a huge issue for me, as I am 60 years old (as of next Sunday), have cerebral palsy & increasing arthritis, & have always been VERY active, very independent, & very stubborn. I am avoiding motorized chairs/scooters for as long as possible also, but I am also considering the likelihood that such aids will be necessary at some point. I am following Elizabeth Fisher’s wonderful blog, http://www.mytravelscoot.blogspot.com & have exchanged emails with Elizabeth, in which she encourages me to do what I need to do to take care of myself. I had one smashed kneecap when I was 30, caused by stepping in a hole in our terrible sidewalks, twisting my ankle, & coming down hard. I would hope that my pride doesn’t cost me anymore broken bones & I would also wish that for anyone else. Elizabeth & her friends enjoy a wonderful sense of freedom & have many more adventures & get out a lot more than they otherwise would &, as far as other people’s reactions, they have been mostly positive & mostly able-bodied people wanting to ride the Scoots.

    That side, I am also very much in the independent as hell, mobile as long as possible camp. I am, however, realistic enough to accept that I will be less able to walk far as I age & that I have not ‘failed’ or been a ‘bad, lazy fat person’ when I finally give in to motorized transportation.

    I have the same kind of pain & weakness you describe in my right leg, btw. My cerebral palsy is mostly on the left side of my body, so all my life, since I learned to walk first well over 58 years ago, I had depended on the right side of my body to do at least 75% of the work my legs need to do. I am active, have most likely walked well over 50,000 miles in my life, & at times both knees &/or ankles will wobble & nearly give out on me. I am taking glucosamine/chondroitin supplements for my joints, & they do seem to help somewhat, except that my hands appear to be no better (my worst arthritis is in my hands, &, no, I do not walk on my hands, & I have fairly small hands & slim lower arms & wrists for my size, so rolls of fat are not hampering circulation to my hands {theories I have heard proposed when fat people have arthritis in their hands, since the trolls LOVE to blame arthritis in fat people on their weight}), but I have this weakness in the legs, & the right side, which is most likely wearing out a bit after all this work for all these years, is the worst, with more pain in the knee, the side of the knee, the right calf, sometimes down the leg, & the tendency to collywobbles.

    Since I am NOT able-bodied, have balance issues, & may not be able to do ALL exercises, may I ask HOW you specifically strengthened your quadriceps, since your leg symptoms sound virtually identical to what I am experiencing in my right leg? If it is something which I can physically do, I will give it a shot, since I am not fond of sometimes literally having to grab onto the doorframe & PULL myself up the two steps to my front door.

    • Re: the scooters, I should probably have noted that many of the people who rented scooters were thin. Some of those with scooters had obvious disabilities and others didn’t.

      Re: my leg, the initial exercises were:
      single leg raises, using the same movement as in the linked video but not as high. I’d focus on using the muscle that runs down the front of my leg.
      seated leg extensions, again focused on using the muscle that runs down the front of my leg.
      side leg lifts, this time focused on the outer side of my leg.

      All were 10 lifts per leg, rest, then 10 lifts again (or 2 sets of 10 reps). Working both legs meant my body could learn from the good leg a bit and kept the two in balance. As I got stronger we added more – up to 3 sets of 15 lifts. Stronger yet, I made the single leg raises harder by sitting up instead of laying down, and an elastic exercise band to increase difficulty on the other two. Then I bought an ankle weight.

      After a week or so she added chair squats and bridges (described here) and suggested I start with 10 chair squats, then do the leg extension and lifts, and finish with doing the bridge.

      I also practiced stepping up on a 2″ high step I made by duct-taping a phone book so it would be more solid. Just up, and down, and up, and down, 10 times.

      I was also urged to walk, but I know you do that already :)

  5. Yet another example of the effective power of assumption (The power to make an ass of oneself). In this case it would be the assumption that someone making use of a scooter is, always has been, and always will be, confined to using that scooter.

    In reality, just as there are people of all shapes and sizes who use motorized carts, there are lots of reasons WHY a person might need to use one. Including temporary or transient reasons. But, OH! Don’t let that someone be FAT. EVER. Because, well, they wouldn’t need it if they weren’t so fat. It’s just so obvious! Yeah, obviously stupid to assume you know what a persons situation is with one glance and plenty of moral cirtutude. But such is the nature of fat-stigma. It’s easy, it promotes a feel-good sense of superiority, and there’s virtually no recoil ’cause, ya know, it’s accepted behavior.

    Your can-do attitude needs applause. You wanted to do something so you found a way to do it and to hell with what anybody might think of the method. Not an easy thing to do for a lot of people. Including thin people. You might not realize it but this is the kind of thing that inspires. Thanks, and keep on Keepin’ On.

  6. I think you can definitely do it! And training is smart. And you’ll probably be able to accommodate yourself afterwards by being less mobile if you’re sore. I just moved back to my school, which prides itself on being a “walking campus” after being quite sedentary throughout most of the spring and summer as I suffered and then recovered from mental illness. I have congenitally flat feet, which means that my ankles and knees are, to put it indelicately, fucked up. I’ve always suffered ankle pain with activity and now knee pain is being added to the mix. When I build up to activity, it’s not so bad. But I’ve been back for a week and I’m constantly aching and throbbing. I wish I’d had the foresight to begin just taking walks around my neighborhood or something.

  7. Thanks for the explanations on the exercises. I definitely cannot do squats very well, but I can try some of the others.

    And today, since I don’t have my granddaughter, & it is a gorgeous day with perfect weather, I have walked twice, for a total of over an hour & 45 minutes…& I am kind of sore. I still push too hard sometimes.

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