Sunday, November 13, 2011

Waddling In Weinheim

I've noticed that some heavier, older women walk in a certain way. It looks like more of a sideways rather than forward motion. In fact, I recently commented that one of my favourite actors, Kathy Bates walks in a similar fashion. Sadly, I recently developed this same gait.

After only a few days in Germany, my legs became swollen and the thickness of my calves stretched to my feet. I had pain everywhere, even in the spaces between my toes. The word "cankles" developed new meaning. The bottoms of my feet felt as though they'd been etched by a cookie cutter. My feet ached, my legs waddled, my shoes barely closed. At first, I thought it was caused by all the walking that I'd done since my arrival. I had been covering about 10 km a day. Then I noticed a large number of  "technische orthopadie" foot, leg, brace, cane and walker specialty stores within close proximity of each other. I soon realized there was more to the problem than the distances I was covering. Clearly, there was also a regional issue which provided business for all these stores.        

The obvious and immediately discernable issue was the walking surface....cobblestones. The soles of my most comfortable shoes were too thin to protect my feet from these ancient instruments of torture. Horseshoes would have been a better option and once were...just not on humans. I finally purchased a pair of senior specials, shoes I swore I would never wear. They didn't help.
Lumpy, bumpy with ankle twisting cracks
As I thought about what else could be the cause of my physical discomfort, I realized that the food and drink were clearly culprits. I had noted that the meals had often been fried and quite salty. Although I had the occasional salad, vegetables were rarely served. Meals consisted of meat, potatoes, bread and gravy. My body couldn't adjust and my legs were the first to demonstrate evidence of retained fluid. Cold cuts with sodium and nitrites were also served at least once a day. When water was requested in a restaurant, we were presented with sprudel, with kohlensaure (carbonated), similar to soda water. Medical experts have always made it clear that besides consuming vegetables, it is necessary to drink plenty of plain water to help the body release excessive toxins and avoid fluid retention.

So, the more swollen my legs became, the more difficult it was to walk, hence, the waddle. In a matter of days, my feet began to burn and my knees ached. The flight home caused even more agony. I could no longer do up my shoes as my feet spilled over the top...frightening. I had visions of having to live with this condition and became extremely frightened.

I have been home for one week. It has taken this long for some recovery to occur. Besides consuming large amounts of water and tea, I have used no salt and have limited my consumption of unhealthy foods. My legs are starting to return to their shapely former selves. I have had several tub soaks. My feet still hurt. Today, I walked. My knees are returning to normal.

 I have learned that when I travel in the future, I need to be more cognizant and selective about my activities, realistic about my age and limitations and careful about the food and drinks that I put into my body. This was an experience too scary to repeat.

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