Around two weeks ago I woke up from a general anaesthetic to the news from my surgeon that he could do nothing to improve the cartilage in my left knee. It looks good but doesn’t function, well I am half Italian after all. it's all about "bellafigura"!
I have been told, at 43 years old, that I will never run again. Whilst going up a mountain is painless (relatively), going down the other side seems to be too high a stress on my knee.
I can walk up to about fourteen kilometres on the flat before I have to stop. Usually I need a day or so to get over it and be ready to go again. And that is without a heavy rucksack.
I fall into what is probably quite a large category of people; I am neither old and immobile nor am I a 21 year old footballer on 200 grand a week, so there is nothing to be done for my knee.
As I wait for my joint to recover from the arthroscopy I am feeling sorry for myself. I am sure there are things that can be done, albeit not on the NHS, and I will be looking into them over the course of the coming months but I am also worried about how limited my physical activity might become.
It feels like a watershed moment in my life, partly realising the frailty of the human body and the fate that awaits us all. Fortunately, as my wife kindly reminds me, I am already deep into my midlife crisis so I won’t have to change too much but I will undoubtedly have to look for new things to do in the outdoors (and before you ask, no thanks I don't want to take up cycling).
I can no longer wedge my daughter in the front of my packraft so I now have a couple of excuses to buy a kayak.
I will try to do some multi day trips with very short days walking and packrafting.
I will certainly look to do some wild swimming.
”…unless there are some volunteers out there willing to carry me, in a sedan chair…”
What I probably won’t do is climb Aconcagua. I have had this trip in my mind for the last couple of years and I thought of it as a sort of reward I would give myself when I finally got my knee back on track.
I went to the Andes once in my life and was utterly spellbound by their majesty and wildness, promising myself it would not be the last time I stood amongst those lofty peaks. I am pretty fit and healthy really and I know I am wallowing a little in my own misery here but the thought of not being off the beaten track in the mountains is quite painful.
I will find ways of keeping nature an integral part of my life for sure but unless there are some volunteers out there willing to carry me, in a sedan chair, down from every hill it might not be the way I really want it.
Let me know if you do want to, or if you have any other ideas what I can do (apart from cycling).