Sunday 15 May 2022

Gardening with a dodgy knee #1

One of the glories of late spring, when thermometer readings race above 50 deg F, is that it’s time to start growing flowers and veg, under glass. But also the pain in my knee seems less.

There’s something about warmth: warm sunshine, warm water or even a hot water bottle, that soothes a dodgy knee. And physical activity gets easier. But I do have to garden in a slightly less vigorous way now. It’s not because I’m ancient that I have a dodgy knee. It is a result of having to jump off a boat that ran aground in Exmouth 30 years ago. The trauma to the knee when I landed badly ( trying to protect my back which had caused me some pain) meant I lost cartilage. I was told I’d likely get trouble with that knee in years to come. So here we are.

More positively there’s a scientific explanation for heat therapy. Warmth makes blood vessels dilate which means more oxygen flows to the muscles - presumably around the knee in my case. And when the muscles are pliable the knee joint is flexible - and lubricated - and the stiffness goes. Also, we all know how we feel when the sun is out. Warmth, on a neuro-psychological level, is good for us and decreases the pain signals to the brain. So warmth is good.

It doesn’t alter the fact that I have 3 or 4 prescription pain killers a day when I’m back out in the garden. I can’t kneel to weed as shooting pains charge up my thigh and I can’t get up. So I dig - with a fork or spade - and weed that way. When the soil is really dry I have a hefty hoe to weed between plants, if I’m lucky, or between rows if I’m not. There are ways around gardening with a dodgy knee. I get less done per hour than I used to. But, as I have all the time I need, now I’ve stopped tutoring, I don’t have to garden in a rush. 

Weeding between patio slabs, where I can’t dig with a spade is a trial. Sometimes my husband helps. Occasionally I resort to the least harmful weedkiller possible. There may be a tool on the market for such a job. I have joined a fb gardening group. They are so helpful - I’d better ask them.

Being outside at least 10 minutes a day is good for us psychologically, so says Dr Michael Mosley, who researches such things. It has been a very dry few weeks and I’ve barely been out to a pub, restaurant or to see friends over the last eight days as there’s been so much to do in the garden. But there’s also been much sitting out in the sunshine. 

A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot?

As I write I remember I left my amaranth - celosia plants out overnight. They should have hardened off by now. And the same goes for the romanseco ( calabrese) which arrived a fortnight ago in a cardboard book wrapper from cousins in Leeds. I repotted them and they are a good few inches bigger now. My lovely dwarf beans have also hardened off and I told my brother I would send him photographs of the rose he gave me for my birthday. It’s called Molineux. No guessing what the colour of the petals is!

But I’d better get on with it! A day’s light gardening to do. I may have to put a few plants in at ground level but many will go in the raised beds. The latter is much easier to do with a dodgy knee. Far less bending is involved. 

Until next time.

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