Sunday, 10 June 2012
I used to be tolerably athletic. In Grade 8, Bob McKenzie promoted me to the Junior Intercollegiate hockey team. I just made it whereas Stan starred, but I was so happy at least to be there. It was my last hockey foray. In high school I played a lot of basketball. and in University I managed both JV and Varsity football. The result of all of this was endless ankle, knee and hip/back issues. Then I began to run, and from 1966 up to around 1988, I ran around four to five miles a day. Thereafter, and almost all at once, my skeletal framework crumbled. At one point I could barely walk because of hip dislocation, and the resulting arthritis. Like the Energizer Bunny, however, I just kept going anyway, even though going was painfully slow. I gained weight and it got worse. Eventually, a friend of mine, Michael Cloutier, who was at the time President and CEO of Astra Zeneca, the drug company, seeing my pain, took me in his car to see his friend Alan Gross, the Leafs orthopaedic guy, at Mt Sinai Hospital, and I then had a first and eventually a second hip replacement. The right connections still seemed to help overcome wait times. So I now had two new hips, but I also had arthritis of the spine caused by the tilt, and my fingers started to develop little bumps at the knuckle, and I feared less my finger resemble Stoyles’ appendage. On the whole, I might have been a relatively successful capitalistic, but I was a physical mess. I even had a bout of Panic Disorder, diagnosed and treated successfully at the time by Johnny Angel, a truly brilliant kid I taught in High School who is my dear friend.
Thankfully my oldest son never gave up on me. He is a 6’4” Rugby and Football fanatic who starred at both Appleby College and Trinity College, and now writes apocalyptic screen plays in Hollywood. He bought me the right workout shoes, gave me a treadmill, and made me walk. In the beginning he called every day to make sure “I had done my walk”. I now do around 30” minutes every day at around 220.127.116.11 mph, and low and behold the “old bod” is loosening up. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be able to move, and to move without pain. I have a spring in my step again.
More recently Gerry White’s little sister introduced me to the Paleo Diet and to a brilliant Toronto Naturopath. I am in the very early stages of the diet, but I do intend to shed 50 pounds. I cannot eat potatoes, that’s a real bummer, and diary and ice cream are verboten, but I am going to try to stick to it because I need to take the burden away from the skeleton. I like the concept of this diet, probably because I am rather Palaeolithic by nature.
Why trouble all of you with any of this, after all many of you are hikers and runners etc? Well perhaps there is one forelorn fellow out there like I used to be and to an extent still am, who needs to know that it is never too late to begin again. I write this not because I am obsessed with myself, but because it is also important with friends to shed the myth of what you are, and get down to the real struggles. Now you know some of mine.