Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 21, 2014

John Cannon: Somebody has to bring up the rear: 01/22/14

John Cannon
The Independent

ASHLAND — I rushed out of St. James AME Church following Monday morning’s Martin Luther King Jr. service to be at the front of the parade of marchers who would make the trek from St. James at the corner of Carter Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to First Presbyterian Church on Judd Plaza, a distance of a little more than four blocks.

My interest in being near the front of a march was not because I wanted to be the leader. It was because I did not want to be in dead last place when the marchers arrived at Judd Plaza. Because arthritis in my legs, too much weight and too many years, I keep getting slower and slower to the point that no one else in my family wants to walk with me — and that includes my 4-year-old granddaughter!

But, alas, my plan did not work. When I arrived at First Presbyterian Church, my former co-worker, George Wolfford, and I were dead last, and I think George was just walking extra slow to not embarrass me. Besides, George is a decade or so older than I am, although he does not look it. That’s nothing new. I suspect the only time I looked younger than George was when he was in grade school in Grayson and I was still a toddler.

When we were still a half-block from the church, George suggested that we move onto the sidewalk because we were holding up traffic on Winchester Avenue. We did so to the silent cheers of those upset by the traffic delay.

There was a time when no one else in the family wanted to walk with me for a different reason: They could not keep up. I used to walk the 1.3 miles to work three or four times a week, and then walk around Central Park at lunch. Several co-workers tried to join my walking partner and me on our treks around the park, but they soon quit because they could not keep up with us. At our peak, we would walk around the park twice  30 minutes.

 Ahh, those were the days. Now they are just a distant memory. While I know I will never be nearly as fast as I was, I am trying to do several things to improve my pace.

No. 1 is I am seeing an orthopedic doctor about my arthritis. She prescribed some pills for me to take, but after six weeks, I can’t tell the medicine has made a lick of difference. If anything, I am getting worse.

My doctor says she is confident Medicare would pay most of the cost for knee replacement surgery, and I may eventually go that route. But I prefer to keep the equipment God gave me as long as possible. Thus, I am seriously trying to lose weight to see if that will improve my mobility. As of Tuesday morning, I have lost 11 pounds since Jan. 1, but even I can hardly tell it.

All that I have accomplished so far is to go from “way too fat” to “still pretty heavy.” I hope to shrink down to “a little too heavy” in another week or so. My goal is to be less than 200 pounds by the time I retire in August. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, but my lifetime goal is 185. I may never get down to that, but if I do, I plan to start going to Weight Watchers again because it will be free.

Meanwhile, I will continue to walk each morning and evening with my dog, Prissy. She also has a bit of arthritis, but I think mine is worse. However, while we are both a bit deaf, I can definitely hear better than she can.

So if you should happen to see me walking with a beagle on Forest Avenue, just think of us as an old dog walking with an old man. Other neighborhood dog walkers pass us every day, but that’s OK. We get there sooner or later. Well, make that later.

JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or at (606) 326-2649.