August 13, 2001
As Long As It's Bike-Related


Pop Quiz: Where is the very last place in the universe you might expect to find Ю僱êrvØ¡ on a sunny weekend afternoon?
  • A. Hanging around the laundry room, pulling women's underpants out of the dryer.
  • B. Standing outside a public bathroom in Moraga, holding a purse.
  • C. Sitting on a sofa reading "The Hardy Boys and The Tower Treasure." (Out loud.)
  • D. Buying *nutritional supplements* in a health food store.

The answer, of course, is D. All of the other stuff is old news by now  --  he's been doing my laundry and holding my purse forever  --  but getting Mr. "I Don't Like To Take Pills (Even When They're GoodFor Me)" into a health food store, of all places  -- to look at NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS, of all things  --  is sort of like trying to coax a lifelong vegan into taking "just one tiny bite" of your BLT. It usually can't be done.

But this was bike-related, you see.

Over the past couple of months I've learned an amazingly useful secret about David: I can talk him into practically anything ... as long as it's "bike-related." This includes clothes shopping, massage oil, cheeseburger lunches ... and wandering around in health food stores looking for knee-pain remedies.

As long as it's bike-related knee pain, that is.

I started noticing it just before the wedding last month. We'd ride for 45 minutes or so -- from our apartment in Alameda, say, to our favorite catch-our-breath spot on nearby Bay Farm Island -- and when we stopped I'd feel a dull pain in my left knee as I dismounted. Resting for a few minutes helped, but then as soon as I got back on the bike and started pedalling it would flare up again. Once I got going, the pain vanished. Once in a while I brought it "home" with me, post-ride -- the occasional *Ice Pack and Ibuprofen* night -- but that only happened a couple of times. Mostly the discomfort was limited to those few seconds when I stopped or started pedalling the bike. I wrote it off to "new muscle development" and decided I would deal with it when we got home from the honeymoon.

Then, of course, we blew off bike riding for the next couple of weeks while we were in TicTac getting married. Our original plan was to rent a tandem during the honeymoon and try bicycling the surrounding hills and neighborhoods of Port Townsend. We even went into the bike shop and made arrangements to rent the bike the following morning. But then I ... uhhh ... injured myself two days into the honeymoon (I don't want to tell you how: it's too stoopid) and I was basically crippled for the rest of the week. (Read this: climbing in and out of the jacuzzi was about all the *exertion* I could tolerate.) We had to forego bike-riding as a result.

The good news is that the two-week "break" from bike-riding probably did me good. I came home feeling fine.

The bad news is that the knee pain returned immediately, as soon as we got home and started riding again.

That's when I started getting serious about researching the problem. As always, I turned to the Internet first, and it provided the usual bonanza of information. Type the words "knee," "pain" and "bike" into any search engine and watch what happens.  In addition to the suggestions for groovy warm-up/cool-down exercises, bike adjustments (we raised the seat on my Schwinn by about an inch and a half, and it made a difference immediately), OTC pain relief and massage techniques, I also encountered a bazillion references to something called glucosamine sodium, a nutritional supplement that is supposedly good for arthritis, osteoarthritis, and minor knee pain like the kind bicyclists occasionally encounter.

You know me. I read a glowing product recommendation and I run right out and buy the entire store. (See: bathroom shelves filled with nail hardeners, waterproof mascaras and *miracle* age-reducing moisturizers.)  Snake Oil Salesmen would have LOVED me.

David, on the other hand, views "herbal supplements" -- and the magazines/websites/health food stores that promote them -- with the same skepticism he reserves for astrology, People Magazine, lucky pennies ... and Snake Oil Salesmen. He still regards my nightly dose of St. John's Wort as little more than voodoo science. (Although he concedes that if *I* think it's preventing me from killing anybody totally dead seventy-two hours a month, it probably is.) He's never even touched the bottle of Valerian Root I bought him last year. And last spring when our brother-in-law Tim recommended glutathione after David mentioned he was having vision problems, David smiled politely, said "That sounds like a good idea" ... and went right back to wearing his $13 drugstore reading glasses.

But he isn't just this way about natural or herbal supplements: he avoids over-the-counter products with the same scorn and mistrust. (It wasn't until his MOM recommended a daily multi-vitamin that he finally broke down and started sharing the bottle of One-A-Day Ultras with me.)  His feeling -- and it's one I mostly agree with -- is that we should be getting most of our important nutrients from the food we eat. Everything else is just so-much hippie/trendy mumbo-jumbo, in his opinion. I think he would have felt the same way about glucosamine, too, except for the fact that 1.) I managed to find convincing evidence on the Internet that it might actually help my knees, and 2.) I reminded him that it was bike-related.

"I'd just like to give it a try," I explained. If it helps, great. If it doesn't help, I promised, I'll go see a doctor.

And then I added the clincher. "It'll help my bike riding," I said. And I smiled sweetly.

And that's how we ended up in the health food store on Sunday afternoon. I cringed when we first walked through the door: it was filled with all the New Agey crap David abhors. Twinkly bamboo flutes over the sound system ... little baskets of dried Squash Blossom Chips and potpourri everywhere ... a big display of copper arthritis bracelets, strategically placed next to the cash register. I half-expected JZ Knight to jump out from behind the beaded curtain and deliver a personal message. ("Ramtha says 'howdy'!")  I groaned inwardly when we walked in. "David's gonna hate this," I said to myself, looking around. But to my surprise -- and relief -- he threw himself completely into the spirit of the thing, walking around helping me find the glucosamine ... squinting at labels, comparing prices, making sure I got the best deal ... even exchanging pleasantries with the pigtailed clerk. 

Pigtailed Clerk: Would you like to apply for a World In Harmony store card, sir? Ю僱êrvØ¡: No thank you.  But I'll try some of those Squash Blossom Chips.

Twenty minutes and $56.79 later, we walked out of the store with a two-month supply of glucosamine for me ... AND a bottle of glutathione for David.

"Maybe it'll help me see better when I'm riding," he said.

Uh huh. "Bike-related." I'll buy that.

Now let's go clothes shopping.

one year ago: little pockets of *happy*
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