First off, let me apologize for not sending out the newsletter on May 10th, 2022 for my most recent article: Antioxidant therapy for the treatment of male infertility. Please check out that awesome read.
Second, I was physically not able to write anything whilst in Turkey. We were without internet for the first 10 days and had Wi-Fi only while at our apartment. I’m not really sure what I was thinking, but expecting to be able to keep up with my podcast and blog proved very difficult. Sometimes I plan ahead as though I’m Wonder Woman 🦸🏻♀️ 💪🏼when I should plan accordingly as an old cat lady 👩🏼🦳 🐈⬛
It wasn’t the time involved because I probably could’ve found the adequate time when we were at home resting, or when the baby was napping, or when I was up at 5:45 am EVERY darn morning. It was the mental exhaustion from little sleep and the physical pain I found myself in that kept me down. Life is very different in eastern Turkey, and it involves a lot of knee movement and strength that I fail to exceed in.
I knew it would be difficult getting up from the floor after the baby, eating on the floor, sleeping close to the floor, and using the older-style a-la-turka toilets where you squat and hover over the ground. The people from Turkey are rather short so obviously their legs have less to squat. I’m not sure how it matters, but it does. I am 5’11” and it is not easy bending at the lower back to eat from the floor. The plates stay on the floor, you do not pick them up so you bend and hold a lot of lower back muscles.
Side note, a number of people are surprised to learn that “people eat on the floor”, and the fact that they are so shocked to learn this is what shocks me! Pets and shoes are absolutely not allowed inside so eating on a tablecloth (feet are not allowed on that either) from the floor, is by far cleaner than from a table where animals are allowed to roam freely in the house. No shoes are allowed past the doorway and if you’ve ever researched the kind of particles that come in your home from your shoes, you’d never wear them inside again! Perspective can be chilling. Let’s embrace other cultural norms with open arms!
Check out Melda Genç’s masters thesis: THE EVOLUTION OF TOILETS AND ITS CURRENT STATE in Turkey for more information on the toilets I am referring to and how they came to be used.
My husband’s mother and grandmother prefer to sleep on floor mats rather than beds. Floor mats are extremely comfortable, if your body is used to using them. I want to say that most people in Turkey sleep in beds, but maybe it’s about equal to the number whom prefer the 6 inch thick by 6 feet long mats. They are extremely heavy as are the blankets used to cover up with. They feel like weighted blankets being so heavy and warm. The mats fold in half and are all stacked and stored out of the way in a room with pillows and blankets. At night, they are brought out, sheeted, and slept on. Some of the older generations in Turkey simply prefer to sleep on floor mats because that’s what they grew up using. Also, beds are expensive and take up a massive amount of room.
I did not actually think all the extra bending would be this physically damaging to my knee. I still have 35 pounds to lose before I am at a relatively comfortable weight, the same weight I was in 2018, the last time I visited Turkey. I didn’t have this knee trouble at that time so it could be the extra weight. I’ve got to raise the roof, though, and announce that I’ve already lost 35 pounds over the previous 8 months (goal being 70). I did cardio and strength training 4x a week. I worked on my knees for months and months. It took me a hot minute to figure out why my knee was so bad when it should be stronger than ever!
Every morning after I wake up, I suffer from tremendous back pain and immobilization. While in Turkey, we slept in a bed the first five nights because we rented a place. After we flew east, we slept on floor mats. After the first night we slept on the floor, my back was out of commission. I could not squat to use the toilet for the life of me. I could barely walk. I had to use all the knee strength I could beg for, borrow and steal just to use the bathroom. It wasn’t pretty, my friends, and I pulled the muscles and ligaments in my right knee doing so. Add site-seeing and eating every meal on the floor to the mix! I went through hell trying to use the bathroom and be polite and not cause a scene.
After my back hurt so badly that first day, I used every zap of energy my knees could muster and then some. It was the “and then some” that did my right knee in. To protect my back muscles, I overextended my knee’s stretching capabilities and had (still have) an inflammatory flare up. I feel so sorry for people suffering with terrible knee pain. I can’t bend my right knee past 90 degrees due to the swelling which is inhibiting any movement past that point. It would be terrible to live with this debilitating condition long term. I was beginning to wonder how “long-term” my particular swelling/pain situation would last.
Basically, you need strength in your hamstrings, knees and lower back to pull off that life for more than a few days. I do not have much of the latter two. If you grow up doing these movements, you’ll have the adequate pieces and parts built up. If you do not grow up living this way, you must be very careful. The tiny muscles and ligaments that are needed for squatting, getting up off the floor and sitting crosslegged need to be conditioned to do so or you could end up with a bunk knee or injured back on your trip!
I was so thankful that my husband was able to split the baby chores with me on our way to Turkey. It was one thing I knew I needed him to do in order for us to get there, somewhat enjoy ourselves, and get home. I’m not 25 anymore and my whole self has been damaged. Plain and simple, while traveling, daddy does half!
Unfortunately, my husband got in an accident and has approximately 50 stitches in his right forearm and hand. Yes, that happened in Turkey! Between the two of us, we were not a whole person. Because he couldn’t lift or grasp, one of my travel nightmare’s came true: I was on my own with the baby. By having to look after and care for our one year old by myself the last week (up and down, up and down, up and down) which meant even more knee movement needed from me than before his injury! I had to say no to site seeing the last few days because I could not do it.
Traveling through the airport hours upon hours, upon days carrying the baby on my chest and a bag on my back and pulling or pushing something else…. I seriously could have pushed my already fragile knee to the point of more serious permanent damage. It has been frustrating that due to the literal invisibility of my ailment, besides my limp, nobody can physically see my excruciating condition. Being expected to do things that you cannot do has been psychologically distressing.
I could never get on board with the alaturka toilets because I already have osteoarthritis damage in my right knee. However, I would find the sleeping situation quite comfortable if my body didn’t have some issues 😬 I have a difficult time with pain and mobility. I have suffered from this “problem” for about a decade. My hips, knees, lower back, wrists, cervical spine, and more, hurt relatively often, definitely every day, sometimes severely, sometimes my movement is “paralyzed” as far as my reach or bending capabilities are concerned. Basically, it’s impossible to move certain ways when I first wake up.
All of this to say, there was no way I could keep up with the important work I started here at home. As I have said before, this blog and podcast are very important to my heart and therefore I must do right by them. Again, my apologies for not sending out the newsletter on the 10th. Bad things were happening to us!
Thank you for all of the support you give me and each other,
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