Just got back from a short walk with my Closest Companion.

As a fat man with a touch of COPD, walking has sometimes been problematic.

Back around 1999, we walked like crazy. I even bought a pair of New
Balance sneakers made especially for walking. I’d walk around the paths at Alcyon Lake Park in Pitman or go traipsing through the woods at Ceres Park in Mantua Township (my Closest Companion actually won a contest when she was a kid to name the park.)

Together we’d walk just about every afternoon. If I got home and my
Closest Companion was still working, I’d change clothes and go walking.

I do not remember when I was diagnosed with the minor emphysema, whether it was before we started walking, or after. I seem to recall trying to walk as fast as I could and still breathe, but I am not sure.

The trouble was, I was a fair-weather walker. All that spring and summer, I was hot to walk. When the weather started cooling down, I tried, but I had trouble breathing the colder air while walking.

The walking shoes got stashed away.

No, the treadmill didn’t get much use, although it does make a great place to hang clothes.

In the years that followed, my breathing worsened. As I gained weight, it was worse. Instead of walking around the track at parks, I was getting winded walking from my car to my desk at work.

I recall one day — God knows what came over me. There was an incident with a gun down around the Pizza Hut in Woodbury. I walked outside after hearing it on the scanner and walked to the corner, to see what I could see. At the corner, I couldn’t see anything, so I kept walking. Next thing I knew I was more than halfway to Pizza Hut and was having trouble breathing. I knew I’d come too far to turn back, though, so I kept pushing on.

When I got there, I was able to catch my breath as I observed and reported and talked with cops.

As I was getting ready to leave, and dreading it, the police chief asked me if I wanted a ride back to the newspaper.  He certainly saved me that day.

So walking hasn’t been of primary interest to me for a few years. If I have to walk any distance, I take a walking stick along for support. Last year I went to the Renassaince Faire in Pennsylvania and walked around the place for about six hours, with short sit-down breaks now and then. I was proud of myself and, yes, I hurt like a son of a gun the next day.

So now, I’ve lost about 45 pounds. I can walk a bit more without getting winded. This last walk, we made a transit of the smaller ring of walkways at Chestnut Branch Park. I wasn’t actually out of breath when we got back to the car, but I was ready for the walk to be over.

Maybe next time, we’ll walk a little farther.