When Back Pain Is Not Really Back Pain After All

For the last few weeks I have been suffering with some middle back pain or what I thought was back pain. After making yet another trip to the doctor, I now was told I have a dislocated rib. Fabulous….just what I need. No wonder it hurts every time I take a breath! So as you can imagine, I was told to rest, use ice and heat, and rest some more. I just had to laugh, me rest…can you even imagine? Ice and heat…sure….when I have time maybe. Again…I laughed even harder at this one.

Which meant after receiving this diagnosis mid week, my workouts became nothing. And to make things even more funny, we had already made plans for an trial run of sleeping in our SUV overnight while camping. And lets face it, if the good old doc would have told me that this would have been a bad idea I would of laughed hysterically at this one. So I decided not to tell him our plans….and continue on with this fun adventure. More on this later in the week….

Here is what a week of pain and rest was like for me:

Sunday: 3 mile evening walk and a nine basket game of disc golf

Monday: 3 mile evening walk and an abdominal workout at home

Tuesday: crunches and 30 minutes on the recumbent bike

Wednesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, stretching

Thursday: rest

Friday: rest

Saturday:rest

On the flip side of things, I did not cook dinner one single night this week. HOORAY!!!! My boys took over the kitchen and wow, can my son cook. We had chili rellenos for the first time ever. YUUMMMM!!!! He did a fabulous job and knows exactly what his mom likes.

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My husband made his specialty of bacon cheesewiches….which was one of his family favorites apparently, when they were growing up. Good…odd…but oh so good.

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And grilled brats and sushi were all on the menu for the rest of the week. It was great to be able to sit back and relax while someone else figured out dinner for once.

Here to hoping next week I feel better and can manage workouts and lifting kids all at the same time.

Big Changes Bring On Big Decisions

Gosh, I thought October flew by quickly but November has been even faster. It literally feels like just yesterday my family was vacationing in Arizona and now it’s mid November already. Alright, I admit, my Sedona tan is fading fast…..but I really don’t know what has happened to the first few days of November. Let’s catch up a bit on what’s been happening.

Wisconsin has seen some amazing temperatures so far this fall. Honestly, I am still going to the gym in shorts and not wearing sweatpants over the top of them. This is a miracle in itself. However, they say it’s on the way….you know that wonderful white stuff that covers every green surface I love so much….grass.

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Unlike my younger years when all my Christmas shopping was done by Thanksgiving and I spent the week of deer hunting wrapping while everyone was gone….I literally just started shopping this year. However, we really revamped the way we shop today compared to past years and I do not have many gifts to purchase at all. With very little contact with nieces and nephews it was time to make some big changes to the way we spend. Most will get gift cards and only the people we are close to get actual gifts. So it is much easier to shop today than it was when we had a bunch of gifts to purchase.

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I have come to the conclusion that I am as good as I am going to get. Let me explain a bit….January of this year(in case some of you missed it) I had major surgery. I was told it would take me a year to completely recover but without a doubt life has improved greatly. However, there are a few things that I have been trying to ignore, look past or really just try to get back to and simply can’t. Did I think 10 months ago laying there for weeks with so much pain that I would ever get back to normal….no not really…..but I am really trying to learn what my new normal is and I believe this next step will help. I have decided to sell my home gym weight machine. Now if you know me, this is a big decision. I LOVE to exercise!!! However, I have tried this machine numerous different ways and with much lighter weights than before surgery and everything I have tried causes me pain for at least two days afterwards. So then I back off, workout with different things for a few days all while this machine stares back at me and the guilt for not trying it again drives my crazy. So I do and again, two days of pain! I have discussed it with my doctor, I have done what they told me to do to try and remedy the issue and nothing is working. So I have decided to sell it to keep from torturing myself. I have to learn to live with my new normal and I can only hope this helps.

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As we approach Thanksgiving many people are planning to run/walk the Turkey Trot in our area on Thanksgiving morning. I however, am not into run/walks because, well, I am too cheap to pay the admission cost to walk on a street when I could do that right in my own neighborhood for free. Although, this did give me an idea and I approached a friend of mine who has given hiking a try and loves it and we are now planning to do a hike Thanksgiving morning together. Our plan is to hike a trail near us at a waterfowl preserve that is about 3.5 miles long. This should be a fun way to start a great Thanksgiving day and maybe we can make this a yearly tradition.

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I have also been experimenting with some new holiday warm drinks to take in a thermos on winter hikes. I came across one and tested it out this week and hit the jackpot. I even may make this for our Thanksgiving morning hike….it is so good!!!

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As for the next few months I am concentrating on just getting through the holidays. With Christmas parties planned, family get togethers planned, and hopefully a Christmas Day family hike somewhere, I just want to enjoy the next two months. January for me is when the seasonal depression really hits hard and I can only hope winter is not so rough….although everyone has told me the farmers almanac says its going to be a doozie this year. We also have some big plans coming up in January and possibly some big family decisions to make….but let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet…..the rest of November and all of December come first.

 

An Awesome Week And An Even Better Weekend To Come

What an AWESOME week!!!!!!!!!

I finally made it to the gym one night after work which is a miracle in itself. For some reason I just can’t find the energy to keep me going after a long day but I finally think I may be getting some of it back. I am not going to lie and say I was not completely exhausted after getting up at 4a.m., working 10.5 hours chasing kids outside all day, then making dinner, and everything else in between, before making a trip to the gym Tuesday night. Truthfully, I was pretty thankful we live so close to our gym  because driving home a good distance would have been a chore. However, I made it, I had a great workout, and I was proud.

So here is a glance of what my workouts for the week ended up looking like:

Saturday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing

home: 1 mile evening walk outside

Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing and legs, and 12 ab crunches!!!!

****A week go I attempted a crunch and had immediate pain. Today I did 12 before I had pain. This, to me, is quite depressing since before surgery I used to do 200 a day. My husband on the other hand, says I should be happy with 12 since a week ago I could not even do one. I guess he’s right, but for anyone who exercises to the extent I do, this is still depressing.

Monday: recumbent bike 30 minutes, 20 ab crunches, 1.5 mile morning walk, 3 mile evening walk

Tuesday: home:50 ab crunches…..YEHHHHH!, 2.5 mile morning walk

gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing, and lower body

Wednesday: 100 crunches…wow I am really making progress on these baby!

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Thursday: arms and ab routine, 2.5 mile morning walk, 3 mile evening walk

Friday: rest

As for our weekend………OMG where do I start. It is finally going to be gorgeous here in WI and I plan to take full advantage of it. I could wash vehicles, hang bedding outside, clean up our outdoor play toys, go hiking, maybe……..just maybe consider a small paddle in our kayaks, disc golf, geocache or simply just sit on the porch and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. So many choices that I have no idea how I will choose.

Have you ever had open abdominal surgery? If so, how long did it take you to get back to doing abdominal workouts?

How do you choose what fun activity to do first when the weather warms up in Spring?

Farewell Gertrude…..Here’s What’s Next

As you all know I saw my doctor yesterday. I had a long list I needed her to give me permission to do which included exercise, go back to work, hike, fly to our vacation destination, and resume life as I knew it before Gertrude ( apparently, this is what my surgeon and my husband named my tumor after surgery) was found and removed. Well, I am happy to share with you all that I checked out good and she is allowing me to get back to life. However, she stated clearly this would be an uphill battle between wanting to do it all and fighting exhaustion for the first few weeks. Uggg, I guess you can’t have it all but something is better than nothing.

Which means I plan to go back to work in about two weeks, I will start exercising again with many limitations, and our vacation we had preplanned before all this medical stuff came about will be happening with a few changes.

First, let’s touch on work. I fully expect going back to work to be difficult. Any mother of three will know exactly where I am coming from. Caring for three kids solo of any age is not easy. I do however feel I threw their little lives, as they knew it, into a roller coaster ride and regardless of where they all found different care for the past few weeks, I feel I owe it to them to make it all good again. We had such a great routine and I will do anything I can to make the transition back easy and smooth. Thankfully they have all been here during my recovery to visit, so it won’t be a complete shock to return and see us all again.

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As for exercise, this is what helps keeps me happy and sane. I would love to jump right back into where I left off…..which will not happen for quite sometime. Being passionate and motivated by exercise is something I have learned to accept as a wonderful thing. I can be having the worst day ever and know that if I can just get myself to the gym or downstairs for a workout, I will feel so much better. Now, I do have the go ahead from my doctor to return to the gym and daily workouts. I cannot, however, do any abdominal workouts for another four weeks. At this time I can try something easy and if I experience pain, I need to wait another four weeks. This means that by summer time paddling my standup paddle board could be quite the challenge at best. Typically, our bodies of water here in WI are not quite warm enough to actually use until at least July, so that gives me about 8 weeks to condition and strengthen my core to be able to paddle my SUP again. Despite being limited to what I can do and cannot do, I will be documenting my workouts again to #1 be able to look back at for myself and #2 share with anyone else that has gone through a similar surgery and give them something to refer to in this situation.

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Briefly, I will touch on our hiking and vacation plans. We had planned to do daily hiking on this next vacation in a region that we have never visited before. Unlike our Utah vacations which are intense elevation, heat and mountainous terrain, this one should be much easier. Although, I still don’t believe I could have done a few of the hikes we had on the list, so we did ultimately plan alternate activities in place of these hikes. We do plan do do some geocaching, small hikes, and a lot of sight seeing. I have no doubt regardless of what we end up doing that it will be a well deserved break from life and a much needed vacation for my husband. He has had everything on his shoulders for the past few weeks, while I spent every day just trying to recover enough to go on this trip. So whether we hike, have a picnic on green grass, or just enjoy the break doing a whole lot of nothing, I know it will be wonderful.

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As the weather gets a bit nicer everyday and Spring inches closer and closer, I cannot wait to start hitting our local trails again. I need to start working on logging hikes for the 52 HIKE challenge I joined.

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I also can’t wait to dig out our front porch chairs and go back to having fresh sushi while enjoying the sunshine on my face.

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Eventually, we may will dust off those kayaks that did not get any use last summer after my husband sustained his back injury and do some paddling.

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To say I am looking forward to Spring with enthusiasm and excitement would be putting it mildly……the anticipation it almost killing me.

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My Weekend + High Hopes For The Week Ahead

It’s amazing how much improvement I have seen in a week. I am still working on stamina but it has definitely gotten better. My naps are shorter and not every day, which makes me happy.Which also means, I had some fun this weekend and got out and enjoyed life a little.

Besides making a trip to the mall every day last week to walk, I finally escaped the four walls of my home for a bit of fun on Friday. My two closest friends, that have been just a phone call away through this whole ordeal, took me shopping and out to lunch Friday. It was so nice to forget about pain,recovery, and medical issues and just feel normal for awhile. We had a few hours of fun, a fabulous lunch, and met a new friend while we were out. Isn’t he cute?

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I have finally started contributing and doing what I can of the house chores again. My poor husband has had this all on him, with assistance from our son when he’s home, for weeks now. At least now I am able to do laundry with the help of my grabber. Although, the clean baskets of clothes still have to be carried by someone else, at least I am able to sort, wash, dry and fold them.

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Sitting comfortably has been a challenge since surgery but I am happy to say we are back to family dinners at the table, which for this mom, is HUGE! Sometimes the only time we have as a family to catch up is dinner time so this is always a goal to do when we are all home together.

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As for the week ahead, I have some very high hopes. I have a post op doctor appointment Monday and want to hear everything is healing nicely, I can get back to life as I knew it, I can go back to work and welcome all my kids back to our home,

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I will be able to hike miles and miles on vacation,

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and go back to my workouts that I miss so much.

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Now whether this is what I all hear tomorrow will be seen soon enough I suppose, but it does not hurt to hope, right??? I do know hiking miles is not possible since I cannot walk miles and miles yet, I sure cannot hike it then either. And workouts will be limited at best, but anything will be something in my eyes.

So with a little luck maybe I will have some great trails to share with you all when I am back next time. I will be able to get back to posting my weekly workouts which I know some of you have ask for in the past. And I can come home tomorrow and call all my daycare families whom are all waiting patiently for the ok to return to Karen’s house again.

So for now I will wish you all a great week ahead.

Until next time….

 

 

Update….Trying To Get My Stamina Back

Stamina in definition says this: the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.

This is what I have trying very hard to accomplish the last week. Not so much the mental effort as much as the physical effort. I make these small goals for myself every time I start something physical. Sometimes my body says yes and sometimes its screams NOOOOOOO! And the way it screams no is by inducing pain which then leads me to stop immediately. Although, for just short of four weeks post op, I am happy with where I am for the most part. Let’s take a look at what I have been up to the last two weeks.

Besides trying to build up stamina, I have finally started driving again after three long weeks. Not like I had anywhere important to go or felt like going anywhere for that matter during those three weeks. However, now that I am feeling better and I am in minimal pain, I have been getting out and walking the mall during the days. I am not yet up to my normal four laps but I am only one lap short of that at this point.

Speaking of walking, let me share with all of you this love/hate relationship I have with what is called an abdominal binder.

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I don’t remember a great deal of the recovery room after surgery but I clearly remember waking up feeling like I was being strangled to death by something wrapped way too tight around my stomach. I begged the recovery nurse to remove whatever this was(I could not see it because I was not able to raise my own head off the pillow). After sometime she did loosen it and I was a bit happier but I still felt like I could not breathe. So being medicated to the extreme, I tried removing it myself which eventually led to her taking it off completely……ah relief! Until the day I was discharged and it made a comeback with orders it needed to worn home and if I was up and around for any amount of time it had to be on. Ugggg, this did not thrill me at all. Well, today my feelings for this contraption have changed. I love it for walking since it allows me to walk farther before I have pain. With the abdominal binder I am up to 2.5 miles/ without the binder only .5 mile. Sleeping with it is horrible! I have since stopped wearing it to bed now that I can turn over and get up alone. Sitting with it is a pain in the ribs….literally. When I sit, it pushes up and smashes into my rib cage no matter how tight I wear it. So unless I know I will be walking for a long distance I don’t wear it for a quick meal out or a fast trip to the store. So right now, as it seems, it has made the packing list for our upcoming trip to hopefully assist in allowing me to hike a bit here and there. I am still not sure how much hiking we will even attempt being my condition and the stage of my recovery. However, I do know that without this abdominal binder being worn, there would be no reason to even bring my hiking boots along.

Which also meant, now that I am feeling able to get around some, I needed to go shopping and find some new pants. Yes, you would think I would have a smaller stomach without the pineapple sized tumor inside me anymore…..however, that is not quite the case. I still have swelling after I am up for more than an hour that is quite amazing even to me. And then when I need to wear the abdominal binder, that takes up room in my pants also. And let’s lust say after trying on my jeans a few days ago, until my incision is a bit more healed, I will be wearing no denim for awhile. Stretchy is the key to wearing pants. So shopping I went and found a few more yoga leggings to rotate into my daily attire. Yoga pants are great really, you can dress them up or down and you still feel like you are wearing pajamas. IMG_3370

I am happy to say I have started making meals again here and there. It was a challenge to stand long enough to prepare anything the first few weeks. So easy and fast was the key. I did make baked chicken with veggies one night which really helped saved my husband more work. IMG_3354

And I did accomplish a pot of soup one afternoon. Other than that, I have not spent much time in the kitchen. My meals have mostly all been prepared for me and served with loving touches like flowers made out of carrots and garlic(which I love).

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I have had all my daycare families stop in to visit and brighten my days with glitter flowers, smiles and hugs which I miss so much. I wish I could say I am ready to have them all back but I am just not quite ready yet. Lifting is painful and that is a main part of what I do.

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For now, I have a few more weeks off, a doctor appointment that hopefully has all good news, and a trip to have fun in the sun and maybe on the trail coming up. Before all this takes place, I need to keep walking and working on my stamina, which some days is better than others. All in good time they all tell me, so I am doing my best to not over do it and let it happen when it happens.

 

Two Weeks Into My Recovery

Today marks two weeks since I went through open abdominal surgery to remove a very large tumor. Honestly, the first week is quite a blur. I was in the hospital three of it, medicated, and very sore, to put it mildly.  Today I am feeling a little improvement everyday and find myself able to do more for myself little by little.

For someone that does not sit a whole lot, I must admit, it is my happiest position at the moment. If I sit still I feel no pain which is quite wonderful. However, sitting still is not my favorite thing to do. My first outing since coming home from the hospital was to see my surgeon last week. I was nervous, yet excited to talk with her and see what I could start doing as far as exercise goes. Little did I know that my abs need more time on the inside than the outside to heal and be strong enough for exercise…..so all I am allowed to do is walk……for the next 4 weeks!!!!!! OMG, I may go crazy…..warning to all my friends and family…this could be bad! This was devastating to me, even though at this point, I do not feel ready to do any exercise at all. It was still devastating.

Besides spending every single day in my fat pants(they are the least irritating on my incision), I have been starting to do other time occupying things. I can finally sit up to 15 minutes on a hard, upright chair, so I have started doing puzzles again.

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I have also started redoing our trip plans that we had already scheduled in the near future. My husband and I had an exploration and hiking trip planned prior to surgery and we have been cleared to go on this trip, at this point, from my doctor. However, hiking after sitting for 6 weeks will be challenging at best. So I have started researching different activities and hot spots in the state we will be visiting so we have something to do while we are there. This is always fun for me since I am the travel planner of our family.

As a family we all decided this would be our opportunity to watch a movie that has been on my list forever…..A Walk In The Woods. I always see these movies I want to watch but never make time to actually sit for that long and watch the entire thing. Well, this was perfect, all I am doing is sitting, so why not try and watch a movie.  Let me say, this was a fun movie to watch. Great shots of the AP trail, great story line, but WAY TO FUNNY TO WATCH AFTER SURGERY. Laughing hurts and hurts a lot after surgery…..and I laughed many times during this movie. Great idea turned bad really fast.

Other than that, I have been spending much of my time here….either in the recliner or on the couch.

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I am never far from my heating pads. I spent the first 5 days sleeping in that recliner. My meals have all been served to me on a tray in that recliner by my amazing husband.

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And walking consists of laps around my house numerous times a day. It makes for some very long days and nights but slowly it’s improving.

During the week I have had friends stop over and sit for hours while we drink tea and pass time. They stay here while I sleep to help me get up(I still cannot sit up by myself if in bed) so my husband can work, and many of them have brought meals to us to make life a bit easier for my boys.

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It has been eye opening to see what great friends I have. And simply amazing how great my husband and son have been through all of this.

My goals for the next week are to start walking further distances before the pain starts, sit up in bed alone, and try to help with dinner preparations to ease my husbands load after he works all day.