Feeling Almost Back To Normal

This week has been good. We are finally feeling almost back to normal. By this I mean, meals were shared together, exercise routine is back to an actual routine, and peaceful sleep was had all week long.

Let’s start with exercise shall we. Typically, I workout in the early morning hours at our local gym….by early I mean 5:00a.m.. With summer here my job gets much more physical when we can finally get outside and enjoy the outdoors instead of everything indoors like during the winter months. So during the summer I concentrate on making it to the gym twice a week in the early morning, I then bike on my stationary bike the other two mornings, and one day I take off for rest….not from work just from exercise. And then my husband and I have begun walking area trails for about 3 miles after dinner. Add this with many additional steps put on during the day while playing outside chasing daycare kids around and by 8p.m. I am typically falling asleep on the couch.

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As for meals, I finally feel like we are eating regular and not grabbing and going to the next thing on the agenda. If you have been a long time follower you will know that grabbing and going is not easy with my husbands artificial sweetener allergy so this has been a real struggle to keep juggling. Although, I am happy to report we are back to eating regular meals and enjoying the time to sit, eat, and chat about our day. One the menu this week was a new lentil ham soup and BBQ chicken quesadillas. Both turned out fabulous!

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That will be it for today. We actually have plans on the calendar for the weekend…..finally!!!!! Now I am just praying for no rain and sunshine so I don’t freeze since we will be enjoying some water play. It is summer after all, so that means it’s time to enjoy all the rivers and streams Wisconsin has to offer.

 

Sometimes In Life We Must Learn To Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.

Can you believe July is almost over with? Sad but true…summer is quickly coming to an end. I still have not taken my SUP out on the water since I am still suffering from a sore stomach muscle(hopefully). And kayaking for us has been very minimal this summer. It’s funny to see how we have changed over the past few years. We used to whitewater kayak every single weekend. Have we now grown up? No, I would not call it that so much. I would say life has just changed dynamics and time and logistics plays a big part in what we do now. River kayaking takes two vehicles, a nice day, and many of our kayaking companions were younger and have since all gone off to college or are in the pursuit of life as it should be. Do I miss river kayaking? Yes, at times. However, I do have my doubts I could still do it with the changes I have experienced since having abdominal surgery in Jan. 2016. I do not have much strength in my core at all and typically suffer for days when I paddle a calm lake. I highly doubt I could fight current in a river much less add some rapids on top of it.

Sometimes in life, we must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I have come to terms with what I have been left with after this surgery. Well…. for the most part. It’s not like I had a choice in this whole matter but it has changed me quite a bit. It seems like my whole life is a matter of, I used to do that and now I do this instead. I am thankful for the fun I can still have and don’t dwell on the things I can no longer do. I’ve learned to be thankful for each day and to make the most of the moments of fun I do have. It saddens me to see people I know always thriving for long range plans and missing out on what’s right in front of them at this time. I have learned the importance of NOW, not later, since who really knows if later will ever come.

On that note, here is what my week was like for exercise with a very sore stomach muscle. So sore that I sought out a medical opinion mid week. Which if you know me, medical opinions mean very little but sometimes it is needed. At least the doc and I agree at this point to give it a bit longer…time will tell what comes next.

Saturday: 3.25 mile hike on the UWGB loop

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Sunday: 3.7 mile hike on the Terrell’s Island breakwater trail

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Monday: 3.0 mile rail trail walk…I saw my first albino squirrel today

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Tuesday: rest….visit to the doc for my stomach pain made me cancel exercise tonight

Wednesday: legs workout in our home gym and 1.5 mile solo trail walk (I had a time limitation tonight…so I had to be quick)

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Thursday: 30 minute recumbent bike in our home gym and legs workout

Friday: rest

That should do it for me this week. Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Mother Nature May Be Testing Me!

 

This week was a test from Mother Nature and clearly I am not happy about it. Wisconsin has been so chilly this week. Tuesday I found myself with a sweatshirt on, windows and doors all closed, and I was shivering in my own home…..AND IT”S JUNE!!!!! Now, that is not funny!!! The worst thing came when I turned on the news and heard the southwest region like Nevada, Utah, and Arizona (my favorite states to hike) were having a record heat wave. I simply wanted to cry…..like really cry:-(

Speaking of which, I actually just told my husband I was really feeling the need to hike a mountain lately. Is that odd or what? Some days I am content with the elliptical at the gym and some days I really need to push my body just to make sure I still have what it takes to do what I love. And let’s face it, there are no mountains in Wisconsin that could even come close to one in the southwest so he knew exactly where I was going with this statement. He simply looked at me when I said this and smiled. I guess that means he is not against a possible trip but then again, I honestly still can’t decide where to go back to….Utah or Arizona. We all agree, we have unfinished business in both states so time will tell where we end up. For now, I have to concentrate on our next destination….McAfee Knob and the Shenandoah National Park. Which, rightfully so, is a mountain I plan to hike and another bucket list destination I hopefully will be able to remove from the list in the near future.

For now I guess the elliptical, kayaking, and outdoor fun will have to be enough to keep me happy. Plus, after all, eventually it will get warm again here in Wisconsin….right???? Summer did officially just begin.

Here is look at what I did to increase my body temperature to a happy degree this week:

Saturday: kayaking the Chain O Lakes….paddled and swam for 3.5 hours (if you missed it read about it here)

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Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical

Monday: morning weights in the home gym, 1.5 mile walk with my daycare kiddos through a nearby wooded area.

Tuesday: home: morning weights

gym: 30 minute elliptical

Wednesday: morning weights in the home gym

Thursday: yoga at home

gym: 30 minute elliptical, weights, and stretching

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Friday: rest

After my post this past week regarding how hard it has been to remove artificial sweeteners from our daily diet, I received many questions what a daily day of food looks like for my husband. I have decided to try and document 2 days worth of food and post my findings in the near future instead of addressing each and every question. However, this may take a week or two to complete. I, for the most part, know what he eats in a day since I prepare his breakfast, pack his lunch for work daily, and dinner is eaten together. The hard part will be to remember to take a picture of the food and then find the time to write the post regarding his daily meals. Just know, I am working on it and hopefully all of you suffering with the same symptoms get as much relief as he has. Life is so much better when you feel healthy.

Have you been to either Utah or Arizona hiking?

If so, which is your favorite state?

Why?

Improve Your Life By Doing Yourself A Few Favors

Do you ever wonder if there are things you could do for yourself to make you feel better? Whether you are lacking sleep, lacking stamina, suffering from aches and pains, or just not feeling quite up to par in all areas of life…..you can improve this by changing a few things on a daily basis.

It’s no secret we are a society of technology. Many of us cannot even imagine leaving our smart phones for a few minutes, let alone a few hours, unattended. Although, those seem to be the same people that say….I don’t have time to do this or that. I had a friend once tell me that she could feel her heart rate race at the thought of leaving her smart phone behind while we were discussing the fact that we don’t take technology with us camping. All we were doing was talking about it and this happened. Seriously…..this was amazing to me. Going somewhere unplugged from the cyber world is absolutely amazing. Everyone should try it at least once in my opinion. Although, in reality, this could also be so mind blowing for some that maybe we should talk about other favors you can do for yourself that are so much easier.

Drink Water

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I am known to always have a water bottle with me at all times. I rarely ever leave home without it. Most individuals are dehydrated on a daily basis which can lead to all sorts of issues. And it’s easy to fix…..just drink more water.

Eat Healthy

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This is a no brainer in my opinion. You are what you eat and by eating a rainbow of colors you will feel so much brighter inside. And no, I am not talking about eating rainbow sprinkles on a cupcake.

Use Sunscreen

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Sun protection is important no matter what time of year it is. Use it daily, year round.

Schedule Yearly Physicals

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I know, no one likes to go see the doctor. Although, no one likes to be ill either. So yearly physicals are important no matter what age you are.

Learn To Relax

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Relaxation is often hard to do today with everyone being pulled a million directions. However, eventually your body and mind will say enough is enough and just be done. This is called exhaustion. So do your body and mind an favor and give it a rest once in awhile. Step back and just relax. Find your happy place and just go there for an hour, think of nothing, and BREATHE!

Exercise

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Exercising a bit each day will benefit every part of your life. Your body, mind, job,marriage, parenthood, etc. and it only takes a little time each day.

Fall In Love With Something/Someone

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Everyone needs love. Whether its something or someone, life is not complete until you fall in love with that certain something/someone.

Have something to add…..leave a comment?

Is There A Prescription For That?

After a few weekends of summertime fun and games I found that after every weekend I was back to recovery mode for a few days each week. I have also been watching an area of concern near my incision for some time now and decided to finally call my doctors office.

Yesterday, I went to the appointment and luckily left with good news….for the most part. The area of concern is not what we all thought. However, my soreness and swelling at the end of each day is bound to last a while longer…..and by a while, I mean probably another 6-7 months. So when this happens I was told this is my body telling me to slow down and take it easy a bit. Which, if you know me, is easier said than done!

As happy as I was to hear the area of concern was ok, my struggle was with the last part of the diagnosis…..the “take it easy a bit.” Is there a prescription for that? Because this is my time of the year to give it my all and have fun. In 6-7 months when I can give it my all it will be the dead of winter. Can’t they come up with a pill that slows people down or helps them recover faster? In this day and age, you would think so, but apparently not.

So after having a long discussion with my husband, I have come to terms with my slowed down lifestyle plan. (Well, I am trying to come to terms with it) I will be doing basic daily exercise: walking, yoga, and light weights (uggg). And when we return to the gym in fall, just cardio…..no weight machines. My weekends will be light paddling, swimming, and more walking.

If you ever had major abdominal surgery:

How long did it take to get back to normal life?

What exercises did you find helpful yet fulfilling during your recovery?

 

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.

 

 

 

Looking Back At 2015

About this time every year I find myself looking back at the year and like many of you, looking forward to the next year to come. 2015 for our family was not a typical year, from beginning to end, it seemed to challenge our strength as a family both mentally and physically. However, I will say, I do feel like we won this battle and came through it pretty well.

Take a look back with me,

January 2015

I experienced my first dislocated rib while working out and preparing for our rock scrambling vacation in February. Very painful!!!

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February 2015

Our rock scrambling vacation we had prepared for for months was suddenly cancelled due to a major snow storm and no flights were coming or going. We were completely disgusted for weeks….

March 2015

I celebrated a birthday this month with a venture out of the house and some first steps of the year on a muddy trail.

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April 2015

I finally decided to see a doctor for a sore foot I had been having for a few months. After testing and imaging I found out I had torn two tendons in my ankle. Which resulted in some new footwear for weeks.

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On the brighter side, my husband picked up his brand new Jackson kayak this month.

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May 2015

After 6 weeks in that orthopedic boot I thought I was going to go see my doctor and he would say everything looks good and I could remove it. Well, that was not quite what I heard from him. He said I still had two weeks to go, but now I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I wore the boot. I took that line,”anything I want” very seriously and left two days later for a hiking trip to our favorite WI state park. Thanks to my husband and son, I made it to the top of the bluff and back down again with that horrendous contraption on my leg. Let me tell you, IT WAS NOT EASY BUT I (we) DID IT!

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June 2015

I finally was able to remove my ortho boot and what happens next…..my husband suffers a sudden back injury that literally changes our entire summer outlook. After a day of lake kayaking and standup paddling where we were rained on all day, we returned home that night with him feeling pain in his leg.

IMG_1277Nothing had happened all day so this was strange that he was feeling pain. By the next day it was intolerable and medical attention was needed.  IMG_1410

After numerous tests, doctors, and images, we had a diagnosis that we were hoping not to hear. Next would be physical therapy for weeks, a lifting restriction for quite sometime, and learning how to do things differently for the rest of his life. This took some soul searching and a lot of praying that he could eventually recover enough to continue doing what we love to do again.

July 2015

This month was the start of a few months of physical therapy which we all tried helping with. He did seek professional help for awhile but after some time his neurologist thought he could accomplish more on his own. Most people need a therapist because they are so inactive that they don’t know where to start. We, however, are very active and just needed to know the basics of what would give him the biggest benefits toward his recovery. We found all sorts of ways to do physical therapy.

TENS Therapy: IMG_1701

Stretching:  IMG_1732

Water Therapy:  IMG_1741

Inversion Therapy:  IMG_1749

Resistance Bands:

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Walking:

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August 2015

After all that therapy he was given the ok to go on our planned family vacation which just so happened to be hiking in the desert southwest in extreme heat and with extreme elevation. He was limited on backpack weight and was not allowed to even touch our luggage but could hike as far as his body allowed him to hike(as the doctor kindly stated). So we did. And it turned out spectacular!

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September 2015

We returned from vacation, rested up for two weeks and hit the trail again, only a little closer to home this time. We headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hiked the Chapel Loop together….10.6 miles in a day.  IMG_2530

He was still feeling some discomfort but by now we had learned how to deal with any pain he was having. We would rest when the pain started or soaking his foot in cold water was also a nice way to help decrease his discomfort.  IMG_1798  IMG_2661

I also got away in September for a girls day to Cranberry Fest. We had a blast!

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October 2015

October is when we celebrated our 22nd. wedding anniversary. We did this with a overnight trip to Sister Bay, WI at the Birchwood Lodge.

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November 2015

The beginning of this month we found ourselves, yet again, among numerous medical professionals supporting my father-in-law with a major surgery.

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Also this month my husband and I went on a shopping trip to my all time favorite city….Schaumburg, Illinois. I begged him to join me last year and he agreed. This year he offered to join me since we had so much fun last time. I think I may have a shopping partner (package carrier) for life:) Whoo Hoooo!  IMG_2888

December 2015

As predicted by weather forecasters, it had been a pleasant December. One of the best ways for me to celebrate a no snow December is to continue hiking which is exactly what we did. Here is where we spent Christmas Day as a family with sun in our eyes and doing what we love…..hiking.

(photo courtesy of our son, Quade Byrnes)

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So there you have it. Our year from start to finish. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride this year. Among so may other exciting things that have happened throughout the year, I am happy to see this year is now behind us.

My hopes for next year, of course, are to continue to stay healthy. We miss our kayaks severely, have not touched a golf disc in months, and are very excited to be traveling more in the upcoming months.