Celebrating The Half Way Point To Recovery

This week marks the half way point of when all the medical professionals feel my husband will be recovered from his back injury. It’s been three months this week since this all started and after meeting with his neurologist recently, he has gotten the go ahead to start doing some things that he has not done in months.

We have returned to the gym…..yehhhhh! I have gone here and there throughout this ordeal but mostly I have been doing my exercise at home in one way or another. He has been told he can start back on light cardio and VERY LIGHT weights.

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He still has not been released to grab that kayak paddle and will not be told to do so until at least spring at the earliest. As depressing as this may be, we are looking at the bright side…..at least he will eventually be able to paddle again. When this first all happened we were not even sure if he would be able to continue driving much less paddle anything.

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Regardless of all his progress, he is still to continue his physical therapy and slowly continue to ween himself off his nerve medication that he is taking. He has tried this in the past without much luck, but as of today he is four days and counting on half the full dose and hoping for the best.

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It’s odd to think what we have all done these past three months with such a debilitating injury. At one of his first appointments his physician told him that if walking and hiking is something that he loves to do, go ahead and do it since it’s also one of the best exercises for him to continue doing. Which was great to hear since we had our vacation planned before this all came about and it included hiking. He worked really hard to continue this activity since his foot and leg were what was impacted the most by his back injury. At first we would only walk a mile and he would start to feel pain.

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We would then stop, rest, and do some stretches until the pain subsided. Slowly, he worked his way up to more distance but it was not easy. We found all sorts of ways to relieve the pain when it would start, like rolling his foot on a cold water bottle we would carry along with us.

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Some of our trails would cross county highways and you could find us, at times, stretching on these highway crossings. We would also carry ice packs and leave them in our vehicle so when we returned from a hike/walk, he could apply the ice to his back and this would help the swelling go down faster which was pressing on the nerve causing the pain in his leg/foot.

Two of the biggest changes we made were, he started using trekking poles and we purchased a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sleeping mat.

The trekking poles he used mainly when we went to Utah for help and balance with elevation hiking. He loved them going up into the mountains, stating that they gave him the extra boost he needed with every step. Going back down was a challenge, as normally they absorb some of the impact from your joints and pass that onto the poles. He, however, did not feel they helped him as much going down as they did going up.

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As for purchasing the Therm-a-Rest- Z Lite mat, this was one of the best buys we have made. We found this while we were vacationing in Utah at an outdoor store and I knew immediately we had to have it. There have been many times since this all happened that he gets to a point that he just needs to stop and rest. Not because he is tired….because the pain in his foot/leg is getting to be too much to handle, so we end up sitting right on the trail we happen to be on at the time…..which for us in WI can be almost anywhere. When we were in Utah at least we had rock to rest on and a great view, here we are typically in the woods, knee deep in bugs and critters and such. So having this mat is awesome! We simply strap it to my pack and when we reach the point of needing to rest his foot/leg, I lay it out and we sit and rest. We have also used it to have a snack on and also some stretching…it sure beats the highway concrete. It also beats sitting in the dirt, bugs, and dampness of morning dew to rest. When we are finished, we pick it up, give it a shake and its clean and ready to strap back on my pack for a few more miles. The best part is it’s so light weight that I don’t even feel like I am carrying a mat at all.

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So as we celebrate the half way point of my husband being recovered, I hope by sharing this experience with all of you has only proved my point that moving is always better than sitting. We realize that he could have somewhat of a disability for life, which so far we have learned to live with quite well by making a few changes to our activities. Have we stopped being active……absolutely not!!!! Do we fully expect to be back in our kayaks next Spring…you bet we do…..but things will be different then also. There will be no more single person carrying kayaks, no more single person draining water from overturned kayaks and so on. We plan to do everything in pairs and treat our bodies kindly to some extent. Until that time when we feel the water drip from our paddles and hear the rumble of a rapid around the next corner, I will just be thankful he is still able to enjoy life like we choose to enjoy life and live in the moment….. together.

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Physical Therapy At Home…..It Is Possible

Let’s discuss something that can be quite controversial…..physical therapy. Do you need a professional?

During the last month my husband has seen many, many medical professionals and one of them happened to be a physical therapist. Now, I am not saying all physical therapist are the same or have the same approach with all their patients but after discussing with his neurologist the progression of therapy my husband was receiving he came home and asked me what my opinion was on continuing to keep his therapy appointments twice a week. These appointments had him doing very little and they took up 1 1/2 hours of his day. After discussing what they did, the outlook his pt person had for future appointments, and our normal activity level with the doctor he stated that maybe it would be more beneficial to continue doing everything we have been doing at our pace which would all benefit him greatly. Which then made me say let’s cancel pt all together and we can plan our daily routine around what we know is the best form of therapy for his condition and save us a lot of time and money. So we did.

Now, we are pretty lucky since we already had almost everything we needed that he would benefit from right at home from our years of physical activity. If you are not so lucky and don’t want to invest in some items that are recommended for your condition then you are probably best to still seek the skills of a physical therapist as directed by your doctor.

I would like to share his first week of at home physical therapy exercises. (Please remember that this routine is specific for his condition, so this may not be a routine for everyone and all conditions.)

Monday: hamstring stretch 2x’s day, 30 minutes on the stationary bike IMG_1753Tuesday: hamstring stretch 2x’s day, 3 mile walk, TENS therapy 30 minutes IMG_1701Wednesday: hamstring stretch 2x’s day, 2 mile trail walk, resistance bands foot/ankle IMG_0981 Thursday: 1 hour pool therapy, hamstring stretch 2x’s day IMG_1741

Friday: hamstring stretch 2x’s day, decompression/inversion table 15 minutes IMG_1749

Saturday: hamstring stretch 2x’s day, 30 minutes on the stationary bike

Sunday: hamstring stretch 2x’s day and a hike just short of 5 miles

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If you follow along you all know that the one thing about us is that we are a very active couple. This routine was by far a challenge to endure, but for some individuals it may be considered grueling. We went into this with no plan what so ever. We did what felt right for that particular day. You can see on Thursday, for instance, we ended up in a city pool for open swim time after dinner. He had a very long, hot and uncomfortable day as far as pain is considered at work and water has been our go to ever since it all started. We did not feel like traveling to our normal spot to swim in the bay of Green Bay so we drove and paid $6 for an hour of pool time.

If you are not a normal active person and you need that push of a physical therapist and a set time and place then I would suggest you go this route. We, however, do not need a set time and place to be active. We have figured out a way to just change up our normal active routine and adjust it to what he needs to work on to improve his condition. Making it fun, not in a medical facility, and including your family and children will make the actual process of doing whatever your doctor has suggested not so bad. Even my daycare children have started assisting him in ways he never thought he would be stretched.  IMG_1729

If you are suffering and physical therapy is part of your treatment plan, don’t feel like you have no options. For a few hundred dollars in supplies and some help from family and friends in some instances, it is possible to achieve results on your own. Just don’t push too hard and remember to rest when you need to rest. Sometimes that is the hardest part of healing. Your brain says you can do this and your body is telling you no it can’t.

 

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

This week has brought many things to an end. Instead of three doctor appointments a week my husband had one and next week none:) As for physical therapy, we have decided that we can purchase and do everything at home to save a ton of time and do more often to get even more benefit for his condition. All his physicians agreed, so our big order of therapy supplies should arrive Monday. And the last test results we were waiting for finally came back mid week and they were wonderful. Which in our eyes meant we could all take a breath and relax a little. It has been a trying, emotional three weeks but I can honestly say, we do see a little light at the end of this tunnel.

Now onto much happier events…..do you remember that vacation we were suppose to be training for? It is happening in a few short weeks and our goal is to hike for four days straight with our longest hike being 8 miles. I am extremely happy to say we are still planning to go on this vacation. As for the 8 mile hike, time will tell. We have talked with all his physicians and they all say he can and should try and make it happen. Although, we have been walking at home throughout this ordeal and he is only able to make it about 2 1/2 -3 miles until he starts to feel pain and numbness. Which is when all the professionals say he needs to stop and rest. I have him convinced that he should also use hiking poles this time and to my surprise he agreed. So my old poles have been taken apart, cleaned up, and are ready for use. They still had particles of the virgin river in them from our last big hiking trip.

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As for training, this was very short lived. I have been still getting daily exercise but not nearly what I was hoping to get in preparation for this trip. You all know my husbands activity level has been lessened greatly and our son also was set back with a back issue in the past few weeks.Thankfully, I still feel I can accomplish this hike without a problem. I am hoping that we can somehow accomplish it as a family, but if not, we plan do do the best we can with what we have. Our vacation is planned for a gorgeous, amazing place and I have no doubt regardless of how far we hike, it will still be a wonderful, enjoyable time.

Speaking of hiking, recently we ventured out for a short hike after work one night. As usual, we were walking along and came across a snake crossing the trail. Now normally, when we hike we walk side by side as many people probably do. While he is looking into the sky at birds, bugs, and keeping an eye out for wildlife, I am scanning the trail for these slithery reptiles. I always seem to find them first and he can normally tell by the immediate stop and few steps backwards(and a scream) what lies ahead. Although, now, I have learned where they normally are hiding and slither out of while on the trail so we have taken a new approach to these slithery reptiles. Snakes never seem to come from the side of the trail. They are almost always laying in the middle where greenery has grown through or right out in the open sunning themselves which makes them easy to spot from a distance. It’s the greenery that has me a nervous wreck, so now I make my husband (whom is not deathly afraid of snakes, unlike me) walk a bit ahead of me right through the middle of this greenery.

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I then follow behind at a safe distance giving the snakes time to slither across to the trail edge and into the woods/grass. It does not make seeing them any more pleasant but at least the fear of them slithering over my boot into the woods/grass is not constantly in the back of mind. God forbid, a snake ever slither over my boot, I would not have the power to walk off the trail by myself. I have a strong heart and great blood pressure, but this may send me into cardiac arrest.

That’s all I have for you all this week. I miss blogging about our kayaking trips, disc golf courses we visit and all that fun stuff. Although, right now our lives are pretty limited to walking, biking, swimming and physical therapy. I try and keep him company through all of this to hopefully make it less daunting for him.

TENS Therapy while spending time together

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So even though it’s quite life consuming, we are still having fun and enjoying just being together. We are finding ways to make the most of what we have to work with at the moment.

Have a Great Weekend!

 

 

Weekend Snapshots

We had a weekend I dream of all winter long, it was 85-90 degrees, sunny, and absolutely gorgeous. We originally had plans to attempt a 6 mile hike on Saturday but when I saw the forecast I knew my husband would not be a happy hiker. So we changed plans and headed to a friends cabin to take full advantage of the beautiful lake they are on. Which then left Sunday (the cooler of the two days) for a small hike along the Bay of Green Bay where there was a nice breeze.

Here are some snapshots of our weekend.

Cave Point County Park

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Lake Fun With the SUP

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Pizza Delivery After A Day of Water Fun

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TENS Therapy  For My Hubby To Finish The Day

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Sunday Afternoon Hike Bay Side

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Ending The Weekend Purchasing Our Annual Date Night Tickets To Feast With The Beast 2015

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I really do have to admit, even with all the struggles that have been thrown our way this summer, we are still able to have fun and enjoy what we can. We have really learned not to take life for granted and enjoy the moments we have because you just never really know when those moments will no longer be possible. We had a great weekend, spent it with some great friends, we were active, we were able to escape the dramas of life, and most importantly relax and let all our worries be gone for a few hours. For this I am so thankful for.

Did you have a great weekend?

Did you do anything active?