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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Our First “Empty Nester’s” Vacation

We did not waste any time to experience what it would be like to go on a mini vacation as a couple instead of a family.

We spent a good portion of Friday moving our son into his dorm and left mid afternoon for a camp sight about three more hours from his campus. This felt odd, leaving him behind, but we did it knowing that he was well settled and we did all we could do to make him feel comfortable with his new surroundings.

We had our new tent, new sleeping bags, sleeping mats, a bunch of freeze dried meals and our new day packs all loaded and ready for our trial run before the big Zion National Park trip we have planned.

When we arrived the tent was pitched with ease. (Hubby did this twice before leaving home to make sure he knew how) Our sleeping mats were unrolled and bags laid on top. We arrived right around dinner time, so we took out the MSR Whisperlite stove and prepared our favorite Mountain House freeze dried meal, chicken fajitas and corn.

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After dinner, we headed to the showers, and this brought a whole new experience for us. We both headed to our own side of the shower room.  As I got ready to turn on the water, I turned around and guess what was staring at me from the wall????? FOUR LITTLE FROGS! Oh my, I really honestly did not know what to do. Yes, it was over 100 degrees with the heat index all day, and I really wanted a nice refreshing shower, but at the same time, I also wanted to step very calmly out of the shower stall so they would not happen to jump on me with any quick movement I made. They did not seem to concerned about me being there, so I decided, it was either shower with them or not shower at all. I can proudly say, I bucked up and just showered. They never moved from their spot, just watched and waited for me to leave their shower stall when I was finished. The funniest part, was when I was all finished and exited the shower room, my husband was waiting patiently on the bench outside, and asked if I had any “new friends” in the shower with me. I said yes, why? He just laughed and said, wow, I was waiting for the scream, and it never happened, so he thought maybe his shower was the only one that had the frogs in it. I told him, nope they were in mine also, but we all got along just fine:)

Early Saturday morning we got up and had some breakfast. We were hoping to beat the heat of the day and get our hiking in. We started with East Brady’s Bluff Trail in which we saw some beautiful rock structures along the way.

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Upon arriving at the top,our view was of Trempealeau Mountain with the mighty Mississippi River all around it.

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We also had a small snack in the shelter at the top of the bluff.

IMG_2712We then headed down West Brady’s Bluff Trail. Took a peak at Horseshoe Falls, which was not a falls today, but still a sight to see.

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Then we decided to take on the hardest trail in the park. Perrot Ridge Trail. This trail is a mighty climb. At the very top the park rangers have even secured a rope for assistance in the last few yards of the climb.

A view looking up:

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And a view looking down, when we reached the top.

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We were pretty proud. We did this fairly easy compared to past years. Our training must be paying off. Don’t let me fool you though, we were hot and tired when we reached the top, but did it with ease.

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I hope my confidence stays with me to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion in a few weeks!!!

Upon reaching the top, we took a break and did a mom and dad thing. We texted our son, and told him we made it to the top. It had been about 24 hours since we had said our good bye’s and we thought we would check in and make sure all was going well. After a bit of time, we started down the trail back to camp for some lunch. Cheesy chili was our choice for today. Another very yummy freeze dried meal.

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This ended our hiking excursion. It started to get hot and very muggy again.

So we thought some disc golf in a nearby city would be fun. We got in the truck and headed to Winona, Minnesota. We had played this course before and wanted to visit the city again seeing we were so close by. We spent the afternoon golfing and then my husband finally had the opportunity to take me to a restaurant he has visited a few times when he has been on the road working in this city.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Our tent was wonderful ,Marmot Trestles sleeping bags were never slept inside of because of the heat, but our Therm-a-Rest Sleeping mats provided plenty of padding from the hard ground.