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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Our Prayers To The Utah Hiking Community

 

A few short weeks ago my family was enjoying the beauty of the Utah area.

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As I watched and listened to the numerous stories online and on television about the flash flooding and deaths that came to those hikers in Zion National Park this week I couldn’t help but wonder what they went through.

This area is where I find true happiness. It fulfills my passion for hiking and living large. I can only pray that this group of men and women were doing something they loved, in a place they loved.

This is simply heartbreaking and our prayers go out to their family and friends.

 

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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Summing Up Our Zion and Bryce Canyon Family Vacation With Some Pointers For Others Planning A Family Hiking Trip

As you can tell from the last few posts we had an amazing time vacationing in Zion and Bryce National Parks. I credit our amazing time to a lot of research, planning, and mostly to what we learned from our guides the first time my husband and I took a guided trip to this area two years ago.

On this trip we were on our own and I want to share some pointers to help anyone else have a successful trip, as we did, to this same area..

#1 Trail Map: This is something you do not want to forget….and if you do go back for it! You are hiking in the desert where it is easy to miss a turn off, get injured, and with mountains surrounding you on all sides cell service is quite limited. We found a family on our trail through Echo Canyon miles from the trail they had been searching for. When asked if they had a trail map, their response was, NO we forgot it.

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#2 Cell Phone: Bring it just in case you would need help and are lucky enough to get a signal.

#3 First Aid: You don’t need much but you also should never be without some first aid items. We actually offered some of our first aid supplies to a family we met on the trail because they left theirs back in camp. You may not get so lucky and meet someone on some of the more remote trails and an injury could really make the hike back miserable.

#4 Headlamp: We all think and plan to be done hiking and out by sunset, although you really never know what will happen until it happens. Hiking out of the mountains in darkness can be even more dangerous than in daylight. So carrying a small light weight headlamp is a smart idea and worth the extra pack weight.

#5 WATER: I cannot stress this enough. You will need water, and a lot of water. If you are doing more than one trail in the park you will be able to refill water containers at each trail head in Zion NP.

#6 Do not feed the wildlife: There is a fine in the national park if you are caught feeding the wildlife.

IMG_2038#7 Watch your pack when you take it off: Squirrels, lizards, and chipmunks are VERY BRAVE here and they will chew a hole in packs very quickly.  IMG_2093

#8 Snacks: Bring trail snacks and don’t worry about counting calories while hiking. You will need the energy and will burn the calories quickly here with all the elevation so eat often. IMG_1818 #9 Flash flood warnings and weather: Check the park website for the flash flood and weather forecast warnings everyday. If it’s too high, choose an alternate trail for the day.

#10 Have an alternate plan: Keep in mind that accidents happen and this is a remote area so it takes search and rescue personnel sometimes hours or days to reach people in need. Have an alternate plan if you would come across your chosen trail head and find it closed due to search and rescue trying to find someone. We thankfully did our first hike into Echo Canyon on our first day because the second day the trail was closed down all day and night due to search and rescue trying to help someone.

#11 Permit/Back country Passes: Research before you hike and make sure your chosen trail is not one that requires you to have a permit or pass. Some do and some don’t.

#12 Sunscreen/Hat: Desert sun is hot, lather up and wear a hat if you can.

#13 Adequate Shoes/Boots: You will come across cactus, snakes, wildlife, dirt, rock, water, and so on. Wear adequate shoes/boots.  IMG_1992

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#14 Electrolyte Replacement: I will attest to this personally…..you will sweat like crazy here in the summer time. Prepare to have some sort of electrolyte replacement with you on the trail.

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#15 Groceries: Bring what you can from home or stop in the nearest town before arriving at the park. Groceries are outrageous here….a jar of salsa in the local store we saw was $8 compared to maybe $2 here at our home store.  Clif bars were $3.50 each. We brought all our trail food from home and thankfully did not have to purchase anything at the little grocery store near the park.

#16 Bring Ziplocs: These are priceless….great ice packs for sore muscles, water proofing personal items in the Narrows, rain protection, keeping your packs organized, carryout, sealable garbage bag, etc.

#17 Have Fun: A vacation like this takes a lot of planning but if all goes smoothly you should have tons of fun, leave exhausted, and have memories that will last a life time. I know we did, we were, and we have all of these:)

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Feel free to email me or comment if you have any questions in regards to anything you see or that we did. I will be glad to answer anything I can for you.

 

 

Backpacking/Hiking Preparations Have Begun

I have finally started preparing for our backpacking/hiking trip to Zion, Bryce and surrounding areas. Besides physically training for this sort of adventure there is a lot more that can make a trip like this much more enjoyable. Precisely, planning your meals ahead of time, taking what you can with you, and preparing for the heat that this area experiences. Two years ago I could have never written a post like this because on our first trip here I really had no clue what we were in for. I had an idea but we were taught so much from our guides that this time I am confident we can do this on our own and be very successful.

Let’s take a look at what we are bringing for backpacking food we plan to eat on the trails.

  • Nuts/almonds
  • electrolyte powder
  • Clif bars/Luna bars
  • turkey jerky
  • turkey snack sticks
  • dried friut
  • cookies
  • crackers (not pictured)
  • Clif Shot Bloks(for emergency blood sugar issues anyone may have)
  • candy (not pictured)
  • water,water and more water

Some of the more important supplies we will be bringing are.

  • sunscreen
  • ziplocks
  • blister supplies
  • bandanas
  • friction stick
  • Tide pods
  • Granite Gear Zipp Sack
  • spray water bottle (#1 tip from our guides last time for cooling off on the trail)
  • sock liners
  • trekking poles

IMG_1818Obviously, there are many more things we will be packing but this is the list of things we feel would really make our trip successful. Our first visit to the area I found out there are very few places to purchase most of this food and the prices are outrageous. My thought is since we all need to check a bag anyhow I plan to take whatever we can fit with us from home.

We have researched our chosen trails, confirmed our lodge accommodations, and are working on our distance walking as much as possible. This last one has proven to be quite a battle but at least we are in the right frame of mind. Before the back injury that has left my husband with nerve issues in one leg and foot we could walk for miles. Now we find ourselves needing to sit and rest when he starts to feel heat and numbness in his foot. This typically happens around mile 3 or so.  IMG_1798

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At first I think it was discouraging for him, since we have walked for many, many years without taking breaks. That being said, we have come to enjoy these breaks along the trail. We watch birds, have a snack, he does some stretching or we just sit and chat for a bit until the feelings subsides and he feels ready to continue.  IMG_1840

IMG_1843His doctor said in time this will get better and thankfully he has already seen improvement but waiting is sometimes the hardest part of healing.  IMG_1823

Either way, we know that whether hiking takes us all day or just a few hours, our destination is so amazingly beautiful that we will enjoy ourselves without a doubt.

Have you ever been to the Zion and Bryce area?

Do you have any suggestions of trails, places, restaurants, activities we should check out?

 

 

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!

 

 

I Feel a Vacation Coming….

The winter of 2014 will be forever in our minds as the winter of below zero temperatures for 49 days straight. Lately, we have had temps up to 75 and now we are back down to the thirties in the morning hours. I simply can’t believe we have had to turn our heat back on!!! That being said, I really feel the need to do something about where we live.

I know what your all thinking. I just have spring fever. Although, I seriously think it’s more than that. I may have winter pneumonia. I have lived in this city for every single one of my 41 years of life. That’s 41 winters I have remarkably survived. Now, I admit maybe when I was young it was not so bad, but the last 10 years have truly been torture. So, I came up with this plan and ran it by my husband.  He always gets so worried when I say, “Honey, I have a plan…!” (I personally think he just needs to relax) Much to my surprise, he agreed to my plan after very little thought.

We are going to take our first winter vacation ever in 2015. We have decided (ok, so maybe I decided and let him know about it) to go back to the Southwest area where it is toasty warm and sunny.

We visited this same general area for the first time back in September 2013 when we traveled with REI to Zion National Park. This was by far the best vacation I had ever been on. We arrived in the REI van as passengers and it literally brought tears to my eyes at what I saw everywhere around me. I must admit, this was also the most emotional vacation I had ever taken. I cried three times in three days and for no reason other than I was so happy there. I was in my element with sun, hot temperatures and mountains all around me. Someday I have to believe I will live in this area, but until then, I plan to visit and explore every mile that I can.

This time we will be going at it on our own with no guides. We are also not visiting any national parks. Utah in winter has snow, so we plan to go a little more south to avoid the nasty white stuff. I hate to say it because winter 2014 is not that far behind us, but I am actually excited for winter 2015 to arrive. Now that’s a scary thought!

My hope is that by going on a warm vacation for a few days it will at least break up the endless days of freezing temperatures and make winter not seem so long and dreadful for me. It’s the best we can do at this point in our lives so I will take it as a blessing that I will have one week mid winter of glorious sunshine and warmth.

Do any of you vacation mid winter somewhere warm and sunny?

Does it help with the endless days of winter?