It has been a month now since I finished my physical therapy. My therapist warned me that I would need to keep doing my exercises at least two to four times a week if I wanted to remain strong and have less pain.
So far, I am exercising every day. Eventually I will probably move to just two to four times a week, but I am so glad to be free of pain that spending a few minutes each day in exercising is a small price to pay for this new life.
One of the things I struggled with beside the pain was just being able to walk any distance. It has been so great to be able to shop for groceries or go to the mall and walk with my husband.
However, we recently attempted a walk that was probably not one I should have tried. We went to Ludington, Michigan to see one of the lighthouses there. Since moving to Michigan four years ago we have made it our mission to see as many of the lighthouses here as we can. This was the beautiful lighthouse, Big Sable, located on the shores of Lake Michigan.
French explorers first called this place Grande Point au Sable. This area, approximately nine miles north of Ludington was a landmark for sailors on Lake Michigan. In 1856 Congress gave $6,000 and the Michigan Legislature donated the land for a lighthouse. However, it was not until the end of the Civil War that Congress again gave money – this time $35,000 – and construction began in 1866. The lighthouse was completed in 1867.
We were all prepared to drive to see this lighthouse. However, on entering the park that surrounds the lighthouse, we discovered we would have to walk to the lighthouse. The walk is 1.8 miles. The rangers assured us it was a level walk with benches along the way. Knowing this would be quite the challenge, we nonetheless decided to do it.
At first it was nice. A beautiful sunshiny day with a cool breeze from the ocean, we enjoyed the beginning of the walk.
About halfway up the trail I began to have strong doubts about the wisdom of attempting this. My husband offered to turn back. But I had committed to this, and I was determined to finish it. I stopped at every bench along the way to catch my breath. Just when I thought I could not go on, the lighthouse appeared in the distance.
Finally, we made it! I was proud of what I had done but was scared at the thought of making the walk back. My husband, who is 82, was tired but confident he could make it back. I was not so sure that I could.
We sat by the lake and enjoyed the view while I gulped a bottle of water and ate a candy bar. After almost 30 minutes it was clear I was afraid I would not be able to make it back the 1.8 miles. My husband asked some of the workers at the museum and gift shop if someone could drive us back. Their response was: “The only way you get a ride out of here is in an ambulance.”
Faced with no other choice we started back down the trail. Although there were benches along the way, there were several places where the benches were very far apart. My legs were holding up fine, but my poor heart was not. About halfway back I began to have difficulty breathing. At one point I leaned on my husband and tried hard to get a breath. Other walkers on the trail asked if they could help me, but unless they were willing to carry me, I did not know what they could do.
Just when I thought I could not go on, we saw the end of the trail. Exhausted I sat on a picnic table for almost 30 minutes before I could go on.
We calculated our distance when we got back to the car. It was 1.8 miles there and back but when you added in the distance from the parking lot to the start of the trail we had walked over four miles.
Looking back I am not sure that was a smart thing for us to do – but I am so proud of the fact that I did it.
Before my physical therapy there is no way I could have done that. I was in pain for a couple of days afterwards – more sore than pain – but I recovered and I DID IT!!!