I Can’t Believe I Did It!

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.

My husband climbed the sand dunes to get a closer look at the Lake
Although the path was level, believe me walking in sand is not an easy thing to do.

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.

This man is amazing! Still full of energy when we reached the lighthouse.

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!!!

I’m Back – and God is Good!

My blogging has taken a bad seat to pain and physical therapy. After two months I am back.

I no longer wobble when I walk.

I am so thankful that after several years of pain that just grew worse each year, I am free of pain. Seven years ago, I had my right knee replaced. I was supposed to have the left one replaced a year later, but I had such difficulty healing from the right knee that I did not do it. Apparently as my left knee got worse, my left leg began to bow, and I ended up with one leg shorter than the other.

Several times I went back to my surgeon who had replaced the right knee complaining that my knee still hurt. (Actually it was not the knee, but the area just below it.) Taking x-rays of my knee he would assure me that the knee replacement was fine. He finally sent me to the University of Iowa and they recommended a knee brace to make that knee stronger. The brace did nothing for the pain and my back began to be extremely painful also. Over the years pain and I became bosom buddies.

At 74 years of age, I began to despair and wondered if I really wanted to live to be “old” if this was going to be my life. The pain limited me from playing with my granddaughter, from taking walks with my husband and even standing in church for worship.

Thankfully I finally found a doctor that realized what was causing all the pain. My body had slowly tilted to the left and my spine, my pelvis, my hips, my shoulders – all my body was so far out of alignment that I even had a rib sticking out on the left side.

Off to physical therapy. The initial evaluation revealed my range of motion was extremely limited and my strength, especially on the left side, was very weak.

After two months of hard work – I am in alignment, I am free of pain.

The first time I took a long walk with my family and experienced no pain, I felt like pinching myself to see if I was really awake and not dreaming.

Lesson learned from all this. Speak up when your doctor does not seem to address your problem. I realize now that the surgeon who replaced my knee was only trained for knee problems. When the x-rays showed the knee replacement was okay, he just dismissed me and my pain. He never gave a thought that there might be other issues than the new knee. Other doctors told me I had arthritis and assumed that was the cause of the pain. An older woman complaining of back pain – easy to just say “arthritis” and prescribe a pain pill. Only when I insisted that something was wrong when a rib was sticking way out of place did anyone begin to say “Hey, let’s take a look at the whole patient and see what’s going on.”

it is up to me now if I continue to be free from pain. The exercises have to be an ongoing part of my life. Changes in my lifestyle were also made. No more sitting in a recliner with my feet up in the air putting pressure on my back. No more going barefoot less I start leaning to the left again. Small changes with big dividends. I can do this!

Being absent from blogging I have debated whether to return. I have asked myself if anyone really enjoys the blogs or if anyone is encouraged by anything I write. After prayer and reflection, I realize that I write because I love it. While I may never have hundreds of followers, if only one or two are blessed because of my blogs, I will continue.

Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down

I have not posted anything for almost three weeks (have you missed me?). In case anyone was wondering, here’s my story.

In 1971 Hasbro/Romper Room created small egg-shaped figures that “wobble” from side to side but return to an upright position. Their slogan for these toys was “Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down.” Inside each weeble is a small weight. When the toy is tipped to one side the weight will cause the toy to “wobble.” Gravity soon brings the toy back to an upright position.

For the past few years, I have experienced chronic pain throughout my body. At first, I just thought it was arthritis creeping up on me or perhaps damage done to my body from the many chemo and radiation treatments I had as a cancer patient almost 20 years ago.

Along with the pain, it has become more difficult for me to stand for any length of time and to walk any great distance. My husband and I have always been active, but this constant pain and difficulty walking was beginning to make me depressed. I began dreading growing old and living a limited lifestyle.

My clothes also did not seem to fit properly. My tops always hung to the left and anything with sleeves would find the left sleeve longer than the right. No matter how many times I tried to straighten my tops – they refused to remain straight and even.

Finally, my granddaughter told me “Grandma, you wobble when you walk.” I felt like those little weebles – bobbing from side to side as I tried to walk straight. On uneven ground or climbing stairs I even wondered if this “webble” would fall down.

At my last doctor’s visit, I pointed out to her that a rib on my left side was sticking way out. She gave a closer examination and determined that my left leg is shorter than my right and because of that my spine has slowly been tilting to the left. Thus, why my clothes do not fit properly and why I “wobble” when I walk.

Diagnosed with scoliosis, she sent me to their physical therapy department for further evaluation and treatment.

First order of business was to add an insert to my left shoe to begin to even out my legs. We have had to slowly raise the height of the left leg because my therapist said too much of an increase all at once would only make things worse.

My first few visits to PT were basically sitting, lying while they did adjustments to my pelvis, my spine, and my hips to try to bring me back into proper alignment. After four weeks of therapy, three times a week and more inserts in the left shoe, they have declared I am back in proper alignment.

I have four more weeks of PT where we are working on building strength into my muscles so that I can retain the proper position of my pelvis, spine and hips. My therapist told me I will need to continue these exercise three to four times a week for the rest of my life if I want my body to keep the right alignment. They can make adjustments to my spine, but it is the muscles that will hold that alignment.

While doing the physical therapy and learning to make other adjustments – such as losing my recliner for a more straight-back chair, using the right size pillows when I sleep, wearing shoes all the time (which I hate), adjusting my computer so that I am not looking up or down at the screen which is hard on the neck, I have been too busy to blog.

Honestly, I have thought about not returning to my blog and I have mixed feelings about it. But here’s goes my story of my absence – and I do hope some of my followers have missed me.