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Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Sometimes you just gotta move ahead on faith. Last weekend, on my kayak trip in Black Canyon, I was able to canyon hike for several sandy miles, scramble over boulders, and do a bit of ladder and rope climbing to get up to some of the hot springs. I was also able to work the rudder in the kayak without ill effect. I was overjoyed!

After doing so well on the river trip, I’m quite hopeful that I will someday completely conquer the residual nerve damage in my legs. I’ve discovered some new factors that make things easier and the long-term improvements continue, as well. (Related posts: “The Fibroid From Hell” and “From a Flabby Forty-Nine to a Fit Fifty“)

What seem to be making the most difference are warmth, lighter footwear, no pack weight, and being more cognizant of the alignment of my feet. I’m also doing some regular visualization of my legs being completely healed.

Going back and forth between Flagstaff and Phoenix is teaching me the role of warmth in my recovery. The warmer I can keep my legs, the better I seem to do. It was quite warm on the Colorado for late October, so my legs never got cold. The hot springs in Black Canyon were an added bonus.

I also wore much lighter footwear than I usually do in the backcountry. My river sandals weigh a small fraction of what my wildland boots do and I had no pack weight as all I carried was a liter of water on the hikes. I think this was a big factor in how well I did.

By the end of the day, back in camp, I noticed that I was getting some drop in my right foot (not unusual when I get tired or sore) but I deliberately worked to align my feet while walking or in the boat, and that seemed to help. I’ve since added some of the old leg and foot alignment exercises from my post-surgical PT into my FF2FF workout program in the hopes that those will keep this process moving along.

I’m still going very light on my core workouts, but I’m walking everyday and I’ve tried a little exercise biking and stepper work in the last week without any problem. I’m just about ready to try my rollerblades and the mountain bike again.

My weight is stable. I haven’t lost any weight in the last three weeks, which I attribute to all the miles I’ve been racking up between the river trip and going back and forth between Flagstaff and Phoenix every week–too much road food. That will change soon. The last twenty will disappear with more exercise.

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Week in Review

It’s been a mixed bag this week on the “Flabby Forty-nine to a Fit Fifty” exercise program. I lost another pound and I finally got my goals and motivations posted. I fell off the wagon on my hydration program – too many sodas in place of water. That will change this week. I just started back today on my original core exercise program. It took longer than I thought for the nerve pain to settle down, but it’s fine now, and I’m back on track.

This week’s goals:

1) Do the original core exercise program ONLY. Do not push, do not add any extras. One week of the easy version, and then I’ll try adding in a tiny bit more. I set myself back trying to do more than those little old femoral nerves were ready for.

2) Get back on track with my pre-emptive water consumption. This is especially important as I will soon be in Phoenix. I want to have this habit firmly established.

3) Do my daily goal review and visualization to keep my motivation high and my focus clear.

And, I’ve got a blog post entered in the “Very Public Diet” blog carnival to put a little more pressure on to keep practicing what I preach.

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I took three days off from the FF2FF exercise program and reevaluated due to nerve pain in my leg. My plan is to start over on the ab and core exercises as soon as the last of the pain is gone and just gently stretch and do the easiest core program for a week or so before trying any increase in difficulty. I obviously need to approach it more gradually than I did to get the results I want.

I did very well on increasing my water consumption and I did log my progress. I’m still behind the eight ball on getting the visual motivators going. I have done well in reminding myself of why I’m exercising and its benefits, though. My motivation and attitude are good despite the setback and I’m rarin’ to go on my dancing and Arnis as soon as I’m able. No change on body measurements.

This week’s goals are rather modest:

1) 20 minutes easy stretch and ab/core program every day as soon as the nerve pain is gone. I’m currently doing stretches and exercises that don’t affect my core or legs for about ten minutes per day until then.
2) Maintain water consumption.
3) Get those visuals up!
4) Keep at it!

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It’s getting close to the last hurrah for the wild sunflowers that dot my yard and line Arizona’s roadways in the late summer. They are definitely getting close to “bloomed out.” These two pictures were taken about a week ago in my front yard. The ones I saw today, on my return trip from Phoenix, have lost a lot of the their blossoms.

Wild Sunflower Another Wild Sunflower Picture

It was a good trip down to Phoenix and a joy to visit with my friends, as always. The drive to and from Phoenix is also a time for reflection for me. I’ve clarified some of my options and made some plans for the next few months. I also took a few days off exercising and the nerve problem in my leg has diminished, so the change of pace was healthy in more ways than one.

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Warning: Rant
For all my philosophical outlook yesterday, I’m not so emotionally detached today. I’m angry and I’m bummed out. Not only did I have the old nerve pain down my leg while I was out watching the Aurigid Meteor Shower last night, I still had it when I woke up this morning. I’m struggling with the persistent notion that if my surgeon had acted differently, things might be much easier for me today.

Was he that ignorant? Is this some consequence of managed care? Or was he just that dismissive of a patient’s complaints? Probably some combination of all three. It took my primary care physician calling him and “consulting” with him to get him to move ahead at all, and then only reluctantly. It took six months from when I started having symptoms to get the needed surgical intervention.

I remember the post-surgical follow-up appointment when I told my surgeon that I was still having pain down my legs and his reply of, “That’s not possible.” My first reaction was to question myself. Then I looked at him, really looked at him, and thought how wrong he had already been. More dismissal of a patient’s pain and suffering, and possibly some heavy duty butt covering…

I understand that he had to do a lot of cutting and tugging to get that thing out of there. It’s impossible to know how much damage was pre-existing and how much was an inevitable result of having to pry the fibroid out. He didn’t need to be concerned. I’m not the sue-happy type.

What still amazes me, though, after seeing how many searches for “fibroid pain down leg,” and “femoral nerve damage from fibroids,” and the like come across this blog (The Fibroid From Hell is consistently my top post for the month), that he didn’t have a clue before he actually got in there. His initial advice to come back in three months if I was still having problems was just plain irresponsible.

I went back to my primary doctor, who said, “Nonsense!” to the surgeon’s assessment, and promptly wrote me a prescription and authorized several months of physical therapy. Bless her heart. The PT and the prescription did help, some. And my main doctor was also the one who gave me the straight talk about my future in emergency services work, when that was the last thing I wanted to hear.

All of this to get to two things:

Some Advice
Gals, if you have fibroids be sure to follow up. Don’t soldier on and be so patient about pain like I was. Don’t put it off, or be put off. A few months either way could make a huge difference in your future health. Nerve compression like that does not get better on it’s own. The only remedy is surgery. The longer the compression continues, the more chance of permanent damage.

The Future
Which brings me to the second thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever completely recover from this. I will keep working at it and I will overcome everything I possibly can. I’ve just had to admit today that, while my first impulse is to try and push through it and continue my exercise program as planned, I may never be able to do all the things I want to do physically. I intend to prove this wrong, but I do have to admit to the possibility of failure in order to plan how to overcome this, one way or the other.

My course of choice has always been to DO SOMETHING. Just like today. And what do I want to do? Go hike the hill where I heard the coyotes last night, get on my mountain bike, work on my flamenco Tangos, of course. But if I do that, I’ll just keep this flare up going and set myself back. Damn. The smart move is to SIT here. Deal with my frustration. And plot my comeback.

The objective remains the same, and I’m not so sure that the strategy itself is bad. The tactics definitely have to change, though. At the moment, given how everything gets reattached after a hysterectomy, I can’t even do isometric ab work. Even that pulls on the ligaments that slide past those unhappy nerves. Core exercises and leg exercises are out of the question until this calms down. I can do my arm workout. I can study my flamenco videos, plan a Grand Canyon hike for someday, look forward to my paddle trip.

In the meantime, here I sit, wondering if this is my metaphorical Elba and if I have set myself up for a personal Waterloo with my “FF2FF” program. I don’t think so. If I handle this well, it may only be a small setback.

So, it’s back to my other activities of the day. I’m making tamales to take with me down to Phoenix tomorrow when I go to see F1 and F2. I’ll sit in a chair, rather than stand while I do the filling and wrapping. The drive down with the manual transmission will make me a bit more sore, but an anti-inflammatory or two will get me through that. It’s been a couple months since I’ve seen my friends, and I miss them. I also need to get out of here for a few days just on principle.

Perseverance, I have. It’s patience that I need to develop.

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I’m not waiting until the end of my workout week to make some changes in my exercise program. I have one potential problem developing that needs addressed and there is one potential improvement that I can make right away. Why wait?

Nerve Pain

The good news is that I’ve finally got some sore muscles! My abs are slightly sore, which I want; the down side is that I’m also getting some of the old femoral nerve pain down my right leg. (Refer The Fibroid From Hell post.) I knew I would be walking a fine line with this, so I’m not bummed out by it, just trying to find where the edges are, so I can play it right up to the line. I want progress and it may take a little bit of pain to get it. On the other hand, I’ve also gotten a little bit wiser over the last few years, and I’m not going to injure myself or get the old nerve damage flared up any more than I absolutely have to.

So, instead of my set program, I’ll decide how much core work and other exercise to do on a day to day basis. Whether five minutes or fifteen, twenty or none, I’ll take each day as it comes and see if I can gradually push out the boundaries. Now I know where the pain starts, which is very useful. I just have to determine how far back from that I need to step and still get results.

Hydration

I also found some information on hydration last night that got me rethinking my approach. On that front, I’m changing to a preemptive strategy. I had been just making sure I replenished water when I lost it. Now, I’m going on the offensive and drinking water before I feel thirsty and before I think I need it, without using loss as the cue. That should bring my water consumption up a bit more and pretty much take care of hydration issues. The key will be maintaining that level, so it’ll stay on the goal list a few weeks, until I’m sure the habit is established.

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From a Flabby Forty-nine to a Fit Fifty:

Evaluation of Fitness Goals for the Week of Aug. 23 to 29, 2007

1) Flexibility and core strengthening exercises. Yes. Observations and Log. Yes. Flexibility Assessment. Two days later than planned, but yes.
2) Increase water consumption by 10 %. Yes.
3) Identify and write down three motivators, things. Yes. Find a way to make these powerful, memorable, and visual. Post them where I will see them and remember them. No. Rolls over to this new week.
4) Define system. Yes.
5) Research and select a set of upper body strength exercises. Yes. Ahead of schedule, actually started doing this.

Not too bad. All but one accomplished, and I’ve committed to doing that one this week:

New Fitness Goals for the Week of August 30 – September 5, 2007

1) Continue basic flexibility and core strengthening exercises for six days out of seven, but cut the time spent to 20 minutes per day and increase the difficulty of the exercises.
2) Do a functional strength and stability assessment and determine exercise needs accordingly. Decide how to implement this into flexibility and strength training.
3) Add in at least 20 minutes per day of either flamenco dance, Tai Chi, or Arnis, for six days out of the seven. Do 10 minutes of upper body strength work at least twice during the week on non-consecutive days – this can be part of the Arnis time, if necessary.
4) Increase water consumption by another 10 %.
5) Find a way to make my three motivators powerful, memorable, and visual. Post them where I will see them and remember them. * This is the rollover from last week.
6) Research and select a set of lower body strength exercises. Decide the best way to implement this to work around nerve problems in my legs.
7) Log everything.

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