Monday, June 10, 2013

Not The Average Bionic Patient

Where am I going?

After taking a two week break from blogging following my last post, I feel like I am ready to start writing again. I was unsure of how I wanted to proceed with the blog entries and things had gotten a little stressful in dealing with some of the aftermath of the accident. The posts I had done to date made sense with how they're broken up - the accident, both surgeries, acute therapy, and two significant 'game changers'. Now that I am home and PT is an ongoing thing, the way to break up entries wasn't going to be as clearcut. What I've decided to do is make this post about significant milestones that are getting me back to my crazy, adventurous self. I don't feel the need to share details of PT like I did with the previous events following the accident. All the butt busting work in PT with Chris has helped me make ridiculously amazing progress in recovering from the accident. The progress is highlighted in this post.

The Return to Yosemite 

My first dose of nature therapy.
Seven weeks after breaking my back, I had my first dose of nature therapy. I needed it. Dave needed it. What better place to make my first steps back in nature than Yosemite?! What made it even better was that I was walker-free! Less than seven weeks after learning how to walk again, I was in Yosemite and using a cane! I have to admit, it was difficult for me being there and not running up and down trails, but it was nice to soak it all up in ways that I hadn't before. It was amazing to be back in nature, where I belong, again. It didn't take long for the exhaustion of the day to set in, but this was the first step to being whole again...

The Great Western Divide... and Double-Edged Sword

Moro Rock with Dr P. Don't tell Kim about the stairs.
A few weeks after our adventures in Yosemite, our outdoor adventure buddy, Natacha (aka Dr Peach), came to visit. The only natural thing to do was go to Sequoia! One thing that I wanted to do was see the Great Western Divide again. I knew being there was out of the question for this year, but at least I'd be able to see it by making it partially up Moro Rock. Even after getting lectured by a certain someone (ahem, Kim*) about stairs, I decided to go for it. I was greeted by an amazing view of the Great Western Divide about halfway up. I decided this was a great place to stop and soak it all in. I'm sure I could have made it farther, but I didn't want to overdo it. I wanted to share this moment and small victory with Natacha and Dave. I was speechless. I was so happy to see the Great Western Divide again, but at the same time I was bitter about not being able to go there this year. It killed me knowing Precipice Lake was 17+ miles away and I couldn't make it there. Such is the double-edged sword that is nature therapy. That aside, I was just amazed that I made it that far up Moro Rock! The adventure also included a trip to see General Sherman (no, we did not park in the handicapped lot... I never got a temporary permit on purpose) and It's-It's! What trip to a CA national park is complete without an It's-It?! I was tired after, but I could see the progress made since visiting Yosemite a few weeks prior.

The Return to Moro Rock

On top of Moro Rock 14 weeks after the accident.
After a few weeks off from nature, we returned to SEKI. This time, there was no cane! I had set a goal for this trip - making it to the top of Moro Rock. I knew Moro Rock would be a challenge, but I was ready for it. It wasn't easy, and it was a little nerve-wracking at times, but I made it! I made it up all 400 steps with no cane - and I passed a person or two too! I miss sprinting up it like I did last year, but maybe I'll make that a goal for the fall! 

A Mammoth Adventure

Naturally there would be snow...
After how well things went in SEKI last weekend, we decided to start looking at mini hikes that I might be able to do. Mammoth had a few options that I liked, like Crystal Lake. I realized looking at the topo map on the way there, that I had completely disregarded the 500-600ish feet of elevation gain on that trail. Not only was I looking at a 3 mile round trip hike, but I was dealing with decent elevation gain too (for me at the time... I prefer it to be 1000+ft/mile). Well, we decided to go for it and if I was getting tired or sore, we could just turn around. At the very worse, I'd have done a little bit of walking on an actual trail and be making some progress. The first 1/2 mile wasn't too bad, I was feeling pretty good. Then we started to see snow. Naturally, the first trail I'd attempt would have to have snow on it. Since I'm always one for a challenge, I kept on going, but with hiking poles and some help from Dave for the snowy parts (I can't kick step or stomp the snow yet). Little did I know, I'd make it all the way to Crystal Lake. The view of Crystal Crag was amazing and we just soaked it all in while resting for a bit. As we headed back down the trail, I was still in shock that I was hiking. 15 weeks after breaking my back, I was hiking again. I shed a few tears of joy as we got back to the trailhead. I had just hiked three miles with elevation gain and snow. The most I had walked before that was maybe 1/2 a mile. I was tired, but I felt amazing at the same time. I'm honestly still smiling about it as I'm writing this post. 

Not The Average Bionic Patient

I have to admit, I still have a hard time believing the progress I've made in 15 weeks. The doctors told me I'd be walking device-free close to six months after surgery. I was walking device-free three months after the accident. Three months. It's hard for me to wrap my head around that sometimes. I could have been dead. I could have been paralyzed. I could be using a walker still. Instead, I was walking with my own two feet again. Not even four months after surgery, I did my first hike. It was a baby one by my standards, but I was on a trail again! It's been a lot of hard work in PT and at home, but it's paying off. It hasn't been easy, just ask Dave or Kim about the number of times I've cried on their shoulders, but I'm making progress. The road ahead is still long and winding, but I'm taking things one step at a time. With the way things are going, my "goal" hike to Lamarck Col might be happening a lot earlier than expected. Who knows, maybe backpacking is still a possibility for this year. It's all about taking things one step at a time...

*disclaimer: I know Kim got on my case about the stairs, among other things, because she cares and has my best interests at heart. She knows me a little too well and doesn't want me to go backwards in the recovery process. I just have to give her a little crap about it because she would be concerned if I didn't! ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment