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Monday, January 5, 2009

Sickness and injury but still on the trails

Yesterday, I took my three dogs for a walk in the hour before sunset. The light was pink and the rime ice hadn't melted during the day.

We practiced a bunch of 'comes' during the walk. In the picture below, you can see all three dogs coming toward me. S is our 13 yr old yellow lab, R is our 1 yr old black lab, and K is our 5 yr old chocolate lab.

Below, R and K race to see who can get to me first for a jackpot of treats. I practice having them come to me 5-10 times during our walks when there aren't temptations like other hikers or wildlife. This routine means that they actually do come when called in the critical situations like when a herd of elk appears in front of us.

Somehow, during the walk, R cut his knee very deeply so we took him to the emergency vet. They stapled him back together and gave him antibiotics. We've been to this emergency vet many times over the years. About a year and a half ago, our yellow lab had emergency surgery there for an obstructed intestine. It turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. The vets found cancer on his spleen and liver and removed it all. Miraculously, he's still alive and happy today! Without the emergency surgery (which was a life-threatening event itself), the cancer would have likely killed him before we discovered it. By contrast, yesterday's visit to the emergency vet was mundane.

I seem to be getting a deep cough. However, unless I'm really incapacitated, I almost always get out for at least a short morning ride with K. The reason is that I have severe spine issues, including a multi-level fusion in my lower back that's held together with titanium rods and plates. Similarly, I need to have 4 vertebrae fused together in my neck but I keep delaying. I've literally scheduled the surgery twice. I backed out both times because I want to try to manage the pain for as long as possible without the risks of surgery and without having to spend 6 months in the acute recovery phase.

A key element in managing my pain is riding my cushy full-suspension mountain bikes. My back muscles knot up in spasms and pain shoots down my leg and arm when I sit or lie down, for even for relatively short time periods. Hiking and cross country skiing in moderation are better than being sedentary but I can't do either for long distances. Amazingly, nothing works out my muscle spasms like cycling. I'm baffled by the fact that docs tell people to 'bed rest' to treat back pain. Nothing could be worse for me, and I've been dealing with severe spinal problems for about 20 years (yup, it started in my teens and probably has a genetic cause). So, K and I were out on the trails, winding our way through the aspen groves, this morning despite my cough.

I often read other riders' thoughts about why they love riding. I love it for many of the same reasons but pain control is often the biggest motivator for me. Living in a slice of paradise also helps.

It was not as cold as yesterday (about 27 deg) but windy as you can see from the snow blowing off James Peak below.

At the end of my ride, I did a short section on our dirt road with the wind at my back. The wind was carrying sand and gravel in the air at the same speed as I was moving. I was grateful that the wind was at my back and not in my face!

1 comment:

  1. I'm bookmarking this post to read again and again, I think I need to begin my search for the thing that DOES make my neck feel better.



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