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Monday, January 18, 2010

Walking, walking, and the elk

K and I have followed the doc's and vet's orders, taking numerous short walks near our house.
Yesterday afternoon, the skies darkened and snow fluttered from the sky, sticking to the bare aspen twigs.
On one walk, we spotted our elk herd, milling around nervously in a golden meadow.

Something scared them, perhaps us, and the herd moved like an amorphous organism, flowing across the meadow.

Each time that the bulk of the herd accelerated, the lagging members would sprint to catch up. For such huge animals, they can move fast and gracefully.

The brace that I have to wear 24/7, including during all of these walks, prevents rotation or tilting of my head in any direction. It also supports the front and back of my head so that my muscles can rest. A model is showing it off below. She looks much happier about it than I am!
Although I can reach things on the floor, it's not easy or graceful. So, I've called K back into duty as my retrieving dog who picks up things that I drop. She loves this job, except when I ask her to pick up a metal object, like my bunch of keys. We practiced that yesterday.

Oops, I dropped my keys. K gingerly grasped them in her teeth.
She hates holding the keys so much that she'd just keep her head down if I didn't add another cue. In this case, I asked her to look in my eyes. That action brought her head up high enough that I could take the keys from her. What a good girl!
This morning, we hit the trails early for a walk while the sun still hovered just above the eastern hills.
The golden light seemed to highlight K's chocolate fur.
K rolled on her back repeatedly on the rough and crusty snow. You can see her abdominal incision, held closed by 25 staples, in the movie. She seems to be recovering well.

Despite many stops to look at interesting tracks and to take rests, we made it to a lookout point. I thought that it would be much longer before I'd be able to walk this far.
So far, my recovery is speeding along faster than I expected. The most surprising thing is the exhaustion that I feel. I tried to post yesterday but kept falling asleep while typing. I discovered that when I doze off, I always press the 'e' key. So, I had whole paragraphs of "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...". I took it as a sign that I needed to rest rather than blog.

The pain has been manageable with the use of pain-killing medications. And, I'm capable of caring for myself to a greater extent than I expected. A very surprising result of the surgery is that my leg pain has abated. The docs had said that it was possible, although improbable, that the heinous bone spurs in my neck were pressing so hard on my spinal cord that they were creating my leg pain. Only time will tell if the wondrous lack of leg pain is long-term.

As the days go by, I'll post on days when I have the energy and skip days when a nap seems more important. I apologize in advance if my blogs get goofy - I'm a bit out of it right now.

I honestly cannot thank all of you enough for your good wishes and good vibes. You are certainly keeping my spirits high!


  1. i'm so thankful that both of your recoveries are going so well!! it gives me peace, and i like the goofy you!
    the brace is quite the contraption...but doesn't look sooo bad? (i know, i'm not wearing it!) how is it to sleep in?
    love the video of K rolling....she's got a heck of an incision...(where exactly were the bones?)
    i know both of you like the challenge...but why don't you hang a soft thingy from your key chain...K is such a wonderful dog...she'll do anything for you, even if it makes her uncomfortable! love it!
    geez, i'm a bit wordy tonight:)
    just so glad you are both doing so well!!
    keep us posted! (when you're not too wigged out...:)

  2. Yippee - you made it to the Lookout Point. So beautiful today - glad you took us along. I can't believe how long K's incision is! However, she sure does love to scratch her back on the snow, and it doesn't seem to bother her - thank goodness. Oh, if only your leg pain is resolved, KB. Won't that be wonderful? Thanks for all your healing comments to me - they make me feel better. I keep thinking of you.

  3. It looks like a lovely day. No wonder you were able to walk so far! K looks a bit tired, too, so I'm betting you're not alone in some naps.

    Something about that cheerful model in the neck brace makes me want to smack her! Nobody should look so happy in that contraption. I remember how miserable it was for me to wear a hand brace to keep my thumb completely immobilized when I had some nerve surgery a few years ago. You have my sincere sympathies on the neck brace!

    Sometimes a bit of goofiness is good for the soul!

  4. How wonderful to hear that you are up and about and that all is well. Don't underestimate the value of rest. We'll all keep checking in. We'll be happy when you post and equally happy when you don't since we know you are getting some rest. Take care, blogger buddy.

  5. Thanks soooo much for the updates on both of you!

    Khyra wonders if K would like some floof for her tummy!

    Please take it easy and don't push too hard to get 'round the blogs!

    We aren't going anywhere ;-)

  6. You are just amazing - your strength wows me. And isn't it just wonderful to see all that training of the dogs paying off for you. Just remember not to overdo it - sorry, that's the MOm in me talking now:)

    Take care.


  7. You and K are 2 amazing ladies!!!

  8. I recently started reading your blog. I really enjoy the pics and the writing. It is a nice blend of your daily life in the mountains with cool facts. Keep up the good work!

    I wish you and your dog well with your recovery! My wife went through neck surgery last year from a mtb accident (anterior cervical fusion of C-5, 6 & 7) and had to wear that same contraption. I am sure that thing is annoying but keep looking on the bright side; think of the summer days when you will be able to roam the mountains without it.

    Also, I got one of those grabber things for my wife (it's a pole like thing, about 2-3' long, with a handle on one end that you can squeeze that closes "jaws" on the other end to pick up stuff without bending over). I think you may find such contraption handy.

    Best wishes to a speedy and full recovery!

    mtb w

  9. Wow! that 2nd photo is freaking beautiful!
    K, is awesome. i have a hard time getting my dogs to "take it/hold it". i train a LOT. and they know a lot of tricks. my GSD i'm planning to train in schutzhund when we move to europe. right now we are in masters obedience and search. my sibe, i "trick" train and certify her for therapy service. i'd do agility w/her but she has hip dysplasia. anyway, i know what you mean with the "not make a big deal about the fear" ... i do that a lot downtown on metal covers or other stuff. i jump on them when they walk on them w/me...etc. this little drain grate in our driveway (just water, not sewer) ...they avoid it like the plague. so i just HAD to work them both on it more actively than "no big deal" training. it bugs me when i see them bugged by anything. for goodness sake, they cross a 90 foot suspension bridge 40 feet above a creek. they can do this! :)

    I love how K hates keys. I started training Loki on finding my keys but i was afraid of messing up a progress that i was going to go through in more formal training so i stopped. but he would pick them up for me now problem! it was cute. i should go back to training that. he'd like it. right now we just are formally training to find a human, not articles. so it can't hurt.

    man, i can't believe you're doing all that walking so soon. you're a huge stud. i'd milk it for everything i had. ;)
    wild dingo

  10. I don't know how you manage to get K to pick up the keys at all. If it's not a toy, Java doesn't want anything to do with picking things up. I'm glad you are doing so well.

  11. Kia ora KB,
    I am amazed, and happy, that you are able to keep in touch with all that bountiful nature so soon. I am sending very strong thoughts and wishes from across the miles. Rave on. Kia kaha!

  12. We recently started following your blog. It's been very inspiring to say the least. K looks as if the healing is going extremely well!

    Thanks for sharing the video of the Elk herd. We camp up in the CA Coastal Redwoods as often as possible and love to see the Elk when we're up there.

    Take care,

  13. It's great to hear about you out and about. You must be such a good patient to come out of a major surgery already feeling pretty decent.

    I hope your tiredness begins to cease and you and K both find yourselves at full strength really soon!

  14. So excellent that you are out walking so soon. (I remember days on the treadmill because they wanted to make sure I never walked faster than 3 mph - and they were concerned I could not walk that slow, so the treadmill was my regulator).

    And keep going K. In healing, in wriggling in snow, and in helping. You are our hero.

  15. Hey there KB
    I can't tell you how relieved I am that you have come through the surgery so well and that K is doing well too. You really are a remarkable woman!
    Thank you so much for keeping us updated. We love hearing your news - whether it is goofy or not! Its quite amazing that you are able to walk that far. It's a true testiment to your resilience.
    Sending you lots of warmth, lots of healing vibes and of course - lots of love from us all,

  16. KB is my HERO for picking up those metallic tasting keys ! Now, THAT is love ! :)

    It is wonderful to see you walking in your beloved forest, and if your next blog entry is all eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee's, I won't mind one bit !!!!!!!!



  17. Hi KB, So glad that you are up and able to walk a bit-you are amazing as is K. I think we are in for snow so hopefully that means lots of rest and naps for the two of you. Before you know it spring will be here and you'll be better than new. I wish I had your energy but I bet you are so much younger. Hang in there friend and get better. Kudos to K for helping you.

  18. We are so glad to hear that you are doing so well! And it looks like K is doing great too - boy that is a big incision though!

    I am so impressed that she is able to help you out so much - that is one thing I can't say about the cats - they really just look at you like you are crazy.

    And think of the brace this way - I know there are days when my head feels way too heavy to hold up - you have something to do it for you right now!

    And I totally understand about the tired thing - although a whole paragraph of e's could be funny, I think that napping is a much better idea!

    We are still sending lots of purrs and get well thoughts to both you and K!

  19. Amazing that you can get out and about a little already. Terrific news. Keep up the good work.

  20. OMG, KB...the picture of K with keys in her mouth looking at the camera made me spit out my coffee :D That's one priceless picture!!!!!

    Loved the vids and pics and so glad that you are starting to get out and walk so quickly.

    You are an amazing woman, my friend...simply amazing!!!


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