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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Perception and attitude

Perception and attitude shape our lives. The same event seems completely different depending on how I look at it. Yesterday, the very same pain that I've had ever since surgery suddenly seemed like a catastrophe. The reason was that I thought that it had disappeared forever. Today, I readjusted my attitude and let the pain return to its role as part of the fabric of my life. It's nothing extraordinary. I can still love life even though some nerve endings are firing all the time.

People have asked off-line how successful the surgery was overall. It alleviated the pain shooting down my arms - a very nice benefit. However, I haven't yet regained sensation in a section of my hand that's covered in scars because I can't feel it. I also don't yet have full strength in my biceps on one side. However, regaining sensation and strength is incredibly slow. Nerves that were damaged so badly that they didn't transmit information correctly need to regenerate, starting at my spinal cord and moving toward my extremities. That can take a year. Or, it may never happen. Only time will tell.

The one thing that my PT and I don't like is that the spasms in my neck muscles intensified after the surgery, and they haven't yet relaxed. We're trying different strategies to convince those angry muscle fibers to leave me in peace. Our unsuccessful attempt the other day really dragged me down.

Today, I woke up with a rejuvenated outlook. I can handle the muscle spasms and enjoy my life. So, I took both halves of the Labraduo for a mountain bike ride with me. They entertained me endlessly. We climbed up to our local lookout for a weather forecast. Foreboding, don't you think?
Then, we relaxed on the peak while I photographed my favorite furry subjects. K assumed her pose towering over R and stuck her tongue out at him as he gazed adoringly at her.
Then, they both took more serious poses.
R was next to stick his tongue out. Those who know about canine communication say that tongue flicks are "calming signals", meaning that something had both dogs riled up but they were trying to calm down.
After playing in the warm air on the peak, we descended via an aspen grove with nascent leaves.Funny, whenever R joins us on a ride, he adds a certain high voltage electricity. I end up with mostly action shots on my camera. Fortunately, the perpetual motion pup is well trained. Otherwise, we'd be a disaster. Below, he's responding to my recall.
After dropping the duo off at home, I did my solo ride, again staying completely in the forest and never letting my tires touch a road. I tried a trail that I've been avoiding this season because I was afraid of how technical it is. The tortuous and thin path has lots of rocks and hairpin turns, and I wanted to avoid a crash for the sake of my healing spine. Today, I threw caution to the wind, and I rode the trail more cleanly than ever before - a victory for my attitude adjustment.

This photo shows the only section of the trail that's straight but you can see how narrow it is. It has a very small margin for error.
On my way home, I found a deer antler from a buck who survived last year's hunting season to shed it this spring.
Today, I wore my new favorite cycling jersey, a birthday gift. I can't imagine a more perfect jersey for me! In fact, a few days ago, a friend asked if I'd had it custom-made!


  1. I do believe THAT is one of the best collection of K & R pics you've ever had in a post!

    AND the skies were awesome too -

    Thanks for the post surgery update/etc -

    You still so take my breath away - you and Sugar Sweet's 'Crazy Lady' blow me away with your courage and inner strength!

  2. Wow - it really does look custom. I have discovered where you can upload a photo and have a t-shirt made at a reasonable cost. yes, I have a Thundering Herd t-shirt.

    Great pictures of K & R. Love the ones of K towering over R.

    So right about perception and attitude. I am sometimes accused of being irreverent (ok, that's true), but I find that laughing at the weird things life throws at us makes them easier to deal with.

  3. I've been trying to get here since May 27th (I was going over my notes) to visit and respond to a comment you left...Ugh, I don't even have time to begin to tell you how crazy busy I am.
    I laughed a lot over K being a trickster who pretends to go potty to get treats. That's one smart dog! I think I'll use your advice and I'll imitate her. BOL

  4. That picture of K and R is classic! It's just so spontaneous! I still love that shirt, too!

    I'm sorry that some things haven't worked out the way you hoped they would after the surgery so far. You always strike me as a person of incredible inner strength, and I can't imagine anything that you can't overcome. I really hope that you find some things that work for you to alleviate the pain!

  5. Beautiful fabric!!! Your pups are soooo good at recall - in the woods! Sammie goes nuts in the wilder parts of the county - guess we need more practice! What a great attitude adjustment you're able to pull forth - so hard when nerves are firing all wrong. I was a trainer (PT) for a while and empathize so much - but keep up you terrific attitude and continue on with your joyous quest - you are remarkable, as I'm sure your PT has reiterated a zillion times!
    Hugs xoxoxo,
    Sammie and Mom and pack

  6. Such wonderful photos of your beautiful dogs :)

  7. The fourth picture down has got me laughing away. The look on the face of your friend on the right is priceless.

  8. K and R are priceless and so entertaining, photogenic, and obedient, not too mention such good friends for you!

    I hope the nerves regenerate and the muscles calm, just like your outlook. You're remarkable KB.

  9. Whenever you talk about your misfiring nerves, I so feel what you are experiencing. It's very encouraging your nerves might be able to heal in a year, and I'll keep hoping for that for you. My neurologist told me up to seven years... IF. No guaranties. But I've actually felt improvement the last two years, so four years for me.

    The action shots of the dogs are classic! Love the jersey. Is a belated birthday wish in order???

  10. Great jersey you got there!
    I love the photo of the dogs running on the trail!

  11. What a pawsome jersey!

    Amazing photos, especially the one with the overcast dark sky - very cool!

    My human and I are very sorry to read of your health issues and we will send healing thoughts your way. You seem to have an amazing spirit about you and we are very impressed by how you just get out there and live an amazing life despite the pain you are in. You are an inspiration!

    Thanks for keeping us updated on your health, and for always sharing such lovely photos of your pups!

    Suka (and K)

  12. Hi KB, I don't like hearing that you're still having so much pain. But, I'm glad that you are determined to be active with your best dog friends, K and R. Love the shirt - I think I saw it in a store in CA (also had Golden ones).


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