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Sunday, October 24, 2010


Winter has arrived, no doubt. Suddenly, cold wind is sweeping off the Divide, dropping trees onto trails, ripping yellow leaves from their moorings, and buffeting mountain bike riders. A dampness pervades the air that tells me that snow cannot be far away. And, my back hurts, both my lower back and neck. For those of you who follow my blog, you know that spine pain is a constant in my life. This year, the weather change has changed it from a dull constant presence to a fiery spear. Hopefully, that will pass soon and I can delay my next surgery for at least another season.

When I hurt, I keep moving. It's always worked best for me - keeping my muscles and joints more supple than they'd otherwise be. Being outdoors and active also keeps me happy - an awesome side effect!

My best furry friend, K, and I hobbled out for our walk this morning. She seemed to sense my precarious mood and tried to make me smile. Look at the size of the stump that she put her front paws on! Can you imagine that, sometime long ago, a logger actually felled such a magnificent tree for lumber?
Very briefly, the sun burst out during our walk, and K climbed onto another stump. It seemed to be "Stump Day" for Miss K! She looked so serene and beautiful in the sunshine that I smiled from ear-to-ear.
Today, after leaving K at home with the two R's (R and the Runner), I headed out for a solo mountain bike ride. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, relaxes the spasms in my back like pedaling a bike.

Early in my ride, the clouds lifted just enough for me to see that our local ski slopes have solid layers of snow on them! I used to love to telemark ski on downhill slopes until it was forbidden by my docs due to my back. However, I still smile when I see the first snow on the ski slopes out of happiness for all the ski-lovers in my life.
I pedaled as softly as the mountain trails would allow, listening to the whooshes of the wind gusts making the forest sing with flying pine needles, fluttering yellow aspen leaves, and ominously creaking trees. I crossed a plateau, on the lip of a canyon wall, and I spotted a mountain lion scrape. The lion's hefty hind paws had kicked backwards, leaving a bare patch of dirt with a pile of pine needles and cones behind it. This scrape tells the other forest dwellers that the lion is king. I went to stand in the spot where the lion had stood so recently, hoping to cull some of his intense energy for me.

Near the scrape, I stopped my ride to visit one of my remote wildlife cameras, the one that I believe has become a scent post for animals. So far, a black bear, mountain lions, and bobcats have vigorously rubbed their fur on this camera. I've tried putting it on three different trees in the clearing shown in the photo below, and the animals follow it, marking it or just below it, regardless of where it's posted.

The problem is that the camera doesn't get great photos of an animal who is up against it! Below, you can see that an animal recently visited it but, out of the 20 photos taken by the camera, this one was best. I think that it was a bobcat based on the height of his back. I'm starting to think that I need to point another camera at this one so that I can see what animals visit it!
After riding and checking wildlife cameras, I arrived home tired but content. My back is better but still not "normal", whatever that means for a person with five fusions in her spine living on the brink of winter.
I've been doing physical therapy continuously since my January neck fusion surgery but I recently lost most of my enthusiasm for it. So, my PT did the perfect thing to motivate me. She quantified my tremendous improvement. She told me that, 8 weeks after my surgery, my neck had rotated by a paltry 21 degrees in each direction (left and right), while an ideal neck goes 90 degrees in each direction. After all these months, I've more than doubled my initial mobility, and I've exceeded the "expected" mobility for someone with so much of her neck fused by leaps and bounds. Okay, I said to her, let's keep working. Maybe we can keep my mobility so good that my "next" surgery for my degenerating spine is far off in the future.

In the meantime, I'll keep pedaling, and hopefully, K will be back by my side before I know it. Pretty soon, K and I will be the Physical Therapy Twins - because she'll start canine physical therapy for her surgically repaired paw tendon in a couple of weeks. I am so excited that the day when she can start being more active is approaching!


  1. As someone seriously exploring a career as a Physical Therapist, I am happy to read that you have found motivation to keep going and keep improving your neck. Bravo!

    I'll also be really interested to see how K does with PT, too. When will she be starting, and how soon until you know what physical activity she'll be capable of in the long term?

  2. Looks mighty chilly and by your description of the wind, I believe it was. K is trying her best to cheer you up, KB! I'll be back in the mountains (and snow) tomorrow.

  3. You are a lot more happy about snow than I am, at least until it gets here. Then I can feel excited about going down the sled hill with the kids at school!

    I have no doubt that you'll pedal through a lot of things that many people could not!

  4. We Love the snow, just don't like cleaning up from it! Looks like K was having a wonderful time.

  5. You are just one amazing girl, that is what you are!

    I'm looking forward to K's coming out party myself.


  6. So nice to have a bike ride relieve your back spasms. Doing something you like is a big plus. Good pictures of Ms. K
    Nitey nite
    Benny & Lily

  7. You & K are an inspiration. We love your pictures & the commentary on your daily rides explorations. It helps us feel we are there with you & can picture what it must be like.

  8. Another great selection of pics!

    K is so something else!

    That is something about how far you've come with the neck - that has to help in SO many ways!

  9. Great pictures as always. Hopefully, K will soon be healed and can rejoin you on your rides.

    Take care.


  10. Hi KB
    I wanted to say you and K are an inspiration to us and I am sure to a lot of others who have "issues"
    You don't give up- we see that in you.
    I can tell K is ready to get into the PT mode. She does not give up either.
    Its cold in here tonight,, and its been pouring rain drops. Listening to you talk about snow is giving me goosebumps. And I think right now, an electric blanket sounds to be just what we need.
    loved your awsome photos. We can never get enough of those magnificent photos of K and R
    nitey nite

  11. K looks absolutely stunning on her stumps :)

    Bummer that your back and neck hurt and like you said good that it gets you out and about :)

    Looks like snow is near. What beautiful scenery that will make!

    Waggin at ya,

  12. Great to hear about the improvement in your neck. Just to think that it was year ago that you were sharing with us for the first time your fears and hopes about surgery. Here's wishing even more progress for you ...and K !

  13. Hey there KB...
    It sure looks like winter has settled in for you. I can't believe that just a couple of weeks ago, you guys were ravaged by fire!
    Hang in there with the neck pain...and keep up the pedalling!
    I loved that picture of you and R in the last post, by the way! You look happy!
    Sending lotsaluv

  14. K looks beautiful on that stump! I am not a huge fan of snow and cold weather either. I am an older dog and the cold damp weather brings out my arthritis. Fortunately, it is still pretty warm and sunny in the midwest.

    That must have been cool standing where that mountain lion stood/scraped.

    Your pal, Pip

  15. What a wonderful post!! You just reminded me that success can be fostered by looking back at what's already been accomplished - no better motivation. I'm sure that you're aware, but you might want to try fish oil supplements if you don't use take them already. They are wonderful, natural anti-inflammatories. We recc these often at our vet clinic.
    Please let me know how the canine physical therapy goes. I may have the opportunity to learn how to practice this at a new clinic and would love to hear your input as K goes through it herself.

  16. Bravo for your own therapy, and for the approaching stage of healing for K!

    I think I've said this before, but my doctor totally agrees with you. He said at this point, the best thing I can do is stay active; keep everything moving as much as I can. I don't have a problem staying active. It's getting out of bed when the clouds roll in that bother me!!! Once I get moving, I typically do okay. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  17. Somehow I have missed posts where you share about your back. It is wonderful that you know things that help with the pain and inspire happiness, I know your dog friends do that too.

    It is always fun to see what your cameras pick up. I wished I had a camera last week. Someone (mountain lion or bear) burried/embedded a dear halfway into the earth covering it with bits of moss. Well my woods were noisy as can be, mostly with the scavenger birds. But I am sure wolves and others were there too.... Not sure really. But so exciting.


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