I decided to look through my archives for some key points in our lives for a Throwback Thursday post. After looking at the photos, I realized it was really a Thankful Thursday post.
The first thankful memory that I ran across was one was from a decade ago, before R or Shyla was born. I'd had an extremely major surgery in the early spring that required a 6-9 month layoff from biking. In the summer, we hiked frequently to help me keep some strength and get outdoors. At first, I could barely make it anywhere in our mountains. It was discouraging when pain turned me back within a half hour of starting to hike. I had to wear a restrictive back brace to allow multiple spinal levels to fuse in my lower back, and I was in agony almost all the time.
On the day shown in this photo, I made it "someplace" for the first time. We hiked up to a basin with lakes. And, as you can see, my favorite flower flourished there too - the Colorado Columbine. This photo was taken by the Runner -- and I'm with S, our yellow Lab who was our senior pack member, and with K who was a young dog in her prime.
A few weeks later, I made it about halfway up to a pass that I adore. It's the one where Shyla and I play every year. I remember other hikers expressing disbelief that we were turning around "with the top so close". However, I was so happy to have made it that far. It was a victory even though I didn't make it to the Divide.
It actually turned out to be a long road back to cycling after that surgery. I was scared to try to ride after the "recovery" was over, especially since my surgeon clearly didn't want me to do so. The "Runner" was my guide back. He convinced me to go for tiny little rides with him, just a couple of miles at a time, and he soft-pedaled so that I'd feel like I was doing okay. That was exactly what I needed. After a few months of easy and fun rides with him in the evenings after work, I started seriously rebuilding my strength so that I could use cycling as a way to keep my back strong and to have lots of fun.
Just so you know how we ended up with the pack we have now, here was the arrival of R. He came to us just before Christmas about 9 years ago, and he's flanked by S and K in this photo. Didn't his unique personality already shine through?
K became my best friend. In this photo, she and I were celebrating that I'd managed to hike up to Hug Hill, after yet another spinal fusion surgery. Hiking that hill was a big step forward. After that surgery, I didn't let anything stop me from getting back on the bike as soon as possible. I'd learned that movement was the best pain relief imaginable.
And, of course, I'm now grateful beyond words for sweet Shyla, who had the difficult role of joining our family after K died. However, despite those circumstances, she almost immediately became part of the fabric of our life. She's one of the most loving dogs we've ever known.