Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Jeanine's health: Update

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jeanine's health: Update

Treamillin' it up in the therapy pool
As all of our regular readers know, I have degenerative disc disease (read my original post here and more about my stem cell therapy here).  I had been living in constant pain for many years and have undergone many different therapies.  In December of 2014 I had my first of two stem cell treatments at the OsteoCenter in Miami, Florida – my second one in April 2015.  In between these I underwent cranio-sacral therapy, PEMF or pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, PRP or platelet rich plasma injections, and a Myers cocktail of vitamins.  Before my first treatment almost a year ago I was on antidepressants and taking up to eight hydrocodone a day and living as a zombie.  I was waiting for my next insurance approval for more steroid and pain blocking injections when I met a friend at a wedding whose college roommate was a non-medical partner in the practice.  I’m not sure I could ever thank not only Tasha, but also Jayne and Dr. Sean enough for how I feel today.  I spent the summer in physical therapy slowly rebuilding muscles that hadn’t been used regularly for years.  I started out still in pain daily, but it was manageable.  Not how most people want to live their life, but at least I wasn’t a zombie anymore!  

With daily stretching and activity, I have been continually surprising myself with just what I can do now!  I spent so much time on the advice of past doctors “resting” and “reclining” so as to not aggravate anything or cause more pain it was a welcome relief when my physical therapists over the summer told me “if it doesn’t make it hurt worse, keep doing it”.  This new concept has been what I think has helped me to start to repair the relationship with my body the most.  It hasn’t been easy and I’m still working on trusting my body again.  I know it will take time, but I keep telling myself that it took me years to get to the point where I was.  It's often not easy, but I try to stay motivated daily to keep pushing harder!  All my life, I have had an unusually high tolerance for pain.  My mom still tells stories from when I was growing up and situations when she had to insist that doctors look into problems more seriously if I told them something hurt.  I know she worries daily about me pushing myself too hard trying to do too much (as does my husband for that matter) but I keep what I was taught over the summer in mind – if it doesn’t hurt more, keep going.
I spent the summer doing physical therapy in North Carolina and starting to increase the number of steps I took daily from a measly 3,000-4,000 up to the recommended 10,000.  It was mostly just going for walks several times a day increasing the distance and a few hikes as I was starting to feel brave toward the end of July.   Thanks to my Fitbit, I have been able to accurately track all of my activity.  It's made it SO much easier to track and monitor my progress!

In the beginning of August, we were back in Florida and I was up to 3-5 miles a day!  Then came the broken toe (surprisingly my very first broken bone considering how clumsy I can be).  It wasn't bad, but it still took about 5 weeks before it stopped hurting and I could start really walking some miles again. Then there was the Labor Day bike ride.  Both these events conspired against my need for daily movement.  I had not been on a bike for over a year because of my back, so when the invitation came for a beach bike ride I was stoked!  It not go well, unfortunately.  I made the ride but did end up hurting pretty good for a few weeks after which that, plus my toe, made it extremely difficult for me to want to go out for even short walks.   I slacked off which ended up being even worse!  It did not take long before I was back to increasing pain and thoughts of another steroid shot (I did have one in my SI joint in the middle of July for lingering hip pain).  I should have known better!  I should have just kept moving…

We left Florida at the end of September (the official start of our “full time” Rv life!!) and since that week I started to get back to my 10,000 step per day goal most days of the week.  It is now the middle of November and I have increased my daily step goal to 12,000.  There are a few days a week I don’t make that goal, but there are now also days that I exceed that goal and it feels great!  Well, not always “great” but I have started to not always hurt when I do.  In fact, I have had a few pain free days these past few weeks, and that surprises me considering what I have been doing.  I have hiked up to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park, a 5 mile round trip with about 750ft elevation gain – for a total of 19,500 steps or 8½ miles total for the day with very few aches the next days following.  I also hiked up to Apgar Lookout, a fire tower atop a mountain.  Yes… I climbed a mountain!!  

Unbelievable.  It certainly took several days to recover from that 7.2 mile round trip (a total of over 25,000 steps for the day including the mountain) hike with a 1,845ft elevation (vertical) gain but more from my arthritic knees, weak ankles and muscles that had not been so taxed in years.  I still strove to keep moving in the days following – not quite to my daily step goal, but enough to keep the back spasms at bay.  That and the best heating pad in the world (Thanks Mom!).  If you haven’t heard of them, you definitely need to look into an infrared heating pad.  I have one by Thermotex that I got on Amazon.  

I would say that at this point I have found my limit after that hike up Apgar, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try again soon to try to surpass it.  I feel the need to continue to push myself, many times beyond where I probably should.  But what else are limits for if not a measure of what you can do?  Thank you to my parents and family who always taught me to have the courage to never give up! And to my husband, Eric, who believes in me and tells me every day that I’m the strongest woman he knows.  The support of friends and family and believing in myself and what I'm capable of - with those things, I have no doubt that I will not only get myself back to the point I was before all this affected me, but I think I will come out stronger, both physically and mentally!

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1 comment:

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