Tag Archives: back surgery

Finding a Walking Program – How I Got LOST

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I remember the days when I could walk about a 12-minute mile. They were the days when my mom and I would power walk the neighborhood where I grew up. We’d kill four miles in under an hour.

About a year ago, I was happy to run that fast.

Since my back surgery, I’ve been healing and haven’t been cleared to run yet. I’ve been adapting. At my first physical therapy appointment, about 7 weeks post-op, I was given what seemed like simple exercises that have proven to be more challenging than I thought.

I can really tell the difference if I skip a day of my PT exercises. However, when I do them religiously, things start to improve. It’s amazing how slow of a process this is. Yet, when I think back, I know I am doing so much better than those first few weeks after surgery, not to mention the months before I was diagnosed with an extreme herniated disk!

I was also told to begin a Walking Program.

But how does one begin a Walking Program? You may be thinking… “Well, just get out and walk!” My physical therapist gave me a pedometer and said just to track how many steps I do in a day and keep increasing it. That’s all fine and dandy. But you know what I’m really missing?

I’m missing the endorphins of aerobic activity.

I don’t just want to track my daily steps. I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something.I’m missing the structure of a running schedule  leading up to the end result – a race… Then repeating the process for improvement.

I need to see progress.

So I started looking up walking training programs. Did you know that there are people out there who train to walk marathons?! While I have no intention of doing that, I knew I wanted to find a way to increase my time and mileage every week. When I found this link on training to walk a 10k, I created this schedule:

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It’s a little blurry, I know. And it’s very basic so that I can change it based on how I am feeling. You may also notice that it is taped to my mirror. Whenever I have a goal, I have a chart or motivator of some sort taped to my bathroom mirror so that it is the first thing I see when I get up. It reminds me of my goal and measures my progress.

I originally mentioned that I was hoping to get back to running in early June. My doc said at my six-week post-op appointment that after six weeks of physical therapy that I could slowly get back in to running again. However, as much as I have that urge to run {who thought I’d ever say that?!}, as much as I have that pang in my stomach to want it so badly when I drive by other runners on the road, I can tell by my body that I’m not ready. I still have some more physical therapy to do. There is still a lot of tightness in my muscles from trying to protect my back. I still need to continue my PT exercises and walk daily. I plan to complete this walking program first.

It’s giving me a place to start. The first week, I walked around the block for about 15 minutes at a leisurely place – sometimes with, sometimes without the dogs. {When I first started walking again I could barely walk 1 mile or and at 2.5 miles an hour without difficulty or being in pain.} This walking program gives me a chance to start out slowly and begin increasing my time, just as I did when I was aiming for running 5ks.

However, my goal is not to walk a 10k.

I have another motivator instead!

While this walking program is all fine and dandy with increasing the time for walks, it does nothing to encourage me to go faster.

I want to increase time AND mileage every week.

Come back on Thursday {after Wine Wednesday!} to learn how I got LOST!

What are your fitness goals for June?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Adapting…

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I had my six-week post-op appointment last week. It’s all good news, yet still a little like Punxutawney Phil told me that I have six more weeks of winter. Which isn’t fair, because he already lied this year with the promise of an early spring!

So yes, things are looking good, but I have six more weeks of healing. It’s just nice to have answers with timing to get on with my life. My intent is not to whine about how I’m feeling, but rather to update those of you who have been asking. How can I when my husband sent me this article yesterday about a Boston Marathon victim?! My heart goes out to her.

The Surgery:

Doc says that my surgery involved one of the two biggest pieces of disks that he’s ever removed. When the surgical team got in there and moved over the nerve, the mass just popped right out. I’d like to try to figure out how to get a pic of my MRI online. When I first saw it, I was floored. I wanted to show my husband to give him an idea, but as I looked around the web for an L5/S1 herniated disk, NONE of them looked like mine! All of the others showed a slightly protuding disk. The best way to describe mine is that the disk cavity looked flattened and the majority of the disk squished out into the spinal canal.

For the next six weeks I still can’t:

  • Do any heavy lifting or lots of bending. (I think I’ve been taking some of this too far, as of late. I don’t lift anything heavy, but I’ve been bending more.)
  • Golf. Bye-bye summer couples golf league. He said that I can see where I’m at about 3 to 4 months post-op mark.
  • Run. I can walk briskly for now. After six weeks of physical therapy, I can slowly get back into running again.

Here’s what I can do:

I can walk, swim and I think he said biking… but from experience, when I have back issues, biking makes it worse. Actually, every time my back has acted up was after I spent a lot of my workouts on the recumbent bike! So I’m just going to stay away from that.

Physical Therapy:

I’ve been prescribed physical therapy for the next six weeks, three times per week. I am looking forward to this as I am anxious to have instructions and homework to increase stabilization, regain my strength and strengthen my core.

Yesterday was my first/evaluation appointment. I am told to being a walking program. It’s going to start out very basic – just tracking steps. This is the single most important exercise proven to strengthen and heal patients after back surgery. I’ve also been given a few simple daily exercises to start.

What does this mean?

It means that there are going to be some changes going on around here! I’m learning how to adapt. This list that I wrote on my birthday of things I wanted to accomplish over the coming year, will need to be revised. I won’t be able to complete the 13 Races in 2013 that I thought. I’ll need to revise that as well.

However, after the six weeks of PT and I get clearance to begin running, I’m going to start the Couch to 5k program again! Doc said that I can slowly get back into running again. So why not start here? My husband has declared that he is going to join me. I hope you will, too! I’ll actually be posting my Couch to 5k progress so those of you who many be new to running can follow along. I’m anticipating that will start at the beginning of June and that I’ll run my first post-op 5k in August. That is, if all goes well with therapy!

It’s great to have a starting point, a timeline and a plan. Not everyone gets second chances. For that, I am grateful.

Name a time in your life when you hard to start over at the beginning.

Cheers~
Carrie

Post-Op Roller Coaster

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Wednesday marked three weeks since my back surgery. Somehow it’s only been three weeks and it’s already been three weeks at the same time. I’m not doing as good of a job as I thought I would being positive. I’m impatient.

I went back to work last week Tuesday. I meant to go in only a couple of hours, but ended up there for six. I even got on the treadmill that night. Don’t worry, I hadn’t planned on pushing it. I walked just one mile.

And it took me 25 minutes.

That’s right, I was pushing myself to walk 2.5 miles per hour. Rough. But I told myself that I’d continue to do it everyday since walking is supposed to make my back stronger.

But I didn’t. I think that that pace and time may have even been too  much to start. I followed up the rest of the week working five to six hours each days. The sad part? I work at a desk all day, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted.

Physically exhausted. Every night.

The week was rougher than I expected. When I was at home, I felt like I should have been  outdoing so much more… that I felt okay, just a little sore. But then, when I’d leave the house, it just seemed to be too much. I have to remind myself that I feel much better than I did even one week ago. That this is progress. That I should be grateful.

Also, I think I tried to stop my meds too soon. I didn’t want to become dependent on them. I didn’t want to run out and worried that they might not give me another refill. What kind of thinking is that?! By the time I run out, I’d be feeling better than I am now, right? My husband and friends reminded me that I have them for a reason. So I stopped fretting about that. And in the last few days, I’ve tapered off a little bit each day naturally. Now I’m just taking them at night. Silly worry.

I think the hardest part, though, right now is that I look fine to everyone else, so I feel like I should be fine all the time. I can walk normally now – YAY! So I feel like I should be able to move and do just about anything. But instead, I still have a hard time focusing at work and I’ve gone in late a couple of days due to lack of sleep. The pain I have is not nearly as bad, but it is a different kind of pain.

My biggest problem right now may be my mental state.

It’s frustrating that while I can walk, shower, sit, stand and lie down on both my back and side now, that there are still so many things that I can’t do. I attempted the treadmill again tonight  and put the speed on 2.0. It took  me 30 minutes to walk a whole mile. And it was still difficult – over one week later.

Instead, I need to be grateful.

I need to remember that this is just the beginning. I’m going to start charting my walking so that I can see my progress. I think that will help. I need to focus on what I can do. Maybe I should note those things, too. I need to take things slowly and realize that this is a process. While progress is slow, it’s still progress. I’m just anxious and impatient! And the fact that spring is taking so long to come around these parts doesn’t help all that much either.

Phil, you were oh-so-wrong!

So I found a couple of quotes to help get me through this roller coaster of emotions and physical capabilities. Here are a few of my favorites.

Q-Strength

And I think my favorite:

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

~Hipprocrates

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What kinds of opportunities have you experienced during challenges or times of healing?

To Your Health~

Carrie

Turning the Corner

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I woke up Friday morning and it was like something changed! I am beginning to feel so much better and I’ve slowly been cutting back the dosage of the pain killers. I can’t believe how things are turning around. A week ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be feeling this good.

Friday was my first day out of the house since March 6th – the date of my back surgery. Rob had the day off from work, so he took me out to lunch to see how I’d do. I was feeling quite good, so we even went to Ikea AND grocery shopping. It felt great to be out of the house and the walking did me well, too. I think I’m going to start walking on the treadmill, too, to get in some exercise and strengthen my back. Walking is highly encouraged.

Speaking of walking, have you signed up for the Challenge Obesity 5k Run/Walk yet? It’s on Sunday, April 21st in St. Paul.  You can register here. Click on the right to register and choose Team Registration. When prompted, choose Season It Already as your team!

I honestly don’t intend on running (that is the week of my 6-week post-op doctor appointment), but I do want to walk it! And the absolute worst case scenario, I will be a spectator cheering you all on. But really, that’s my last resort. I don’t want to sit this one out.

I’m going to step away from the online food journal for a while. I think taking pictures and recording everything on my blog made me obsess and think about food the entire time I was cooped up in the house. I haven’t yet weighed myself, but I can tell that I’ve put on a few pounds. {I know I have to give myself a break with the lack of movement I had.} And since I actually put real pants on on Friday, I could feel it in my clothes, too.

This weekend, in addition to my lunch out, IKEA stop and grocery shopping, I made some Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage using *this recipe* in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

I didn’t grow up eating Corned Beef & Cabbage and I don’t think I ever really had it for the first time until after college. It’s not something I ever crave, but I made it the first time last year for St. Patrick’s Day because my husband loves it. I used the recipe above and he enjoyed it so much that I decided not to change it up. In fact, I really like it, too. This will be the recipe I’ll be using year after year!

On Saturday, I was feeling so good that I felt up to going out to dinner and to see a band. We made sure that I had a seat, so that I wouldn’t be pushed around in a crowd. However, on Sunday morning, I decided that I probably had pushed it too far. I had plans of things to get done on Sunday, but didn’t end up doing any of them. I spent much of the day in bed sleeping and on the couch watching TV.

The thing was that I had every intention of going back to work today. But although I went to bed early last night, I didn’t wake up until 8:30 this morning. And I don’t feel so hot. It’s more my stomach than anything, but I was a little sore, too. So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll make it there for a few hours. Maybe I’ll give it another day. It just goes to show that even if you are feeling significantly better, you shouldn’t push it. There’s no point in going backwards. Still, I am quite anxious to get back to work.

And although spring isn’t quite here yet in Minnesota, I have an extreme urge to do some spring cleaning, organizing and purging. I’ve already started with cleaning out our coffee/tea cupboard, but I’m still trying to hold myself back and not do too much.

Are you itching to clean or reorganize this time of year?

If so, do you have any rituals or things in particular that you do?

Cheers~

Carrie