Onwards, Upwards and Heels too!

I have to admit since we got back from our travels in March my usual fitness plan has at best been sporadic! Work is busy and along with a wedding & Family commitments there never seems enough hours in a day or my hip is just too tired to do any more at the end of many hours doing all things horticultural. Swimming for so long a constant – and comfort when the hip can do nothing else –  has fallen by the wayside. The gym, I am lucky if I get there once a week although spinning classes and circuits are faring better!

In spite of this lapse my hip has still made some progress. Recently the long-suffering and I took on a new route riding our road bikes – for only the second time after my hip revision last August. We now live in a valley meaning whichever way we ride out there is a hill climb to start, one direction in particular poses a real challenge. It was this way we chose!

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Hill climbs – Post accident nerve damage is still an issue meaning the extra pressure of a steep incline can cause electric shock like pain in my bum and thigh. When this rears its ugly head, I get off, walk for a bit and then as it eases get back on and continue.

I used to get very cross and frustrated about this, especially as I watched long-suffering become a dot in the distance, riding in circles once he reached the summit to allow me to catch up. In another life I would have been up there with him! Now, I try not to waste energy with negativity, but instead hope for a small improvement each time.

Post accident cycling one handed – for hand signals/drinking – was impossible, due in part to the strength imbalance of my left leg/hip but also a real fear of falling off making our outings a very stop/start affair.

Not anymore though, a breakthrough…..The first hill climb although extreemly challenging, I cycled on almost to the top, walking only a few steps then resumed the climb. In the quiet of an early morning a startled pigeon flew out from the hedgerows and into the path of my front wheel – a true test of balance as my wheel ran over it sending me lurching from either side as I struggled to stay upright in a mix of shock, horror, fear and eventually sadness as the bird lay inert and motionless behind me.

Recovering at the top my legs like jelly the view more than made up for the spanners in the back pocket ache – always a presence after any hip/leg exertion!

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Feeling balance confident after the bird altercation I decided to try drinking while in motion! With a flat road ahead ………

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The first challenge was locating the bottle in its holder while keeping eyes on the road ahead. After a few panicked, aborted attempts I managed to locate, extract and take a wobbly quick glug from the spout. More fumbling followed getting it back in the holder – by then my legs were barely turning and I was zig-zagging precariously towards the hedgerow and ditch. Luckily, as I was about to give in and stop, the  holder was located. Long-suffering, oblivious to my trials was once again a dot in the distance!

IMG_2041More hills followed not quite as steep, by now on a roll, instead of getting off I tried standing up instead to ease the pressure. Another first! I could even do this albeit in a crazy side to side see-saw motion! All the Standing hill climbs on high gears in spinning classes I have groaned about have actually paid dividends.

 

Dancing…………progress continues, after surviving without incident a great evening spent ‘mum dancing’ – in high shoes – at our sons wedding reception, the next challenge was to get my latin shoes back on!

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Salsa is the only way I have ever got long-suffering on a dance floor actually dancing with me – not counting the ‘dad slow smooch’. After a few years lessons and practice together -photo right in 2010 – before the accident, giving it up is not an option! Besides which IT IS FUN!

Shoes on and a twirl in the kitchen and we were ready to give it a go – not sure Long-suffering was as totally keen, but he went along to please me.

We have since attended two latin events together in the last month and although rusty and lacking in confidence we have managed to remember……. moves = him, and following skills = me! I even managed a double spin! Watch this space………

 

 

 

 

Lakes glorious lakes!

Day 19 sunrise Lake Pukaki – from our window with a view, the mountains lit slowly from the peaks down their dark crevices, light and shade as the sun worked its magic. The long-suffering quickly disappeared outside, to work his magic behind the lens capturing the moment – inspiration I hope for my future watercolours.

Back having a rare languish in bed looking out at this tranquil view, mists that had first appeared in narrow layers at the bottom of the hills swelled to resemble an oncoming tsunami rolling towards us swallowing up the mountains, hills and shoreline in its wake, until our view was no more just a screen of smoke.

Lake Tekapo – Walk to the Observatory at the top of Mount John. Our walk started out through mixed forest, steep in places before coming out onto open grassland finally ending with ‘more steps’ up to the summit – long-suffering ‘why does every walk have to involve steps?’ he mutters while sweating profusely.

Photo opportunities abound on the way up and from the 360° views at the top, overlooking Lake Tekapo, the Southern Alps and Mackenzie basin flats. Again as has been the case so far for us in NZ, the weather was kind with clear blue skies.

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My revised hip was still coping well with all the hill climbing, not so my calf as halfway up saw it going into spasm, a spot of stretching on the side of the mountain did the trick to continue on…….

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And back down again!

Lake Tekapo Paddleboarding – again my idea, off ‘the itinery’, something I’ve hankered after trying for a while now. While the long-suffering was otherwise engaged I popped down to the shore to see if it was something my hip would like to try.

A quick chat with the helpful hire man convinced me to give it a go. On calling over the long-suffering it was clear he was not so keen but willing as always to indulge his impulsive other half!

After some basic tuition – where to stand on the board, using the paddle – we started off on our knees, quickly standing up almost immediately once out on the beautiful calm turquoise waters.

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All was well until motorboats and jet-skis zipping about nearby created great washes heading straight for us sending us both panicking straight back on our knees! Eventually though as our confidence grew so did our technique and we were both able to ride the waves with relative ease if not style!

Lake Pukaki – second night freedom camping this time prime spot overlooking the snow covered Mount Cook.

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Great swimming workout in the freezing waters of Lake Pukaki, long-suffering predictably declined the invitation to join me citing photo opportunities as his excuse!

Sunset reflection on Mount Cook

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Swimming – a lifeline

Recently I came across a small card, one that had accompanied a flower arrangement sent to me in one of my many low points by my long-suffering. Written inside were the words from a well-known quote, ‘The only time you should look back is to see how far you have come.’ author unknown.

In the midst of the fog, I spent days/weeks looking back at my once active life only to see how far I had fallen, that was then………..

My latest 25m pool swim session approx 70 min duration:

  • 500m freestyle warmup gradual increase in speed with as many tumble turns as I can manage without drowning.
  • 500m freestyle arms only using buoy tumble turns included.
  • 250m combination of backstroke and freestyle kick with a float.
  • 500m alternate lengths of front freestyle and breast stroke, the latter still incredibly tiring, frog kick is very weak still but improving.
  • 300m tumble turn, breaststroke kick practice ending with swim down.
  • 10 minute upper & lower body pool stretches.

Compared with:

  • December 2012 6 weeks post accident 1st Hydrotherapy session; chair lift into pool using winch, floating aids attached to arms & legs, surprise followed by upset at my inactive leg!
  • January 9th 2013 10 weeks; walk up steps and down into hydro pool, all floating aids removed.
  • Jan 13th 1st public pool session; practising walking, physio set strengthening exercises, tentative first front crawl swim.
  • Jan 17th – 4 lengths, Jan 20th – 10 lengths freestyle without stopping thereafter each week the distance increased.

Not to bore you, my point to this post… At the time my progress on land was a one step forward and three back scenario – pain an acute inhibitor to any forward progress. Not so in the pool though, with my  weight supported at all times the pain diminished considerably allowing a greater freedom of movement.

At first the resistance of the water was enough, I could hardly move my left leg against the water in any direction. Slowly with repetition whenever I could beg a lift to the pool its strength improved. I seemed to move backwards on land, in comparison my pool routine progressed to using leg weights making abduction and other exercises more challenging. I was regularly swimming upwards of 40 lengths although not always in a straight line – it was difficult to subdue my dominant leg!

Unfortunately success in the pool didn’t necessarily translate to land – not outwardly anyway. Inside was a different matter my mind on a swim day was more upbeat – for a while anyway. Hidden muscles were getting stronger, not just in my damaged parts, the increased cardio from actual swimming kept my weight down meaning less strain on an already failing hip.

The benefits of the pool exercises and swimming couldn’t change the replacement hip I was heading for, nevertheless because of them and twice weekly Pilates – more on this another time -my recovery after was quicker than if I had simply given in and given up!

Water is life, supporting us inside our bodies and in my case – and maybe yours – outside too.

Today when I look back I really can see how far I have come…. Looking forward to our imminent road trip, I will endeavour to meet full on, the exciting new challenges to come.

Watch this space…………