The Gift

I want to share with you an anniversary of sorts, and perhaps provide encouragement to those of you who face similar limitations, physical challenges, or pain. Those of you who know me might remember that a few years back I was hit by a snowboarder while skiing, which later caused me a lot of back trouble. In addition to a herniated disc I had a broken sternum which took over a year to heal. I went through all kinds of PT, Meloxicam, massage, heat, ice… Doctor’s appointments up the wazoo… nothing helped. As you can imagine the pain was impacting all areas of my life. My nephew, who is a DO in rehabilitation therapy, suggested that I see a specialist at the Spine and Pain clinic in Missoula. I made an appointment and the specialist scheduled an intrathecal injection. At the last minute of my consultation he turned from the doorway of the consulting room and told me: “It could be an inversion table would help you; it might be as simple as that.” We bought one and I canceled my injection procedure to test out this less invasive solution. It helped. It took awhile, but it helped.

Last February I began walking again, where previously it was hard to even walk around the block. Matt and I started driving up to the top of hill out of town, to a seasonal rest area which is closed most of the year except during the summer. It has wonderful views adjacent to the National Bison Range and looks east towards the Mission Mountains. Yes, it is along the highway but it provides slight hills to help along with the conditioning I sought. So, I started walking, even though it hurt. I did 15 minutes, then I increased it to 20, then so on. Yes, it hurt but as I continued to build strength, it hurt less and I was able to do more. Slowly I started cutting my NSAID in half and required less of this Ibuprofen-type prescription. Now I rarely have to use it.

Matt and I walk every day, almost without exception, for over an hour. I walk about 5 miles a day all told and we are both more fit than we’ve been for a long while. I still have pain but it’s different now, and no longer interferes with my activities. We walk for two reasons: 1) we live in a beautiful area and we make every effort to get outside and be a part of the beauty 2) We walk because we must, for physical and mental wellness.Bison Range sunset

So in a nutshell, I exercised my way to wellness with the aid of an inversion table.

But I want to say, there is another element of wellness intrinsically attached to living with nature and being outside:

Life is stressful for everyone. We often don’t comprehend the difficulties which other people face. There are challenges and sorrows and hard stuff which we all must live with, no matter who we are. Still, each day is a gift and life offers, here and there, those perfect moments to us, whether we notice them or not. Life is far from perfect, but perfect moments do exist for us to absorb and grasp and be thankful for – and yes, be healed by. I am endlessly grateful for the friendships, the silent nod of understanding, the pink alpine sunset with owls just waking up as twilight descends.

Take it all in, my friends. It is all there for you. The gift.

 

A portrait of Kauai

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I am slow to post photos of our June family trip to Kauai. This is at the overlook at Waimea Canyon. The top photo by our daughter in law, Caitlin. The sun shone during the day and it rained some nights on the north shore, which is where we stayed at Princeville. The Canyon was completely clear this day and the overlook on top was like looking at a photo of heaven. I took this of the Kalalau Valley below. It is true to color and magic.

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Home on the Elk Range

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It’s hard to imagine there is an entire herd of Elk at the National Bison Range. They share the hillsides, mountains and prairie land with the Bison, the coyote, the Pronghorn, the deer and all the other critters this wildlife preserve protects. In the spring, Matt and I have a spot where we watch the bunnies chasing each other around the lawn near the pond. And there are always turtles sunning themselves.

What a treat though to see this bull elk. That doesn’t happen too often and certainly not every visit do we see elk. This guy was all by himself grazing near  the road at sunset yesterday evening. The sun glinted off his antlers as he posed for me. Pretty soon, he grew tired of being stared at and meandered up the hill.