A Week Gone By

My new cast.

When I began my journey to full ankle replacement I had so many questions that I couldn’t get answers to. I talked to a couple people who had had it done but they really didn’t help much.

After some thought I decided to record my journey and do a series of blogs outlining my recovery. I figured those who were thinking about having the surgery could maybe get some of their questions answered to help them in the decision process.

First off a little history about myself. 66 years old, 6 feet tall, overweight (250 lbs) with high blood pressure. Retired farrier. Injury happened in 1980 crushed heel, broke ankle and broke instep. Never took a step without pain since it happened. Lived with chronic pain for 40 years. Warning: some of the photos are graphic

Surgery was 10/07 and I had my follow up doctor visit today 10/15. Cast was removed. The incision looked good and the doctor was pleased.

After a thorough examination Doctor Sloan informed me that I was to return in 2 weeks at which time he would remove new cast and I would begin physical therapy. He then applied the new cast.

My thoughts on the first week. I know everyone has a different pain threshold. Mine has always been relatively high. Ten years ago I was kicked by a horse and I incurred 2 broken ribs and a bruised spleen and was shoeing horses 3 days later. Pain chart I am using 1 is little pain, 10 horrible pain. They used a nerve block on me which lasted almost 14 hours so that helped. The first 3 days my pain grade bounced between a 4 and an 8. I am not going to kid you. It hurt like hell, but it was bearable. By day 4, 5, and 6 the pain began to ease considerably. I still had my moments but they were fewer and farther between. On days 6, 7 and 8 I only took 1 pain pill each day.

My biggest mistake was not losing weight and I had plenty of time to do that and didn’t do it. I couldn’t put any weight on my foot so my arms, shoulders, left leg and foot were taxed heavily when I needed to go mobile. Then figure in my age with this it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if I would have dropped 40 pounds it would have helped my predicament a lot. I also should have done some upper body strength exercises. Even though I had plenty of time I didn’t do either. Two things that would have cost me nothing but would have benefited my endeavor immensely. Lesson learned!

That pretty much sums everything up. If you decide to get the surgery don’t be a Wayne, use your brain instead. I know, I wish I would have.

Chronic Pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling the brain we are still alive. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I have wrestled with the idea of addressing this subject for sometime. I think I can speak for the majority of us who suffer from chronic pain syndrome when I say we aren’t looking for sympathy or pity. We just want you to understand what we are dealing with. Too many think we are overreacting and are just cry babies. I am here to tell you the pain is real and can be relentless at times.

Mine began when I crushed my heel, broke my ankle and instep in 1979. My toes were about the only thing that were spared. The doctor who treated me said he didn’t think I would walk again and if I managed to do so it would be with the assistance of a cane. He was wrong on both counts.

The bones healed but the pain never really stopped. It just got worse. It has wreaked havoc on my quality of life. I have reached a point where all I want to do is sit on my arse and keep my foot elevated to combat the pain.

On those days I force myself to get up, put on my big boy panties and deal with it. Some days are harder than others. The pain is not only physical but emotional as well. I have to fight off depression daily but I can say I have remained victorious in that battle. I get tired of hurting. I try to remember what life was like without pain. It keeps me awake at night and causes fatigue. It becomes a chore just to go to town 3 miles away. Negative thoughts try to creep in but I have learned to keep them at bay with positive thoughts. It can be quite the emotional battle that some days drain me mentally and physically.

Recently I have had to start the day using a cane but once I am up and moving for about an hour and the foot loosens up I can lose the cane. There are mornings that I have to work diligently to get my foot in a boot. The majority of my pain is caused by inflammation and arthritis.

I have enrolled in pain management with little success. I was on hydrocodone for ten years until one morning I got up and took myself off it. It basically just dulled my pain and I was afraid of what it was doing to my body. I wasn’t getting any real benefit from it. I have tried ointments and even used horse liniment that gives short lived temporary relief never completely eradicating the pain.

I contribute my ability to cope with CPS to my love of nature, fishing and kayaking. They keep me motivated to deal with it and to keep on trucking.

I am by no means the only one who suffers from CPS and we all have different ways of combating it. Just please be aware that for the majority of us the pain is real. Our quality of life sucks and we become cranky and hard to be around. We don’t mean to be but the fatigue and pain sometimes become so unbearable we lash out even though it against our better judgement.

No doubt you all know someone who suffers from CPS. Please don’t offer us pity or sympathy. Instead try to understand us and be a positive force in our life. Help us through the rough spots. There are days that an “atta boy” or hug can ease the pain, give us hope and brighten our days. Please don’t judge us just try to understand us.

Don’t Stop Believing

“We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.” – Louisa May Alcott

I don’t know who needs to see this but apparently someone does. I have been trying to write about something else but I am continually brought back to this subject. So here goes.

One of my favorite stories is about a little boy who is practicing baseball. He throws the baseball up and swings the bat but misses. Strike one! He bends over picks up the ball and throws it up again swings the bat and misses. Strike two! Once again he bends over picks the ball up throws it up again swings the bat and misses again. Strike three! Batter is out. He stands there in disbelief and then he says, “Even I didn’t know I could pitch like that!”

Instead of feeling sorry for himself he turns the moment into a positive. He remains confident and doesn’t stop believing in himself.

How many times have we attempted to do something and failed then just felt sorry for ourselves? We all have done it. Instead of finding something positive we just wallow in self pity. We stop believing in ourselves. We convince ourselves we can’t do it.

Never stop believing in yourself. It may take several attempts for us to get good at something but with every attempt it is important that we believe in ourselves and never give up.

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We are a society of instant gratification. We want it now! Even people who are blessed with a special talent have to work to perfect that talent. For those of us who weren’t blessed we can still achieve success. We just have to work harder and never stop believing in ourselves. There is no room for doubt.

I use to shoe a young lady’s horse in Illinois. She has been legally blind since the age of eight years old. She is the 2016 Reserve Champion Intro Level Western Dressage rider for Western Dressage Association of Illinois and has earned her PhD. She had setbacks but she never gave up and never stopped believing.

We all are capable of achieving success as long as we believe in ourselves and are willing to work hard to get there. When we fall, we get up, dust ourselves off and try again.

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember that all things are possible for those who believe. “– Gail Devers

My Take On Life

” The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of those depths. – Elisabeth Kubler-Rossi

Life is a series of curveballs. It seems it is going to smack you head on then at the last minute turns away from us leaving us confused and perplexed wondering what’s next.

Was it fate or was it a well orchestrated move by a higher power? Was it’s purpose to wake us up or a warning of what’s to come or to prepare us for future events?

In life there are times of celebration, struggle and failure. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Death is the only certainty in life. Rich or poor we all face the reality of death. There is no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow. We are responsible for writing our own book of life.

Life should be lived to its fullest. Every day we are given should be celebrated. Be thankful for every day you are awarded.

Fill your heart with love and joy. Don’t entertain drama or negative thoughts for they are only poison to the spirit and void of any usefulness. Depression feeds on drama and negativity robbing one of a joyous and productive life.

Don’t wish your life away on material things. Be thankful for who you are and what you have. It could always be worse even if you hit rock bottom.

Stay focused on the positive things in your life. Be kind to everyone even if they aren’t to you. Don’t be quick to judge them because you know not the demons they may be facing in their life. Never blame someone else for your mistakes. Accept the responsibility of your decisions. Never doubt yourself or your abilities.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Frederick Douglas

Always believe in yourself and love who you are. Know that you can overcome any obstacle in front of you on the road of life. None of us are immune to hard times. Learn to overcome them and learn from your mistakes. Be victorious in your struggles.

I am not going to sugar coat it. Life can be a tough row to hoe. Determination is an essential element of life to help you win the battles you face. Your struggles build character and how you confront them will determine if you will be happy or miserable.

The above is just my opinion of life from what I have learned in my 65 years. I hope life is good to you and your life is full of love, happiness and joy.

Dealing With Pain

Pain can change many things in a person’s life. It can have a big impact as to the outcome of your life.

“We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain ” – Alan Watts

Pain can be a gut wrenching experience. It can cause someone to give up and hope that death comes knocking on their door. It can turn one to drugs, alcohol, self mutilation. It can totally destroy your life if you let it. It’s in your hands as to whether you overcome it or fail. It’s not an easy road. The road is filled with jubilation, disappointment, setbacks, trials, tribulation, and heartbreak. Once you become determined and overcome the pain you will be rewarded by cruising down the road of jubilation.

“We can alleviate physical pain, but mental pain, grief, despair, depression, dementiais less accessible to treatment. It is connected to who we are – our personality, our character, our soul if you like.

People have many different ways that they cope with pain. It doesn’t matter how you handle it as long as your method is successful. If you find that you can’t do it by yourself then please don’t be afraid to seek help and get counseling. It doesn’t mean that your weak it means you are smart enough to understand that you can’t go it alone.

It can be pain caused from losing someone close to you to death. It can be a divorce or break up. Being bullied can cause unimaginable pain. They all have one thing in common. That is that you can overcome any one of them.

“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it.” – Charlie Chaplin

“Life is short. You have to be able to laugh at our pain or we never move on.” – Jeff Ross

We become a prisoner of pain until we learn to let go and move on with our lives. We have to refuse to hold on to pain while releasing fear and hurt. You can use this new energy to start a new chapter in your life instead of letting it hold you back.

Dare to Dance the Tide

St Francois River bear Farmington,

“So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied, choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide.” The River, Garth Brooks

This is one of my all time favorites of Brooks. Not just because of my love of the river but because of the way he compares our dreams with the river.

Every flood that happens on the river changes the appearance of the river sometimes even changing its course. How many times has this happened to you? Some major life event happens and forces a change in your dreams.

How many times have you settled for second best instead of best because you keep letting it slip through your fingers and in your mind you won’t achieve “”best” so you give up on your dream and settle for second best?

St Francois River bear Farmington, MO.

As the water of the river enters a shallow area and the gradient of the river becomes steeper rapids are formed. These rapids are representative of the hard times in your life. What you do here is very important as to whether your dream becomes a reality or not.

People who float the rivers have different skills. There are six classes of rapids with I) being the safest and VI being the hardest and most dangerous. When a kayaker or canoeist comes to this spot they have to decide how good they are and they will either pull around the rapids or go for it. No one can make the decision for them. You have to make this decision yourself.

So here you are looking at that very spot on your “river of life”, you are at a point where it is very important to stay focused on your dreams. Don’t lose site of them. Could you fail? Failure is always a possibility. There are no guarantees in life except for the fact that in order to succeed one must try.

So here you are. You have to decide what you are going to do. Are you going to sit upon that shoreline and be completely satisfied or are you going to choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide?

St Francois River bear Farmington, MO.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.

All photos were taken by Double D Acres LLC

Unfathomable Determination

The rain has pretty much settled in for the night. I sit here with my eyes closed listening to the raindrops dancing on the tin roof creating a soothing symphony.

My mind focuses on those brave men and women, the pioneers, who settled the west. They had no idea of the challenges they would face. The only idea they had of where they were going was the tales they had in there minds put there by the adventurers who went before them.

There were stories of feast and famine. Massacres. Whole wagon trains who died and didn’t fulfill their dreams. Disease and prairie fires. Yet these people had a dream that so obsessed them they were willing to sacrifice anything and everything to follow their dream. That profound dedication my friends died with them and no longer exists in this country anymore.

I don’t know if you have ever been camping in the rain but I can tell you from experience it can be very miserable.

I sit here in the coziness of my cabin listening to the rain and I have a vision of men, women, and children huddled together under the rain fly of a wagon trying to get their nourishment so they will have the stamina to do another 10 to 20 miles beginning at dawn. One can only imagine the sore muscles they must have been nursing. Wondering how much further they have to travel. How many more river crossings and broken wagon wheels they will have to endure. Will it be their wagon that breaks this time? How many more of their possessions will they have to leave behind so they can lighten the load on the wagons so they can get them over the mountain?

With these things dancing through their minds it had to be difficult to sleep. Knowing all to well they needed to sleep so they could get the much needed rest to complete another leg of their journey.

The fingers of dawn ascend on their camp. The rain has stopped and the day promises sunshine to dry things out. They begin packing the wagons, hitching the teams and checking the wagons so they can start out once again. They have to battle the annoying suction created by the mud delivering another hardship for them to deal with.

Guts and grit kept them pushing toward their destination and failure was not an option. True representation of determination and faith. They not only needed faith in God. They had to have faith in those leading them and most of all faith in themselves. There were those who celebrated and those who endured heartbreak. So many died along those trails who never lost sight of their dream and died trying to bring their dream to reality.

People could learn a lot from these pioneers and use it in their lives to achieve their dreams. Don’t ever stop believing. They didn’t.

Spread the love and be kind to one another. It doesn’t cost you anything.

The Ugliness of Failure

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford\

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Big River above Leadwood.

I had posted that I was taking a seven day float on the Big River.  I planned everything except my physical abilities and the water level of the river.  Some time ago around the early 80’s I busted my right foot up pretty good.  Doctor said about the only thing I didn’t break was my toes.  He told me  he had some good news and some bad news.  I said lets start with the good news.  He said I might walk again but if I did it would be with a cane.  I said well now lay the bad news on me since you all ready PPed pretty good on my day.  He said I really don’t think you will walk again.  Well, he missed that one.  I do have a lot of pain from time to time with it though.  I didn’t expect the river to be so low and couple that with the the extra weight of supplies, there were a lot of places that I had to get out and pull the yaks.  By Sunday my ankle was swollen the size of a large grapefruit so I decided to call it quits.  I have all ready started working on a better plan.  I failed at what I started out to do and it makes me sick.

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My rig I used on the trip.

I did manage to leave Mounts on Saturday morning around 9 am.  It started out pretty well.  I met some folks along the way and the day was beautiful.  The back float was doing a great job.  Then, then, then, BAM!  The float was following right behind the yak when the current sucked into a tree and then a sudden stop.  It caused the front end of my yak to go under water and then the whole yak started taking water causing a 63 year old man, who looked like a beached whale, to eject himself from his kayak.  To make it worse there was an audience.  I was glad to see them though.  They helped me drain the kayak and get it back in the water however the tent and sleeping bag got soaked even though they were tucked into dry bags.

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Big River

I am not going to accept defeat.  I am all ready planning a new attempt sometime in August or September.  I have to get all my supplies in one boat.  I am thinking, lose the cooler and water.  I am going to do some research on water filters.  Secondly the only food I will carry is MREs and protein bars.  That will help a lot.  I am also going to have to find a good boot with support that will take the water.  I really believe I will be able to do the 7 day float then.

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My friend David concentrating on his fly fishing.

“Some of the best lessons we learn are learned from past mistakes.  The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.” – Dale Turner

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is deeply appreciated.  Be kind to one another.  Share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

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Big River