Yes, it’s time to welcome another new year, to look with hope into the future and what it might hold.
In my last column, I started to think about New Year’s resolutions, while taking a look into the past as well. Let’s continue in that direction — well, those two divergent directions — again this week.
Following my accident and stroke in September of 2012, goals such as where to go on an adventurous summer vacation were replaced by equally adventurous, though much-smaller-scale localized adventures.
I had moved home from a transitional facility, Park Lane Estates in Preston, by Memorial Day weekend 2013. In preparation for that, I’d worked on my own on tasks like being able to get down to the floor and back up with no help. First, I used a bed or a chair for an assist; later I made do with just my walker.
In the process, I smiled to think back at how horrified I’d been when my physical therapist at Saint Marys Hospital had made me get on the floor on a mat and then attempt to get up by myself. Or, going back further, I recalled the effort it took to even just get up in my hospital bed at first.
As Memorial Day 2013 signaled the beginning of summer, it also signaled a new phase for me. It was time to try life on my own with my new limitations.
Small steps turned into bigger steps. I got outside in my wheelchair. My apartment is close to the in-town Trout Run recreational trail and the South Branch Root River it runs beside in Preston (for which I’m grateful other than days when the river floods and may get precariously close to my place). Soon, I took my basic walker on the trail.
Concerns over getting tired at inopportune times and having nowhere to sit were relieved when friends lent me a rollator walker, which includes a simple seat on it. Then my walking distances grew longer.
Getting a TerraTrike recumbent trike at the end of summer meant I faced a new period of pushing limits. Easy trail access gave me freedom to wherever my legs could pedal me. Daily trips pushed the distances farther, all while soaking in the nature of the outdoors so vital to my soul.
Many days I saw bald eagles. Our national symbol has a wonderful comeback story from the brink of extinction. I hope to emulate that. (Some doctors might argue I was on the brink of extinction a couple of times.) One fall day I was enthused to spot a young eagle, not yet with the distinctive white markings, sitting on a branch above the river.
I had hoped to get out camping this past summer — to pack a minimalist set-up of a tent, a sleeping bag, snacks and water into the TerraTrike basket and head out on my own. But it never quite happened. A friend offered to help me on an initial attempt one weekend — minus the trike but with a camper close by for additional support — but medications I had started saw me making a lot of urgent trips to the bathroom with diarrhea. The idea for that camping trip stopped. (I also soon got the OK to start decreasing dosages and finally stop that drug.)
I did, however, go on one overnight outing on the trike. I stayed overnight at a friend’s place in Lanesboro and then pedaled home the next day. That sure felt good.
Another time I was out triking on the trail and pulled up close to a three-sided, roofed, wooden trail shelter. I grabbed my cane from the trike’s basket and carefully started hobbling around. My, it felt like a little bit of heaven to be able to do that, I wish I could have walked closer to the water’s edge to stick my toes in… or check out the rocks… but that didn’t seem a safe idea, so I didn’t.
I’d like to throw out a thank you to my friends for letting me send messages to them when I go out, letting them know my intended route and anticipated time of return. I’m sorry that I routinely send that return message late because I’m having such a nice time.
So here are two big goals — resolutions — for 2014. One, I hope to get out camping at one of the many spots available along area trails; and two, to go rock hounding somewhere accessible.
If I’m going to hunt pretty and unusual rocks, I better add a resolution of improving my walking on uneven terrain, whether aided by an all-terrain walker, trekking poles, cane or — dare I to think it — unaided.
I also should try more yoga and fitness exercises I always enjoyed in the past.
Many muscles on my left side are ridiculously tight these days and shake a lot. As I’ve noted before, cold weather doesn’t help at all. So I’ll do what I can at home — including the use of a recumbent exercise bike with chair seat thoughtfully given by more friends. I really await spring to get outdoors and seriously — and joyfully — work on those resolutions.