Saturday, August 25, 2012


For just about as long as I can remember, August has been a month for anniversaries.  Many summers ago in a cute Lake Tahoe chapel, carrying a bouquet of blue silk roses I bought her, my mom walked down the aisle to marry the man I'd already taken to calling "dad" and make everything all nice and official.  I immediately began using his last name, proudly, although it would be years later that I made the change legally.

One hot August, while my belly was full and round with my first child, my sister passed away from cancer.  I had the great fortune to have seen her, earlier in my pregnancy, although I had not realized then that it would be the last time.  I certainly never thought that eight years later I'd be embroiled in my own fight with cancer.

A year ago in August, I had my first spine surgery.  And a year ago in August, yesterday and today were the first days I started feeling wobbly, off-balance, and a little bit feeble while walking, and thought I was having a side effect problem from taking Valium.  A year ago tomorrow would be the last day I walked without an assistive device.  By the end of that day, I would be unable to walk at all, and my rehab/physical therapy journey would begin.

Soon that journey will draw to a close.  I have less than twenty therapy visits left, and much has been accomplished.  Yesterday in therapy, using only the two balance canes, I walked first 70 and then 65 feet at a time, and then progressed from two to three minutes at a time spent standing up without any aides, bouncing a ball off a trampoline and catching it.  Hopefully by next August, being disabled will be just another August memory.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Exciting things have been happening in physical therapy lately.  Taking the muscle relaxers once a day has really helped ease the problems I was having with popping and crunching in my fusion area, allowing me to make better progress in my workouts.  

In our continuing efforts to improve the quality of my walking, ensuring I don't lean so heavily on my arms, we made the transition from standing and walking with my walker to standing and eventually walking with a pair of four-legged canes.  The canes force me to keep all my weight in my legs, since they are not designed for support, but only to aid in balance.  Initially, with so much more of the work being done by my legs, my walking distance was very very short, about 8 feet on the first try.  But with additional practice to strengthen the muscles that keep my knees from buckling, I've been able to slowly extend that distance.  Now, after about two weeks of working with the canes, I was able to walk 31 feet without resting. 

On Monday I have my next follow-up with the oncology team.  They will be doing blood work, which if I understand correctly, can help them look for certain markers that might indicate whether my cancer is growing or spreading.  Hopefully we will again find that there are no changes there, and just keep monitoring while I continue to do so well in therapy.