The sob story, or Ouch! My back hurts!

English: Cub Scout in uniform
Image via Wikipedia

A difficult journey is more revealing of character than any discussion or analysis. – me

Hiking! Well, let’s call it walking for now. I guess the story starts quite a long time ago. In the interest of focus on the January project, I put the sob story in a different post. HERE!

I was in Cub Scouts (meaning little Boy Scouts) when I was a kid and I remember vividly hiking and camping around a nearby lake. I especially liked the times when we were allowed a bit of freedom to explore. I later found out that those were the times when the dads could sit around the fire and relax since 7 year olds run them down after about 2 hours. But for me it was the freedom to go off and explore. Always with a buddy, but really free to just wander. I loved to get lost and find a new path back. I never really got lost. I seem to have a natural sense of direction and I’ll somehow know the general idea even without familiar landmarks. But finding that path through the brush and trees could be tricky.

As I got older, I had knee problems. I had to stop playing football and limit running and walking because of the impact on the knees. I could, however, swim like a fish and I started riding a long distance bike. The thing I figured out is that taking a journey that requires physically carrying yourself and your supplies somewhere has a tremendous reward. There is something very special about finding a way to continue when it feels like another step isn’t possible. This has been one of the guiding principles in my life.

When I think I can’t go anymore, I go anyway. When something is impossible, I do it anyway. – me on a Monday

Fast forward to ten years ago: I had been fixing cars for over a decade when I started getting repetitive motion injuries in my right wrist. I went to the doctor and he said to limit any physical activity with my hands. When I told him I rebuilt engines for a living, he looked at me in the eyes and said, “then find another way to make a living.” Basically, my hands had been somewhat used up by fixing cars for fifteen years. Luckily, I was three years into a college degree so it wasn’t as devastating as it seems. It only felt like it.  So I took a job as an inventory manager in a cabinet factory while I finished college.

I had never been injured fixing cars. I never hurt my back or my leg. I didn’t lose any fingers or toes. I strictly followed all of the safety procedures and invented some of my own. Two months into my new job, I had a horrible back injury. It was due to sloppy, and probably illegal, conditions at the warehouse of the cabinet factory. I could barely get out of bed for weeks. I was had many tests and procedures over the next two years. I was on pain meds for most of the time. The combination of the inactivity, being broke and not being able to care for my family, and the pain meds left me much less healthy than I had ever been.

If you ever expect life to be fair, you are in for a shocking disappointment. Life is what it is. Fair is something we made up. – me again

I tried everything I was told and some things I figured out on my own. So many types of physical therapy and such. For most of the last ten years, I have been limited to about a fifteen minute walk through Wal-mart or the mall. After that, my back would start to pinch nerves and my legs would get numb and cramp up. I just couldn’t walk anymore after that. Anytime I had to move furniture or pack for a new apartment, I would be in bed for days recovering.

But over the past year, my back has been feeling better and better. I’ve still kept with my strict habits of stretching a lot and walking very little. I don’t make any sudden movements and I don’t stay in any uncomfortable position for very long. I’ve been very careful and skeptical about it all. Then, suddenly, it was over. In November, I could walk and … just keep walking. I could walk for hours. Of course, my legs are out of shape and I’m not used to exercising this much. But I can walk. And so I walked. And I walked more. And still more … and my back doesn’t hurt. My legs don’t get shaky or cramp up. I can still feel the back injury if I do something awkward or stressful, but normal walking is ok.

So over the Christmas break I decided to really give it a try. I got a pedometer app for my phone and I walked. I walked for miles and miles. I got blisters on my feet once. I got leg cramps a few times. But still my back didn’t hurt.

Some of the things I know for sure at the start of this journey I will find foolish and completely wrong at the end.  – me

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