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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Back Surgery and Dexascans

This week we have been in Dallas with our daughter. She had some very extensive back surgery. I am happy to say she is doing well and it is for several reasons. One, she is in an amazing hospital with the best doctor for her back issue in the country, and two, she is in great physical shape. 5 years ago she had a discectomy    (gymnastic pounding and then simple wear and tear left her with real problems) then last year the discectomy failed and she was left with bone on bone in her back and a lot of pain...constant pain. So she went in search of a cure but she had decided against any kind of, never...nope, no surgery. EVER!! 

Then as we were crowded around the TV watching the Masters this last April the announcer mentioned Tiger Wood’s back. His injury was exactly like Ashleigh’s. Same place, same problems, same pain....immediately she started researching and by Friday morning of that week she had found all the information on his surgery and his doctor. By Friday afternoon she had sent all her x-rays and history to the doctor to find out if she was a candidate. By Monday the doctor determined she was a very good candidate. Things going fast? A little too fast because she was determined to never have surgery again. But then, the pain that was always there got worse and after several consultations she decided to go ahead with it. 

The surgery and everything connected with it was a success. From the front office to the nursing staff things ran like clockwork. Everyone involved kept remarking on her quick recovery...over and over they said it was because she was in great physical shape. For the last year even though she was in terrible pain she never stopped eating well and using her Peloton. 

Once again life comes down to being proactive and not reactive.

Two of my friends had some serious falls in the recent past. One tripped over a hose while she was pumping gas, the other slipped and fell at work, both told me they werent doing anything out of the ordinary but from the resulting injuries both needed shoulder surgery. Simple falls that have turned into a year long recovery. I am not saying we can prevent every injury in life, accidents occur, but we can be in better shape to mitigate such a long, long recovery. A simple fact is more muscle around our bones and then just stronger bones helps us recover faster and get injured less.

Muscle buildup and stronger bones comes from exercise...weight training is the best thing you can do to build up your muscles and bones that will help prevent an injury. There is a test called a DEXA scan that I highly recommend. The technical definition is “Two x-ray beams with different energy levels, are aimed at the patients bones. When soft tissue absorption is subtracted out, the bone mineral density can be determined from the absorption of each beam by bone.”  Or in Donna terms you can find out your bone density, muscle mass and total body fat. We all need to know those numbers to be able to prepare for better futures. The owner of my gym, Gene Carrillo, is offering a free DEXA scan test to anyone who calls and mentions my little blog and takes a tour of the facilities. What a great way to bribe my friends to come in and see all the fun stuff and get a painless test for free? Call Paula at 702-750-9420 then mention my name and get this great test so that you will have more information about your body that can help you have a better future. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Great Expectations

The novel Great Expectations centers around a character named Pip. I am not sure if I like the title best, the names of the characters involved or the story itself. But who wouldn't want to live in a world populated by people named Pip, Miss Havisham, Abel Magwitch, Jaggers, Wemmick, Biddy and Uncle Pumblechook? Thats not even a full list - just all I am willing to list. However it's the title that has always intrigued me - Great Expectations, because I expect great things to happen.

Until they don't.

Then I don't know quite what to do. I know things don't always work out the way I plan, but I still take it as a personal affront when they don't.

While in the course of living my life I have discovered frogs stay frogs, the end of the rainbow is often just the end of the rainbow and a handsome prince comes with a mortgage, diapers and occasional mayhem.

Again, not what I thought. My Great Expectations have always been just a tad (or a mile) above what actually occurs. Which leaves me breathlessly critiquing everything I do using my third grade teachers BIG red pencil to correct mistakes so everyone knows I fell short.

My life is covered with big red pencil marks....self inflicted.....for all the world to see.

So is anyone surprised that after almost a year of working out with weights, straps, machines, wall balls, slam balls, pushing boxes across the floor, holding a plank and slamming heavy ropes I am DISAPPOINTED that my weight loss can be measured with a teaspoon?

And this is where it gets dicey. I am so much stronger, my lab numbers are good, my knee doesn't hurt, in fact nothing hurts. When I get up from a chair I spring up from the chair. But my weight hasn't budged. Not being a science denier I know the formula, less calories in more calories out equals weight loss. I do a lot of calories out...but I also do a lot of calories in. That's right, I eat too much and with medication that slows me down to sloth pace, being older and surrounded by food all the time are reasons why it has been so hard.

I felt like I failed....

But did I?

I have stuck with an exercise program for almost a year and experienced leg strength to a point my knee no longer hurts. I can pick up heavy trays, crates and boxes I couldn't even budge a year after my surgery. When I started exercising my core was non existent. I could only do a few setups and now I can do 60 without thinking about it. I can hold a plank over a minute 3 times in a row and literally pop up from a chair due to never-ending squats from a box holding weights. Open heart surgery is a way bigger deal than I thought, and getting my strength back has been hard. When I first got home from the hospital just walking to the kitchen was the impossible dream. Today I am SO MUCH BETTER!! But I am not thin, I'm not even much thinner, and I expected to be thinner and that seems to be my only benchmark. I guess for all my bravado being thin was what I really wanted, not just being healthy and strong. My expectations certainly ruled the day. Although I did want to be stronger and more fit, I really wanted to LOOK stronger and more fit. The problem with expectations is they tend to be a bit disingenuous. We expect things from a vacation, a marriage, children, friends, or a workout plan that often cannot realistically be delivered. But what we are given in our journey is often much better than what OUR plan was. The last year has been filled with personal accomplishments I thought were behind me. Yet I proved to myself I can still do tough physical things. I can lift heavy weights, I can do squats and push ups and pull ups and and I can work out around people half my age and call it good. And if I can do this I can other things I want to do. It is not too late! I love my trainers and friends at Xuberance who never stop trying to help me and have made sure I am safe every time I work out. I can push myself to the edge of the cliff because I know they will catch me.

So I am taking this template to everything in my life. What else have I applied an expectation to and then didn't appreciate where the road led me instead?  Have I been grateful for my life even though it doesn't include the retirement plan I wanted? Open heart surgery is a pretty big bump in the road, but have I appreciated the fact I survived? And all the experiences connected to that survival? Financial ruin is horrible but do I remember the miracles we have experienced while climbing out of that abyss? Yes difficult things have occurred in my life but tremendous things have won the day each time.

I believe this is the same for everyone. Each person I know has a story to tell that will inspire and motivate. And I am talking to are an inspiration. Start writing your story and see if I am not right. And while you are writing find the good in every bad thing that has happened to you. See if it doesn't turn your thinking around, if not your life. I love this quote about ships not being made for the  Harbor

You aren't made for the Harbor either....get out there on the open sea and find out what you are made of!!
Carpe Diem!!!!