From Water to Snow

ski1websizeI have returned home to Alaska after a few months of rehab in the Arizona sunshine. The colder weather is definitely more challenging for my joints but I still continue to improve and just find I have to pace myself on rough terrain and stay active.

Life is good, full of amazing  friends and a joy now that I am free of chronic pain. Looking forward to continuing this journey with many more years of a fun, active adventures. Hooray for stem cell success!

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Finding my Zen

Zen6Today I found my Zen.

My search started during dark days when I spent more time crying than smiling. When I was told I wanted too much, my goals were too lofty, my standards too high. I was told I had serious flaws and the general population was far too blind to see the truth. But he knew.

It took years and many, many tries before I finally succeeded in breaking the chain. Zen4But I did break free. I survived. Today I reached the destination I dreamed of all those years ago. And with my joints healing, have the ability to enjoy it without all the horrible pain.

I believe I made it because I never let go of the dream or the belief that what I had seen could be real.

I have always had great faith in the power of creative visualization. Over the years I have seen this power at work first hand.  I experienced it again with the signing of the check to buy my half of this home.

Zen8This tale actually started in 2004 when I first realized that my life had slipped into an abyss of tears and frustration. I was physically ill and emotionally bruised. But I was determined. I pulled on my inner beast and made the commitment to change things. I visualized calm, serenity, peace, security. I could see myself far away from that current life actually having the things I could then only wish for.

Over the years, the journey proved challenging and often fraught with doubt and fear. I made painful mistakes. Slipped back more times than I like to count. But all of those times made me stronger. I discovered so many things about myself. My tenacity is fierce; my determination and resolve, solid; my willingness to wipe away the tears and face the challenges head on, the real key to success.

Zen7In the beginning I tried to visualize where I wanted to be. ‘In a perfect world’ scenarios filled notebooks as I struggled to figure it all out.

It took many, many tries and lots of tough fought lessons. Every time I got knocked down I picked myself up and carried on. I just knew I would not fail if I did not give up.

In February 2016 I found myself at a cross road on my journey to find the ‘perfect pad.’ This time I stopped and made a list of requirements.

The ideal home would be somewhere warm, with at least two bedrooms and two baths, one on each end with the living area in the center. That way I could have a roommate and we’d each have our own personal space.

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Another challenge, I need parking for my motorhome, preferably covered so it will beprotected during the months I’ll be in

Alaska at my other home. Security is a must and I want amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub and without an exorbitant HOA, especially one where you don’t own the land. I want to own.

When I finished I wondered if it would ever be possible to find exactly what I wanted and needed. And have it be the same things my purchase partner would want.

I spent two winters and hours of driving around meeting realtors and traipsing through houses on the journey, never giving up on my requirements dream.

Zen5I knew I had arrived when I walked into the house in Superstition Resort.

The gated entrance to the neighborhood and the covered storage designed for a motorhome that flanks one side of the home, took care of two check marks. Entering through the back door my spirits soared. The home is clean, beautiful, obviously well maintained and recently remodeled. Something I’ve done so many times. This time it’s already done. Hearing the sellers say the furniture stays gave me a check mark I hadn’t even realized I had until that moment. Now I wouldn’t have to shop, buy and move in things like dressers, tables, couch, chair and even one and half really nice beds. Amazing.  But what about the rest of my list?

‘Yes, there is a community pool and hot tub right across the street. And the whole package includes membership into an exclusive club with only 54 owners. All of whom own 1/54th of the resort with assets of nearly two million dollars. Owners pay just $1,000 a year for dues and that includes property taxes, garbage, sewer and road maintenance.’ My roommate partner and I can sell or will the property to our heirs.

I moved in yesterday and finished settling in today. At 3:30, with the warmth of the Arizona sun shining down, I climbed on my bicycle and set out to go exploring.Zen1

I can’t stop smiling. I now have a beautiful home that I was able to buy with my spirit sister so I have a wonderful roommate. There are miles of roads that lead to miles and miles of wilderness trails all around to explore.

I have a hot tub and heated swimming pool waiting for me to enjoy. Awesome neighbors who have been warm and welcoming. I feel safe, protected, happy, joyful, thrilled that I made it.

My thoughts did become things. Today I am  living that dream from so long ago filled with calm, serenity, peace, security and all the joys life has to offer.

The biggest lesson for me, don’t ever give up on your dream.

Now it’s time to get going on other dreams I’ve long imagined.

One year later

A new year and a renewed commitment to a healthy life. I have found the days I get up and start my day with a big glass of water, followed by some deep yoga breaths and stretches, at least a light 10-15 minute workout, and a ½ cup of Goldenmilk, I have less and less pain and feel stronger and stronger.

Today marks one year since my bi-lateral stem cell implant. Yesterday I went for a 15-minute swim and a two mile hike in Sedona, Arizona. The day before I made it three miles up a hill in Pine, Arizona, plus a one-mile hike to the Cliff Dwellings above Roosevelt Lake Tonto National Park, and a five-mile cross country bike ride in Usury Lake State Park.

It feels amazing to consider the progress I have made this past year. I could not sleep, sit, stand or do much of anything for more than a few minutes without nagging, aching pain last year on this day.

I’m not 100% pain free but now it’s more like twinges or sharp sudden pains  when you catch yourself a little wrong. It’s my reminder to be careful. I admit I do have some aching pain when I sit or lay in one position too long. But all and all, I feel I have made great progress.

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I’m happy I went through with the stem cell procedure instead of replacing my joints, but when I talk with my friend Sandy and she has no pain at all, it makes me wonder? She has had two shoulders, two knees and an ankle replaced. I think she’s bionic. I would love to be 100% pain free, but at least now mine is no longer debilitating so I’m good.

I will keep hoping that medical advances result in a much easier, less risky procedure that can help both my hips and knees. Until then, I’ll keep on walking, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, looking up and smiling as I work my way toward a healthy life. Hope you can join me in 2018.

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End of the year

GingerbreadwithMichelleI am now at 11 months and closing in on the one-year anniversary of my stem cell procedure. The past six months I have seen continued good progress and for the most part I am out of pain and healing wonderfully.

However setbacks are still something I deal with. I recently went on a trip to Utah to attend a conference. I was thrilled to be able to ski but I sure did recognize the difference from my pre-injury days and realize, I have to get back in shape for skiing before I can really take on too much.

Sitting in a hot tub at the end of the ski and hiking day did help. Plus it was luxury at it’s

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finest which I would love to get used to.

I’m grateful and feeling happy I am able to ski and walk again without pain.

But after four days at a resort that involved dozens and dozens and dozens of stairs did have an effect on my legs.

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Plus sitting for any period of time has definitely proven to be my worst enemy. I have been working a lot in front of the computer since I left Utah and that has probably more to do with my knotted, uncomfortable muscles than anything I did while on my trip.

I have also found that diet plays a key role. I was not able to drink my Goldenmilk (Ginger, Tumeric, pepper tea) and felt my body responding with more inflamation than usual. I recently found a great article on an anti-inflamatory diet that I believe is worth sharing. Check it out here.

Eat well, Be well. Get outdoors and enjoy life.

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Eight Month Progress Report

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Hiking in Hatcher Pass – August 31, 2017

I am now at eight months post stem cell and doing great. I have finally turned the corner on my path to healing and find myself walking through stores realizing I have no pain. I’m able to sleep, stand, sit, walk, climb, hike, bike… and all without the pain that was so debilitating and a constant challenge.

I realize that the Qigong treatments combined with acupuncture and sleeping on a biomat may all be helping to stimulate the growth of the stem cells. But whatever is the cause, I just know that every day the pain seems to be less and my function is getting back to normal.

I have also made drinking my Goldenmilk concoction a daily ritual and that has reduced my inflammation issues as well.

The process has not been easy and I realize, probably isn’t for everyone, but if you want to avoid joint replacement, are willing to make some changes in your life to ensure you are eating good protein, avoiding sugar and taking physical therapy seriously, this might help you as well.

Here’s to finding your pathway for health.

Six month progress

Spending a month with the grandchildren was fun and amazing but did give me a bit of a set back when they jumped on me while I was lying on the floor. Fortunately, a trip to see Jay and Jen (Qi Gong) and Sam and Kevin (Alaska Acupuncture) at the Healing Center put me back on the path to health. Amazing that only one treatment can have such a dramatic effect and take away the pain, straighten out my spine and un-pinch my hips.

Now as I begin my 7th month of healing I feel like I have finally turned the corner and know I am healing well. I can now walk without pain, (still having a bit of trouble going up stairs,) but all in all, feel wonderful and amazing. I’m hiking again, riding my bike and doing most everything I love doing.

Dr. Cohen told me I could expect to continue healing for up to 18 months and now I feel like that is going to allow me to have a full recovery. Hooray. Feeling so grateful that I chose the Stem Cell path. The future of medical science is promising and convinces me to not give up. 

June 13, 2017 – Five months

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Allen McGhan

Today is my son’s birthday. He is 40. Forty! It seems so amazing. Looking at everything that has happened since this tiny baby was placed in my arms makes me feel blessed. I’ve truly lived a full life. Like most people, it hasn’t been all good but there has been so much good that the journey has been worth every challenge.  I also accept I’m closing in on the winter of my life. There is snow on my mountains… unless I hide it with John Freida, otherwise I continue to embrace each and every day because I know it will suddenly be all over. The final curtain.

Until that time comes, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m still here for my son’s 63rd birthday.

My stem cells are continuing to grow and heal… I think. Ugh. The past two weeks have been testing my body to the limits. I’ve been picking up my 30 lb.  grandson dozens of times a day, going up and down huge flights of stairs more than I pick up Xander, in and out of the house, the car, up and down… Yeah, I’m feeling it. The fact I can and am doing all of this is a win. And right at this moment, I’ m sitting at my desk and only feel a tightness in my back. Thanks to my son I have access to a massage chair that really helps so I’ll head there when I finish with my morning office chores.

I continue to feel compelled to share my journey because I know there are so many people out there who are suffering from joint injuries and chronic pain because our bodies have been beaten up and are just flat wearing out. They ask about the stem cell treatments often.

I believe the stem cells are helping to slow the degeneration process. Do I think it’s a perfect solution or an easy one? No.

There are times when I’m hurting so much I want to cry. I’ve been able to push through it, flush with water, fast, stretch… and then I start feeling like I’m still on the road to healing. The pain seems to vanish and I feel relaxed and like a normal person again.

20170531_085903But then my grand children climbed on me and my back started hurting. Now I feel like I have a disk out in my low to mid back. Ugh.  Once I get home to Alaska I’m going to see my awesome therapist, Bobbie Mumm at Alaska Integrative Wellness. I’m confident her healing hands will help relieve all the kinks and knots.

Taking my grandson to Gymnastics this week about killed me. I wanted to run and play and spot him through all the fun obstacles the teacher had set up but instead I was limping around and grimacing in pain when I would try to get down, stretch, get up… Ugh. That was hard to take and makes me ready to consider more drastic options. I’m tired of so much pain.

For now I’m going to continue on and see if I get back on track once I return home from Grandma duty. Until then I’ll continued drinking goldenmilk, doing yoga and taking advantage of therapy. Plus playing with and enjoying my awesome grandchildren.