Friday, April 30, 2010

The Healing Has Begun

"And we'll walk down the avenue again, and we'll sing all the songs from way back when. And we'll walk down the avenue in style, and we'll walk down the avenue and we'll smile, and we'll say baby ain't it all worthwhile. And we'll walk down the avenue again, when the healing has begun". - abridged. Words by Van Morrison, "The Healing Has Begun", from "Into the Music".

One of my friends and commenter's LPH, a man I have known for over 20 some odd years now, wrote in a comment that this song was very apt for my current status. Indeed it is LPH! What a song, a song of healing and opportunity and redemption. It has been one constant favourite Van tune of the ages, one that defines for me personally why I love the music. It leaped into my heart back in 1979 and has never left. Much like these mountains here in Aotearoa, the Ruahine, leaped into my heart when I was brought to them in 1993. So the words above, and the song stand true, and represent well my current journey, and how I am feeling about it. Get the song and LISTEN! (Get the whole cd, one of Van's best)

The photo above sees me emerging from the mist of the prior post. I am writing of course metaphorically, and the photos are from different trips, yet I have emerged from a lot of the doubt and fear, the unknowns of my last post. Above I am amongst the golden tussock tops, having done the hard yards and relentless steep climb from Makaroro valley and Upper Makaroro hut to the main Ruahine range. A lot of hard work and effort, rewarded by this expanse of wilderness, these mountains, the views, and whatever lies ahead. Take a close look at the photo and you will see I am actually battling to stand upright, poles and legs spread wide, and coat on in spite of the blue sky and sunshine. So you see, though I have done many hard yards, and emerged into the sunlight, it is now the wind that sets upon me. Another obstacle to be dealt with. Ride out the storm or carry on?

I went today on 70 minute walk along the river. In a fierce wind that kept most away, and I felt very much as if I had the place to myself. The wind was blowing hard through the trees and I let myself drift along to a Ruahine ridge on a stromy day and the wind blowing its song through the kaikawaka, tupare, and beeches. Not quite the same down here, and the wind held nothing of threat to me, even on my crutches. I have been where that song of wind means real danger. I relish the feel of it upon me.

The doctor's appointment I had thought was this Thursday, is actually next Thursday, so I am fighting the urge to get ahead of myself. In the three weeks since having the hip replaced I have progressed from standing up, to walks down the hospital corridor, 10 minute forays along the foot path outside, to yesterday doing the 70 minute walk down by the river. Most days I will do a 45 minute effort. I am also starting to get around the house without crutches and so am looking forward to seeing Dr. Brougham to get an idea of boosting my efforts with weights, the bike and so on. A bit of stretching would be wonderful but not advisable just yet, and if anyone has any advice or thoughts on beginning yoga I would greatly appreciate it. I am not quite ready yet, as these first crucial six weeks play out, but soon enough will be. And everything I do is pointing at mobility, flexibility, strength, and activity. The most wonderful feeling when I am walking is that pain I had is gone. So I dream of the mountains. Sitting here in the comfort of my chair, a warm house, and a cup of coffee, it is easy to write nostalgically, recalling all the wonderful trips and views, yet I know full well that with sweat dripping off my face climbing up hill, or straight down onto some creek bed, or battling a swollen river, or cloud obscured and wind blown tops, that most of the time the focus is simply on the next step, the next decision, to not stuff up. There will plenty of time at the hut or camp, or here in my chair, to let the day wash over me. So I sit here now and smile, and dream of steep climbs, and the golden tussock, clear streams and rivers, and the sight of the whio. Kia kaha!

Aroha - Robb


kylie said...

this is a beautiful post, robb. nicely written with joy spilling everywhere.
i'm pleased for you

Marja said...

Indeed my friend take care and take it easy. Time will come soon enough to go up in the mountains.
I am so happy for you however that you have reached a turning point and healing has begun and great that you had a glimpse to go out and about. Marja

KB said...

I love the opening lyrics. Perfect, absolutely perfect.

A 70 min walk. Wow! I am so happy that your healing is speeding along. It's true - the hardest part is not getting ahead of yourself. It will continue to be the hardest part for quite a while if hip surgery is anything like neck surgery. Today, I went a little too far... but that's what life is about, right? Finding the limits and figuring out how to stay happy in nature despite them.

The greatest sentence in your whole post was that the old pain is gone. Now that's something worth celebrating!

As an aside, we're going to Moab soon so I decided to save the rest of Desert Solitaire for while I sit in camp in the desert where Abbey wrote it. I love the book. Thanks for the recommendation.

My thoughts are with you, as we travel somewhat parallel paths. You've brought me great inspiration!

Kia kaha!

KB said...

I forgot - based on my experiences, I wouldn't start anything new (like yoga) without a doc or PT giving you permission. For me, my PT is an angel. She understands how desperately I need to be outdoors so she bends the "rules" for me to let me get there faster than most people. However, she never lets me endanger myself - she says "no" when I'm considering doing something that might hurt me. I hope that you can find an angel like her in your recovery.

Gustav said...

The Healing has Begun is one of your all time Van favourites. Do you remember Van playing that song in Minneapolis.

I have been practicing Yoga for a while. The key is to find the poses that work for you. Each person is different.

Brother I know you pretty well. Do not push too hard. Time is your friend. You are a young man with decades of walking ahead. Listen to your body. Listen!

lph said...

Keep walking Robb...Love the progress you are making. As Gus says, listen to your body. And if you the mountains for your 50th is a very real possibility.

Take care,

Donald said...

Robb I'm over-joyed to read of your progress - mentally and physically.

I'm unashamedly posting a comment here to draw attention to my blog this week. Especially the last few paragraphs.

They contain a link to where submissions can be done on-line on our Government's plan to mine our New Zealand National Parks and Conservation lands.

They close this coming Tuesday.

pohanginapete said...

Great news, Robb — delighted to hear of your progress. Like several other commenters already, I'd urge you to take care and follow the professional advice.

I was yarning to a mate of mine at the pool the other day — he's only about my age but he'd had a hip replacement (too much running). He seems pretty mobile now and swims like a racing sardine. His doctor had recommended cycling and swimming as excellent forms of low-impact exercise, and I'd certainly second that advice.

jack sender said...

Take your time and mend well in that wonderful environment.

Anne-Marie said...

Great news Robb! I would be extremely cautious about doing Yoga just yet - which is not to say don't do it. Just don't start without your doctor's advice, and don't start doing it yourself at home. Go to a class [I can give you a recommendation if you'd like] and tell the teacher beforehand about your hip. Some teachers will even take a private class to give you poses to do at home, if she thinks that's suitable.

I also second Pete's suggestion about swimming. When I injured my leg last year, swimming - especially walking in the water - gave my knee its strength back so quickly during the recovery phase.

Good luck with your recovery - and flick me an email if you'd like the contact details for a Yoga teacher in your area.


Barbara Martin said...

As others before me have already said, take things easy, Robb. At least in the beginnings. Don't push yourself or cause yourself pain unnecessarily. Things are working out well for you now, I'm glad to hear.

Take care, and many best wishes.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic news! All the best. Congratulations on your steady progress Robb.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora,
It has been a month and one day since my right hip was replaced. On this past Thursday I had a meeting with my surgeon, and found he was very pleased with my progress, that I can return to work on a limited basis this coming week, and begin to drive next week as well. The swelling has gone right down, and within a few weeks I can begin to incorporate a bit of outwards flexibility with the hip, upper body weights, and some stationary bike work. I go see him again in two months. Hopefully planning a Ruahine reunion as well!
I am walking quite briskly with my crutches over an hour per day, getting encouragement from the old regulars I see on my routes, and now getting a bit stronger without the crutches at all. Though I still have to be very careful about not bending over too far, and pushing it too much.
As the Buddist theory goes that desire is the root of all pain - my desire to go at a level or pace I cannot, thus pain comes from my own inability to go as I would like. It is not pain in my hip, groin, or knee as before but rather the pain of impatience. It was one of those weeks I felt a bit frustrated and so have to bring myself back to the level I can walk or do things at a pace I forget that desire and simply do it. It is hard to put that into practice so I have written myself a note to remind me.
One thing I can finally do, is to roll on my side with a pillow between my legs to sleep, and my goodness, how nice little things like that can be. I fell asleep almost straight away yesterday into the most deep and wonderful sleep. It is said sleep is the best healer of all, according to Tara I should be the healthiest man on the planet!
Thank you again to all those visiting here and leaving such wonderful words of encouragement and support. Healing can also be very lonely, and even boring at times, and coming here and finding words and the presence of like minded people means an awful lot to me so Kia ora! Kia kaha!

Beth said...

Dear Robb, thank you so much for your kind words to me, and huge apologies that I haven't been here earlier to wish you well. I knew your surgery was planned but didn't know you had had it. Watching my dad, now 85, go through 2 knee replacements has given me a lot of appreciation for this process. He is even less patient than you are! But he followed his PT's advice, did the rehab at the pace she set for him, and now plays 18 holes of golf - walking the entire way - and competitive table tennis, without any of the pain that accompanied him for years. You'll be back on the mountains soon, but sooner if you go slowly now. Breath deeply and take it one day at a time, as you are! Sending love and healing vibes from the north - xxoo Beth

no one of interest said...

it is good to have such a motivating blog to read. i hope the outcome of future summer events are look on in a light such as yours.

Lost Coyote said...

You look so happy, there is hope!

Doing the hip RESURFACE on June the Seventh. I'm actually feeling pretty positive (less depressed) about the prospects of wandering and defending the wilds without pain! Currently, I CAN'T do a 70 minute walk, but I hope they are in my future as they are in your present!

Keep smiling, it looks good...

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyote,
I shall be around to visit soon. We step together brother. I just may be there to sit in the mountain desert with you and Adam. Keep an eye out there in Utah. We have earned that. Kia kaha.

Jamie said...

Hey Kia kaha Robb and good job! Looking forward to reading about your future adventures!


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Good to read from you mate! Hope all is well. Maybe we will still get out in those Ruahines yet. Feeling better each day. Kia kaha.

Ophelia Rising said...

Robb, so glad you're on the mend. And your positive attitude - not only in your healing, but in all aspects of your life - serves you well. I just know you'll be up and about in those mountains in no time. But, yes - listen to your body, as Gus wisely points out.

I'm thinking of you, my friend. Your amazing nature and loving ways will always propel you forward, always move you to the right place.

Much, much love to you...



Anonymous said...

...thanks for the update Robb...continue on healing!

Ojibwe Confessions said...

Love Van the Man.
Continue to get Healed. So you can enjoy the mountains, the green, the blue, the water, the trek.
I admire your love for the Earth, for that place on this Earth.
We need more people to appreciate what there is.
I need that as well. Thank you for your great posts and the words that can inspire us.

troutbirder said...

Thrilled to read about your determined recovery. Keep going!

Wilma Ham said...

Kia Kaha Robb and yes I cam imagine this; "but rather the pain of impatience."
Impatience, another one to overcome, Robb. You are learning though, you are learning.
I recently am chewing on "I don't mind what happens".
Nature is a good teacher on impatience and I don't mind what happen. If you do not have those nature becomes an enemy rather than a friend. So we are well poised with our learnings to be one with the wilderness. xox Wilma

Joe McCarthy said...

Robb: I hope your healing is continuing and your impatience is diminishing.

During the winter of my senior year at Ripon, I slipped on some ice and broke, sprained and tore a ligament in my ankle all in one fell swoop (or one swooped fall). Shortly after the cast came off, I took some bad advice from a good friend who said "c'mon, you don't need that cane" and I pushed too hard, too fast, and prolonged the recovery process for months, if not years.

As for yoga, I concur with advice others have offered about making sure it is within the guidelines and timeframe recommended by your doctor and/or PT. However, I offer a somewhat different perspective about doing [only] the poses that work for you.

For me, yoga is about stretching out of my comfort zones, but stopping short of the point(s) of pain. I see the rigidity and inflexibility in my body as manifestations of psychological or emotional rigidity and inflexibility. When I do yoga, I do poses that work for me, but I make the most progress when I also include poses that don't work for me, as I believe they offer an opportunity to work on areas that don't work in my life.

As for recommendations of specific yoga practice, I highly recommend Erich Schiffman's book, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness, which is now available online. I believe you will find a deep spiritual resonance with the practice that he preaches. I know I have ... and getting out his book, and preaching a bit about it here, prompts me to resume my own lapsed practice.

Wishing you peace and health!

Lynda Lehmann said...

May the winds be gentle across your cheek, at least for the time being, and the days "wash over" you with renewed joy and beauty.

Keep up the good work, Robb! Do not forget to honor your body, by pushing too hard. I hope you enjoy each moment, even with your limitations.

We all look forward to the day when you can commence with more challenging treks.

Tracey Axnick said...

It's wonderful to see you out walking Robb... your determination is obvious, which will speed your recovery. And the SMILE on your face is fabulous... it will be no time until you're back to 100% :)