Friday, November 30, 2012

Follow-up from the Dr visit

Hi -
Here's the latest after my visit with the Dr yesterday.  He was extremely pleased with how my surgery site has healed and a little miffed that I am having to deal with the blood clots.  He said I am healing so quickly that it wouldn't have been a problem to schedule the second surgery for next week.  Oh well.....

I got my blood drawn first thing, but once again (3rd time) I wasn't on the schedule.  Not real happy with the nurse manager from the Vein Clinic that was supposed to put me on the list.  And then I get a call saying the testing machine is offline and they will just call with the results.  Okay, fine.  That was at 9:00 AM.  At 4:30 PM she finally calls with the current INR levels - I get to back off the blood thinners as the number is a little higher than desired. 

Good - I can eat a little more of the healthy stuff again.  Apparently, leafy greens (especially spinach and kale) are super high in Vitamin K which can negatively affect the blood thinner.  Trouble is, I love spinach and leafy greens.  Now I guess I can eat a little bit more than none at all.

Got my flu shot too, just as the news is carrying the story of two deaths in the triad area due to the flu.  If you haven't gotten yours yet it's not too late.  Get one - especially if you're young, older than 60, or have other health issues that bring down your resistance.  Do it for me.

My doctor also gave me my exercise list - actually it's just a series of stretching motions that are much more basic than what I have already been doing.  So now it's to the gym again to get serious about rebuilding my leg strength.

I am reading a book on the Camino de Santiago:  "I'm Off Then," by German TV comedian Hape Kerkeling. (Hans-Peter = HaPe).  It's starts slow, but gets better and is turning out to be a pretty good read.  I am amused at his description of the difficulty of the camino, especially with my knowledge of the difficulty of the AT.  There's no comparison.  To make sure, I am looking for an elevation chart for the camino to compare to the chart I have for the AT.  It should be interesting to compare the two, side by side.

I am getting messages and photos from my trail friends that have summited Katahdin.  I am so envious and happy for them.  I am also working on my 4th video, combing through all the videos and photos I took on the trail.  I hope you are enjoying that effort.

Thanks and Happy Trails -


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Surgery and Rehab update

Hello Friends -

I wanted to give you an update on my surgery and rehab.  It's been a bumpier road than I ever expected.  I am at the 6 week point following surgery and have followed the recovery plan pretty well: three weeks in a cast immobile, two weeks in a soft boot immobile, and another week in the soft boot beginning to shuffle around.  Of course, being me, I pushed the schedule a little bit as long as I felt good.  While the surgery went well and the heel seems to have healed properly, it was the blood clots that really threw me for a loop.  As fit as I am/was, blood clots were not on my radar screen.  But apparently, the thinking now is that I had them prior to the surgery.  They might have initially formed when I came home to let my Plantar Fasciitis heal - that change from high activity to low activity may have been what started the clotting in my right leg.  If that's the case, I hiked two hundred more miles on it before ending my hike at Harper's Ferry.

So tomorrow I have a morning full of doctor appointments.  I will get my blood drawn first thing, then go see my foot doctor and find out how the heel surgery has progressed, then I'll go to the vein clinic where I'll have the results of the blood test and see how my blood thinning level is for this month.  I will find out what the plan is to allow the blood clots to dissolve and keep my blood thinned to keep new blood clots from forming. Finally tomorrow I'll go ahead and get my flu shot. I was supposed to get it a month ago but put it off.

What I really want to get out of the day is an exercise schedule that is agreed upon by both my surgeon and my vein clinic.  I want know what I can do safely do to allow my leg to recover and still get back into some decent shape.  While the surgery was on my heel and my ankle is still swollen, the only place that has some discomfort are my knees.  They are very weak and as I shuffle around the house I feel like I'm constantly in danger of the knee folding and collapsing.  So once I find out from the doctor what my limits are in regards to exercise it will be my knees I will focus on.  I am really looking forward to it.  Sitting around the house, eating and sitting and eating and sitting has caused me to put almost all the weight back on that I lost during the hike.  I am not too thrilled about that and look forward to some real exercise and getting my weight down again. 

I just wanted to fill you in and let you know my plan is still to return to the trail next spring.

Now the question is whether to start over again at Springer or go back to Harper's Ferry and continue north onto Mount Katahdin.  More on that decision process another day.

I hope you are enjoying the videos I have been building.  There are so many photos to choose from, it's difficult to leave any out.

Happy trails,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six-Six on the AT 2012 - Video Segment 3

Six-Six on the AT - video segment 3.  I think I'm getting the hang of this video production software.  I hope you like this.  By the way, I have switched from YouTube to Vimeo for my video hosting services.

Happy Trails,

Bob Ziegler

Six-Six on the Appalachian Trail 2012 - Segment 3 from Robert Ziegler on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Six-Six on the AT 2012 - Segment 2

Going through some more photos and videos.  Here's the second segment for your viewing pleasure.

Happy Trails,
Bob Ziegler
(Six-Six on the AT)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Six-Six on the AT 2012 - Segment 1

I am making progress on editing and selecting from my hundreds of photographs taken while I hiked the Appalachian Trail.  This is just the first installment.  There will be several more to come.  Segment 1 begins with my planning and preparation for the trail and runs through the first two major milestones on the trail: Blood Mountain and Neel's Gap.  Enjoy.  There's more to come, soon.

Happy Trails

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Post-Operative Recovery and then there were Clots

November 13, 2012

It's been a while since my last blog post.  I have some pictures to show you, so I thought it might be time for an update on my recovery process.  As you remember, I developed severe blisters on my heels during the final 200 miles of my AT hike.  I made the decision to have the bone spurs removed by surgery, one at a time.  I did the first one - the right heel - last month.  The surgery went well.  The bone was chiseled down and ground smooth.  The Achilles tendon only had to be retracted by about 15%.  Recovery was going well until we discovered I had developed blood clots - deep vein thrombosis (DVT) from my ankle to the back of my knee.  It was a real complication that threw me for a loop.

Now I am on blood thinners to reduce the chance of the clots increasing or additional clots forming.  I have to wait 3 months to make sure no more clots form and the current clots dissolve on their own.  Needless to say, the second surgery is out of the question for now, if not permanently.  At least I got the worst one done.  I think I can deal with the left heel, as small as the protrusion is for now.

As of today, my heel has almost completely recovered from the surgery.  I have two more weeks before I can really put pressure on the leg and begin the physical therapy required to regain my strength and walking/hiking capabilities.  The ankle and foot are swollen from the effects of the clot(s), but that will fade with time I am told.  In the meantime the swelling will just have to come along for the ride.

It was a real shock learning about these clots.  But looking back, they may have formed initially when I got off the trail to recover from the Plantar Fasciitis.  Apparently one of the causes of blood clots is a dramatic change from activity to inactivity and that's exactly what I did while waiting for the PF to heal.  As pissed off as I am for this turn of events - after all, this was an ELECTIVE surgery that I chose for convenience sake - family and friends keep reminding me that were it not for the surgery I might not have learned of the clots before they became more of a threat.  Oh well, the search for a silver lining is always ongoing.

So here I am, trying to enjoy the boring rest and recovery while I wait for my body to heal.  Still, I am visiting the gym every other day to work on my upper body and that uses up some pent-up energy.

Here's the updated plan of action, assuming my recovery goes as expected:
  • In May of 2013 I will go to Damascus, Va. to attend the Appalachian Trail 'Trail Days' festival.  From there I will get a shuttle ride up-trail to Harper's Ferry where I left off.  I will then hike north-bound the remaining 1,184 miles to Mt. Katahdin and complete my AT adventure.
  • In the Spring of 2014 I am making plans to travel to Europe to hike an extended version of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James).  It is a set of pilgrimage trails, beginning wherever you want, and ending in the town of Compostello de Santiago in Spain.  The typical camino is about 750 kilometers long, starting in St Jean Pied de Port in France.  But I plan to start in Germany, travel through Belgium and France before connecting to the traditional camino trail in St Jean.
  • I have not yet picked a journey for 2015.  Any ideas?
Here are some photos from my surgical journey for your 'Ick-factor' and pleasure.......

Happy Trails.

Two weeks in a cast - time to be free
The vibrating saw actually tickles...
 All the padding has to be cut away...
 7 or 8 stitches, but the wound looks good, healing properly...
 Getting rid of the stitches, one at a time - first a good cleaning...
 Then snip snip snip...looks good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Surgery over the winter

Hi friends -
Here's the latest:

I visited with my GP last week with good results.  My doctor is so pleased with my physical condition and lab results that he has taken me off all regular meds.  My numbers are all normal and my weight loss is stable at minus 25 pounds.  He says I have the physical shape of a 45 year old.  Not bad for 60, right?  Except for my feet that is.

I met with my podiatrist yesterday and he agrees that surgery is the final solution to the bone protrusions on the backs of my heels.  But, he won't do them both on the same day.  First the right foot, followed by 3 weeks immobile and 3 weeks in a boot, followed by physical therapy.  Once the 6 weeks have past, we will do the left foot, followed by the same 3/3/PT pattern.  This will get it all done by the end of the year and let me have 5 full months to get back into shape for the second 1,000 miles of the AT starting in May.

We haven't set the date yet but it will be in two or three weeks.  In the meantime I have a short window to do some more traveling and visiting family and friends before I am down for a while.  The good news with being laid up is the chance to do some photo editing and posting my pictures and videos of the trail on the blog. That will keep me busy for a while.  Then there's my book - a civil war ghost story - that I have started a dozen times before.  Maybe I can get it out of my head and onto the computer.

Have you seen the movie "The Way" with Martin Sheen?  It's about the Camino de Santiago that goes from France to near the coast of northern Spain.  It's on my list of things to do in 2014.  Anybody want to join me?  It's easier and shorter than the AT and an inexpensive way to see Europe.  Check it out - I would welcome the company if anyone is seriously interested.

That's it for now - time to hit the road for Knoxville.

Happy trails,

Bob Ziegler
(Six-Six on the AT)