Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First test of 4 miles - only a little discomfort

There's a nice trail around Hagen-Stone State Park south of Greensboro.  It's pretty level, with just a couple of mild climbs and descents.  I put on my backpack (loaded with about 30 pounds) and took off on the longest trail available (only about 4 miles).  An hour and a half later, I had worked up a good sweat and got my breathing up.  I had a little discomfort in my feet (both of them actually) but nothing major.  So far, so good.  When I got back to the truck I immediately took off the shoes and socks and stretched/massaged both feet.

Now an hour later the left heel is a little tender and the right foot is sore where the old neuroma is acting up.  I am going to soak them both in ice water first, then massage them again.  But, at this point, I don't feel anything that would keep me from returning to the AT.

Tomorrow I will drive to Stone Mountain State Park where there are some steep climbs and descents on the trail to the back country campsites - that will be a good test for sure.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The doctor says hike when you feel ready!

Here we go -
I have the go-ahead to get back on the trail whenever I feel ready.

My foot doctor is pleased with my recovery.  I have been relatively pain-free for the last week and walking without a limp.  He says there is still some tension there, but his recommendation is to continue my stretching exercises in the morning before I start hiking, and again at the end of the day before bed.  There's no guarantee that the Plantar Fasciitis won't return, but if it does the response is rest, NSAIDs and stretching.  I won't do any permanent damage and can walk/run/hike as much as I want and deal with as much discomfort as I can stand before stopping, if it does return.

So - here's the plan:
  1. Tomorrow is July 31st (Tuesday).  I will throw on my backpack and hike around Hagen-Stone Park a few times to put some miles on my feet.  If there's no pain, then it's on to step 
  2. Wednesday I will increase the difficulty with a hike in Stone Mtn. State Park up to the ridge along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  If there's still no pain, then it's on to step
  3. Making firm plans to get to Glasgow, Va and get back on the trail where I left off.
There's 238 miles between Glasgow and Harper's Ferry,  It will be a good test to see if I can hike without aggravating and re-injuring my foot.  If I can make it through those 200+ miles, then the next step will be to travel to Maine, climb Mt. Katahdin, and then hike south-bound back to Harper's Ferry to complete the whole trail within this year.

I will let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's time for an update and some optimism!

It's time for an update - and some optimism!!!

It's been five weeks and a few days since I stumbled and injured my left foot on the trail.  A week later I visited my Dr to confirm that the problem was in fact Plantar Fasciitis.  I left the office with a Cortisone shot, a prescription for high-powered NSAIDs and an instruction sheet of stretching/massage exercises for the bottom of my foot.

I was hoping for a quick recovery to get back on the trail and continue my journey north.  There were days that I felt like I was getting better and would make it sooner rather than later.  And then there were the other days.  Once people found out my condition, I was swamped with stories of who else had the same problem and how terribly long it took to recover.  The horror stories of lingering pain ranged from months to years.  It was all quite depressing. 

A second visit to the doctor brought a change of meds - a full-fledged steroid treatment to speed up the reduction of the inflammation.  I also threw in three hour-long deep-tissue massages to help get the kinks out and loosen all those tight muscles in my calf muscles, tendons and foot.

There were still days of foot pain, but there were days when it seemed like I was actually improving.  Feeling a little better, last week I returned to the gym for a little exercise.  I concentrated on upper body workouts and to avoid stress on my feet, I took to swimming as my cardio workout.  Finally I took advantage of the whirlpool to soak my feet and let the hot water jets do their thing on my sore foot.

It all seems to be working.  The last few days have been better and better.  Today I am actually pain free and have been really walking without a limp for the first time.  I have a final doctor's appointment for one week from today.  I hope I can tell him that the pain has been gone for a several days.  If he agrees that I won't have an immediate relapse or do any long-term damage, I am now hoping to return to the AT next week! 

Everyone needs to know how great Crystal, Kevin, Robert and Jess have been to let me stay at their house while I recover.  I really appreciate their hospitality, Robert's room and Crystal's cooking!

There's still time to get the rest of the trail finished this season.  I will let you know how things go.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I promised an update after my Dr's appointment...

Well, there's good news and not so good news.  And I'm pretty bummed out at the moment.

I've been taking my NSAIDs and doing my stretching exercises and icing my foot for the last two weeks.  The pain in my heel and plantar fascia has been decreasing, but is not gone.  I continue to limp a little, not so much from the pain of walking, but in more of a 'protective' move to avoid the pain of walking.  I still can't raise up on the balls of my feet on the left foot without a stabbing pain in the heel. 

But, it's a LOT better that it was two weeks ago.

Last Friday I had a massage therapist work it over and for a few hours afterwards I walked with no pain and no limp.  I have another session scheduled for Wednesday.  She said she can have me hiking in two weeks.

Today I had my follow-up visit with my Podiatrist.  He was pleased with my progress, but doesn't want me hiking just yet.  Since it's too soon following my cortisone shot for another one, he prescribed a series of Prednizone (steroid anti-inflammatory) and now he wants to see me in ANOTHER THREE WEEKS!  If I am not limping then, he said he will sign off on my getting back on the trail.  I must continue to stretch the PF, Achilles Tendon, and Calf muscle to get all that tightness out of there.

I know I like my Massage Therapist's optimism a little more.

In the meantime, all I can do is dream of getting back on the trail and continuing my AT adventure.  And I follow the reports from my hiking friends with great envy as they continue to hike north and get further and further away.

Assuming I get the okay to return to the trail in three+ weeks, my current thinking is to go back to where I left the trail in Glasgow, Va.  That's mile 777 northbound.  I would then hike to Harper's Ferry, a stretch of a little more than 200 miles.  IF I can do that without a PF relapse, then I will fly up to Maine, hike up to Mt. Katahdin and then follow the AT southbound to get to Harper's Ferry.  It's called a Flip-Flop - and while not the typical way to do a thru-hike, it is well known as a viable alternative to a more normal south-to-north or north-to-south hike.

Time will tell whether I can pull this off or not.  If not, there's always next year!

Monday, July 2, 2012

I was interviewed by our local Fox Channel for their 'Inspired Living' feature. 

I know from experience that interviews can turn out well or just as easily not so.  Fox 8's Julie Luck did a really good job piecing this together. Thanks, Julie.