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(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Had a facelift yesterday. OK—not really, but somehow I look younger for having my cranium, of all things, worked on in order to help reduce my hip pain.

I’m at the point in my pursuit of healing where I’m chasing down subtle treatments—well, subtle in that it’s not always obvious how something such as the head’s placement might affect the hip. Not so subtle in the treatment—which was fairly intense and involved working on the connections around bones in my head with names that mostly escape me. But, trust me, the painful work on my mandible (the lower jawbone) had me realizing just how much I had to trust my neuromuscular massage therapist to let her do this.

How did I know that getting my jaw worked on would help my hip? I didn’t—but I had to trust the process based on past experiences with the practioner and the healing she’s brought me so far. I absolutely believe one of the bigger problems with seeing a physical therapist or an orthopedic doctor (which I haven’t done but my daughter has) is that those professionals see the body more in pieces. For those of us who didn’t get injured from an event, perhaps knowing how to fix the ache won’t be enough to prevent it again, if nothing else changes.

Am I a case in point? Possibly. My trigger-point-dry-needling and exercises from the PT—along with time—definitely healed me from my bulging disc. I felt good after I healed, but I didn’t want to do therapy exercises just to feel good—I wanted to do those exercises so I could get back to doing other activities I enjoy. And that isn’t the craziest thought since I do not have any major musculoskeletal damage.

But what about my biomechanics no longer allows me to do my activities as I’d choose, even with a fairly regular maintenance exercise routine? This, my friends, leads me to an even grayer area than that of how to treat initial lower back/hip pain. If you think all the different types of professional experts have opposing opinions about how to treat such pain in an acute situation, just try to get treatment for that pain in a chronic situation. You can find all sorts of valid scientific research to point you in a treatment direction, but so little is absolute in how such treatments will best bring about healing in your particular lower back/hip.

No, I’ve done yoga long enough to realize that all those pieces of our bodies are connected. My slight understanding of physics tells me that change one part of the body and another part will respond or act in a different way. By now I’m aware that a holistic approach as to why a certain section of my body isn’t working well very likely will include some other section of my body, but I have to admit I never really thought my head might be that section damaging my hip. (And for today, not even going to go into depth on the mind-body connection which adds a whole ‘nuther layer to the holistic approach.)

Just so you know, the practioner didn’t just start yanking around on my head. She measured quite a few sections of my body, looking for quantification of discrepancies. Who knew that a pair of levels could be used to analyze how various bones in my body compared side-by-side? Turns out I’m not as crooked as she expected and the crookedness I demonstrate is focused in a few crucial areas.

Sometime during the post-measurement massage session I realized my hip was not screaming quite as loudly as it had been—and not just because other body parts were receiving more focused attention. When I finally stood from the table, I really did feel the shift.

And last night? I slept better than I had in ages and woke more with the stiffness of a good workout than from the stiffness of chronic pain.

I know enough to understand that my body can shift back again. I still have to train it to learn these new alignments, just as I have done with other changes made over my lifetime from wearing orthotics or doing drills at a track practice or practicing yoga or being treated with dry needling. Muscle memory is both what holds me back and what may save me with intention and practice as I attempt to teach my body new memories.

Once again we’re back to the head—and the mind-body connection. All I know is for today I’ve got a good head (straight) on my shoulders—which may yet bring the crooked (back and hip) in line.

(See Neurosomatic Therapy.)

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(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Back is not the word I wanted to choose for today. But sometimes the word chooses the blogger—or so it seems.

My back has been behaving very nicely for several months now, thank you very much. I’ve been skiing, running (very slowly!), doing ZUMBA, yoga, and Pilates. What I haven’t been doing is any PT exercises beyond the ones I do in the shower every day.

Apparently, that was a big mistake. Easter Sunday—yes, the day my husband came down with strep for the first time in over a quarter of a century—my back just started hurting when I stood up after putting on my shoes. That it hurt on the opposite side, but in the same area around the vertebra that had been the problem last time, got my attention.

Uh, oh. I am so not going back to a life diminished by an immobile and aching back. Not if I can help it, anyway.

Just like last year, once again I was the person fidgeting in the choir loft—thank goodness I sit in the back and wear a long robe. In between church services I tried to find some exercises I could do discretely while wearing that robe and high heels. (Yes, this recent pain might be telling me that there is a reason I avoid high heels and that maybe no special occasion is special enough to break out those heels anymore.) However, when the guy with cancer seemed concerned about my back problems, I didn’t think he needed me to go on and on about my own pain.

My family at home, on the other hand, had to put up with my kvetching over my back-to-back aches. At least the dogs enjoyed helping me with stretching exercises by trying to crowd me off my yoga mat.

So after a restless night of not being able to find a good sleeping position, I called my former PT the next morning. I realize I’d only been in pain for around 24 hours, but—can I say it again?—I don’t want to go back to my life from two years ago.

He gave me an exercise to do again and again. This is the exercise that apparently I most needed to continue yet hadn’t.

Today I went to see the PT. Prognosis? Although he thinks I have not done any permanent damage, he does believe I have angered the nerve around that touchy vertebra. I’ve got to go back to doing that basic exercise—several times in the next week—and give up on any movements requiring bending forward or jarring my spine this week. If all goes well, next week I’ll be back in my yoga and ZUMBA classes and doing that turtle-like jog I call running.

And doing that one particular exercise forever and ever, amen. If that’s what it takes to get back on track, I’m in.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

It’s official—Sherman and I have given up on sleeping on a waterbed. Yes, welcome to the 1990s, right?

Can you believe I bought that bed on layaway back in 1986 when I was single? Sherman bought an upgraded mattress a year or so later which we then switched into my frame when we combined households. Since then we’ve replaced the mattress and the heater once each—which has become a progressively harder task. And when we discovered last year’s leak, we also discovered our patch kit had dried up. Before we could start the repair process, first we had to rummage around town until we found a store that looked as if it were still stuck in the late 70s.

Still, we weren’t ready to give up on our way of sleeping—yet. In almost all my travels, most beds have either kept me up or made me wake up—I was such a princess who could find any pea. After awhile, I just wanted to get back home to my own bed.

That doesn’t prove the bed was good for me, though. In fact, before I knew I was injured I was waking up each morning with aching hips. After I’d start moving the aches would recede. In my defense for sticking with the bed, once I started healing, I didn’t wake up any worse than when I went to sleep.

Do you know that in all my treatments for my back no one asked about my bed? And, I didn’t really want them to either. Even though I had taken the chiropractor’s early advice on changing pillows and that had made a huge difference for my neck, I wasn’t ready for anyone to tell me to give up my bed!

Yet a few weeks ago when Sherman suggested that maybe his back problems—as well as some of mine—were related to our bed, I didn’t deny the possibility. How many people have we known who gave up their waterbeds under doctor’s advice? Many, that’s for sure.

But will it help? And how do you know what bed will help? All we know is what doesn’t help—rock hard beds such as our parents preferred—and that we weren’t ready to spend a huge amount of money on the different specialty systems out there.

Sleeping in a regular bed is really like moving into a whole new lifestyle. Will we get colder? Do we need to buy fitted sheets ASAP or can we handle the inconvenience? Will our 1940s room be better or worse without under-bed dresser storage? Still, what a concept that we can actually move the bed.

So Saturday afternoon I brought my special pillow to the mattress store, slipped off my shoes, and lounged around trying to be all “princess and the pea” in my pickiness since I think I know what causes my back to ache in many motel beds. Yes, it’s a leap in faith, but we think we found the mattress.

The good news is we can ease into our new set-up since the bed frame we want is out-of-stock. No, I don’t want any of those headboards that look as if Henry the VIII would sleep there—I repeat, this is a 1940s house and as such, opulence just looks silly here. For goodness’ sake, all we’re going to use a headboard for is to keep our pillows on the bed and to lean against when we read books. Not only do we not have breakfast delivered to us in bed, we also do not watch TV in our bedroom.

For now the box springs wait (inconveniently, may I add, in this 1940s house) while the mattress is set in the waterbed frame.

Not speaking for the prince—even though we are often those proverbial two peas in a pod—but this princess didn’t feel a single pea while sleeping last night. I only woke early thanks to the dogs’ sounding a “squirrel on the roof” alert. Even a good mattress can’t make me sleep through that . . .

However, for a person who has slept on a waterbed over half her life, I personally slept as snug as a pea in a pod—because, seriously, who really wants to be as snug as a bug in a rug anyway?

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Be glad I kept my laptop shut—or at least chose not to approach it last Friday. In general, my blogging policy is if I can’t say anything nice at all—or at least head toward a slightly positive ending—that maybe I should just leave my private thoughts, well, private. After all, I do know how to write by hand in a journal if I want to spew.

But I didn’t do that either.

No, I sat in my reading chair with the dogs (don’t worry, not until after I invited them, Mr. Behaviorist) and finished a book. As I reflected on facing the weekend with limited mobility and limited funds, I realized a trip to my local library could rescue me from a truly mopey fate. Thankfully, our taxes still support a superb facility that can provide entertainment to the poor and downtrodden or those just temporarily broke and grumpy, such as myself.

Unfortunately I ran into a longtime acquaintance when I was really not up for chit-chat. I was too busy wallowing in my supposed restricted future, thank you very much, to socialize.

“How’s it going?” she asked.

Ms. Grumpy replied, “My hips don’t work.”

Now, she’s known me long enough to know that I wasn’t talking about pain. Still, I wish if I were going to be so brutally honest, that I would have added something like, “And you know how I get when I don’t move.” She and I are both, after all, women of a certain age, who have experienced our share of physical downtimes due to injuries. We may have met on school committees, but we also run into each other at the local recreation center (another public-supported facility that has saved both my body and soul!)

Then I took myself, as well as a few books and a DVD, home to my chair where I lost myself inside someone else’s world—OK, not a world I want to inhabit. But hey, I wasn’t reading about my own murder.

The next day I woke up, hips aching, not ready to give up my grudge against Life’s newest twist. A few hours later, though, I’d kind of forgotten about the hips because they had started working better with little more than a B-Complex capsule.

Which meant my previous day’s conclusion—that life as I had known it was over—might have been a little melodramatic.

At the chiropractor visit the week before, I’d finally had success—my hips had not moved at all thanks to work with wearing my oh-so-stylish trochanter belt. That meant I graduated to wearing it less, as well as increasing my level of activity when I did wear it. I have to admit, I worked hard in my yoga classes with that belt. However, I did have to exercise in Deep Water class without it.

By last Thursday night, I could not even walk close to a normal pace as we worked with our dogs and the behaviorist.

On Friday, when the chiropractor asked how I was doing, I told him much better except for that walking thing—which was really not improving.

So he attacked the painful spots and then followed-up by having me lie down on the roller table where I also received more of the electro-stimulation treatment. Then he suggested I follow the session with a slow walk.

My fifteen minutes on the trail were excruciating while my stride mirrored the length of my foot. I just assumed that my hips had not even held half an hour.

“Gloom, despair, and misery on me . . .”

I’d forgotten the chiropractor had stated that in a perfect world I’d go straight to a deep tissue massage, not a walk. What I think I was really experiencing was a reaction to having the scar tissue manipulated—I know from doing restorative yoga that focused release of longtime toxins can initially cause intense pain.

Not only was I not sentenced to my chair for the whole weekend, but I also continue to notice improvements.

I think I am getting better.

Thank goodness I didn’t receive the new DVD/CD for ZUMBA instructors on Friday. I might have thrown it at the wall, but instead, yesterday, I got out the music, popped it in the CD player, and started figuring out which songs I plan to learn in order to teach.

My beat goes on . . .

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

You might think I’ve been absent from blogging due to having to chase dogs. Yes, that is part of the formula right now as we transition from a home with one elderly dog to one with a pack of three dogs—two with great amounts of energy. You can bet we are off walking them often, plus I have to spend a lot of my daytime hours redirecting attention—and I don’t just mean mine!

My attention, however, has been more self-focused than I’d like, especially at this time when I need to ramp up the acuity of those eyes in the back of my head. My back problems from the crazy week of sitting in a car have not left me. Somewhere, somehow I have finally encountered the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I don’t know what has been worse, the pain or the lack of mobility, especially at a time when I need to move quickly and bend down for all sorts of puppy-related activities.

My daily routines have come to include applying Sombra warm therapy gel, taking Epsom salt baths, sitting on heating pads, and doing things very slowly. All that stuff that didn’t get done when I was on the road? It’s mostly still not done—it’s as if I’ve lost a couple weeks.

And I can’t even begin to think about what I’ve lost from not exercising. I tried so hard to make it back for ZUMBA class the day we came home from Durango, but did not succeed. So when I woke up on that Tuesday morning, I could not wait to exercise after a week without it.

Oh well, I can tell you I’ve been in enough pain that I haven’t miss it that badly after all. It’s not as if I haven’t exercised, it’s just I am busy modifying almost everything I do in yoga, Pilates, and ZUMBA. Running is out of the question. I just have to take one day at a time.

Some days the puppy, Furgus, seems to be on a one-dog mission to keep me from what I can do for myself! Either he’s busy trying to eat my hair as I lie down on the floor with legs elevated or he’s causing so much trouble in the bathroom that I have to leave my Epsom salt bath a couple times before I can relax or he’s trying to bite my heating pad cord and electrocute us both. Yikes.

I tried to wait this out, but couldn’t. For the first time in my life I’ve gone to see a chiropractor. No, that activity was not on my bucket list, but I did seem to be one of the few I knew who hadn’t gone to one.

I’ve always been unbalanced—go ahead and laugh—but I’ve mostly just dealt with it. However, turns out I’m really unbalanced now—blame the car, blame my structure, blame my age, whatever. My lifetime quarter inch difference at my hips has grown to one inch. Apparently, you’re supposed to be in pain by that point—good to know I’m right on track. My right arch has fallen, my neck shows permanent damage from whiplash and posture, and even my cheekbones have shifted. I have become a crooked little woman who only wants to get back to running my crooked little miles (or dancing or sitting without discomfort or whatever!)

Instead this crooked little woman will be walking her crooked little miles with her crooked little dogs for the time being—and having them wear harnesses that reduce their opportunities to pull.

One adjustment appointment down—who knows how many more to go? But, here’s the deal—I no longer have to modify so many of my day-to-day activities. I can shave my legs, dry off after showers, and sleep in most of my usual positions. And, boy, have I come to respect how much work my back does doing simple things such as unloading a dishwasher, putting clothes in a dryer, or picking something up from the floor before the puppy can attack it.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

Lots of deep breathing going on here while I wait to get back to my future. Better just focus on a little pet therapy—and be glad I have Sherman and Jackson to help me when a certain young pup gets to be a bit much to handle.

Thank goodness puppies sleep a lot—there’s nothing like watching Furgus sleep to warm up my energy for him again—and it’s not even harmful for my back.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Here I am at just over a week since the end of the Puppy Fever Tour—Furgus is slowly (quickly?) integrating into our lives. But that’s not all—we’ve also added Sam—or 1st Samuel as he’s known here—since we came home.

Yes, we’re just that crazy for young life around here. While Christiana and I were out springing Furgus from Arizona, Sherman was at home walking and falling in love with Sam, a two-year-old liver and white English Springer Spaniel. He had recently arrived from Cheyenne, WY and was available from English Springer Spaniel Rescue of the Rockies, the group that brought us our much missed Fordham over a decade earlier.

Now, most people would have waited until they were not going to travel anymore before they welcomed another dog into their home. Sherman, however, is so tired of loss that he preferred to have in-your-face proof of life, even if it meant being squished in the 4Runner with two dogs, one puppy, one wife, one daughter, and a few other items on a 6 ½ hour (or more) road trip to take Christiana back to Durango for her summer work job.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

Perhaps the need was made even clearer because we rushed home from yet another memorial service—this time of a longtime friend’s mostly healthy and active mother—to receive Sam into our home.

One moment we were saying goodbye, and the next, hello.

First, however, the rescue group wanted to have a behaviorist arrive along with Sam to assess how well the dogs were all going to mesh together. Happily, they all passed the compatibility test and before she left, we were “trained” a bit on both positive and potentially troubling body language signs.

Sam has been a wonderful addition to our family. Furgus can mostly turn his admiration and sharp puppy teeth toward Sam and leave Abel, the elderly dachshund, be. Abel is ecstatic about Sam’s arrival since Furgus was fascinated by his tail (new experience!) and didn’t seem to get that just because he was small didn’t mean he was young.

From the first hours, Furgus was happy to follow behind Sam as he secured our perimeter by marking every fence post, tree, and blade of grass.

Although not ideal, we did make it though our two day back-to-back car trips with few problems, other than discovering Abel has a tendency toward carsickness on long road trips. (Well, we still need to replace Christiana’s not inexpensive headphones that Furgus snagged when all but 1” of cord was tucked securely in her backpack—as responsible puppy owners, it is our duty since she was not being careless.) On the mountain passes, Furgus discovered that not only does he like snow, but he loves it! All in all, the dogs did well despite being bored.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert


Turns out everyone fared a bit better than I did. After all, I’m the only one who was in the car for a full 2,600 miles last week. Tuesday morning, for no obvious reason other than my week of inactivity, my lower back went out in a way it never has before. The irony of the timing is not lost on me. Surely my hubris and some poor timing plans led me to this place.

Nonetheless, I’m doing what I can to stay home and work on creating our new life together, even if Sam is going to have to wait for those runs I promised him. It has helped that Jackson arrived home for the summer on Monday and brought friends. It was love at first sight for both guys and dogs and helped me greatly since my back is limiting me—the dogs are going to be so disappointed to discover the friends were only temporary guests.

As tough and challenging as it is to integrate a puppy and young dog into our home, I can feel the healing already—even if my back can’t yet.

I am so much happier now, yet watching the dogs wrestle together surprised me with feelings of raw loss. One minute I was holding Abel, soaking in their complete joy and utter physical capabilities and the next I was thinking about how he was watching with pure longing—he was an old man (dog) wishing for younger days.

(c) 2011 Trina Lambert

That’s when I saw them all—Duncan, Chelsea, and Fordham—all my dogs who had crossed over that Rainbow Bridge. That’s when I remembered my first baby’s brokenness near his end when I was steeped in my days with two preschoolers and references from our lives together. As Duncan’s hips refused to work together and sat down without his consent, I used to think of Buzz Lightyear, armless and falling, singing, “Clearly I shall go sailing no more . . .”

As I broke into deep sobs, steeped with my previous losses and Abel’s impending goodbye, Sam stopped his play and bounded to me. With another leap up, he was in my arms, straining to wash the tears from my face.

Goodbye/hello all rolled up together.

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