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backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

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Unread 04-13-2008, 12:56 PM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when


My surgery is April 24th, and other than "the usual" surgery jitters, I'm ok with that. But, I've known I needed a hysterectomy (TAH) since late January (I was at home recuperating from knee surgery when my doctor called about this), and have spent most of the time since stewing about when will I be able to get outside and backpack, canoe and kayak. Every doctor's appointment seems to just be another roadblock to recovery and outdoor freedom.

I've canceled a Grand Canyon rafting trip, and contemplated all kinds of backpacking, rafting and canoe trips to take when I'm better, but how long should that be?????? Am I pretty much out of luck for this summer as far as the more physical activities? And, if I am going to be car touring instead of hiking, should I be able to stay in my tent at a campground, or am I going to get to live in the lap of luxury at the Motel 6? I know that these are probably stupid and shallow desires, but it's what I really, really enjoy doing. I understand that May and June are most likely out of the question, but in your experience, should I consider a 35 mile hike, of 5-8 miles a day, in late July or August? My pack usually weighs about 30 pounds, or less. (Pack weight depends on how many Twinkies and HoHo's I take.) While I'm whining, I have a voucher for a raft trip in later June. Is there any chance that'd be ok? It's just a one day trip, and I think it maxes out at Class III. How long should it be before I'm likely to feel flexible enough to get in and out of a kayak (big cockpit, sea kayak). I wanna play... I wanna play... I wanna play! (Oh, the knee surgery went really well. My knee feels like it did 20 years ago. I'm hoping the hysterectomy takes another 20 years off... then I'll be 7. )

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Unread 04-13-2008, 01:35 PM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

Hi Chipmonk,

Wow, you are quite active! Way to go girl. These are all good questions to ask the Dr. My surgery is tomorrow so I do not have any experience with recovery. Since you are in good shape your recovery should be a little quicker but you still might not be able to do things that require flexibility in the abdominal area and carrying around a heavy pack. I am an avid bowler and my Dr gave me the bad news that I should not go back to doing that for a couple of months
Best wishes with your surgery and for a quick recovery.
Unread 04-13-2008, 01:56 PM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

Originally Posted by Chipmonk
I'm hoping the hysterectomy takes another 20 years off... then I'll be 7. )

wow, i want to be 7 also! what a great attitude, and yes, everything i've read (on this site and elsewhere) is that your pre-op physical condition will have A LOT to do with your recovery time ... but i've also read that it can be 6-12 months for the 'insides' to be completely healed ... my goal is to hike Diamondhead this Fall ... hopefully we'll both be where we want to be very SOON! And I also think we should get some new 'wonder-woman' undies ... what better way to celebrate our new-found youth!
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Unread 04-14-2008, 09:22 PM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

Hi Chipmonk,

I can relate to your concerns. I was supposed to have my surgery in December but put it off so I wouldn't miss ski season. My doctor credits my quick recovery on my physical condition before surgery. I'm five and a half weeks post-op and walked 3 miles in 40 minutes today. I'm hoping to be released for running at my appointment this week. Although I wouldn't try a cartwheel right now, I'd be very comfortable getting into a canoe or kayak. As far as backpacking, I'm not sure. Can't you get someone else to carry your pack ?

The most important thing is to stick with what your doctor tells you regarding recovery - no lifting and build up your walking gradually. It's as bad to lift later in your recovery when you're feeling better as it is that first week when you feel dreadful.

Good luck,

Unread 04-14-2008, 10:04 PM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

Hi Chipmonk,

That's so amazing. I truly believe that a positive mental attitude helps enormously. But you have to remember that your first priority is to heal and that the process can hold frustrations. My TAH was November 2006. 5 weeks later the surgeon told me I could do anything I liked including mowing the lawns, putting out rubbish etc. He told me not to suddenly become a super athlete.

But I found that after years of feeling miserable, the surgery made me feel like a newly shorn lamb and within about 8 weeks I was actually hill running. I had never run anywhere before but had so much energy it seemed like a good thing to do.

I've also met a new partner and taken up kayaking since. Never tried it before.

I would say that for the first 6 weeks I would just expect to be fairly fragile and you might find that you have days that you feel on top of the world and days that you just need to snooze somewhere warm all day. I wouldn't plan to put yourself in a position where you are going to be tired and sore and having to keep going. Make your healing your number one project.
Unread 04-15-2008, 05:32 AM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

Thanks for the support and words of encouragement. I'm trying to be patient, but I'm not very good at it, and things have hardly started.

I confess, I'm not some kind of an athlete, I just love to go outside and do stuff. I'm often the slowest... don't go as far as those people who want to "see what they can accomplish"... and if there are waves more than a foot high, I'll happily watch from shore. In fact, I've promised two orthopedic surgeons that I won't run. I think that includes if there's a fire, but I'll make that decision when the time comes. But, I spend about 80 days and 30 nights outside each year. Last year I lost almost all my motivation. I only went on one week long backpacking trip, and I'm guessing the problem was this and my knee. The knee is fantastic. I just want this over, and to be on my way to recovery. I can't heal until we actually DO something, and that's driving me nuts. It sounds like by 8-10 weeks I should be able to go camping, if not backpacking. I'll plan a trip that can be easily canceled. That'll give me something to look forward to, but which can be dropped if necessary.


Unread 04-15-2008, 06:54 AM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

I don't know if you will be able to do all that. I have also heard that it takes a good year to feel "yourself at full strength" again. I bow hunt and am glad that I had my surgery when I did. If I had it later I wouldn't be able to go in October. (We start shooting usually in April, but I will have to wait probably until August)
Unread 04-15-2008, 09:57 AM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

Hello. I am 5 weeks post op and have been released by my dr as of yesterday to go back to my normal life but to ease back into it as my body sees fit. I did a two mile walk today and it felt pretty good. What you can do will be completely up to your dr and your body. My dr said it takes a good 6 months to get back to your full self. However, most of what you feel for those six months is fatigue. I will do my two miles all week and then increase next week. Your recovery is very important. You don't want to over due it and then hurt something else. I would discuss these concerns with your dr and see what he/she says. It could be a goal of yours.
Unread 04-15-2008, 11:30 AM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

CHIPMONK!!!! You GO, Girl!!
DH and I are avid ballroom dancers...and 2 years ago, I had surgery on my feet - 3 weeks apart. I know what you mean about it taking 20 years off....afterwards, people kept saying - so do you feel back to where you were before surgery, and I responded "Thank Goodness - NO!!!" I feel so much better!
But........that last 10% of recovery did seem to take as long as the first 90% did.
you've had your knee surgery, so you have some sense about the recovery process. For me -- I'm guessing that the post-hyst recovery will be not too dissimilar from the foot recovery....on the one hand, the hyst is more of a major surgery, but on the other hand, the feet required the healing of bone.
At my pre-op, doc didn't want to talk about how long before I could go dancing again, said that we'd discuss that, post....but I have to believe that hiking and dancing are really nothing more than advanced forms of walking, and we're supposed to walk right away....and your hiking/canoeing/kayaking and my dancing are things that we're doing on a regular basis before the hyst....
So I'm expecting to be back on the dance floor, on a limited basis, in 6 weeks or so (although I'm hoping for 4 weeks!!!)
I suspect w/your rafting, the problem will be that - if all goes well, there would be no problem...the concern is that if you swamp, A. you might cause damage, B. your responses/ability to get back in the canoe will be compromised.

Not an easy decision. ****....where IS that crystal ball???
Unread 04-15-2008, 03:44 PM
backpacking, canoeing and kayaking... when

I'll be listening to my body, I promise. But... I'm thinking while I'm just sitting like a lump and listening to my body, I can plan a late July, early August camping trip. There's this little mountain lake, and you can get reservations for a lakeside camping spot, and from there, I could sit and drink coffee and watch the sun rise over the mountains, and then maybe drink some tea and watch the mist rise off the lake, and then maybe walk to a different spot and maybe watch some folks fish. Then, after a lunch of something like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I could get ambitious and walk on a trail for a quarter mile or a half mile, and then sit on a rock and watch the mountains from a different angle for a while, you know, and see if the snow has melted on that peak over there. And if I look around from my rock perch, maybe I'll see some blooming Elephant's heads or blue bells or paintbrush. Then, I could go back to my tent and take a nap. If I'm feeling really good, I can put my folding kayak together, and paddle around the lake, or paddle for a bit, and just bob on the water and look at the mountains. Can't you feel the wind blowing gently through your hair, and taste the bad instant coffee that I use? It's really not bad because the location makes you forget what good coffee tastes like. Oh, and some hot cocoa while sitting by the fire, that's important, can't forget that.

Now that feels much better. I have motivation to work to get better, but not to work so hard that I don't heal. I'll be safe from myself as long as I leave the backpack at home. For that matter, maybe I should leave the kayak and paddle at home, too.

Geeze I want this stupid operation over soon. I can always cancel the trip, but it's hard to get reservations when it's almost time, and then I'd miss out on all those happy pre-trip thoughts.


P.S. DancingFool, I share your concern about going in the drink. I didn't think about that. While I do have a great record of holding on at all costs, white eyed and white knuckled, I probably shouldn't test it!

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