Trekking Tales: Recovering walking – one step at a time

Immediately following hip surgery at UBC Hospital, the nurses, physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and more were urging me to move

Immediately following hip surgery at UBC Hospital in Vancouver, the nurses, physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and more were at my bedside urging me to move, to get out of bed. “Stand; put weight on your operated leg.”  Ow! “Start doing your exercises.” Ow! Owie! But then the physio said: “Walking is the best exercise you can do for your hip.” Count me in….

When I was home again about a week later, local roads were still clear and each day I tried to walk one driveway further away from home. This was short-lived with the snow arriving in mid-November. Next, the partially covered sidewalk at Brookfield Shopping Centre saw me wheeling one direction, then back and forth, with my walker. (John and others have patiently played chauffeur to fit my needs.

Eventually the fine, local physio let me loose, walking with two poles.

Now, these short strolls are not inspirational for producing my usual Trekking Tales, but breathing fresh air under the trees takes on a whole new wonder when you’ve been deprived. Neighbours on snowmobiles and snowshoes have compressed the snow on our back lanes, allowing me to walk without putting undue strain on my operated hip. At first I was concentrating on every step and barely noticed the beauty around me. Gradually I gained confidence and took in my changing surroundings. Heavy snow created fantastic sculptures on trees and shrubs for a while. Later, at a different temperature, wet snow adhered to every needle and twig. When the mercury rose, tiny transparent droplets clung to the ends of branches. Some were solid; others dribbled onto my inquisitive glove. At home, a myriad of these crystals decorated our coniferous trees. With the sun behind them they sparkled in glorious profusion. One tree has formed a perfect arch across the lane and an irregularly-shaped clump of snow hung from its centre for a while. “Mistletoe!” I exclaimed, in keeping with the season. Alas, I was alone.

“Is there anywhere special you’d like to walk?” asked one friend, knowing I could not go far from home on my own.

“Let’s walk from the confluence along the road by the North Thompson River,” I begged.

Again vehicles had flattened enough snow that I could cope easily – as could Sophie, the wee Daschund. “Lily pads” of ice clinked and twinkled downstream beside us.

Our other doggie visitors are big, so their owners were concerned lest they bump me, but some sixth sense warned them to be cautious while still being attentive. However, both Kodi and Jake would sit near me or the door, eloquent expressions asking why we weren’t going for a walk. When the big moment came and I could tackle the lanes, their excitement knew no bounds, so to speak. They added on miles with their usual dashes off into the bush and by running ahead, then coming back to see what was keeping me. It didn’t matter how far I actually travelled, they too revelled in the fact that we were “out there”.

Heavy boots with grippers, snowshoes, and skis are not options for this winter; icy surroundings now have me walking the sidewalk at the shopping centre again, no doggies allowed. But I’m not complaining as I slowly regain my ability to walk without pain (or a limp) – one step at a time!