After a 3 to 4 hour off road trek we made it to Hveradalir. A truly breathtaking site as steam came out of the many geysers from the rivers below. The build up of steam created surreal views covering the many slopes behind and had us climbing these few mountains for a special shot.
Photo by Alexander Milo / Unsplash

Where on earth does "humdinger" come from anyway?

Well, Livingston Montana gets to claim that one, from back in 1883. No precedence. Somebody just made up a fun word. I'm using it here, because, well, it's a fun word.

This morning I was in the Genuine Fitness club at 6:30 with my trainer, whom I hadn't seen for a good long while. Ryan, who at 42 had been taking off workouts for a while, was looking awfully good these days. His shirt was stretching across his shoulders in the same way my Lycra tights were stretching across my butt, but not to the same effect.


We took some...ahem, measurements, which we...ahem, wrote down for posterity. For the record, for whatever we measure, what we attend, is what grows- or in this case, with any luck, gets whittled back down.

Let me back up a sec.

Saturday night I joined a new friend at a local brew pub. I came home with the germs for a very nasty upper respiratory infection, which has sent me to Urgent care and then yesterday to the ER, when the first round of meds didn't work. Neither did the ones from the hospital. Thank god for Ambien, for without that knockout punch I'd be a basket case.

Okay, I know, I AM a basket case. But the coughing was so bad that I coudn't eat, still can't, and it was almost as hard getting water down. I've been able to drink hot tea, lemon and honey, and suck cough drops. That's one way to whittle a butt but not a good one.

Last night I tried a bit of soup. Dear god almighty. It was a tomato feta from
Trader Joe's. So salty I nearly threw up. I am reminded of how we become so immured to sweet and salty that we really have no idea how much of an asSALT (pardon me) our body is taking on. I threw the rest out.

I am sucking on cough drops and trying to get the cough under control. Inhaler, codeine syrup, nothing has worked so far but at least it's slowing down. Meanwhile an impromptu tea, lemon water and cough drop fast.

And yes, lots and lots of water.

Today, Ryan and I met up to begin the latest comeback tour. I am three PT visits away from wrapping up the last of the hands, one more visit to my foot doc to wrap up the feet (she will drop kick me out the door and tell me to do what I am already doing: walk, hike sand, etc.). July makes a year since I signed on for this.

Boy it's been a minit.

Urgent care took some stats and it was interesting. I was reminded- not without a lot of good humor- of my mother's determined attachment to being so tall, which for her generation was 5'7". By 70 she had long since shrunk well below that but could not be convinced otherwise. Urgent care reported that I'd lost about 1 1/2" and gained about twenty pounds since I left Denver.

Some of that, Ryan and I contested and we won. Not by much, but this is heaviest I've been since my twenties.  I've not been 5'9" for years but I most assuredly wasn't 5'6" either. I also knew it was coming, given that it's been really difficult to work out with all the surgeries, and the pain levels have been hard to manage.

That, at least for now, is largely in the close-to-good-riddance stage.

At some point, and again I can see this coming because the pain has truly begun to subside, I will be VERY glad I committed to getting all this done in twelve months. It has been hell but at least I can get a jump start on my seventies without knowing that more and more procedures are coming. I still have dental but can we just not discuss that right now? Please.

Thank you.

Here is what I love about comebacks: We are always mounting them but all too often failing to notice or give ourselves credit for our progress.

To wit: I have a wobbly, rather dangerous set of railroad tie stairs in my garden. No guardrail. It's the main way to get around. Barely a week or so ago, I could hardly trust my feet to take me to the top without grabbing any branch I could. Nearly fell more times than I wish to cop to.

Two days ago I noticed that I was nearly bounding up them as before, albeit coming down is still one careful step at time.

Out on my hill, three or so weeks ago I was balancing myself, still in my protective boot, and weeding out the blackberries. While my healing feet still don't much care for negotiating rocks, the balance is returning. These are small but terribly significant steps. After all, with a full year for each foot to heal, I am only in month seven for the left and barely three for the right.

Three weeks from now I can start using hand weights. Ryan gave me a few tests like the plank and the wall sit, which surprised us both. While no, I'm not happy that I both shrank and expanded, we both laughed at the assumptions that the medical community makes about the inevitability of aging.

What we can ALL expect. Yes, we will age, but how we do it is 70% up to us, a stat I love to throw around because it just feels so damned good.

Spines do indeed compress. Yoga helps a lot with that and I plan to make full use of my yoga tapes as soon as I can put pressure on the palms of my hands. Not long ago yoga actually gave me half an inch of height back. I'm a fan.

But not yet.

We did a few other exercises as well just to test the waters, to establish a baseline.

If there's one thing I've learned about comebacks it's that they do indeed change as we age. My friend and erstwhile chiropractor Kevin has had to come to terms with his  midlife body. Perhaps accept that some of the feats by which he has always defined himself may need to be tabled, possibly forever.

Possibly not.

It's our attachment to those things which can hurt us. Ryan, who was for a long time a very good snowboarder, recognizes that hitting the perfect snow with family members these days means being happy with thoroughly enjoying himself, as opposed to trying to keep up with the badassery of the boys he boarded with twenty years ago.

His comment sticks with me: I don't want the hard work I do in the gym to be ruined on the mountain, and vice versa.

My dedicated training program, the focus and determination which led to twelve amazing years of adventure travel, will be slightly modified to be more protective of a body that has seen more than its fair share of both serious injuries as well as reconstructive surgeries.

I get to go back to what I love but this time around,  the tempering considerations are what I can manage, protect what I have left, and not be sucked into the idiocy of trying to prove anything to anyone, including myself, about aging.

It's the denial that's the setup for disaster. The other day I picked up something in the garage and moved it, an item which would have been a breeze three years ago. I've not done much lifting in a while, and the message to back and knees was, wait a while. I dragged it instead, in a rare show of common sense. Which is, kindly, becoming more common, whether or not I particularly wish to admit it.

Strength returns. So does bone density, so does hip flexibility, and everything else. Do the work and it all returns, often better than before. The temptation is to rush, and be one of those ridiculous people who picks up the heaviest possible dumbbell and tries to throw it around like a twenty-year-old who has no form anyway. I'm not that person, but I have been known to rush a recovery. Not this time.

As the sun sets on most of the repairs, the worst of pain and scarring are fading away. July marks the end of a right brutal but necessary year. There are still a few repairs and updates on my plate but they don't interfere with hiking or walking or gym workouts.

I told Ryan, not without a good laugh, that I was genuinely looking forward to a social calendar which wasn't constantly dominated by medical visits, PT, pre-ops, follow-ups and interactions with people wielding knives, needles and implements of destruction and little more to anticipate but more of same. I empathize with anyone who has to face multiple surgeries after a car accident or the like.

As I was sitting in my ER room yesterday waiting for the doctor to check my poor angry throat, I realized that I was so effing SICK of a social life made up solely of caregivers. This infection in my chest is minor but it's still a reminder that my body isn't as strong as I want. I need both exposure to good hard work and lots of people to rebuild my physical strength, my immunity and the community I want here. I'd have to do that anywhere.

Today, on a day when it's damned near cold enough for a fire (it's 62 outside right now), I am going to pull my lawn chair into a pool of sunshine and keep reading. The latest, which I heartily recommend, is also from Bill Bryson: the hugely education, always funny and eye-popping The Body: An Owner's Manual.

Having inhabited one of those for seventy plus years, I am re-reading this to reignite my appreciation for the vehicle which has carried me thus far, and which has patiently tolerated my abuses. Time to return the favor and mount the kind of thoughtful comeback that is, indeed, this year's Kilimanjaro. Whether or not I really need to do that mountain again is anyone's guess, but frankly other parts of the world are calling.

So is my back yard.

A patch of June sun, Oregon, 2023 (yes, those are cough drops)

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