Friday, March 22, 2013

A Day of Thought and A New Goal Chosen

     Readers of this blog have a pretty good idea of my history of illness, injuries, wear & tear, and broken body parts.  I actually began this blog about two and one-half years ago to put pressure on myself to use swimming as my tool to rehab from a serious neck surgery that put me out of work for four months.
     I was extremely fortunate to get a federal job in a nice clinic pharmacy on Camp Pendleton, just as I was ending four months of disability and wondering where I would go and what I would do.  The job was normal hours, Monday to Friday, and I was working for our Marine Corps warriors, their dependent family members, and recruits.  I could sit down, take breaks, eat a lunch, and enjoy a friendly atmosphere.  I had been stationed on the base as a Hospital Corpsman myself, attached to the Marines thirty years before, and it was like a homecoming to me and the vibrancy of the Marines and Sailors energized me.
     In April of 2010, after work, I drove to the Oceanside Harbor and got into the water.  I was afraid of injuring my neck and exerting myself.  I just looked up my first post on this blog and it was October 2010.  From my first tentative dip in the ocean in April 2010, I continued to go to the beach after work, very gradually making progress and healing and rehabilitating myself.  No blog entries for my first six months of rehabilitation.  Once I got to a stronger sense of wellbeing, I started the blog entries in October 2010.  I worked the blog diligently to keep me focused--and it has worked for me.
     I increased my distances, improved my times, and fought back against fear.  To be sure I'm no swimmer, but I get by and thrive under rough and miserable ocean conditions.
     Now I'll get to the reason for my post today.  About a year and a half to two years ago, my lower back self-destructed on me.  Decades-old lumbar fractures, disc injuries, and wear & tear hit me and I lived with severe pain & spasms, and experienced the discs that move out of whack and put you down on the floor instantly.  Long story short--over time I couldn't stand up for more than about twenty minutes and I took daily pain medication.  I lost my job based on my inability to meet the physical requirements of my position: extended periods of standing, bending, lifting, etc.
     I have been out of work for eight months.  I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to get treatment: x-rays, MRI's, epidural pain injections, pain medication, documentation for work and disability, etc.  The civilian HMO health care system has been inadequate--to put it nicely.  Thankfully I have care at VA facilities and I have had moderate success at the VA getting tests, treatment, TENS units, back braces, pain medications, counseling, and three different types of low back, spinal injections to try to decrease the pain.
     Just within the past week I have gotten a big decrease in my lumbar pain after a series of injections two weeks ago.  Thank goodness.  I hope these effects persist and when they wear off I hope to get more injections.
     Will this guy ever get to the point?  My new goal is to strengthen and stabilize my low back through the gradual use of weights.  My back is unstable and discs and nerves shuffle around back there causing big problems.  I will take it easy and tentatively, hoping for increased strength without bringing on damage and recurrence of agony.  I will continue to swim.
     Just setting the goal out feels good mentally.  Wish me luck.  My blog will change a bit.  My son has lots of training experience in boxing, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, weight training, and  MMA training (mixed martial arts).  He has me beginning with light weight in two exercises: the dead lift and the squat.  Before I discussed this with him I did a little very-light lifting in the garage, wearing my back brace and his weight belt strap for back support.
     My intermediate term goal is to rehab the back so that I can stand and hopefully get back to work part-time.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Arrived in Oceanside Today

It was 64 degrees at the beach today but it felt warmer.  The sun was bright and the warmth was palpable.  Really beautiful.  More people there enjoying the warm conditions; you could play in the water to your waist and get warmed up by the sun.  Let me check for the water temp.  It felt a bit warmer than yesterday so I'll guess 59.  And the answer is: 55-57.  Wow. That tells you how much I know.
The surf was bigger than usual and the surf zone was very deep--about 150 yards of surf to swim through.  The outside waves were 6 foot.  You can't tell that from my photos.  Also I didn't think it was that big as I studied the water before I went in.  The interval between waves was small, maybe 5-10 seconds.
I went in and swam hard for 7 minutes to get through that surf zone; I rested for a minute after it.  With the current moving north to south I faced the common "get out past the waves before you get dragged into the pier" scenario.  Mission accomplished.
The ocean was flat but it had neat, large swells out 300-400 yards.  Very pretty and easy to swim through.
The south side had bigger waves and I got wiped out 2-3 times by some big white water.  Just a beautiful afternoon and an exciting swim.  34 minutes to get around the pier.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

San Diego Ocean Swim. Toasty Warm at 55 Degrees (same as my age).

Two weeks elapsed since my body got into this beautiful water.  Long weeks.  Bad weeks.  Today it felt Cold cold because I wasn't used to it.  I didn't get used to the water until eighteen minutes into my swim; that was when I was off the end of the pier checking my time.  The surf was small but rough and sloppy.  The first hundred and fifty yards were up & down swimming, and pulling hard to warm up.
After that the chop was about a foot to a foot and 1/2.  It was not enough to make it miserable to breathe, but enough to be annoying.  I puked once on the way in.
I was cold even after I was home for about an hour.  Then I took a hot bath to warm me up.  That did it.
Visibility about 8 feet. Current moving southeast making diagonal chop out there.
A decent swim of 34 minutes around the pier.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Checked it out, but no swim.

The water was a warm 56-57 today and the water looked to have a two-foot chop to it.  Surfing was mediocre with very few people in the water.  The wind was strong from right to left.  I didn't have any life force in me so I just took a few pictures and left.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."