Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Lost Year

While many people are celebrate 2014 and look forward to 2015, I'm only looking at the latter, for 2015 to be a decent year, but then anything is better than 2014, after a good 2013 from the health issues of 2012.

I'm glad this is the last day of 2014, and while the year started off good with the continuation of 2013, it quickly went south in February after January where I walked the second most miles and passed the 2,000 mile mark in the last half of the month.

But then in February I aggrevating my Sciatic nerve (first in June 2011 and then worst in July 2012) and kept walking with it for a week to find I needed to take 2 weeks off. Then resuming walking in March I aggrevating it again and kept walking on it again only to also blow out both shins where I couldn't walk at all.

That prompted a 6-8 week rest with just a few short walks but things got worse when I got a bacterial infection in my digestive tract they couldn't diagnose and only said to give it time. I went from 155 lbs to 163 lbs in two months.

I managed to resume walking in June to get down to 161 lbs but it was July when things changed. Over a week period I lost over 5 lbs from the body fighting the bacterial infection, which reduced it but didn't eliminate it, and I got back to 155 lbs.

Then in August I got an ear infection, and the irony is that the Amoxicillin they prescribed didn't cure the ear infection, which turned out to be "swimmer's ear" and required a very painful cleaning and removing earwax which was stuck to the eardrums, it did cure the digestive infection.

You see Amoxicillin is a universal anti-biotic which kills all the bacteria in your intestinal system, both good and bad, which killed the infection but also all the good bacteria used to digest food, which meant the system worked again but then didn't function right.

Then they prescribed a more powerful anti-biotic for the ear infection which I took twice and stopped because it completely shut down my digestive system for days. Really, and it took a week to get it back to functioning where it had to rebuild the good bacteria.

That didn't quite happen until late October but then I got the seasonal flu for 3 weeks, followed by a few days of feeling good before coming down with the intestinal flu for 3 weeks which is a common followup reaction to the seasonal flu.

So by early November I was over all that and the digestive system began working again, this time with help from some probiotics (didn't work before), and I was still at 155 lbs when all was said and done with the body.

But to be on the safe side I reduced the walks to 6 miles, and while they felt too short and too easy, the goal was to give the body and the back time to recover for the new year when I plan to return to 8 mile walks in January.

The difference this time is that my digestive system has changed significantly where I have to remap the foods I can eat and lose the food I can't eat anymore, some which I liked (canned/fresh Salmon), but I've found a new list of foods which the body likes.

This has required going through a list of food and meal experiments to find what the body accepts and digests and what it doesn't, meaning it's been a trial and error period since the middle of November with foods, from meats to vegetables, but many are still on the list of off-limits, eg. wheat and many grains.

And through all that I managed to get to 153 lbs to start the new year with a goal to reach 150 lbs or less by March 1st or thereabouts. It looks promising as long as I don't get sick or I hurt or break some body parts.

The real goal is to get down to 145 lbs where I have the least fat on my body and find peace where my Sciatic nerve doesn't go south on me again. The specialist said in takes 2-3 years to recover from a pinched Sciatic nerve where it will be for the rest of your life.

They said it will never fully heal, only get to a point I can manage it. This is because once past about 40, the back won't fully heal to where you were, only to where you can function in life with little or no pain, but you will always be susceptible to reinjuring it from then on, as I learned.

So that's where I'm at to start the new year. Lots of positive signs with lots of potential pitfalls, and the best I can do is just keep going and keep walking, and give my digestive system time to find balance and function near normally for me.

That said, I have no New Year's resolutions other than keep going with my life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Walking 2014

This is a summary of the walking for 2014.

January was the continuation of 2013 walking 200+ miles for the month, normally 8 miles round trip. I carried a backpack with 12-15 lbs depending on normal stuff and any groceries and often carried a grocery bag for larger stuff for the walk home.

February was more of the same until mid-month when I aggrevated my Sciatic nerve and kept walking on it for a week which only required occasional stops for about a week when it hurt too much to walk, which necessitated a 2 week rest period.

After 2 weeks of rest into March I resumed walking to aggrevate the nerve again but kept walking for a week when I blew out both shins with severe shin splints from the knee to the ankle and could barely walk at all. The diagnosis was 4-6 weeks of rest for the back and shins, meaning from late March to early May.

In May-June I got a bacterial infection in my digestive system which wasn't treatable except with time, or so they said. The infection lasted until September when I had an ear infection for which they prescribed Amoxicillin, which cured both the ear and the digestive infections.

Amoxicillin as a general, or universal, antibiotic which kills all the bacteria in the body including the natural bacteria in the digestive tract, the ones you need for digesting and processing food. After the usual 10 days your digestive tract is pretty much gone for bacteria and needs time to restore itself.

For me that last until late October I when got the seasonal flu (forgot to get a flu shot) which lasted about 3 weeks, and after a few days of feeling good I came down with an intestinal infection which they said is a common occurrence after the flu due to a weakened immune system. That last 3 weeks.

These two flus lasted until early December where the body and digestive system finally came back to some sense of normal, but a different one that before, especially the digestive system where the food sensitivities are almost totally different now as are the reactions to foods.

That said, I decided to keep the walks at 6 miles for November and December to allow the Sciatic nerve to heal, if it does, where I can get back to 8 miles walks in January 2015. This is just an idea as the Sciatic nerve pain seems to be persistent most days.

As for as weight goes, I got down to 155 in February, increased to 163 in May from the digestive infection, then dropped back to 155 by the end of July from recovering from it, almost all of the weight loss occurring in one week.

Since then I've been from 151 lbs (August) to 155 lbs (October-November) and recently I'm consistently at 153-154 now. It takes 80 miles to lose a pound, so miles was the difference to losing weight last year than this year along with the health issues adding weight to lose it again.

The goal is to get to consistently be under 150 lbs which is my goal for the New Year by March or sooner. Then I see what I can achieve with running if the body, namely the back, is willing and able. The goal there is to run 2-3 miles and walk 6 miles.

But then this year my goals and plans have been more letters in the alphabet than agent Maxwell Smart had plans to thwart his enemy. So as they say, I'll keep you posted, hopefully more current in 2015 than this year.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Since taking a general antibiotic for 10 days which oblierated my intestinal bacteria, taking another second generation, more powerful antibiotic which brought my digestive system to a halt, having the seasonal flu for nearly 3 weeks, followed by the intestinal flu for another 3 weeks, all in the last 3 months, eating is the biggest gamble in my life every day now since I have no idea what foods to eat or not eat and how my digestive system will react to any food, let alone consistently.

It's the old adage, everything changed and nothing is the same.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ya Know

Two years ago last July after pinching my Sciatic nerve which left me flat on my back for most of a week and the only therapy the specialists recommended was simple, "Get your ass out the door and walk as far as you can as often as you cant, and carry a backpack to add weight over time.", I weighed about 185 lbs. 

Well a year and a half and 2,000 miles later I was down to 160 lbs with the goal of getting to 150 lbs. Simple I said. No so fast life said, and since last January when I was down to 155 lbs I've been sick almost all the time from a variety of issues, none of which show up on lab test except all the signs and symptoms point to something the specialists have no idea beyond their  typical answer, IBS.

IBS is medical shorthhand for "It Beats the Shit" out of me, which I describe after one specialist said the same thing in medical terms, meaning they don't know. So far I've come to think it's not losing the weight that's the cause but the body's physical and physiological reaction adjusting to the weight loss which has caused some of the problems and left me susceptible to others, like colds and the flu.

Ya know, maybe life is telling me something and I trying hard not to listen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


There are several ages we look forward to with hope or regret, but only two ages have an real significance to our lives, when we turn 21 and we are legally an adult fully responsible for our our decisions and actions from then to the day we die, and when we turn 65 and are legally considered "old" in the sense we are eligible for more things than we imagined, far more than we want, and only a few we actually really need.

Turning 65 to some isn't a day of joy, but one of sadness as we've left a life behind and know the life ahead is one everyone fits into a catagory most young people fear becoming. Turning 65 we lose our identity as a person as much as we are now just old, living with what we have left in hopes it's as good as we want fearing time and age will, if it hasn't already, caught up with us.

Turning 65 we are faced with the reality Teddy Roosevelt said, "Do what you can where you are with what you have."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Setback II

I had a setback to my Sciatic nerve healing in February, which was likely aggrevated by one of the walks in January where I felt twinges in my lower back walking up a hill but it faded so I didn't think about it.

The February setback was the first significant setback since September 2012, but kept going on my daily walks until the body and especially the legs were overly tired and the next day my left leg was in pain from the hip to the big toe (one of the nerve paths down the leg).

I rested for nearly two weeks but got tired of waiting and felt good enough to walk, but kept the walks shorter, just 6 miles to town and back with less in the backpack (~8 lbs). It seemed to work as I was able to add a half mile. Until.

Until one walk my legs gave out about a mile from home but there was nothing to do but just walk slower and slower to get home. The next day, Wednesday 12th the pain returned to the left leg in full force where I couldn't walk the pain away.

This time the quadricep muscles and shin in both legs hurt, but especially the shins, more than I've ever had pain from shin splints, which I knew it wasn't because I've learned to tell the difference in pain, from nerve and muscle pain, from shin pain and shin splints, etc.

So today, Friday the 14th, the legs and lower back are better but this was more than just a rest day or two rest setback, and I don't know when I'll resume walking, hopefully Monday for the 6-6.5 mile walks again.

But it's hard to predict anymore with these setbacks when I can get back to my walking schedule again. I've almost become addicted to walking, the body and the legs get restless and my morning is real unless I'm getting ready to walk, even if I don't look forward to it because I'm tired, it's cold or raining, whatever.

Anyway, that's where I'm at, the third day of rest which is helping, but walking is better than sitting, pain and all. I'd rather give the nerves in the back and leg muscles a reason to yell at me than just yelling.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Walking February

February started of as the continuation of January and my normal walking, and I was going about my life as normal, which these days is being careful lifting or carrying anything in front of me, such as laundry baskets up and down stairs.

Well. on Sunday the 9th after walking 7 of the first 8 days of February I woke up to snow and decided to take a day off and do chores including the laundry (note above). I didn't feel any different later in the day than other laundry days so I walked 3 more days.

On  Thursday I woke up with a little more pain than normal which quickly escalated into full blown pain from the upper hip where the Sciatic nerve starts of the spine down the front and outside of the left leg, around the knee, down the shin, across the top of the foot to the big toe.

I remember the big toe feeling the tingling numb days before when I tape my feet for walking to prevent blisters and bunions but I didn't think much of it, until I read later that's the sign of the Sciatic nerve problem.

Great. So I rested the following week but it only got worse by that Thursday before getting slightly better by the following Monday that I decided to do 6 mile walks. That last two days before the leg gave out from the pain.

The problem isn't the muscles, they feel and work fine. It's the nerves which are yelling at me and it varys during the day from the whole length of the leg to parts like the hip, quad muscle, knee, shin and foot. And the pain varys with standing, sitting, walking or lying down.

In short it sucks as you would expect. So March is for getting back to short walks and see if I can get some consistency again. I also notice the leg and pain are better after walks so the key is to see if I can walk more days and get the pain to fade which is a sign the Sciatic nerve is healing.

Or so that's the plan.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Setback II

Well, it's been just over two weeks since I aggrevated the Sciatic nerve, which I know was caused doing the laundry, an effort carrying the basket up and down two floors of stairs. After 11 days of not walking, the pain felt slightly better by this last Monday so I started walking.

Mostly the body and muscles got bored sitting around resting and waiting, so I went on the shorter 6 mile walks. And after two days, I have to say the left leg hurts almost the entire walk, but it's not the muscles but the nerves

Now the nerve pain is consistent from above the hip (meaning off the spine) down the front and/or outside of the upper leg, the quadricep muscle, around the the outside of the knee, down the outside of the shin across the top of the foot to the big toe which is half numb.

I can't say the walks are good or easy, far from it, but I can do it. It's clear I can't walk the full 8 miles right now but I'll take 6 miles for awhile and see what happens, meaning I'll keep walking with occasional day off until the pain fades away or gets worse.

So that's the plan, to keep walking until something changes, pain and all. I'd rather do something to make it better or worse than just sit and wait. The nerves will yell at me whether I walk or sit, and at least walking I'm getting exercise.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Sad Tradeoff

I read an article about the rise of "Gluten Free" products, first by the small established companies, and recently by the larger companies, such as Girl Scout cookies, and even corporations. And while this is good, what I've learned in finding foods I can eat, it's often a wrong tradeoff.

While many people seek a gluten free diet out of choice or having Celiac disease, some people, like myself, it's not just about the gluten, it's about the grains, any grain and especially wheat, and about alternatives used for flour, such as rice, corn, potatoes, etc.

This is because the problems are the natural chemicals in many foods identified a few years ago by some Australian Gastroenterologists reseaching patients with Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS). They discovered the source of the problems were FODMAPS.

And why it's not gluten that's the problem but the grain itself. I've found I even have to eliminate grains and even some foods on the "approved" FODMAPS diet, like potatoes, all green or leafy vegetables, most fruit - except as jam where the cooking breaks down the chemicals, and other foods.

I've even found I've had to eliminated almost all spices, even those approved, except salt and just a touch of pepper, along with preservatives and many of the lesser ingredients often found in organic or natural foods and now as substitues in gluten free foods.

In short, you can write the foods I can eat on a 4x6 postit note with room for notes and doodles, but it's also a varied diet which is healthy and provides the wide ranges of nutrients, etc. a person needs. What it also does is restrict the vast majority of food and products sold in grocery stores.

And this includes many natural and organic foods because they often uses other grains, foods and spices to offset the loss of ingredients like meat, wheat, etc. In addition I have to check similar foods, like corn chips, corn tortillas, taco shells, etc., because of the other and lesser ingredients.

This has turned shopping into food experiments and reading lots of labels. One example I've found is that one of the few meats I can eat is sandwich ham, but only brands without the standard array of chemicals to preserve freshness, flavor, etc.

What this had done is made me a very conscious product and price shopper so I know where I can buy the foods I can eat for the cheapest prices, and means going to 3 different markets to fill the cabinets and refrigerator.

One good thing is that most of the foods are readily available while some are only sold at one of the stores if they stock it as I've found they rotate the stock and don't offer the product anymore and means shopping for an alternative.

Anyway, the point is that just getting rid of gluten doesn't solve the problem for some people, it's about the other foods, spices and chemicals often used as substitutes, and why you should always read the labels.

Gluten free doesn't mean wheat free or free of other grains or starches, or it's a cure all for people with IBS. It's often a tradeoff, sometimes a sad one because you end up not able to eat the old food and the new food too.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


This week has been one of the worst for the Sciatic nerve in over a year and reminded me who is in charge of the recovery to heal the pinched Sciatic nerve. Last Sunday I did the laundry which is walking up and down two flights of stairs to the laundry room.

This has been a problem since pinching the Sciatic nerve as it hurts my lower back, as does any work that requires bending over to work or lift anything. Always later that days the lower back hurts for 1-2 days before fading.

This time, however, the left leg started hurting Monday but I was able to walk for the next 3 days, until Thursday when just walking brought moderate to sharp pains in my left leg from the hip to the foot. From there the pain varys with the day and during the day with the hip, quadricep muscle, shin and/or foot.

In other words parts or all the the left leg. And it fades from mild to severe during the day which makes it hard to know if it's getting better or not. The only good thing is that it doesn't hurt when I sit down. Lying down is another issue as it sometime hurts and sometimes not.

So, it's a short-term setback for now. I'm on the fourth day of rest (not walking) in hopes I can resume walking Monday for the rest of the month. This sets the mileage goal back for the month and the hope of getting to 155 lbs by the end of the month, and down to 150 lbs by May 1st.

So, as I've learned, setbacks will happen, and to be patient to remember I started at 190 lbs a year ago, and the goal is to continue walking for the longterm, and periods of rest are necessary or setbacks can happen. I just need to make them short.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Some Days

Some days I sit on the kitchen counter (yes, the counter) in the predawn darkness outside and realize I don't really want to walk today. The body is sore and tired. The Sciatic nerve is acting up. And the weather is another day of either cold or rain.

I can think of a number of reasons not to walk, to sit home and rest, and I can't think of one reason to walk. Or so the morning starts, even after breakfast and coffee to wake up. But I tell myself, "Ok, just get ready like you would walk and judge from there."

And yes, after a warm shower, I sit down and tape the feet (Spider Tech tape, KT Tape and sports tape) and I put on my knee socks (body adhesive works great to keep them up - it washes off with water). And then the body says, "What the hell, give it a try."

And I walk out the front door and walk, and it doesn't matter if it's the best walk I've had in a while or the worst where I'm still sore and tired by the end, it only matters I walked. I walked 8 miles, saw new or different things, talked to a few people, and sat down at home to feel tired and good.

Some days.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Some Days

Some days walking is just walking. Most days I walk I find myself thinking of something, some idea, some vision, some feeling, some imaginary story, just thinking of anything or just sensing the world as I walk. But some days, there isn't anything but putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Just walking. Some days.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rest Days

I walk so many days these recent months that after a rest day I've realized if I don't walk I won't walk. Not walking is easy, getting ready and going out the front door knowing it's 8 miles no matter the weather takes effort, and always worth it in the last quarter mile knowing I made the choice.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Some Days & Weeks

During the entire time I've been walking 8 miles starting last May-June the progress with getting fitter and better, losing weight and healing the Sciatic nerve and lower back has been fairly consistent, until November, after walking over 200 miles in October.

I had up and downs days and weeks through November but the progress was consistent over the month of December, and until, again, January when the days and weeks have been inconsistent, including this week.

Over the weekend I had food related issues which left me mildly sick and even after getting a flu shot last October I still keep getting 2-3 days of flu symptoms several times a month, but I've managed to still walk most days.

The walks Monday and Tuesday (today Wednesday January 15th) the walks were the hardest in recent months, and during the Monday walk my left leg had that tingly numb feeling you get when you hit a nerve just right.

It lasted for a short distance and quit, but the next morning, the nerve from the top of my left hip down the outside of the left leg to the outside of the sole of my feet started yelling at me whenever I start walking, and while the walk was easier, it's wasn't normal.

So today is a rest day to see if the nerve gets better, but I'm not holding my breath right now. I had planned to get 200+ miles in this month so rest days aren't in the schedule outside of a few I can also run errands or work around the place.

All I can say is that nerve issues aren't fun, especially when the whole day is just a waste from being sick. Now I have to decide if the muscles are ok and it's just the nerve acting up, and get back to walks, maybe even shorter ones for awhile.

Some days and weeks being old just sucks.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Weather & Reasons

This morning after confirming the forecast yesterday for today (like weather forecasters are good or accurate, yeah, right) that the weather was, while warm for winter (in the low-mid 40's), it was a real winter rainstorm with thunder and occasional hard rain.

Since I did fieldwork for nearly 14 years in all sorts of weather, from hot Arizona summers to cold Northwest winters, I have all the layers and outerwear, meaning GoreTex, to easily be outside in the worst or almost coldest weather, almost meaning I'm good for anything above zero.

So the question of walking isn't do I want to walk today, especially today, but do I have any reasons not to walk. That's the criteria I use now. Are there errands which requires driving, is there work at home, or does my body and especially legs not up to the task.

So far the answer has been that there are no reasons, even when the body isn't 100% as I know some days I get and feel better during and after the walk and only a few days when I feel worse, which isn't good when you're not feeling well or feeling tired or sore you still have to walk home.

But in the end, I always still walk and get home as I know it's easy to find excuses or reasons not to do something but it's harder when you know doing it will always make you feel and be better. There's no reason against feeling or being better.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Worst Part

The worst part about walking is running out of energy miles from home knowing you still have to walk home. Some days the body, the legs or the energy just gives out, or the legs or especially the feet hurt with every step and there is nothing I can do except walk.

The good part is that I always still walk home and the body, legs and/or feet recover to do it again the next day. Walking isn't just about exercising the body, it's about exercising the whole person, the body and the mind.

Walking is both a physical and mental exercise, and some days, a test of both.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Walking Goals

I'm walking away from who I was.

I'm walking to push the body to be fit, lean and better.

I'm walking toward becoming who I want to be.

I'm walking to walk, not every day but some days, for the sheer freedom and enjoyment of walking.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Taking a Tumble

Most of the weekend I had sore muscles in the middle and lower sections of my back, and today on the last section of a long uphill section of the walk, which I added 1.25 miles for a total 9.25 miles as a test of the distance and more hills since it's been since August I last walked more than 8 miles, the muscles reminded even more.

And after a shower and some pain medication, the muscles still hurt when I try to stand from sitting for more than a few minutes. It's all in the muscles as the Sciatic nerves seem ok, or at least hasn't shown signs of problems.

This puzzled me for awhile when I remembered on New Year's day I walked in the predawn darkness where I tripped over a piece of asphalt on the shoulder and tumbled forward along the shoulder in the mud, puddles and debris.

Fortunately years ago I learned one lesson, never try to stop your fall with your hands or your arms, unless of course you want to break your wrist or seriously hurt or bruise your arm. The best way is to roll with your shoulders and use your hands and arms to protect your head.

Small hint.--If you fall and there's nothing close to grab to help or keep you from falling and you know you're going to hit the ground, roll your hands into fists so the fingers won't get hurt, or worse broken. You can also tuck them into your body to protect them.

Well, I did that and got up, brushed of the dirt and debris and walked on after cussing about being stupid when cars were driving by (no one stopped). Yeah the cursing the darkness idea even when I carry a flashlight for oncoming cars (always walk against traffic when there are no sidewalks).

Well, while the backpack cushioned the fall a little, I more than likely twisted my back enough the muscles got around to hurting over the weekend and more so today. What I know is that the back is only stiff and hurts when I sit for more than a few minutes and try to stand up and walk.

But then things get better when I walk or stretch for awhile. Standing helps too. So it's one of those things you know getting old sucks that you can't take a tumble in the darkness and not expect the body to hurt. And yes, I'm back to 8 mile walks without that long hill, only short ones.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Walking II

You can read the update on the walking for my Sciatic nerve in the previous post, but basically I walked about 1, 670 miles in 2013. I started the year weighing about 190 pounds and ended the year weighing 162 pounds, the recent times weighed on the local drugstore scale.

For most of the walks during the year I didn't see much change in my body, especially the obvious body fat I had from all the weight gain over the decades of tried and failed exercise plans. But then in October when I first weighed myself I realized I had lost the intramuscular fat in my legs and around the body.

It was then I began to notice the loss of the "body" (subcutaneous) fat we carry on the body, and that's what has been slowly decreasing as there isn't much left of the other fat (calories) to burn, and walking 8 miles with a 12-15 pound pack at a ~15 minute per mile pace burns a lot of calories.

I know I should be running instead of walking to burn the calories, but I'm not there yet as my lower back still reminds me of the Sciatic nerve issue and problems with the legs some weeks, eg. shin splints, numbness, balance and feeling tired or sore.

Anyway, the plan is to continue as this pace to lose 2+ lbs a month until I reach about 155 pounds to judge the amount left and either continue to 150 pounds or look to get liposuction, but liposuction is still the end goal as this will remove the fat I always gain so it will never be a problem.

The overall target weight is to 150 pounds to be fit to run 3-5 miles again and hike 6-10 miles with a 30+ pound daypack again. Hopefully the first goal (reaching the weight) will be reached this spring (May) and the other goal (running/hiking) later this summer or fall.

Now that I know the goal is within sight if I keep going, then I know I can get there. All too often I quit thinking I could do it again, but this time, it's my last best chance, and maybe my only chance at 64 years old.

Or so Agent Maxwell Smart said, "Would you believe Chief..."