Sunday, February 19, 2012


It's the end of the second week of our program. And, as in the ambulance business, things are picking up.

It was a four-day week, with employees of the Health Region having Friday off (the beginning of a four-day weekend). So we were very active while we were together.

Probably the key item of the week was getting my own personal physical therapy program. Exercises I can do at home to strengthen particular parts of my body. Exercises I need to do at home. Exercises I need to do in order to recover much of the strength I had lost during my disability time. By recovering strength, I can re-energize the hurting part of my body, and keep from re-injuring old wounds, or aggravating old pains. Oh, and by the way, the fact that you're hurting does not mean you're actually causing major injuries. A bit of hurt normally means you're stretching the muscles back into shape — the muscles which actually protect the injured areas of the body. Fascinating.

The other thing I learned in particular was the notion of pacing. Most of the people who have been through the program since 2004 have been pretty gung-ho people. Over-achiever types. Which means we often re-injure ourselves in the process, and become un-gunged (so to speak). The trick we've learned is to
1. figure out about how much we can do, and
2. start our rebuilding programs at about half of what we can do.
By starting slowly, we decrease the chance of injuring ourselves during the long-term recovery process. Simple, when you think about it. Though a challenge for the gung-ho, who want to get the job done, and done now! So I'm learning a new way of Bearing up.

§   §   §

In other news, on Thursday, it snowed. On Saturday, there was water running, flowing, cascading in the streets.  Such has been our winter this year. No wonder I'm so totally confused about hibernating. 

As well, Bear has begun tracking down his family history. My mother's family is traced back to Devon, England. The oral history goes back to Wales. That is all well documented. My father's family — I'm surprised. I had no idea. A mixture of German and British origin, I can take it back into the late 1700s in Upper Canada (now, Ontario). I never knew my Grandfather had so may relatives — and I can go back to his Great-grandfather. So far, no identifiable Loyalists (people who came north during and after the American Revolution of 1776 or thereabouts). They were called Loyalists because they were loyal to the British Crown.

Our family lived primarily in the Niagara Peninsula, where a number of key battles were fought in during War of 1812-14 — the last time Canadians and Americans were shooting at each other in large scale operations. Since then, we've really tried to avoid open hostilities. Ironically, the American government of Lincoln et al., was afraid that Canadians (still seen as British) might try to invade the US when Federal troops were busy fighting Robert E. Lee and his boys. Certainly, the British were allied with the Confederacy. So multiple division of Federal troops were massed near the Canadian-American border. But on the Canadian side, political people were busy negotiating their independence from Britain, and had no time to be meddling in America's heartaches. The differing approaches, revolution and negotiation, are still at the core of our respective nations' psyches. In 1865, the Americans (militarily) settled their differences. In 1867, Canada became a quasi-independent Dominion within the British Empire. Queen Victoria was very supportive of the Canadian initiatives; one could say, in the end, that she was amused. And much more.


Rubye Jack said...

Building up those muscles does keep the pain at bay a lot. I was doing them for awhile but not being a gung ho type I slacked off. Got to get back to it.

How nice to have traced your family back so far! Knowing where we come from has so much to do with our identity.

Helen said...

Un-gunged .. now there's a good Bear word! Made me think of this song and these lyrics I can barely remember ..

"She's come undone
She found a mountain
that was far too high
And when she found out
she couldn't fly
It was too late"

I am inspired to dig further into my family history, thanks Bear.

Amanda Summer said...

it's very interesting to learn your experiences at the clinic teach you just as much about managing pain as they do avoiding reinjury - also to expect a little bit of pain and see it as a cue that you are doing the exercises correctly. this is a lot to learn at the same time.

i am curious as to your lineage research - are you using to do this?

The Blog Fodder said...

Two weeks into it and still there. Good for you.
Interesting about your family. Tewll us more.

The Broad said...

I've just discovered your blog from a comment you made on A Very Grand Pressigny... I am very impressed with your posts and how determined you are to deal positively with chronic pain. I admire your commitment to facing these difficult challenges while at the same time maintaining a sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you the best with your treatment programme. It must be fascinating to learn so much about one's ancestors. In my family, the family myth was that we were descendents from an Imperial Chinese delegation that was sent to the South China Sea area. More recent research has dropped our ancestors from aristocracy. Apparently, we were more likely descendents of pirates!

That gentleman's lady said...

Bear is finding his roots!

Big hugs as you go about making yourself strong and fit again!

Rosaria Williams said...

Gotta do what you gotta do! It seems unfair though. Can't they just find a permanent solution?

Inger said...

I have an injury that I need to work on to regain range of motion, maybe you inspired me just a little. How typical, Canada negotiates and America fights. Great post!

ReformingGeek said...

I'm proud of you for pacing yourself Bear. I know how hard it must be not to eat all the fish at once.

Oh, wait. It's not spring.

Or is it?


I've got some German in me, too. Zer Gut!

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Hope this pain clinic is of real practical help to you. I am intrigued by your family research, particularly as my family live in Devon and we are here in Wales - nice co-incidence! Which part of Wales do your roots lie in?

Rob-bear said...

® Rubye Jack: Using muscles to help keep pain under control is a central idea in the program. I'm not sure how well it will work, but it seems to have some merit.

My identity, in relation to my ancestors, is made up mostly of farmers, with a miller or two. Not sure where this will end. There might even be a pirate. Pirates were often self-employed business people. It's just others were upset with their business.

® Helen: I believe I remember that song! Can you guess who did it? You're right: The Guess Who! A Canadian group. Another Canadian influence in your life. Fortunate woman.

Do you think you might have pirates in your family tree?

Rob-bear said...

® Amanda: Yes, the entire process is is, by turns, fascinating and helpful.

I'm primarily using to check my pedigree. I'm assuming it's the Canadian version of the American business.

® Blog Fodder: I'll keep hanging in as long as I don't get hung up, or hung.

Given where my people lived, I'll bet some of them served in Canadian forces during the War of 1812. (That's even better than pirates!) Um, well, somebody's got to defend Canada from the Americans.

Rob-bear said...

® The Broad: Welcome. So glad you dropped in. Unless, of course, you've come to raid my cache of honey, berries, and fish.

Thanks for dropping over from Jean's place. (I'm very fond of Lulu, having had several poodles in our household.)

Chronic pain is, to put it simply, a matter of significant nuisance value. Once you understand that, you can attack it with humour, until the nuisance decreases. At least that's my theory, and I'm sticking with it.

® lgsquirrel: Thanks for the encouragement. And more pirates! We'll have to check that out. Please, just don't go squirrelly in the process. I've learned that when one is hunting ancestors, one needs a lot of patience. As is also the case when hunting Bears, but I won't go into that.

Rob-bear said...

® That gentleman's lady: Thank you! And I'll gladly accepts all the hugs you can give! (Bears are like that, with hugs.)

® rosaria: The permanent solution to pain is a life of increasingly strong drugs. Don't think I could Bear that. So, I'm finding alternatives, to at least some of my drugs. And the nuisance of pain.

® Inger: Good luck in recovering you range of motion. We work on that, too. The exercises I've been given will promote both muscle strength and RoM.

Diana said...

That was some interesting history. Finding out about one's origins can be very interesting as well!
I am supposedly a descendant of Ivan the Terrible. Don't think that's worth bragging about but it is what it is!
I think Bear is going to be very grouchy come spring with all of the activity that's been going on. Poor Bear, I hope you can fit in some good naps!
Love Di ♥

Rob-bear said...

® Diana: Local vet has already commented on an expected pandemic of generalized grumpiness among Bears this spring.

I'm hanging in the the pain program. We're into week three tomorrow.

Hope you're getting stronger. Acute pain is not fun. A cute doctor may be fun.

Helen said...

Dear Bear,

I believe Johnny Depp may be my brother ... does that count?

Rob-bear said...

® Helen: Does it count? Only if you think it does. I'm not making judgements on your life; Bears are way past judgements.

Posie said...

Ouch Bear that sounds positively painful, good luck with it all, pain is no joke. How fantastic tracing your family history, we could be related as my mother's family generations back are of welsh origin ;-) The happy farmer can trace his family right back to the 1700s, and on this tiny he really knows his roots, and well rooted he is too. Lovely to catch up.

Rob-bear said...

® Posie: Great to see you back in the blogsphere. And thanks for the visit.

Tracing one's roots is an interesting exercise, though I would like to know more about these people than just their dates of birth and death. Too bad they couldn't have blogged about life in the 1800s and 1700s!

cheshire wife said...

Will we soon have Rob the dancing bear?

Interested to see that you have roots in Devon and Wales, as does my husband.

Golden Eagle said...

"1. figure out about how much we can do, and
2. start our rebuilding programs at about half of what we can do."

That sounds like a good way to begin approaching anything. Slow and steady.

Interesting family history!

Jackie said...

Bear roots.
Hmmm. Sounds beary interesting...and it sounds like you have been having a lot of good times digging up those roots.
I commented on another friend's blog that I consider "PACE" to be a 4-letter word...but I do understand that pacing oneself is absolutely necessary. Continued success to you as you "bear up" my friend.

Rob-bear said...

® cheshire wife: Dancing Bear? I hope not. The life of a dancing Bear was not a happy one.

® The Golden Eagle: Yeah; that plan does sound like a good recovery process. So far it's working for me.

This family history is not as interesting as Star Trek.

® Jackie: I'm going to keep "rooting around" in the elements of my family tree.

I recognize that "PACE" is a four-letter word, but then so is "Help." In this case, the two fall into the same category, I think.

Just Two Chicks said...

I'm glad they're working hard to keep you from being overly gung-ho!!

I love your family history. The only thing I know about my family is that it was extremely dysfunctional. Except for my grandmother on my mother's side. :)

I hope your having a great evening.

Are my comments now set up so that you don't have to type in a code word? Let me know. I thought I fixed it, but maybe I don't know how?

Rob-bear said...

® Better is Possible: Now that I have some of the basics, the question comes up: what did these people do? They were farmers. And what else? Some may have fought in the War of 1812. All kinds of fascinating possibilities.

® Just Two Chicks: Actually, I'm who has to work hard at keeping me from being too gung-ho. If I get that way, my muscles hurt even more. Recovery is slow process.

However, the grandchildren are with us for a few days, so reading to them, and listening their stories, is fun. And if I read something wrong, my grandson corrects me!

Your word verification horror is still there. So, . . .

At the very top of your blog, you should see a title "Design" at the top of your main page (right side). Click on that, then find the tab which says "Settings." Click on "Settings" then go to the "Comments" title in the header bar, just below Settings, and click on Comments

Near the bottom of the Comments page, you'll find a title on the left side: "Show word verification for comments?" Make sure that is on "No." (It is on "yes" at this point.) It's right under comment moderation title. You're using comment moderation, so you don't need the word verification. Everyone will be happier when you make the change.

JeannetteLS said...

Rob-bear, I had my first surgery when I was twenty-eight. I'd managed the pain and the condition for about eight years with exercise. After the sixth surgery I entered the type of pain management and PT they use today and I need to tell you it changed my life. YES, it has gone down the tubes now because I have such widespread damage and, well, I'm nearly sixty.

BUT, for about fifteen years I managed to get OFF disability, and at my best, did some heavy duty hiking and paddling for a few years, even. In my forties. It was a long, hard process, but it DID help for a very long time.

After this last dip downward, I had to relearn how to walk for the third time, and just now am beginning to put those pain management lessons back to work.

It really can help enormously. I gardened for years. We're talkin' digging turf. I had four ruptured disks and nine surgeries... but was able to do that BECAUSE of the therapy.

I'm sorry you are going through this Rob-Bear.

I am enjoying your writing. It's not like anyone else's and I love that! My late brother played the banjo and guitar and we'd sing together when we were teenagers. The late Dick Fegy (David bromberg band) taught him... Great memories.

I'm gonna have to stay and follow your blog to learn more.

Sorry this was long--your back concerned me and I feel as if, when I was stabilized through surgery, it was then the PT and pain management that saved the quality of my life.

Now it's writing, singing and painting. Hugs to you, too.

Hilary said...

Sounds like you have been given wise advice and are on the right track. I hope you'll be able to manage your pain before too long. It all makes good sense to pace yourself.

About Last Weekend said...

This is all so interesting about pain. My mother suffers a lot with her back and a number of issues - and like you - she is a person who gets much done in her life....How wonderful to hear about your family in Devon which is a fabulous place, I have great memories walking down a cobblestone path to a beach with donkeys. There is a great Brit series in this area called Doc Martin, very atmospheric.

Rob-bear said...

® JeannetteLS: Thank you so much for coming by and visiting. (I love visitors!)

I'm so sorry to hear of all the struggles you've been through. That is so "not fun"! But I'm glad you've been gutsy in dealing with your difficulties.

My concerns are relatively small in comparison to yours, though I have struggled with dysfunction as you have. The process at the pain clinic has been so significant, and I'll be writing more about it this weekend. Lots of hopeful signs and possibilities.

Thanks, again.

® Hilary: Thanks. The plan is coming together, and I am starting to feel a bit improved. I'll have more on the weekend.

® About Last Weekend: Sorry to hear of your mom's difficulties. I do hope things improve for her.

I'm intrigued more and more about Devon. I have some understanding of the place from which mother's family came. I check it out on the map when people talk about Devon. I don't ever expect to make it to Devon, but I've seen pictures of the modern community. That will have to be enough.