Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just Walking...

A lot of the time you don't miss something until you need it or can't do it. I love to take long walks, especially in the woods and mountains, and used to do it every chance I got. Our dogs, Abby and Milo, and I would regularly take a 2 or 3 mile walk in a nearby park/reserve on Falls Lake where they were off the leash and running and swimming. On trips to Boone, any regular day would find me rising early and taking the pups for a long walk on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We would walk in any weather and especially liked the cold, as it kept most other walkers at home and we would have our designated walking venue to ourselves. Then came my back pain and the cancer diagnosis and the long walks stopped. In February and March, the leg pain increased and on March 29th I couldn't put any pressure on my legs. The pain was so severe that I was admitted to the hospital and for the next 31 days was in a hospital bed. Due to the damage that the myeloma had done to my sacrum, going through the sitting position to even try to stand was almost impossible due to the pain.

In late April, a young therapist used a special lift unit to get me to my feet and for the first time in 26 days I was able to put weight on my legs. Walking was a different matter due to the neuropathy in my feet (numbness in the toes and soles, and super sensitive on the top) and muscle atrophy in my legs. Basically I would have to learn to walk all over again.

By the time I left the hospital, I was walker enabled:

Abby and Milo accompanied me as they faithfully walked with me even when it was just up and down our long hallway ....up and back and up and back with them shadowing me every step of the way. They are so faithful and loyal. They are probably thinking the old guy has lost it, walking in circles instead of going for a long walk in the woods.

With the help of Anna, my physical therapist, I graduated from walker to crutches and was allowed to walk outside for the first time:

Soon, it was time to get off the crutches and let the legs to all the got a new walker that could handle the outside terrain:
I am now up to doing laps in our circular driveway and have moved from the walker to a cane. Each lap is 0.1 mile, and I am up to four laps in the morning and four at night.

This picture was taken in Boone this last weekend where I was walking the decks of the cabin for 0.25 mile three times a day. Of course the pups were still walking with me every step.

As we left Boone, we decided on one more trip to the Valle Crucis park and Linda and I walked just under a mile. Progress!! My goal is to once again take the dogs on a long walk at the reserve/park.

Walking: Something most of us take for granted until we can't do it anymore. For me, I have a new appreciation for walking and if anyone is looking for me and can't find me, well, I am probably with my cane........just walking!


  1. I love how Abby and Milo are just glued to your side. I'm so proud of the progress you've made, and cant believe you almost walked a mile at the Valle Crusis Park! Great job daddy!

  2. aren't dogs just wonderful!! Mr. Ernie you are so wonderful! I have loved reading your blog and I cannot wait until i can see you at church! I miss you!

  3. Wow, looking back through all of these "steps" is so mind-boggling! That was such a scary time when you were bedridden at Rex, but I'm so grateful that you are now walking 1 mile!!!! Can't wait to have you back doing the LONG walks with the dogs in the park...and me trying to catch up to you...panting all the way! Love you and am so proud of you!

  4. Love and encouraged by the progress you are making!!! Keep walking, soon you'll be needing some new running shoes!!

  5. I've got to get myself over there so that I can walk with you. I loved walking with you in Boone.