Saturday, July 20, 2013

Nature Getaways in San Jose - Silicon Valley

My husband and I lived in San Jose for three months in 2011 for work. In 2013 we found ourselves back in the area for another work contract. However, this time we found quite a few places for hiking or easy nature walks that we were oblivious to on our previous visit. Some of our favorite places are listed below...

Castle Rock State Park - Los Gatos is a beauty nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains with lots of interesting rock formations. There are areas for hiking, camping and rock climbing. There is free parking on the highway if you don't want to pay to park in the lot like most other people. Just across from Castle Rock and to the right is another little park. Don't fuss with that hiking, but do follow the signs for the rock formation not far from the entrance. When you climb on top you get a great view of downtown San Jose.

Santa Teresa Count Park - San Jose located in South San Jose not too far from downtown. It's filled with rolling hills and views of the city. If you catch it at the right time you can find the hills covered with wildflowers. The hiking is fairly easy just watch out for SNAKES!

Calero County Park - San Jose is located in between South San Jose and Morgan hill. It offers about 20 miles of hiking and horseback riding on some rolling hills including some loop trails. There is also a reservoir for boating activity down the road. The hiking offers nice views of the area as well as some high dollar houses.  The only real danger here (aside from stepping into a giant pile of horse poop on the trails) is running into some wildlife. We saw a pair of coyote running on the hill ahead of us and a deer on our first trip, but noticed many fresh tracks of bobcats and mountain lions. I cannot at all recommend going out by yourself. That is also the reason they close at sun down - predators come out to play after dusk!

Uvas County Park - Morgan Hill is nestled outside of Morgan Hill. You will have to drive through a small Swedish community on a narrow road just before the park. There is an entrance fee and a few parking lots.  There is a waterfall loop trail that is pretty easy walk. They are not the typical waterfalls that I think of, but they are pretty non the less. We also hiked up to Knibbs knob peak. It's a pretty steep climb up a dirt path. It gives you some views of the evergreen covered mountains. I wouldn't say it' breathtaking beauty, but it's a good workout

Water way at Uvas Canyon County Park in Morgan Hill

Overlooking the city of San Jose at Santa Teresa County Park - South San Jose

Friday, July 19, 2013

Return to Yosemite 2012

Yosemite is one of my favorite places and I've seen quite a few especially in the past 3 years. It is a naturally beautiful place and I love it!

In 2010, while sitting at Glacier Point my husband and I saw someone coming up from The Four- Mile Trail and commented on how crazy you would have to be to hike to the top of Glacier Point. That was before we realized how much we love hiking! There is an awesome satisfaction to look down from the top, surrounded by gobs of people who drove, and know that you climbed up this impressive 3200 feet from the Valley floor. Of course, we had to take it one step further. Rather than taking the shuttle or hiking back down the trail we opted to get in a good workout and soak up some beautiful views. We took the Panorama Trail (8.5 miles) to the Mist Trail (4 miles) to the John Muir trail near Nevada falls that eventually leads you to Happy Isles. If you initially drove you can take a free shuttle from Happy Isles back to the parking lot at the start of the 4-mile hike or like us you can walk the 3 miles back to the 4 Mile trail head. It's full day adventure and approximately 17 miles which covers most every major landmark in Yosemite. We also spent a few hours hiking halfway up to Upper Yosemite Falls and driving up Tioga Road. Our plans were to conquer the falls, but our plans were altered by a late arrival to the park. I'm sure we'll find our way back to Yosemite!

View of Half Dome from Glacier Point

View of Half Dome from Panorama Point on the Panorama Trail

Tioga Lake

10 weeks post-op

It’s crazy to think that it has been 10 weeks since my surgery, but I’m still chugging along. My husband and I made the trip from San Diego to the Oxnard / Ventura CA area last week for me to start a new work contract. Thanks to the wonderful California traffic it took almost 5 hours to go 200 miles on the interstate, but I didn’t even need my donut pillow. I also just made my 3 month appointment to see Dr G and Catherine – the end of this journey is getting closer and closer!

At 9.5 weeks I went back to work. I had one day of 4 hour orientation where I sat 90% of the time and two 12 hour shifts two days in a row. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good overall. I didn’t have any surgery related pain – just a bit of achiness in my legs after I took my support hose off at night, but that’s normal when I haven’t worn them in awhile. Most surprisingly, I didn’t feel abnormally tired like I had anticipated. Since the surgery I have been wearing dresses most everyday with an occasional pair of oversized mesh shorts. This week was the first time that I had pants (dress pants and scrubs) on since the surgery, and they didn’t seem to bother me. Prior to the surgery my pain was primarily only during intercourse, but I still thought that pants might be slightly uncomfortable on the surgical area.

The last time I had any physical therapy was 2 weeks ago at SDSM. I’ve mostly been working on the breathing to relax the pelvic floor muscle. Debbie the PT said that some of my joints especially my hips seem a little too loose so she recommended the SI-LOC belt. I’ve been wearing that daily. I don’t really notice any difference, but she said the support should help the pelvic floor muscles so I’ll keep wearing it. It’s not uncomfortable it just makes my lower abdomen bulge a little more. I’m in the process of finding a physical therapist in my new area to start seeing at 3 months.

Now that I am back to work and have been pain free for weeks it’s sometimes hard for me to remember to take it easy and refrain from strenuous activities. I keep looking at the mountains around us and can’t wait to get back to hiking. There are so many places to explore, but I’ll continue on with my relatively boring recovery. The beach is always calling my name, too, and I’m okay with just laying by the ocean all day.

Friday, July 5, 2013

8 Weeks Post-Op

I can't believe it's been 2 months already! My husband and I are just hanging out in the San Diego area waiting for my next travel nurse assignment. My job is pretty physical, so the SDSM team thought I should wait at least until the 8 week mark before heading back to work. I fully anticipate the 12 hour shifts to be exhausting, but I know I will survive. We've ventured out a little bit, but most of my days are filled soaking up the sun, walking, or crafting.

Now for the best news of all: I've had practically no pain, and since the outer stitches dissolved 2 weeks ago I don't have any itching either. The surrounding skin is pretty tight so it does hurt to spread wide for pictures. I still take my pillow if I'm going to be sitting very upright on hard surfaces or for long periods of time. I could probably go without it, but it isn't hurting anything to use it. For the most part I feel like I'm back to my old self. On Monday my hubby and I went on a fairly easy 3 mile hike up Cowles Mountain and back, which is the highest peak in San Diego. We got some nice panorama views of San Diego County. The hike was a little more tiring than I would like to admit, but given what my body has gone through in the last 8 weeks I think I did pretty well. My pain maybe increased to a 1 but resolved quickly. After the hike we meandered through a couple of stores for a few more hours. Thankfully, I slept well for the first time in awhile and I woke up pain free. I'm ready to get back to some real hiking, biking, and swimming when that three month mark hits and, of course, when Dr G says I'm allowed. I've actually wanted to run the past few weeks, which is totally foreign to me.

I've been seeing the physical therapist at SDSM once a week while I'm in the area to help get me ready for work and to do some external work on my pelvic floor. She said everything looks great down there, and that only a trained eye would know that I had surgery. Debbie (the PT) is really nice, but I was so frustrated after my first appointment. My homework was to work on breathing lower into my abdomen in addition to some strength training. I tried and tried, but could never seem to get the pattern right and feel the right muscles moving. My husband found a video online that explained it a bit differently, and I was finally able to figure it out. Seriously who knew breathing could be so hard!
Each week my husband takes pictures to send to Dr Goldstein. In one of my pre-op conversations with Dr G he said I could make a slide show of my pictures or that he would do it himself. I figured I could save him the effort and have my husband make a collage of the pictures. It has been such a relief and encouragement to look at those pictures side by side. Just looking at the single picture it's hard to see how much progress was made in one week, but when you look at the comparison you can see less redness, fewer stitches, etc. It really puts everything in perspective.

Prior to the surgery, I had been working on being more active and losing weight. I was having some pretty decent success so needless to say I was a bit nervous about gaining weight during my recovery period. I have been using the free app "My Fitness Pal" regularly since February. There is also an online version. You enter your details (height, weight, activity level, weight loss goal) and it calculates your daily recommended calories. During recovery I set my activity level to sedentary and recorded each time I walked (speed and time). If you aren't sure of how fast you are walking you can use the free app "Run keeper" to find out. Both apps are easy to use. I'm happy to report that at 8 weeks post-op I haven't gained any weight.