After months of physical therapy and attempting to regain normal mobility I was finally bedridden with excruciating pain that the narcotics could not alleviate. The surgeon Dr. Bryant, had given me my options and I chose a discectomy which he said would require the most post-operative effort on my part for recovery.
My “Medical Recovery Team” consisted of my supportive wife, the chiropractic physician Dr. Joseph Fraley, and exercise therapist Michael Widener. On 27 December 2008 I underwent the procedure that promised to restore my ability to walk with reasonable normalcy and I started the exercise therapy that Michael Widener of Southwest Personal Fitness created that would last at least one year to hopefully restore the nerve damage I had incurred in both feet as a result of my delaying the inevitable surgery. About ninety percent of my damaged system was restored with what seemed to be hours of unending therapies starting at five days per week at Southwest Personal Fitness. I was able to ride my bicycle a very short distance after four months and continued in the gym as I met various goals which included distance cycling and senior competition. As a teacher who rarely sat while conducting class, I was looking at eight months before my next teaching assignment which would require two and a half hours of night-class instruction and I successfully met the standard. Seven months later I entered a 65 mile event and met my standard which garnered me the silver medal. A year later I earned the gold. As a result, I set more challenging goals now with Mr. Widener developing exercises that would maintain the strength needed to spend up to ten yours in the saddle. During the 2013 New Mexico Senior Olympics, I won all five cycling races in the 65 - 69 age division and went on to ride a major 113 mile mountainous event in Colorado in two minutes under my predicted time of nine hours. I finished the cycling year by scoring my first medal (bronze) in the Huntsman World Senior Games since withdrawing from their cycling events in the Fall of 2008. I continue to ride the bicycle four to five times per week and spend one day a week maintaining a general back strength program.
As I reflect on the recovery journey, I remember spending 23.5 hours a day in bed on 25 December 2008 with intense pain; Christmas would come late that year. I have accepted the non-reversible nerve dysfunction in both feet as a small price to pay for being able to physically accomplish tasks that some said were too much. When I was first injured, doctors said I’d never ride a motorcycle again, but with general body strengthening exercises that Mr. Widener developed for me I was able to compete in the US Four Corners motorcycle rally that resulted in a 15 riding day, 12,500 mile circumnavigation of thecontinental United States that landed me among the top ten finishers during the summer of 2011. My medical recovery team is on-going with my wife continually setting the service to others bar at an inspirational level and Dr. Fraley adjusting the old bones as he works with Mr. Widener who has his work cut out for him as he is constantly working on the muscles to do their supportive job of keeping me ambulatory for the rest of my life. A gym is not a natural place for me but Southwest Personal Fitness is truly more than a gym; it is a place of spiritual enhancement.
-Galen Farington Ruidoso, NM