Thursday, April 02, 2009


The "summit" of Mount Trashmore

I was introduced to geocaching through a number of bloggers who are keen on this outdoor global treasure hunting game. After registering on the website, I was able to download information on several geocaches in our neighbourhood and decided to go and find one of them. My husband got a hand held GPS unit last year to use in his fishing boat so I "borrowed it" (perhaps permanently) to locate the coordinates for my hunt.

Waypoint: N 43° 25.188 W 080° 29.491

Our hand held GPS unit

"Mount Trashmore" is an old landfill site in our area that now has a sledding hill, a leash free dog park and walking trails. I have climbed to the top hundreds of times over the years, up the steep back face and up the more gradual front slope. The GPS unit indicated I was 0.4 km from the cache when I started up the hill, a very modest distance but a good climb. The location was a bench and the cache was hidden in the immediate vicinity. I pulled out the little magnetic box, signed the sheet and returned it to the hiding place. My task was complete except for entering the find on the website before I downloaded the next challenge.

Only a 0.4 km climb to the top

I have been back to work since early February following my knee surgery last November. I was gradually improving and was very anxious to get back to my activity levels of last year, going for long walks, doing stairs at work and pushing past my current plateau. This first walk of the season to the top of Mount Trashmore was symbolic of my goal.

The next day I could barely weight bear at all and my knee was very swollen. It became worse over the following week and I was taken off work by our employee health office. As my job has a physical requirement and cannot be done from a desk, I was warned that permanent restrictions because of the flareup could result in me losing my position. I saw my surgeon this week and he confirmed what was already very apparent;- there will be no return to my previous level of activity. If I wish to continue working, which I do, modifications to my lifestyle will be necessary.

Dakota and the geocache

I have marked a new waypoint on the GPS of my life and acceptance of it has not been easy. For the first time my body is letting me know it is not synchronized with my perception of what it should do. I have counselled many patients to observe energy and joint conservation techniques but applying them to myself was harder than imagined. One of our recent patients was admitted with a neurodegenerative brain disorder. Highly educated, he had retired early from a prestigious and rewarding career to enjoy his senior years. Then came the gait disturbance, coordination and speech difficulties, and he withdrew, becoming very depressed. His cognition is still excellent and we had to help him focus on what he still could do rather than what he could no longer do. He had come to a waypoint that was far more challenging than mine, but when he left the hospital he had plans to engage in activities he could complete successfully.

Here I am at the target to find the cache

Will I try geocaching again? Undoubtedly, but I will look for caches on easier terrain and will use my walking poles all the time for distances. And I have to remember that I have buried my pride and unrealistic expectations. Hopefully I will not have to mark another waypoint for a while.


  1. Anonymous1:02 am GMT-4

    Ruth..I am sorry to hear that you have to make adjustments to what you are able to do. It is very difficult when we are used to leading a very active life and then have to learn to 'listen' more to our bodies and what it is saying. I am not always the best at following what my doctor suggests that I do, but I have come to some sort of truce between what I want to do and what I am able to do without severe payback. Still it is frustrating...

  2. Oh Ruth, I'm so sorry to hear that! And yet, I am so happy for you that you are looking ahead and know where you want to go, without asking too much of yourself. Often, what we want to do and what we can or should do are not on the same wavelength, but patience pays off too, as long as we keep looking at where we would like to go (without forcing us to go there).

    Warm, warm greetings,

  3. My mom had a knee replacement years ago, and I think the one thing surgeons are not very good about is letting people know that they will not be able to resume previous activity levels as they presume they will. It's a hard pill to swallow for sure, but it sure beats being in constant pain. Gentle hugs to you Ruth.

  4. What a great metaphor! Well done! If anyone has the wherewithal to cope in good mental health it will be you.

    I've done a bit of geocaching, but our older GPS doesn't seem to be as Precise as one wishes for that task.

  5. Wonderfully written post, Ruth. You have explained the waypoints so well and I'm sure your message will serve me in the future.

    I don't really need to wish you good luck. Your attitude already ensures that.

    Here's hoping this is the last flareup.

  6. I am sorry that you will have some limitations in your activity,this is never easy.I experience some flare-ups of fybromyalsia from time to time and this too restricts some activity.From my experience,a positive attitude helps me through these times.

  7. This aging body business (some parts sooner than others) is sure something to get used to! The bunion on my right foot won't let me go as far or as fast as I'm want to do ... especially when D is the energizer bunny and could go for HOURS at a time.

    I'm sorry for your flare up but perhaps it was a timely warning. You have such a good attitude!

    We don't have a GPS though D has been talking about getting a hand held one.

  8. How frustrating for you! But it sounds like a realy neat pasttime, good luck with it!

  9. Ruth--at first, I was about to cheer for you, taking up geo-caching.
    And then the sudden turn of a swollen knee, and I said aloud "Oh NO". But you demonstrate that you are still using your GPS--the kind that is common-sense powered.
    Accepting limitations as we grow older is hard, but necessary. I especially appreciate the idea of focusing on what we CAN do, instead of focusing on what we CAN'T.

  10. I hope you feel better, I'll be praying for you.

  11. Ruth,

    I am truly sorry that you won't be able to be as active as you once where. It is not fun when we have to put limitations on our activities. There are so many nice trails in this area. Enjoy those. Take along your walking poles and pace yourself accordingly.

    I have never tried geocaching but would like to. However, with my knees like they are, I'm also limited to the things I can do. The worst things for me is bending down to pick something up or going down stairs.

    I hope you are able to enjoy all the lovely sights, sounds and fragrances of spring.


  12. Ruth....I am so sorry that you injury is still causing you such problems. To be less active is hard for anyone.....we all like to think we can just overcome what life throws at us. It is not always that simple, is it?

    You have such a wonderful positive attitude, I am sure you will come to terms with whatever is ahead, and make the best of the situation.

    Whatever happens, I wish you well......

  13. Ruth, Ruth, Ruth...limiting your activities are not pleasant words to your ears or mine. Your GPS of life has given you a wrong turn. You are creative person; you will find a way to overcome this. With your postive attitude you will be running up Mt. Trashmore in no time. Take it easy...we have lovely easy walking trails that soon will be full of flowers and birds. But geocaching sounds like a heap fun!

  14. So sosrry to hear that your knee problem has slowed you down.
    Geocaching does sound like fun. Maybe there will be some easier sites to access.

  15. Wow - this is a tough lesson for all. Very courageous of you to post so openly and honestly.

    In our youth, we never imagine our bodies gradually (or acutely) letting us down. But they do. Facing this is one heck of a challenge. But you've hit the nail on the head with focusing on what we can still do.

    Two days ago, I spent the afternoon holding my 2 month old grandson. Feeding him his bottle and rocking him to sleep - pure heaven for me. This is what I was born to do. The next day, my neck and shoulders were screaming at me. They were not accustomed to this 10 lb. baby weight in my arms. Boy - did that p*ss me off!!! I won't give it up, but will have to learn to modify it somehow, before he grows any bigger.

    I hope you will be able to work part time or some other way, so as not to lose your job completely.

  16. Really like that first image, it looks desolate enough to be a Mt. Trashmore. Grew up with one also.

    Ruth, I'm glad you have the tools to understand and listen to your body. Many do not. I'm thinking you will be as active as you CAN be. Hugs to you.

  17. What a pain! Literally! You find yourself a new, exciting hobby and WHAM!

    You seem to have come to an understanding with yourself about what you can and can not do very quickly. I've been working on this for years. My method has been the "one step forward, two steps back" approach and I HATE that I can't always do what I want. I've been doing much better the last few months, but thank you for reminding me to focus on what I can do.

  18. Oh, Ruth, all the best with your knee.

  19. Thanks for all the kind comments. I am not looking sympathy and am just recognizing a change in my life. Several people who commented here have daily challenges that far exceed the inconvenience of my "bump in the road". The thing is, all of us will me marking waypoints from time to time.

  20. Mexico Mom12:37 pm GMT-4

    Am resting comfortably in Stephen's house. The doctor came to me in the hospital at 11:00PM telling Marcela to take me home and keep me from walking only with a cane around the house for 1 week until my next appointment.
    I shall obey, believe me!!!
    I wish my almost 77 year leg could replace your young one. Walking with Jesus now for over 55 years I have learned with difficulty because I do not like slowing down that when one door closes a BETTER one opens.
    Love and prayer MOM

  21. Oh Ruth, I'm so sorry to hear about this setback in your recovery. I know you will find ways to deal with this and still enjoy your outside activities. Best wishes to you.


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