Friday, September 11, 2009

Back in the Garden Again

I am very happy to be gardening again. Or at least I was yesterday, after about 6 frustrating weeks of being unable to enjoy the therapy of digging and yanking and chopping in my garden. During this down time, I have come to appreciate a number of great gardening and nature blogs which I am now eagerly "following". These have been a comfort and entertainment to me while I've been pretty "hands off" lately.

It's a long story, but I'll tell it anyhow, hoping that it may one day provide direction to someone else who needs this procedure... About 6 weeks ago, I injured my foot, which led me to hurt my neck (pulling myself around the house while hobbling on the one good foot). Since I spend waaay to much time on the computer and also am a fairly focussed sort of person (I've been told I don't blink enough when I'm on the computer, and the house could burn down around me and I may not even notice), I have found that I need regular (about every 6 week) massages to keep my neck and shoulders pain-free. So naturally that was my first idea, but the massage instead led to more pain, a very intense pain from the right side of my neck into my right shoulder, and all the way down my arm. When I sat up straight (eating, driving, etc), I also had tingling in my right hand.

I tried the obvious medications : anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant. Nope, no help at all. Pretty much 24 x 7 pain, day and night. Good thing my good friend Andrea recommended to me her upper cervical chiropractor, Dr. John Davis of Burnaby, BC, or I don't know what I would have tried next. For more info on this fascinating specialization, and the MANY ailments and conditions it can alleviate, see this site or this one.

After 4 weeks of non-stop and fairly intense pain, I saw Dr. Davis. The x-rays showed some "degenerative" (i.e. I'm falling apart!) condition between the C5 & C6 verterbrae (which is likely the source of the arm pain), and the C1 (where the skull is attached to the spine) was misaligned. So he gently (this is really weird, but it was so gentle I didn't feel it, so I'm not really sure when it happened) re-aligned the C1. On the first try, he brought it back so it is now 1 unit (not sure what, degrees?) out, instead of 4. The hips which were previously measurably out of alignment corrected immediately, and the shoulders also corrected to only 1 unit (instead of 3). But I still felt the same pain in the arm. Disappointed, I went home, and tried resting, as I was advised.

I was stiff and sore in the neck and back for a number of days afterward, but after 2 days, I suddenly realized I was having moments when I didn't feel the pain in my arm. Within the week, I was totally pain-free. All I had left was the tingling in my hand when I sat forward. I am hoping this will be corrected by another alignment attempt, but I've been told to let my spinal and nervous system heal a bit more before we try that.

Encouraged by my positive check up with Dr. Davis yesterday, I went into the garden, telling myself that I would start gently. Which I did. But a couple of hours and three clear bags of cuttings and weeds later, I realized that I might have overdone it. So I felt a bit of burning in the right side of my neck occasionally today. So tonight after work, I just walked about the yard, and made sure I carried only the camera, not clippers or gloves. Good thing, I needed my hands free to carry back a small load of italian plums which are ripe and amazingly sweet and delicious!

Here are some photos from my walk today.

More signs of fall, this one in the leaves of an epimedium:
Epimedium leaves turning red in Fall
The Japanese anemone's (Anemone hupehensis) cheery blooms seem to float above the garden this time of year, and the bright spots of colour are much appreciated.
Japanese anemone
Unlike my plum and apple trees which thrived this year, my poor Bartlett pear has dropped all but one of his fruit:
Single Bartlett pear
The pear tree has suffered every year from some sort of disease or infestation, which results in these grisly patches on its leaves (Does anyone recognize this? Any suggestions? I think next year I should find a treatment for it. I am not much for chemicals, bu it can't possibly be good for the tree to be covered in this awful stuff year after year):
Pear disease or infestation
I will call this one "Shall we dance?"
Spider dance
I found these spiders just under the eaves of our shed. The (smaller) male spider repeatedly tried to approach from a strand (which he presumably spun) leading into the female's web. He seemed to be plucking it rhythmically (perhaps musically!) which attracted the female's interest. She would approach the edge of her web, he would slowly advance toward it also, and a little closer, and yet closer again, until finally they touched (so it seemed), and he would suddenly fall, she would retreat to the center of the web, and then he would climb back up, and start plucking the strand again, starting the cycle again.

I watched about 5 rounds of this, hoping for an even better photo of the encounter, but didn't have the patience to continue. By then, my son was calling me from the raspberry patch, and the ripe plums were calling out to be picked. Besides, maybe I'll have more opportunity another time, now that I'm back in the garden again.


Laura Gardens in Desert said...

I experienced something similar and went to a kinesiologist. What I learned is that it also involves diet, so if you keep tripping your adrenals, or thyroid, or pancreas, those glands relate to muscle groups, which will pull you right out of balance again, then add stress, so diet is important, like no more diet soda....that kind of thing, whatever that may be.(coffee in my case)...Is that what you experienced too? Did you discuss diet changes?

Terra said...

How frustrating to be out of the garden and in pain for 6 weeks, and I am happy to hear you are back in action.
That is an icky growth on the pear leaves.

Garden Lily said...

Laura - Thanks for the insight. I see no obvious link to diet, since I am generally careful to avoid excess sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, etc. But I had not thought of muscle issues as related to thyroid and adrenals, so I hope to explore this further. I know that when I "stress out" (which is too often!) I am usually in pain soon after. It's always amazing how much is inter-related. Our bodies are a fascinating and complex design.

Garden Lily said...

Thanks to my gardening friend Karen, for identifying the disease on my pear tree as a type of Gymnosporangium (fungus) which is called cedar-apple rust (or many similar names). It has a funny two-part life cycle: it infects pear or apple type trees (in my case, only the Bartlett, it seems) during the summer, producing those disgusting looking horns under the leaf which release spores, and infects cedar or juniper type trees in the winter, also producing spores, which in turn infect the pears/apples. I am really not for chemicals if I can help it, but I read that it affects the fruit production (which seems the case, since the pear had many small fruits which dropped very early, leaving only one fruit behind). I have thought to remove the infected leaves, but that would be all of them!

Wanderin' Weeta said...

To remedy your pear situation, see if there are any junipers nearby that you can get rid of, or at least inspect in the winter for an infestation there. (Orange jelly-like blobs on the twigs.) The fungus does not live on your pear tree and has to be re-infected every year from a juniper.

I blogged about it the other day, here.

Garden Lily said...

Wanderin' Weeta - Thanks. I'll take a look, but I have no junipers and I'm pretty sure the neighbours on either side don't either... I noticed this year that the neighbour 2 houses up from me has the same fungus in his Bartlett pear tree also, which is probably some 150+ feet away from my tree. So the fungus is in the neighbourhood, for sure.

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