Photo by Tim Graves

It was at the junction of two trails up the mountain that I first saw him. Well, actually, I passed him by without giving him much notice. No time for niceties; I was on a mission.


I’d set a goal for my post-op self. I would travel to the top of Dog Mountain, loop around, and then come down the long way. (The peak of Dog Mountain on the Washington State side of the Columbia River Gorge offers a vigorous route to a lavish carpet of wildflowers at its peak in May and June.)

Huffing and puffing enough to blow a pig’s house down, I finally arrived at a meadow overlooking the Gorge. I lingered awhile among the flowers hoping for resurgent fitness.

I sat awhile.

I ate a snack.

I breathed in the yellows, purples, pinks, and reds that surrounded me. I admired the handiwork of over a million years of geological events displayed at my feet.

No go.

Disappointed, I eventually admitted to myself that my ten-week post-operative body was not going to make it to the top. With a sigh I began the trip back to the trailhead.


Image from

I met him again on my way back down the trail. He slowly and steadily continued his ascent. I gestured and smiled, moving to the side for him to get past me.

“Did you make it to the top already?” he asked.

“Not today,” I said feeling all of the shame and disappointment that I’d created for myself. I explained that I was still recovering from surgery. “I’m still building stamina and strength,” I added.

Nodding his head, I felt his empathy and understanding encircle me. Approaching his eightieth birthday, he told me that half of his right foot had been amputated at the beginning of the decade. I listened with my best pastoral ear only later realizing that he was the pastor and I the parishioner.

Just as we were parting — I on my way down the trail and he still journeying upward — he added a few more words. “My attitude” he said, “is that as long as you’re still climbing uphill, you’re not over-the-hill.” I chuckled and wished him well.

My disappointment dissipated with each step downward. “Look how far I’ve come,” I reminded myself. Two months ago I couldn’t roll over in bed without extreme pain. Six weeks ago walking a few loops around the house required a two-hour nap. Four weeks ago a morning of work left me barely able to prepare my lunch.

And today, I climbed 1600-feet in just over a mile and a half! Not bad for someone with only half a colon!


This is the seventh of multiple posts about my experiences of surgery and recovery following a colonoscopy.

Related Posts

God Hides God’s Face From Me! May 20, 2014
Unnatural May 21, 2014
Out of Chaos May 27, 2014
No Big Deal May 29, 2014
Mortality June 3, 2014
Wiped Memories June 6, 2014
Perseverance June 10, 2014
Scars June 19, 2014

Why do I write about this topic?

Following my surgery I had a myriad of feelings. A myriad of web searches to find the stories of others, perhaps to validate my own emotions, left me empty handed. And, so, I write these posts to process my very real feelings and in the hopes that someone else finds them useful following their surgery and recovery.




  1. […] As I journeyed home from climbing Wind Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I have made remarkable progress in the three months following the removal of my right colon. My body is not only healing, I am getting back into shape. Two and one-half weeks ago before climbing Wind Mountain, I thought I might collapse before the first switchback in my attempt to climb Dog Mountain (See Perseverance.) […]

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