She traveled south of the border three or four times a year for decades, until back pain sidelined the 75-year-old adventurer.
“It started 20 years ago with the back, and it got harder and harder to walk because the pain would be severe,” Skaer said. “I kept traveling to Mexico and it would hurt more and more, because I was walking more there. My last trip to Mexico about 18 months ago was really a difficult one. I haven’t been back since because it was hurting too much.”
Her primary care physician prescribed a medical grade compression waistband, which provided some short-term relief, but not enough. She started seeing a massage therapist, who recommended she seek out the services of Dr. Annette Zaharoff at the Non-Surgical Center of Texas.
“I met Dr Z and she told me she could see from the way I walked that one leg was shorter than the other,” Skaer said. “That in itself was news to me, but then she helped me understand how that was affecting my back.”
Dr. Zaharoff ordered X-rays and diagnosed Skaer with severe lumbar arthritis. She prescribed twice-weekly sessions with the physical therapy team at the sports medicine clinic, under the direction of Director of Physical Therapy Julie Barnett. Skaer singled out physical therapist Elaine Duet-Lee for making her sessions effective.
“I love working with Elaine because she helps me get the exercises just right. I believe I am getting the maximum benefit from them exercises.”
Skaer learned new exercises like the Wall Angel to help improve her posture, the Dying Bug for her core, and leg-strengthening exercises like the Clam and the Figure 4.
“Gradually it started getting better. It was good and bad for a bit there but now I really am down to minimal pain,” Skaer said. “I’m working more on exercises so my back can get strong enough to walk. I do notice I am walking better, my balance is better.”
At the staff’s recommendation, Skaer purchased a recumbent bicycle, and she also follows a prescribed routine of exercises at home.
“For some reason I lost five pounds without even trying,” she said with a laugh. “I love the exercises because they feel so good and I feel so much relief from being so much more flexible. It also has given me more energy to do things around the house.”
“I’m a lot stronger now and my endurance is a lot better than when I started,” she said.
And, Skaer says, she is already planning to return to Mexico later this year.
— May 2019