Rebounding from a bad break

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Tina Fleming, front and center, is shown here with a group of supporters who have pledged to hike the Franconia Ridge Trail with her in June. Fleming has undergone a transformation over recent months in preparation for the hike. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Rare ankle replacement proves life-changing for Laconia’s Tina Fleming


BELMONT — Tina Fleming had always been an active person who enjoyed the outdoors – then her life was thrown for a loop in March of 2008, when a horse-riding accident shattered her ankle.
Doctors used a series of screws and plates to pin her bones back together, but the fix didn’t last. Arthritis soon set in, and within a few years after her accident it became too painful for her to walk even moderate distances.
One of Fleming’s lowest points came when she determined that she would hike Mount Major, a light and easy hike for most people. Not for her – she had to hobble back down the mountain, crying because she was in so much pain.
But that’s not the Tina Fleming of today.
Today, Fleming is slim and fit, and, at 43, is preparing to tackle the popular but difficult Franconia Ridge Loop, a 9-mile, all-day hike in the White Mountains. The hike, which will take place during the last week of June and with a growing group of friends and supporters, will be the exclamation mark at the end of a period of renewal for Fleming.
The past year was a difficult one for Fleming. She finally found a doctor who was willing to do a total ankle replacement, which is a rare joint replacement, even rarer for patients as young as her. But then she was laid off from her position as a reading specialist at Laconia Middle School, and had to deal with the transition of her oldest child leaving for college while her youngest joined her middle child in high school.
Then things started to settle. The school district was able to transfer her into the role of librarian at LMS – a job that she has found she loves, her son adapted to college life, and her two daughters, both in high school now, actually started getting along for a change.
One day this fall, she had a revelation: in the same way that having children changed her life, having her children grow more independent meant she could change her life again.
“Everyone’s OK, change is OK, we’re going to survive this,” she recalled thinking. “Now it’s time to focus on me.”
Since then, her alarm has gone off at 4 a.m. each morning so that she can get to the gym before school. She also has adopted an eating pattern that combines intermittent fasting and ketogenic diet.
Intermittent fasting is an eating strategy that restricts calorie consumption to a specific window of each day. Fleming only eats from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; outside of that window, she consumes only non-caloric liquids.
When she does eat, she follows a “keto” plan, which greatly restricts carbohydrates, while encouraging fats and protein. The diet was developed nearly a century ago to reduce the risk of seizures for epilepsy patients, and is often used today as a weight loss strategy effective for some people. Since starting her ketogenic diet in October, Fleming has lost more than 30 pounds.
Early morning workouts, fasting and ketogenic eating all sound like difficult changes to make in a person’s life. More difficult, though, has been her blog, “Journey to a Goal,” which she started in November. She’s a sensitive person and fears that opening up about her life will expose her to unwanted criticism. She does it as a way to keep herself accountable, and because she hopes that someone who reads it might be inspired to effect a change in their own lives.
“I’ve gone through a long road to get here,” she said. “Last year was a hard year. This is my way of pulling myself back together.

One step after another
Josh Brooks, a physical therapist in Gilford and a partner in Granite State Physical Therapy, said he has seen many patients who have reached a physical low point, often due to an injury, then rebound.
People tend to deal with a problem with their body in stages that parallel the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Most new patients are in either the denial or anger stage when they first enter his practice, Brooks said.
“Not everyone gets to this stage of acceptance and renewal,” said Brooks. Some do, though. He has seen patients who needed help at one point to get out of their car later be able to ski. Another man needed to learn how to walk after having a leg amputation – soon he was back on the golf course.
“Many times I’ve seen patients who have gone on to do incredible things after suffering traumatic events,” he said. The recovery involves not just physical repair, it also requires mental and emotional work for the patient to accept their reality and then find a way to work with it.
It often takes determination, as was the case with Fleming, who was turned away by several surgeons who didn’t want to replace the ankle of someone so young, because they don’t know how long the artificial joint will last.
“When you feel like you don’t have the answers, you just haven’t found the right person yet. Keep searching for answers and solutions to keep moving forward,” said Brooks. “Many times (patients) feel like they’ve exhausted the knowledge of everyone around them. They just need to find the right person to move on to the next step.”
Fleming, who leads a robotics club at LMS and also has a small family farm, has somehow found time this winter to hike all of the peaks of the Belknap Range in preparation for her Franconia Ridge goal. She’s still intimidated by the hike, but calms herself by focusing on her next step.
“Isn’t life kind of like that? You have to go forward, and make the best of it,” she said.


'Relaxation Experience' offered at Creative Aging Center March 21

LACONIA — The Lakes Region Creative Aging Center, 17 Church St., will offer a “Relaxation Experience” with Reiki Master Nan Adamson.
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation; a complementary health approach administered by "laying on hands" in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of facilitating the person’s own healing response.
What are the reported benefits of Reiki?
• Promotes personal awareness
• Fosters natural healing
• Relaxes pain and discomfort
• Balances energies in the body
• Boosts energy reserves & promotes a sense of well-being
Come experience Reiki during a free demo session of 20 minutes. Call to reserve at time Wednesday, March 21, 1-2:15 p.m. and 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Call Linda Howard at 603-273-0125 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your time or for details.

Concord Hospital Trust accepting scholarship applications

CONCORD — Concord Hospi tal Trust, the philanthropic arm of the hospital, announces the Concord Hospital Trust Scholarship Fund for nursing andallied health students.

The fund, part of the trust’s end owments, was made possible by the generosity of Concord Hospital’s many benefactors, both past andpresent. Their vision was to inspire and enable students to pursuecareers in the nursing and allied health care professions to enrich theirlives, while ensuring the continued availability of quality health care to the Greater Concord community.

Concord Hospital Trust’s Scholarship Committee, a volunteer subcommittee of the Trust’s Stewardship Committee, has developedscholarship eligibility guidelines and will make decisions on fund awards. With approximately $35,000 awarded annually, scholarships typically range from $1,000-$3,000.

Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, academic merit, personal character and other criteria. Students who have lived within Concord Hospital’s primary service area for more than one year or who graduated from a high school within the service area, or who are employed by Concord Hospital, are eligible to apply.

The application is available on Concord Hospital Trust’s Website at All applications must be received or postmarked by April 27. Award decisions will be completed by mid-June.

For more information about the Scholarship Fund, the eligibility requirements or to apply, visit or contact Concord Hospital Trust at 603-227-7000, ext. 5209.

HEARING MATTERS - Having trouble hearing phone conversations?

Many people have trouble understanding conversations over the phone. There are ways to help! Some options are free.
For your phone at home, there are a number of phone models available where you can read what people say, yet talk back just like you always have, through the handset. These phones give you a screen where you can read the text. Some even allow you to read messages left in voice mail. This is called a Voice Carry-Over phone and it can significantly help improve your understanding of a conversation and answer questions accurately. It’s a bit like having captions turned on for your TV. Understanding what is said over the phone, and giving accurate responses, is especially important in case of emergency.
If you have a computer modem in your home already, and you have trouble hearing clearly over the telephone, you can visit your local audiologist for a hearing evaluation. If that evaluation indicates you have hearing loss, he or she can set the process in motion for you to receive a VCO phone. VCO phones that work through a modem don’t cost you any additional money. All expenses for VCO phones are paid for by the taxes we all pay on our phone bill.
If you do not have a computer modem, there are still options available to you. Please contact Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, Inc. This organization houses the state-funded NH-TEAP and Relay NH programs. They are located in Concord and can be reached at: 603-224-1850 (Voice) or 603-968-5889 (Front Desk Videophone). Their website is The people at NDHHS and Relay NH will help you find a phone that works for your needs. Their program provides assistance for any costs incurred. For some people, it will be free and some people will receive a reduced cost.
There are several suppliers of VCO phones. I have been advised by my patients that some suppliers and products are more efficient than others at captioning a phone call. This efficiency affects both how quickly the captions appear and how true to the conversation they are.
The options described so far all require that you have a land line. Some people have given up their land line and thus are unable to use the VCO phones described here. A patient recently advised me of an option for captioning calls that come in via a mobile phone. If this is something you feel you need, contact The service was well appreciated by the patient who told me about it. It works for Apple phones and phones using Android. Their website indicates the service is free but only works within the United States.
Especially for many seniors, the only way they have to keep in touch with family members is via their phone. These caption services can make communication easier for both sides who are trying to communicate. Please don’t put it off any longer. See your audiologist to learn more about your hearing and to get what you need to better understand conversations.
Lastly, you should know that the newest models of hearing aids work very well with cell phones and tablets. They can behave like a Bluetooth headset, to allow you to hear voices directly within the hearing aids, amplified for your hearing needs. This is a great way to enjoy face-time over a tablet, as well as to conduct a phone conversation. See your audiologist to learn more.

Laura O. Robertson, Au.D., is with Audiology Specialists, LLC; located at 211 S. Main St., in Laconia. Please call 603-528-7700 or visit