Randy Nyboer’s life list is littered with recoveries of varying sizes, shapes and lengths.
The common thread?
A mix of dedicated and determined, Nyboer has trusted the skill, expertise and compassionate care of Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Kristi Wambeke (PT) along his path to better health.
A path filled with a number of grit-filled challenges.
“Kristi treated me most recently for the recovery of my shoulder from rotator cuff surgery, but she also helped me after total-knee replacement (two) and lower back issues,’’ said Nyboer, a retired ecologist/botanist, who still finds time to do occasional field work. “Aside from the need for physical therapy from surgery, she helped correct and strengthen my lower back due to straining it from lifting heavy items like logs and backpacks.
“I have recovered from injuries and surgeries,’’ added Nyboer. “ I like riding my bike and try to get 100 miles a week during riding weather. I like to hike and be outside in nature: bird watching, wildflower photography, and going to national parks. Four months after both knees were replaced, I was able to climb mountains in Iceland.’’
The bond of respect, however, extends beyond the boundaries of Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Morrison, Illinois-based clinic, where the energetic and caring Wambeke serves as manager. The two know, understand and respect the other’s passion for cycling, hiking and all that is nature’s splendor.
In addition to being an authority on that is Daylilies, Wambeke has biked – and hiked– across America and points outside the United States, engaging in cross-state rides that have taken her through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, about both Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks of New York. She has biked Kentucky’s Blue Ridge Parkway, California’s Pacific Highway (3 times), through Utah, Tennessee, Colorado, Glacier National Park (Montana), about Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Maine and Ohio.
Wambeke, who, with her husband, have hiked most of the mountains in the United States, barely escaped national lockdown after working a mountain ridge in New Zealand as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. Soon, Wambeke will be doing a ride through Death Valley (California-Nevada border) as a week-long adventure.
“So the plan is to pick it up again soon,’’ Wambeke said of hiking. “Many times I will bring my bicycle with me and ride in the area of our hiking.’’
An always-on-the-go type, Nyboer says he knows he will receive amazing care when Wambeke is tasked with returning him to better health and his active lifestyle that includes biking and hiking.
“Working with Kristi is always a positive experience that I looked forward to, knowing I was getting the best help possible,’’ Nyboer said. “The first time Kristi worked with me, she focused on my eyes while I explained my issue and I knew then I was going to be healed. She is really attentive in listening to your issues and straight forward with her approach in your recovery. If you’re slacking off or doing your exercise improperly, she will let you know, but in a positive way without making you feel bad. Your time with her is wholly directed to your recovery. She has a great sense of humor and many wonderful topics of interest.’’
Wambeke, who began her career in physical therapy in her 30s, was quick to give credit to Nyboer for knowing and understanding what has been in front of him.
“He was the perfect patient, lots of fun,’’ Wambeke said of Nyboer. “He worked hard and was very consistent.’’
Wambeke’s passion and respect for the world around her has been there since she was a youngster.
“As part of my upbringing, I was taught respect and love for the environment,’’ she said. “ I grew up on a farm in southwest Minnesota. There were only small towns around me. If you wanted some freedom away from the farm, you rode your bike. Therefore, the bicycle was my avenue to fun and freedom. I believe any positive association as a child will be a positive association as an adult. I ride my bicycle for fun and freedom.’’
Though not a native, Wambeke has great love and respect for all that is special about a community like Morrison.
“I am not from Morrison,’’ she said. “I was in DeWitt (Iowa) for 9 years before coming to Mo-town. Both towns involved being intimately involved with the town. You get to know the families through 3 generations. But most small-town therapists will tell you that. Small towns are great. Not for fancy restaurants, etc., but for the relationships you develop.’’
Like the bond Wambeke and Nyboer have formed.
By: Johnny Marx, Storyteller