This Damn Knee

I haven’t whined about my knee injury for some time, so it’s time.  Before I begin complaining, I will find the positive.  I am so very thankful that I can do everything but run.  I am still able to teach my Zumba classes, participate in Pilates and yoga, and remain pain-free most of the time.  I can go up and down my steps, walk without a limp, and rock the Spartacus Workout (I don’t really rock it, but it sounds good).  I can exercise, which is certainly something for which I am very grateful.

But I can’t run.  Running has become a part of who I am.  It is how I relieve stress; it is my time with friends; it is my time by myself to process my day.  Running makes me feel strong.  Running exhausts me and invigorates me.  It makes me proud and it makes me frustrated.  I miss it.  I have been in physical therapy for four weeks, and have made no progress.  I have had numerous Astym treatments, and though the treatments feel great, when I attempt to run, nothing has changed.  Gary, Addison, and I went to the track the other night.  I hadn’t tried to run in almost a week, so I wanted to see if I could go a little further.  I was determined to run a mile without stopping.  I did it, but the second half hurt.  By the end of the mile, I knew it was time to stop.  I walked a lap, and then tried to run again.  It hurt.  I can’t begin to tell you how angry it makes me.  In the depths of my soul, I just want to take off.  Because I have no pain in my knee when I arrive at the track, I feel as if I will be able to run.  Once I get beyond a lap or two, I can feel the discomfort; as I run a bit further, the discomfort becomes an ache, and further along, a pain.  Once the pain is more intense, I can feel myself limping along.  And I am so frustrated.  Considering that not so long ago, I considered a three-mile run a short run, knowing it’s now a lofty goal is irritating.  

My therapists also seem frustrated because nothing makes sense to them.  They don’t understand why I can do so many physical activities, but I can’t run to save my life.  They have been wonderful, but they can’t very well fix what no one can figure out.  I have even wondered if I am imagining the pain.  And then I try to run, and realize that nope, that is not my imagination.  Next week I will have an MRI – finally.  I hope it gives the doctor some answers.  If I need surgery, sign me up.  If I am never going to run again, lock me up.  Just tell me what’s wrong.  This pain began back around Christmas, so my patience has long since run low.  

My next race was to be the St. Louis Rock n Roll Half Marathon at the end of October.  When I had to drop out of the Derby Mini in April, I immediately set St. Louis as my goal.  I thought that since I had six months, it would be no problem.  Wrong.  I just don’t feel that I am going to be able to run over 13 miles by then.  I can already tell my endurance is waning.  To build it back up will take time.  I actually have moments when I want to say screw it.  I will just give up running and stick with other forms of exercise.  And then I drive down the streets and see my friends out running, and I want more than anything to be out there sweating beside them.  I miss running.  

So, my knee sucks.  But in the whole of life, I am still blessed.  I am healthy; I can exercise; my family is healthy; I have a fantastic new job awaiting me; and I have lots of family and friends who love me.  When I get frustrated because I cannot run, I need to remember those who can’t see, those who can’t hear, those battling disease, those who can’t walk, and all the others who have much larger struggles than not being able to run.  I am very blessed.  Are you?  



Gary and me at Virginia Beach

Gary and me at Virginia Beach

As usual, this summer is zipping by, and I can’t seem to slow it down. We have a busy schedule, which means it’s not likely I will accomplish all of my summer cleaning goals, but we are creating some great memories, and that’s much more important. As a teacher, I am extremely grateful for my time off. There are many who make comments about how teachers have it made having summers off, but I can tell you, it is necessary. After spending day after day with 22 or more students, being not only teacher, but many times a nurse, mother, counselor, and more, we are exhausted. I love my students, but just as parents are ready for their kids to return to school in August, we are ready to return them to you in May. We spend time with our own families, catch up on all the work we missed out on throughout the school year, plan for the new year, read education-related material, and come back ready to tackle a new year. If it weren’t for summer break, I would be incredibly stressed, and I wouldn’t be the best teacher I can be. Come August, I will be eager to welcome a new group of students. Which brings me to one of the things that brings both excitement and added work this summer…

I will be starting the 2013-14 school year in a new position! I have taught third grade for the past six years, and have enjoyed almost every moment of it. I had considered moving up to junior or senior high English, but a few years ago I would have had to return to college to add to my license. In more recent years, the state of Indiana changed the law regarding some licensing. Someone who already holds a teaching license can now add to that license by passing the Praxis test in that area. Last spring I decided to take the test so I could add English/Language Arts grades 5-12 to my license. I paid the ridiculous fee, studied for over a month, and took the test. I have to admit, it was difficult. Having been out of college for eight years, one forgets the names of authors and styles of literature. I had to wait three weeks after the test to get my results. I was up bright and early the morning the results were available online (and I paid an additional $30 to get those results a few days early), and found that I had passed! I was so excited, and so proud. I had put in the work, and it paid off. Now I had to wait for a position to open.

In April, I learned of the retirement of the eighth grade English teacher, and immediately applied. I was so thrilled at the possibility of focusing on English all day. English is my strength, and I enjoy helping kids discover the love of reading, their potential at writing, and the intricacies of the English language. I had taught English at the prison before becoming an elementary teacher, and I loved every minute of it. I was also intrigued by the idea of working with older students. Having been a youth group leader at church, and a cheer coach years ago, I know that I like being around adolescents. This was the job for me. I went through the first interview in April, and I was a nervous wreck. I kept thinking that here I am, 46 years old, and still interviewing. After that interview was a long wait. This month I had a second interview, and then received the news that I had been selected for the job. I was ecstatic…and a little nervous! I love working at Wm. Tell, and have some amazing friends there. I have learned so much from my boss, and consider her a friend, as well as a mentor. On the other hand, I had to take this opportunity. I immediately got to work studying eighth grade standards, reading texts, and moving. Moving a classroom is no small task. I began by packing up my room at Wm. Tell. I had invested a lot of money in books and materials, and those items have been put in storage containers for my daughter, Bethany, who is currently an education major. Everything else was either left for the new third grade teacher, or moved to the junior/senior high. My next big project is to get my new room cleaned out and reorganized. That begins this week.

Along with preparing for a new grade level, my husband and I have three trips this summer. Last week, we returned from our family vacation to Virginia Beach. My step-daughter and her family live there, so along with enjoying the beach, we were able to spend time with family. Bethany and Addison went along, which was so enjoyable. Bethany hadn’t been on vacation with us in five years, and it was fun to have her along. The weekend of July 4, Gary, Addison, and I are taking a short trip to Northern Indiana and Chicago. The highlights of that trip will be visiting family friends at their house on Dewart Lake, dinner with my cousin in Chicago, visiting my niece Erin, and attending the Cubs game.

At the end of July, Gary and I will be venturing off to Atlanta for a fitness conference: Atlanta Mania. I am really excited about this conference, but also slightly terrified. We will be spending four days working out…all day. And these workouts will be way out of our comfort zones because the purpose is to learn about various types of exercise, and to become better educated on fitness. I am going to become certified to be a Tabata Bootcamp trainer, and Gary will be certified in teaching Spinning. We are attending this conference with several instructors from Everbody’s Gym, so hopefully we will be able to work a little fun in with the torture. Since my knee is still injured (UGH!!!), I am looking forward to learning about some different workouts. Without running, I have struggled to stay as active as I need to be.

No wonder summer is marching by at an accelerated rate! Along with these big events, I also have physical therapy twice a week, and have some other obligations. I am not complaining because I appreciate that we are able to do it all. We have incredible friends and family to share our time with us, and are blessed to be healthy so that we can be involved in fitness. I am thankful every day for the opportunities we have, and that we are no longer afraid to take those opportunities, even if they don’t always work out. I am thankful for summer.

Some Random Thoughts…

WARNING:  Random thoughts and possibly some stream of consciousness writing ahead!  Typically when I sit down to write a blog, I have some sort of plan.  I teach my students to pre-write; you have to have a plan!   Well, today I don’t have a plan, just some thoughts.  Here it goes…

First, I want to address my friend, Emily’s blog.  She became aware of a website on which people can anonymously post anything they want, including insults about anyone.  They can post the names of others, without having to post their own names.  Wow.  What guts it takes to sit at a computer bashing people, without attaching one’s own name to the post.  Why would any person with a conscience participate in such a forum?  Their lives must be rather pathetic if they fill their time by tearing others down.  I have never liked people who constantly criticize others, and who cannot be happy when someone is successful.  You know the type:  She thinks she is really something since she got that job.  She thinks she is so great since she lost weight.  He thinks he is better than everyone since he got that promotion.  How can they afford that big house?  Blah, blah, blah.

 Having been the topic of gossip in this town, I know it hurts.  It is easy to say we don’t care what others think, but deep down, those comments sting.  No one is perfect; we have all said or done things we aren’t particularly proud of, but gossips love to take those weaknesses and build elaborate stories.   I cannot sit here and say that I have never participated in gossip; that isn’t true.  What I can say is that I do my best to avoid it.  I know in the past there were some pretty nasty stories about me floating around, and that people said they knew it was true.  It wasn’t.  Though it was a difficult time, I learned many lessons.  Unless I have seen something myself, or have spoken with the subject of the gossip, I don’t believe much of anything.  I try to look deeper, and know that there are always two sides to every story.  And I know that it usually isn’t really any of my business.  We are all curious, but spreading rumors, trashing others, and accepting gossip as gospel is wrong.  Give others a chance.  Everyone has a story; everyone has struggles; and everyone deserves your compassion.

Emily will learn that she has so many friends and supporters, and that those anonymous people who  post negativity likely have very few friends.  Who would want them as friends?  It is hard to not get caught up in the ‘talk’; we want to defend ourselves.  Recently, I have had someone telling our mutual friends a lie about something I said (she twisted my words to her benefit).  While my instinct is to be sure to tell everyone it is simply not true, I don’t want to lower myself to that level.  I would hope that those who know me know better, so I am taking the high road (and it’s hard!).  Will I ever trust that individual again?  Absolutely not.  Okay, enough of that.

Fitness…I am barely running, and it is not going well.  I began physical therapy this week.  I have only had one session, so I can’t really expect to feel a difference, though it would have been nice.  In an odd way, I rather enjoyed the therapy.  Despite the bruises on my leg, I can’t wait to go back for more.  As the therapist was assessing my knee issues, she could come up with no reason for my pain.  Absolutely nothing hurts except running.  I can do Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, jumping jacks, and box jumps.  I just cannot run without pain.  She pushed and prodded, and kept asking if it hurt.  Nope.  I believe she was puzzled.

The best thing about my visit was that the therapist told me to try running.  She wants to see if the therapy is working.  Always one to follow orders, I hit the track with our Biggest Loser team last night.  We did ten stair laps, then took off to run or walk two miles, each at our own pace.  My friend Breanne and I took off together.  My knee began to hurt by the time I’d run a half lap.  Crap.  I went ahead and ran a lap, and then walked.  We continued alternating walking and running, and my knee continued to hurt.  By the time Gary, Addison, and I arrived home, it really hurt.  I have this fear that running might no longer be in my future.  I am fortunate (and keep reminding myself of this) that I can do everything else.  I am still able to work out, and I can still teach my classes.  I have taken this ‘opportunity’ to try new classes, and have found that I like Pilates.  It is difficult, and I feel wimpy, but I will get stronger, and hopefully gain some balance.  One bright spot last night was when Addison ran.  We have been trying to get her interested in running for four years, and she is finally showing some interest.  I bought her some new neon yellow running shoes yesterday, and she tried them out last night.  She ran a mile at a 9:48 pace, which is excellent.  She wants to try some races, and I desperately want to run with her.

I have rambled long enough.  I will leave you with some things to think about today:

  • Rather than bring others down, lift them up!  Give at least three compliments today.  I bet you will feel better!
  • Don’t believe the gossip.  And if you know it’s true, don’t judge.  You don’t know their stories.
  • Get active!  If you focus on improving your own health, you won’t have time to worry about others’ lives.
  • Likewise, if you feel good about yourself, you will want others to have that same feeling.
  • DON’T EVER PARTICIPATE IN AN ANONYMOUS FORUM!  If you have something important to say, put your name with it.  Address the person directly rather than online.  This goes for Facebook, too.
  • Have an outstanding day!