Getting My Mojo Back

It’s been three weeks and three days since surgery.  It seems much longer.  It’s been three weeks and four days since I really exercised, and I am beginning to really miss my workouts.  Tuesday I decided to go for a walk after a meeting at school.  I wanted to listen to my music, and see if I could walk a little quicker than I had been.  I put on my neglected workout clothes, plugged in my earbuds, turned on my running jams, and headed out on my favorite route.

My knee felt great!  I walked three miles, and for two of those miles I maintained a 15-minute pace.  That’s a pretty quick walking pace.  I was into my running playlist, evening singing along at times, and I didn’t really care who heard me.  I had my mojo back!  I was sweating and working hard!

As I trotted along, singing, I had some of my strange-and-uninteresting-very-random thoughts.  Have you ever wondered what  you would do if you knew no one would see you?  I am not talking about what you do in the privacy of your home (some things are better left in private), but when you’re out and about, and suddenly get the urge to do something childish.  That’s one of the things I was thinking about as I walked along (at my very super-fast pace).  Here is what I would have done if I really did not care what anyone thought (there were a lot of walkers, runners, and bikers out that day who might have reported a short crazy lady to the police had I given in and tried everything that crossed my mind).  I would have picked an orange flower from a bush along the path, and put it in my ponytail just for fun.  I would have stopped and danced to a couple of Zumba songs.  I would have continued to sing loudly, even when I passed people, just because I like the songs.  I would have asked the guy who was fishing if he was catching anything, and watched him for a bit.  I would have played on the swings for a few minutes.  Aren’t there little things that your inner child wants to do, but your boring adult self says are unacceptable – especially when you are by yourself?  Why can’t we sing out loud if the mood strikes us?  Why can’t we dance when the song is perfect?  Why do we have to be so adult all the time?

If you see me out walking or running, you might just hear my off-key voice singing some Pink song, or notice my hands are actually doing dance motions.  You might see me talking to some random stranger because something about her interests me.  Life is too short to be serious all the time.  We all work hard, try to make our communities better, provide leadership for our youth, and act like grown-ups at work.  We need to take some time to sing and dance.  We need to have fun without fear of what ‘they’ might say.  Who the heck is ‘they’ anyway?

Oh, and my knee?  It hurt like crazy the next day.  My mojo just came for a brief visit.  But it’ll be back!  Next week, I will attempt to run.  And I’m gonna sing when I do it!

16 Days Post-Op…Losing Patience

I am not a patient person, but it’s expected because patience runs thin on my mom’s side of our family.  It is one of my character flaws, but since I am basking in mid-life, I have just accepted it.  And so I am 16 days post-op, and recovering as expected – by the doctor; I expected a miraculous healing.  I am getting around quite well, but then I forget I just had surgery, and I do something careless,, like try to kneel or squat.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not Catholic.  At my post-op checkup, I was told I would not be able to kneel for three or four months.  That might not seem like a big deal, but, seriously, have you ever tried to clean a toilet without kneeling?  Wipe up a floor by bending at your waist?  Squat, you say?  Nope.  I can’t do that either.  I have forgotten I can’t do that, and have squatted down to pick something up, and then pain shoots from my kneecap to every single nerve in my hip, foot, and leg.  And then I remember I can’t squat.   Sunday I simply wanted to sit on the couch.  Sometimes I plop down with my legs underneath me.  I tried this, and again, my knee can’t bend that far back.  I made some primal  (is that a word?  Like a sound that comes from a primate?  Pretend it is.) moan causing my husband to ask what I had done.  Ugh…I just wanted to sit down without propping my leg on a pillow.

I was told I could begin to ease back into exercise, beginning with a little walking, biking, and swimming.  Honestly, I am scared.  My knee still hurts, and the thought of turning bicycle pedals makes my belly turn.  I suck at swimming, so I decided I would go for a walk with my friend and coworker Kelly.  I knew she’d bring her kids in a stroller, which would (hopefully) make her walk a little slower than normal.  We walked over two miles, and I made it, but it was hard.  To go from being able to run 13.1 miles, to barely being able to walk – slowly – two miles is slightly discouraging.  Hell, it’s downright maddening.  But it was nice to have some time in the great outdoors with my friend.  Positive…positive…positive!

Yesterday was my daughter’s first high school golf match.  I don’t like golf.  At all.  Won’t ever.  Yes, I’ve played.  Hated it.  But, being the devoted mother I am, I drove out to Christmas Lake to cheer her on.  And then I found out you cannot cheer in golf.  You may softly utter, “Good Ball’.  That little phrase doesn’t make sense to me.  What’d the ball do?  It was a good shot, good drive, nice putt.  Good ball?  I have lots to learn.  Anyway, the coach from the other team told us we could rent a cart for $5.  I considered it, but then thought I could get a little exercise, and none of the other moms were being wimpy and getting a cart, so I walked.  For three hours I walked up and down hills and stood.  That was one of the most ignorant things I’ve done in a long time (other than purchasing the wrong Cubs tickets).  I was hot; there were bugs; my knee hurt; and I was bored out of my mind.  Golf moves at a snail’s pace.  No, slower.  One hole could take 20 minutes.  By the time I got home, my knee ached like crazy, and it actually hurt all night long, which it hasn’t done since right after surgery.

Tomorrow we have another match at the same place.  And, yes, I will be there with my timid little voice, trying not to make jokes or holler, “Way to go, Babycakes!”, and driving a cart.  I will take a book to read or papers to grade, and I will follow my little princess around in a golf cart.  I will find joy in the moment (probably in the form of a Diet Mountain Dew and a candy bar).   I will rest my knee.

I am supposed to be able to run in a couple more weeks.  Today, I can’t even imagine that.   I am pretty hesitant to try much of anything.  The doctor said I won’t hurt anything, but I could slow recovery, which is just what I don’t want to do.  Getting back in shape is going to be rough.  It takes so long to get into good shape, but gosh, it goes quickly once you stop working out.  I won’t be able to teach Zumba for a few more weeks, and I really need feel good about my mobility before taking it on again.  There is so much I want to do right now.  Gary is working out often, so he’s gone a lot, and I am stuck here.  Maybe next week I’ll get brave and attempt the elliptical.  Woo hoo.  I’d have to be desperate to look forward to an elliptical!

After all is said and done, I am healthy, healing, and blessed.  I spoke with my friend Rob today, and he is currently battling cancer – and winning.  He has the best attitude, believes in the power of prayer, and has been fighting like hell.  If he can take on that challenge without complaining, I think I need to get over myself, be glad I only have a knee injury, and quit whining.  Well, I will quit whining about recovery, but will likely continue to whine about golf until mid-September.   To Rob…You keep up the good fight!   Our family, particularly Morgan and Bethany, have been blessed to have you and Angela in our lives.  We, along with countless other Prayer Warriors, will keep on praying!

Peace and Love….

Schweizer Fest Road Run…Day 5 Post Op

No, I didn’t run.  However, I have been asked about my knee so much, that I made up a great story to try out tonight!

Person:  UGH!  What happened to your knee?

Me:  Well, you won’t believe it, but I was running the 6 miler this morning, and I was in front.  I was so excited to run up Mozart in the 100% humidity, and I was just flying!  Suddenly, when I got right in front of the Nobles’ house, a gigantic buck ran out in front of me!  I know!  It was crazy!  So, since I am an athlete, I did what any respectable athlete would do, and I hurdled the deer.  Just as I was crossing over, he turned his head, and his enormous antler caught my foot.  I landed right on my knee!  That was it for me.  I had to drop out, and now I have several stitches, and I have to wear this wrap for a week!  How embarrassing!

What do you think?  It sounds a helluva lot better than having an arthroscope for arthritis and IT band surgery.

I have to be honest, though.  Many people have said they were sorry I couldn’t run the race this year.  I just nodded and smiled, and acted like I certainly would have been running had it not been for having surgery this week.  Confession:  I would probably not have been running.  Really.  I haven’t run the Fest run in three years.  Last year I worked the finish line, and if I would have been confident that my knee would hold up, I probably would have worked it again this year.  As it was, I dubbed myself official race photographer, and worked to get pictures of as many of my friends as possible.

So, why wouldn’t I have run?  The reason is that I have crazy anxiety.  It makes me so stinkin’ nervous to run a race in Tell City because I know most everyone there.  I literally get heart palpitations and belly upset just thinking about running in front of my home town.  In my head, I know it is ridiculous, but the last time I ran it, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even enjoy the race.  I have run half marathons with thousands of people, and I don’t get that anxious, but stick me in front of people who know and love me (and some who don’t like me one bit), and I totally freak out.  Don’t judge me.  We all have oddities – I just admit mine online!  Today, I thought maybe I should try it again next year, assuming my body will be healed and I am running in a year.  Next summer, I’ll get all nervous just reading about the race in the News.  And I am such a great photographer that I should probably stick to that.

As for this morning,  I had an absolute blast!  I completely enjoyed watching everyone finish!  I got some pretty great pictures, and was so glad to capture those moments for my friends.  I wasn’t stressed at all!  I am so proud of so many people, but I am going to mention just a few.

Melinda Jacob….She is incredible!  She has lost 117 pounds by eating right and working her butt off.  I have literally watched her shrink over the last year.  I remember last fall when I asked her to come to Zumba.  She told me she would when she lost some more weight.  Of course, I told her that made no sense because doing Zumba would help her lose that weight.  She caved, and she loved it!  She came to lots of Zumba classes, and many times did three workouts a day.  She is a shining example of perseverance to her children.  She ran the six-mile race this morning, and I was so very proud of her!

Ginger Alvey….In January, when we began the third season of the Biggest Loser at Everbody’s, Ginger joined.  I will never forget her first night on the elliptical.  She could hardly eek out 4 minutes.  Ginger never gave up, and she kept coming back.  She now rocks that stupid elliptical, goes to Zumba, and has begun to run.  Today Ginger ran the two mile race!   How far she has come in such a short time!

Caroline Johnson….sometimes hates working out.  I have seen her laugh during workouts, but I’ve also heard her cuss, and seen her leave because she’s ticked she can’t do something.  But, she always came back.  She has pushed herself beyond what she thought she was capable of, and continues to push (even when it sometimes takes a kick in the butt).  Caroline and her husband Scott have completely changed their lives in the past seven months, and are living a healthier lifestyle with their daughter.  When Caroline and I have been out walking/running, we get honked at constantly.  While I would like to think some of those honks are for me, they are all for Caroline.  Don’t think that girl isn’t inspiring others to get out there and move.  Caroline walked/ran the two mile this morning, as did her daughter, Bailee.  Her husband Scott ran the six-mile.  This family rocks!

My husband…Gary has been running for over four years now.  Because he has an artificial knee, it takes more effort for him to run than most anyone else.  He ran the six mile today, and I have never seen him run stronger!  He inspires me every single day by his dedication.  I kinda like him!

Debbie Elder…I know I’ll get this number wrong, but Debbie has lost 50+ pounds.  She is at the gym working hard all the time.  She is also a runner now!  She has the best attitude, and makes me happy when I am in a class with her.  She ran the two mile today, and I suspect she’ll run the six mile next year.  How ’bout it, Debbie?

Emily Miller….I can’t possibly write this and not include Emily.  She has also lost 50+ pounds, and has shared her journey with anyone who would read (she’s a lot like me!).  This year, she set a goal to run the six mile, stuck to a plan, and she ran it in under an hour!  But is she stopping there?  Heck no!  In October, Emily will run her first half marathon!  I am so hoping to be there to witness this great feat, and if band allows, I’ll be screaming ’til my lungs blow as she crosses the finish line.  She has inspired so many people in our community to get healthy.  She is a ball of energy and positive vibes.

TCJSHS and PCHS Cross Country Teams….You make all of us proud!  Two TC junior high students won the two mile race today – Katie Goffinet and Nate Kaiser!  How incredible is that?  All of the kids are so dedicated and so supportive of one another.  They are terrific representatives of Perry County.

The Biggest Loser and Corporate Challenge Participants…All of you!  It is so great to see how our community has become so focused on getting in shape.  Seeing you all out there, either walking or running, made me so proud!  You all are doing a great service to yourselves and your families.  You deserve to be very proud, and you are worth the effort you’re putting in!  Keep it up!  I want to see all of you – and more – out there next year!

To all of the 694 people who joined the action today, thank you!  It was a memorable morning, and I was so happy to be there, basking in your glory!  I had so many friends who ran that I would not dare try to name them for fear of forgetting someone.   Just know that you all are the reason I was willing to go through surgery.  I want to be like you!  I want to run…………..just not in Tell City :-/.  You made my morning:  I envied your smiles, your pride, and your sweat (yea, really – I wanted to be sweating from a hard run).  I envy the sore muscles you’ll have tomorrow, too.  Afterall, it’s a good sore!

Day 3 Post-Op

On Monday, I had a long-awaited surgery on my knee.  I have had pain since before Christmas, and had tried resting, injections, and physical therapy.  Despite my efforts, I could only run a mile or two before being stopped in my tracks by knee pain.  As someone who has come to thrive on running, not running on a regular basis has been difficult.  My insurance finally approved an MRI after I did five weeks of physical therapy, and it showed arthritis behind my knee cap and IT band tendonitis, which is what the doctor had suspected all along.  Since I had already done the injections and PT, the next step was surgery.

I hesitated about a day, and still questioned my decision after a date had been set, but I knew I had to do it.  If not, I just wouldn’t be able to run, and I can’t imagine my life without running.  I felt fortunate that I was still able to complete other workouts without much pain, and I was still able to teach Zumba.  However, if I over-worked my knee, even just by walking a lot or walking down a steep hill, it became really sore.

Gary and I headed to Jasper Monday.  I wasn’t really very nervous – I rather enjoy being put under!  I was also anxious to get the surgery over and begin the healing process.  The surgery went well (I assume it did; I was asleep, afterall).  Dr. Love scraped out the arthritis, removed something that was behind my knee cap, cut a small triangle out of my IT band, and (I think) removed a small bursa that was behind the IT band.  I was still out of it when he explained all of this, but I think that’s the gist of it.  Once I awoke, I drank some Diet Coke, got dressed, and was loaded into the car.  I felt pretty woozy all the way home, but overall, it wasn’t bad at all.

This week I have to rest.  That’s hard.  I know that it sounds good that I have doctor’s orders to sit around all week, but that got old really fast.  Thankfully, my daughters are all home this week, as well as my grandson.  They have helped out a lot, and just kept me company.  Tuesday morning, I took my last Lortab.  I believe it was making me feel worse.  After I took the last one, I was nauseated, and felt drained.  I decided to stick to ibuprofen, and that has been enough.  Tuesday proved to be the longest day ever.  I literally laid on the couch all day and evening.  Bethany stuck with me, and I know she had to be bored out of her mind.  By yesterday, I was ready to get out.  I had planned to go see Addison play in the band at the Schweizer Fest, but my friend Kelly texted me in the morning to see if I could go to lunch with my new co-workers.  I decided it wouldn’t hurt to get out for an hour, and I could keep my leg propped up, so I was good to go.  It takes a lot of effort to walk any further than from the couch to the bathroom, so my outings were all I could handle.

Layne is keeping me entertained this week!

Layne is keeping me entertained this week!

I was glad I went to the Fest last night, but also glad I didn’t stay long.  Bethany dropped me off as close to the stage as possible, but I still had to hobble down the sidewalk through the flea market.  As I was heading toward the stage area, there was a young couple coming toward me.  Now, my knee was all wrapped up, I was clearly struggling to walk, and yet, they made no effort to let me pass!  Seriously,  I had to turn sideways and stop so they could continue on hand-in-hand.  What brats!

Last night I was finally able to take the wrap and bandages off.  I waited until Gary was home because I don’t handle seeing stitches very well at all.  I was also able to shower for the first time, and wanted him to be around in case I lost my balance.  Let me tell you, my husband is an amazing caregiver!  He unwrapped my leg and took off the gauze, which terrified me.  He explained what it looked like before I looked.  He stuck around while I showered (I didn’t hear him complain!), and then bandaged my knee back up.  My knee really doesn’t look that bad (see below).  I have three incisions:  two from the scope, and one larger one from where the doctor made an incision to get to the IT band.  The larger one has four stitches, and is pretty sore.  My knee isn’t too swollen, which is great.

Today is my third day at home.  The kids have all gone to Holiday World.  They tried to convince me to go, saying they’d haul me around in a wagon or wheelchair.  There is nothing appealing about that offer.  I am going to stick to the couch today.  I am going to school Monday, so I want to make sure I am ready to tackle the first week.  I plan (today, at least) to not exercise at all for four weeks.  It’s easy to say that now, when I can hardly walk.  The doctor said it will be four to six weeks before I can teach Zumba or run, and he doesn’t even want me walking for exercise for several weeks.  He said I could do yoga and pilates after a couple weeks, but really didn’t encourage it, so I think it might be best to just avoid anything that could cause problems.  I don’t know what I am going to do with myself because basically all of our free time is spent working out.  Getting the school year off to a great start will be my priority, especially since I am starting a new job (that I am super-excited about!).  I will have lots of time to blog, so I will keep everyone updated on my journey back to running.  It is going to completely suck to have to start back at the beginning.  But I will do it.  And I have so many terrific friends whom I know will encourage and support me.    How blessed I am!

This is the largest incision where the doctor went in to repair my IT band.  Ewww!!!!

This is the largest incision where the doctor went in to repair my IT band. Ewww!!!!

 

This is the top view.  If you notice writing on my knee cap, it says YES, meaning that is the correct knee on which to operate!

This is the top view. If you notice writing on my knee cap, it says YES, meaning that is the correct knee on which to operate!