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Looking Back-11/15/2016

It’s been a year since the bike accident at Ironman Arizona. A lot of things have happened and a lot has stayed the same. The biggest change has been learning about how much I depend on and take for granted my body and being able to move when and how I wanted. I went from being very confident to scared in a matter of seconds. My injury was very minor in comparison to what a lot of other people have had to deal with. I was lucky in that I was able to recover fully and can function normally again. It could have been very different and I know that.

To be able to move forward I need to look back at last year and process through the last year. This will be a long post and is more for my personal needs than anything else.

A year ago, I was having a great day at IMAZ at mile 80 on the bike when I went through a wet corner and my wheel came out from under the bike and I landed on my left side. I looked at my bloody and numb hands and thought- I wonder if I can ride 32 more miles this way. Most of the skin was gone from my palms and I didn’t know that I had broken fingers at that time. The policeman came and tried to lift me up so I could get out of the intersection. When I tried to put pressure on my left leg it hurt really bad. I told them to put me down and I sat back in the intersection with other racers riding around me. I finally told them that I could scoot out of the intersection on my butt and then did so to get out of the way. It was raining and I was very cold and going into shock at this point. The policeman took off his jacket and covered my head and shoulders with it while I waited for the ambulance. Then the Ironman staff  were there and they started asking the can you continue with the race questions? Are you sure you want to quit? You know if you stop you can’t finish the race and won’t be an Ironman.  At that point I was pretty sure as my hands were useless and not going to be able to shift gears and my hip hurt really bad. I’ve done several other Ironman races and the “being an Ironman” thing isn’t important to me anymore.I told them I was sure and they put me in the ambulance and took me to the hospital. On the ride over I just remember how bad my hip hurt and had them prop pillows under it. I was also shaking and dripping blood every where.

Meanwhile Brian and Buffy were just sitting down for a nice lunch in Tempe. Brian later told me that he’d seen my splits not changing on the Ironman tracker and knew something was wrong. They’d just ordered lunch when I called from the hospital. I told Brian what had happened and he asked me about how the bike was. I had no idea how the bike was nor did I care at that point. Later when I asked the nurse why it was taking my husband so long to get to the hospital she said he probably figured I was okay when I started yelling and and cussing at him when he asked about the bike that I was okay.

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3 bags of morphine

After the accident we flew home and I went back to work heavily bandaged and walking without crutches. My hip hurt but it was manageable with pain medication. I took my post two weeks of recover  and  also went to visit Chandler in San Jose for Thanksgiving. When it was time to  try running I  was unable to get 1/8 of a mile before knowing something was very very wrong. I knew that my hip wasn’t broken from the x-rays taken in the ER. I turned into Dr. Google and started researching what could be wrong.

I sent my coach this email-

Steve, Do you know or coach anyone who has
 torn their labrum/FAI and had
 surgery? R

No. I’m  going to suggest staying off the Internet and wait until
 your doctor gives you a diagnosis.
 On Dec 7, 2015 6:20 AM

The diagnosis and what happened next can be found over the last year on my blog. After several contrast MRI’s and doctor visits we learned that my labrum was torn and would require surgery.

Music is something that I’ve always used to express my feelings when I couldn’t find the right words. Also if you haven’t already noticed writing isn’t exactly my strength.

The entire month of December after my diagnosis was spent feeling like I was living in a nightmare. I was barely functioning at work and very depressed. I was also in a lot of pain and came home every day and went to bed at 5. When your labrum is torn it throws off  everything in your entire body. Add in trying to teach PE to that and just intensifies the pain.

I’m normally a very upbeat and positive person but the possibility that I would never be able to run or move normally let alone participate in races was more than I could handle at the time. I also had no idea how I would be able to continue to work until I was able to get surgery or if the surgery wasn’t successful. Everything that I read on the internet was basically a nightmare story of labrum/FAI surgery failures and ruined lives. The only good thing about reading all of those posts was they brought out how important it was having an expert in the field perform the surgery.

The month of December was spent feeling like this:

 

 

Here are some songs that were important to me at different times of the year. I think they do a good job of expressing my feelings. Surprisingly the Foo Fighters are pretty prominent in my year.

January- Starting the new year and going into surgery

 

Stay tuned for PART 2 in a few days as I wrap up 2016.

adversity

One would think that after 41 years of friendship I would have learned to listen to my  friend Heather. In my last blog post I had recently started on a clean nutrition plan in an attempt to lose surgery weight and eat better. Heather reminded me that things always go to shit when I clean up my diet and I was better off eating what I’d always eaten. Perhaps  I should have listened to her.

In June I started on a nutrition plan which removed all processed sugar and junk food  I spent the entire month basically sick, bitchy and didn’t lose any weight. As a matter of fact I gained weight (3 pounds every week) when I ate my 1 free meal of the week. I worked with my nutritionist and each week we would tweak the plan to see if something different would work. Nothing worked and nothing changed. I still took in processed sugar during my workouts but ate balanced the rest of the time. The normal person would have great success and feel really good eating like this. I should have known that normal wasn’t an option by this time in my life. It is one thing to remove all sugar, alcohol and eating out and lose weight at least that is worth it. It is another to not have any weight changes and feel like death 98% percent of the time. In hindsight at least all of this showed me something was not working right.

After 2 months of this I went in to see my endocrinologist. We originally thought I had a “sluggish” metabolism from having been so active before surgery and then being bedridden for so many months. She started out by ordering a 2 hour glucose test. During which my numbers dropped into the 40’s after consuming the glucose. Okay, I’ve always gotten a little bitchy without eating every 2-3 hours so that was no surprise. Now I know why I felt so bad all summer. Removing sugar from someone who is hypoglycemic is a recipe for disaster.

Things progressed from there and in August  I’m at Baylor having a 6 hour Mixed Meal Test. During this test you go in fasting, after 30 minutes eat a mixed meal and then proceed to have 25 vials of blood taken over the next 6 hours. Which isn’t that bad you just feel like a pin cushion afterwards and are really hungry with a nasty headache. I didn’t have any food in my purse during this test in fear that I would break down in a moment of weakness and eat something and ruin the test. Instead I made it to the lobby and inhaled as many quick simple carbs as I could get in before attempting to drive home. I also felt pleased that I made it through the entire 6 hours as the lab tech told me most people have to stop. Hey, if I can do anything well it is endurance events. I may not be winning any races this year but I can “win” the Mixed Meal test.

Fast forward  the next thing I know I am on a trial with a Dexcom or continuous glucose monitor – in addition to testing my blood glucose several times a day. This made me hyper aware of the carbohydrate content of every food on the planet. I also decided that the entire world was diabetic and would judge people’s shopping carts at the grocery store.

After the first week with the trial Dexcom the doctor called. It seems that they get a little/ LOT concerned when you are hypoglycemic for up to 5 hours at night while you are asleep. They don’t seem too cool with something called hypoglycemic unawareness. As a matter of fact this seems to bother them so much that I got a permanent Dexcom which was  covered through insurance.  I just thought I had good management and HTFU abilities and could deal with being hypoglycemic. No problem here let me just keep doing what I’m doing and we will be fine.

My problem isn’t diabetes. In fact it is my understanding that I  basically have the opposite of diabetes as I may release too much insulin and lower my glucose levels until I am hypoglycemic. Now at first this information was pretty exciting. FINALLY I had an answer to why all of my Ironman races and some long training days went to hell. Maybe this was why I had to have IV’s at a few races. Maybe instead of being dehydrated I was hypoglycemic which has a lot of the same symptoms. I started to get excited thinking this would solve my problems with races and next year would be awesome once we got it all figured out.

For data purposes I track my glucose levels, intensity and carbohydrate intake during workouts .  I thought I could be my own science project and figure out what was wrong with my nutrition. Then I started testing and  saw what happened.  I can’t do a workout without my meter freaking out, sending alarms and acting as if I will die soon if I did not stop working out ASAP. Of course I just turn down the alarm and keep going on. Which makes it hard to get any work in as I’m worried if I’m going to do damage to my body.

 

All of this  explains a hell of a lot of what would happen at races. Or all of those emails to my coach during long IM bike training rides where I had to stop and eat or die. This was so weird as I was taking in a LOT of sugars and my levels should be going up and not down.

Since the first Mixed meal test did not take certain blood tests the Dr. wanted to see what the results of these tests would be when I was hypoglycemic. No problem this is something I can do!  I can make myself hypo at least 2X a day working out. I took a day off from work, had my coach plan a workout to induce hypoglycemia and got to work. But my levels didn’t go down per the glucose meter.

Okay, no problem I’ll do it again- got myself hypo and drove over to Quest. All of the power was out on that side of town-no test.

Email sent to coach-

I got 1:30 into bike. With many stops and starts. Get my glucose to 51. Feel like shit
Drive to quest and they are closed due to power outage. Fuck
I’m gonna drink a real Dr Pepper and eat some candy.

A week later I make  myself hypo again during Quest lab hours. The lady made me wait my turn even though I showed her my monitor and told her the tests needed to be completed ASAP. By the time I waited my turn my glucose numbers were UP and not below 60.

I completed my workout today (which was easy btw) and got my glucose down to 55. Drove like a maniac to Quest Diagnostics. There were quite a few people in line. Got there and showed the lady my Dexcom Meter that said- 55 URGENT LOW and told her I was hypoglycemic and needed to have the test taken right then. She told me I would have to wait as there were people in front of me. I told her I had to have it taken now. Bitch.

IF they want me to do it again I’m going to take my trainer to Quest and set it up in the parking lot. Which I honestly have no problem doing. I could care less who see’s me out there on my bike or what they think. I may hire a neighbor kid to sit in Quest and put my name on the list when my levels drop. Then the kid can call me when it is my turn, give them my information and then I will get off the bike and walk in and get it done asap.

The results of that test came back and I spoke to my Dr. this week. They are going to rule out an  Insulinoma which is a rare tumor on your pancreas. So rare that 1-4 people in a million get it. WTF? Seriously, as if I hadn’t already gone through enough this year and now this? 

The next step is another 6 hour Mixed Meal Test, a CT scan. And then lucky me the Gold  standard test for this rare tumor- a 72 hour fasting hospital stay at MD Anderson. Where they don’t give you anything but water for 72 hours and wait for you to become hypo and take you blood very frequently. Sorry but I will have to write a blog post or live updates when I’m there for that test.

The weird thing is I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel like I have a tumor or anything wrong with me. Actually I’ve decided most of the time -okay about 70% of the time that this is all a weird joke and nothing is wrong with me. There is still that lingering  SCREAMING doubt in my head that makes me really worried. I still think something is wrong with the meters and not me. My Dr. said we have to rule out the possibility of an insulinoma . I am not supposed to be worried about that as we are just making sure. Brian did not agree with my initial plan of pretending like nothing was wrong and just going back to our daily lives. I think ignorance is bliss.

I really thought that this last year of recovery from hip arthroscopy was as much as I needed to deal with this year. Figured I had passed the patience and mental strength test and was ready to get back with my life. But I guess there is another plan that I was not aware of.

This  hasn’t been easy to deal with as my recovery has been going very well despite all of this glucose stuff.

I AM finally starting to feel normal.  I don’t think twice about my hip or being able to do anything. There are times that I do simple things like walk down the stairs and give thanks for being able to do that. I am very thankful for what I have and can do.

I can run for 6 minutes at a time now. I’d planned out my race schedule for next year and signed up for some races. Hell I’d even been cocky enough to sign up for an Ironman for next fall. Which was a a whole other conversation as Brian told me I needed to be able to run to do an Ironman. At the time I signed up  I was running 3 minutes. I told him that everyone had to start somewhere and proceeded to pay my entry fee.

I guess until I know differently I’m just going to keep moving forward with my plans for next year. That is the only choice that I’m willing to accept.

Next time I will listen to Heather and continue to eat my normal unhealthy diet. None of this would have  never happened if I’d listened to her and kept eating Whataburger.

 

 

Whatburger Withdrawal

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Whataburger #1 with cheese, dry with pickles only and a large Diet Dr. Pepper has been my staple meal for my life and the last 5 Ironman’s that I’ve trained for. Sometimes I would switch things up and have a single pattie melt meal with no onions. One of my favorites was the Bacon, Avocado Burger that only comes out for limited times. Add some spicy ketchup and my day was perfect. If you don’t live in Texas and haven’t had Whataburger you don’t know what you are missing.

Surgery/Recovery+ minimal training+old female= 14+ pound weight gain.

I managed to avoid facing my weight gain for 4 months by not getting on the scale. Note to self do not wear leggings post op in the future. While they are very comfortable and work with the CPM machine and don’t catch on crutches they also manage to give the false sense of security that your clothes fit. I can’t imagine how much weight I would have gained if I’d hung out in a snuggie.

I remember waking up in the hotel room the day after surgery in Vail . Brian being the good husband that he is had gone to the store and  bought some of my favorite foods. These are also basically off limits in our house normally. He’d proudly lined up directly in my field of vision next to the TV these treats- Pop Tarts and several assortments of dark chocolate. Now I absolutely love pop tarts. Like love them in the cannot have them around or I will eat the entire box right now love them. I also grew up having a pop tart and coke for breakfast every day. I ate Strawberry and my sister Wendy had the Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pop tarts. Brian knows that pop tarts are my weakness but he knew they were my comfort food and he had them ready. Yes, I ate every one of those pop tarts. He gets several points in the good husband book for buying those pop tarts.

pop-tarts

When we came home from Vail he was in charge of cooking as I wasn’t able to walk or carry things. This meant we ate a lot of fast food and Ted got to ride in the car a lot. He also went grocery shopping and brought things into our house that haven’t been here in years. One day he came home with bags of food and started unloading his bounty of treats  like a kid at Christmas. I looked at all of these treats and said something to the effect of -WTF is  all of this?

There was no need for us to have 3 kinds of cookies and 6 boxes of cereal in the pantry. I think he was stocking up for the future . He was thrilled to have discovered all of these new items at the store that had never been in our house before. Now don’t get me wrong our diet is not clean nor is it free of fast food. But we’ve never had 6 boxes of cereal in our small pantry at one time before.

I can’t blame my weight gain on anyone else but myself and some pesky hormones. Being told by my doctor that my ovaries were having a “going out of business sale” and dumping as much estrogen into my system as possible wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. This added one more challenge/obstacle to getting the weight off like I’ve been able to do in the past.

going-out-of-business

If I was going to take the year off to recover from surgery it was also the time to get my nutrition cleaned up. I’ve always had the excuse that I was training for X race and couldn’t change my nutrition or Whataburger habit. Well this year I’m not training for any races and there aren’t any excuses to not clean things up. Now that I currently weigh more than I have in 10 years is also a high motivation to make some significant changes.

The month of May was spent trying to lose weight by my normal semi-clean eating habits. Still eating some Whataburger’s just not as many as usual. It didn’t work and nothing was budging (except my stomach and new boobs) and none of my clothes fit. As I refuse to buy an entire new wardrobe there was only one choice left and that was to hand over my nutrition planning to a dietitian. Come to find out my semi-clean eating habits weren’t even close to eating what I was supposed to be eating and when. All of the kale/spinach/green/chia smoothies in the world  aren’t going to offset non-nutritional food choices.

It’s been a few weeks and we’re still fine tuning the new changes and my ability to cope/accept them. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve been as Brian would call it “hangry” more often than normal.

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I’ve had cycled between moments of thinking I can do this for life to I’m going to kill someone if I don’t eat junk food right now.

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At low points I’ve even entertained the thought of just giving up and not ever  exercising again and becoming a person of Walmart. Hey, I’ve already got the leggings might as well get the booty to match and go shopping with my thong hanging out.

One thing that I am confident of is the changes that I am making will add years to my life, health and sport. Nutrition has always been the missing link in my racing and training. I’m excited about using this year to address all of my limiters and turning them into strengths. Whataburger hamburgers will probably always be a part of my life. It just won’t be it’s own food group in my daily diet.

 

 

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time- Otis Redding

I’ve spent a lot of time sitting these last few months. The progression from where I was a few weeks ago to now has been amazing and exciting to experience. Three weeks ago, I was excited to be walking down the hall at Dr. Phillipon’s office. Now I’m able to walk outside for 18 minutes. Walking is something that I will never take for granted again.

Each week different milestones are checked off of the list. A lot of the items on my list are pretty basic for the average person.  I’ve learned a lot of different lessons throughout this process. The biggest thing is that I will never take for granted being healthy and able to move my body. It also reminds me that time is short and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Live life the fullest that you can each day within your ability level and resources.

I’ve tried to focus on what I can do today. Some days that has been easier than others. I won’t lie and say that there hasn’t been a lot of frustration, tears and cussing. Brian has been very patient and has also given me a lot of space when needed. Although that might be for his own self preservation and knowing when to leave me alone.

Normally we could have used this time to get out and explore or do the things that we never get to do when I’m training a lot. However, being that my stamina is pretty low and I can’t really walk or ride in the car for long periods of time that cuts out a lot of things that we would like to do. I can’t ride in Brian’s airplane because of the possibility of turbulence and bumps which we learned the hard way a few weeks ago. I’m not supposed to drink since it is a “risky” behavior that could lead to my falling. This is probably a good thing as I’ve gained  weight (10 pounds) and alcohol would only put more weight on. All of the hiking, festivals and things that I would like to do when I’m not training are out. Since we can’t really get out the key has been doing things at home. As an extremely extroverted person this has been pretty challenging.

So I’ve been trying to find things that I can do to pass the time. The dog and I sit outside for an hour a day and sunbathe. I started whitening my teeth for 30 minutes a day. That should give you an idea of exactly how desperate I am to find constructive things to do during the day. I’m knitting a scarf. Surfing the internet. Watching TV, but not as much as I was when trapped in the CPM machine 8 hours a day for 8 weeks. It hasn’t been that bad but….

Ted has enjoyed my being home.  He refuses to walk with me. He loves going for our daily rides in the car around the block.

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I entered a contest on Facebook and won a Garden Tower.

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I’m learning  how to vermicompost and am waiting for my worms to arrive. Brian has not been thrilled with my decomposing vegetable and food waste that is waiting in the freezer.

Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms, to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.

One day I decided that I wanted to have a goat rental business. My mother said if I was considering raising goats as a business that perhaps I needed another outlet. My friend Heather reminded me that 1 goat could eat my entire garden tower, herbs and backyard garden in an afternoon. Brian laughed at my business model until we realized that someone else had already started doing this a few years ago with: Rent a Goat

I still think this would be a great business option.  If we had goats I could also expand my mozzarella cheese making into goat cheese. Luckily for Brian we are not allowed to have goats in the city limits.

I joined The Ancient Art of Fermentation group on Facebook. Not that I plan on fermenting anything right now but you never know when it could come in handy. I now know that one can use extra bananas to make banana wine. At this point I think I will feed them to the worms instead.

To increase stamina to be able to return to work I have different assignments from PT. My main goal has been getting ready to return to work in May. Things like: go to the grocery store and push a cart, go to the mall and walk around (gag me), walk X minutes per day. I know I would kill myself if the only thing I had to look forward to was shopping and going to lunch.

After each outing or exercise I have to rest or take a nap. It is incredible how much energy it takes to do basic things. It worries me how I’m going to be able to make it through 8 hours at work next week. Last time I looked at my schedule it didn’t have nap breaks in there. I’ll be up to walking for 20 minutes when I return to work. That should get my PE classes in and out of the gym. We’ll just have to modify and make the rest of the day work. The physical therapist said I’ll probably have to use my crutches at work for a while.

I do my at home Physical Therapy exercises daily. I’ve started back with a very modified training schedule that makes me feel normal again. Every time I do anything physical it strengthens my hip to return to my job and normal lifestyle.  I’m working through the return to sports progression through Howard Head Sports on the swim and bike. I can finally start to kick and use my legs in the pool. We moved the mountain bike off of the trainer and put the tri bike on it. I’m not able to get aero so we made a few modifications:

Before- IMLOU15      

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After: 4/16

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I’m riding at watts so low I didn’t realize they were actually possible unless one was coasting. And the hardest  thing about all of this is while I’m so happy to be swimming and biking the realization that I’m starting from ground zero hurts. There is the fear that things will never be normal again or where they were before the accident. Saying that I am swimming and biking would be a very generous use of those words.

I’m making progress and am stronger than I was a few weeks ago. I now know why some people are just happy to complete instead of being competitive. Being in the water and back on my bike makes me incredibly happy. My outcome for a full recovery is very positive. I’m excited about the plans that my coach and I have for this year. It isn’t often that one gets the opportunity to build a strong body without the distraction of racing. The addition of physical therapy exercises and strength training will add so much more to my future in sport and health.

While all of this has been going on my hip and body have been healing. I’ve found a new level of patience and acceptance with my body that wasn’t there before. My motto through this entire process has been:

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It is going to take a long time for my body to be back to normal. Until then I will sit and waste time. Hey, you never know I might actually learn something new during the process.

 

 

The Dream Team

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The positive results from the last few months can be directly attributed to a few key factors. I knew going into this surgery that rehab  was going to require a high level of commitment to excellence. This commitment to excellence is something that I would not only require of myself but from the people who were chosen to be on my team. I also knew that the level of support that was going to be needed would extend far beyond my family and friends. My “Dream Team” consists of my coach, physical therapists, athletic trainer and physician. Each person has a very important part in contributing to my success and return normal life and sport. Without the “Dream Team” and my family and friends none of this would be possible. I have a wonderful team of experts guiding me through this process.

Since my last post there have been several milestones that have been achieved. At 9 weeks post op from hip arthroscopy of torn labrum with 4 anchors, pincher impingement, removed bursa and released ITB- I can now walk without crutches. I can also walk outside for 10 minutes . Physical therapy exercises  have progressed to phase 2. We flew back to Vail and met with  Dr. Phillipon for my 8 week follow up and got a great report. Things are progressing well with my recovery. Yes, there is still long way to go to return to normal but things are on the right path.

In order to be successful there were certain expectations that I set for myself. First, I would listen to my team and follow their advice and protocols. I would also take an active part in my rehab but ultimately leave the decisions to my team.  With the help of my coach  a plan was formulated prior to surgery for the upcoming months. This plan has had a huge impact on my ability to remain positive and moving forward each day.

  1. Continue to  train and workout daily
  2. Take an active part in and prioritize  all aspects of healing and recovery (rest, nutrition, stress reduction)
  3. Set new realistic goals that are small, measurable and process oriented
  4. Measure success differently-this isn’t the sexy success that you can brag about or stand on the podium with
  5. Positive attitude- Focus on : I Can, Not Yet and Long Term
  6.  Be open and teachable
  7. Let go of expectations  and or timelines for rehab goals.
  8. Be okay with where I am today.
  9. Seize the opportunity to become a stronger, faster and more resilient athlete without the distraction of racing.

It has been difficult at times to keep some of these in goals in sight and not get discouraged. Yes, there have been a lot of tears  and it hasn’t always been easy. My coach,  Marilyn has been there every step of this journey. It isn’t easy dealing with an injured athlete but she always knows exactly what to say at the right time. I  couldn’t have gotten through this without my support team of virtual training partners and friends. You know who you are- thank you.

 

To be able to cope with hours of not being able to move or leave the house there were certain things that I had to do to keep from losing my mind .  I set a daily schedule with goals and activities. Some of these activities  consisted of watching the entire House Of Cards series, every mountaineering and endurance sport documentary on Netflix/Amazon Prime (living  vicariously) and a lot other shows on TV. The goal of getting dressed and putting on makeup every day hasn’t been a high priority. But in my defense I don’t normally dress up or put on makeup.  A large part of my day is spent doing at home PT, aquatic therapy, swimming or CPM machine.

Last week , I happily posted this on Facebook:

Logged 425 hours in the CPM machine since surgery or 17.66 days of my life. Just to put that into perspective in 2014 my annual training for the year was 535 hours. Sending this bad boy back to Colorado. BAM!

One of the biggest changes has been the amount of sleep that I’ve needed over the last few months. Or my acceptance that it was OK to sleep whenever my body felt tired. This is my bodies way of healing itself and is as important as physical therapy. I sleep and nap almost as much as our dog Teddie does. It is also amazing how tired I get doing simple things and how much rest is needed. My stamina is pretty low right now which has been challenging to deal with. I see myself as superwoman but my body hasn’t quite gotten with the program yet.

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My physical therapists at Howard Head Sports in Vail and Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Clinic have been working together along with my coach in coordinating PT and my return to sports progressions. The gains that I’ve made in PT may not seem like much but I’m proud of every one of them. I am also now very well aware that everything originates from glute or iliopsoas if you’ve had hip arthroscopy.  I’ve spent countless hours working on activating those muscles in the last few weeks.

We’ve had a lot of fun in PT along with some painful moments. Arthur does my soft tissue and Graston work as we discuss the Barkley Marathon/Ultras/running  and scare the other PT patients. I have been able to refrain from cussing out loud during these “soft” tissue/Graston sessions. Sometimes PT with Mark and Arthur feels like a good cop/bad cop partnership. The physical therapy exercises with Mark almost seem “easy” after the soft tissue work. The guys have also brought me down to earth several times over the course of the last few months. My grand idea of adding in SUP -Stand Up Paddle Boarding  in April was quickly shot down along with a few other things.

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Arthur and Mark

 

 

 

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Last but not least is Dr. Phillipon  whose surgical talent has made all of this possible.  The walls of his office and hallway are covered with pictures and jerseys of athletes thanking him for giving them their lives back. I may not be an Olympian or professional athlete but Dr. Phillipon and his staff treated me as such. I am thankful that he has given me back the opportunity to do the things that I love doing.

I am blessed to work with such a wonderful “Dream Team”of professionals that love what they do.

 

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Tied Up

February 25, 2016

Now that some of the restraints from the last 3 weeks have been loosened up a bit I can finally talk about what happened. I’ve learned a lot about myself during this process. The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my experience through hip arthroscopy and rehab.

Going into the surgery I knew that I was going to be severely restricted in my ability to move post op. Being that I have always valued the ability to move my body and do so quickly this was a bit disconcerting . But I knew it was temporary and wouldn’t last forever. Surgery was the only option if I wanted to be able to continue to do the things that I loved doing along with ADLs .

For the first few weeks post op the main goals is to keep the hip capsule in place and the hip where it doesn’t externally rotate. The only way to do this is to be basically tied up for 24/7. The only time my feet weren’t tied together in some band or machine was when I was walking with crutches or riding in the car. Even in the car I had to make sure my feet were together and OP leg/foot was not rotating out. I was also unable to lift my own leg or engage my hip flexors.

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The first few weeks can be divided into night and day. Nights were the times that I struggled the most. During the day I was my normal self and focusing on the rehab process and attending Physical Therapy 2x a day.

Laying in the bed during the day with in the machines with the calf compression sleeves/pumps on was no big deal. However night time was a different experience. To keep the costs down we stayed in a hotel outside of Vail. Which meant whoever was staying with me at the time had to sleep in the same dark room. Brian, my mom and sister did an excellent job taking care of me those first 3 weeks. However, it was a full time job with very little downtime. By the time it was night everyone was exhausted and needed their rest. The first few weeks post op are basically like taking care of an infant who can talk.

Every night they would strap me in the calf sleeves and CPM machine or the anti rotation boots. I normally sleep on my stomach or side. All of the machines force you to sleep on your back in one position all night long. I now know why people get bed sores and their entire bodies ache from laying around. It is also important to note that I was also off of all pain pills after the first few days.

What happened next is something that I had never experienced before in my life. Several times  a night I would wake up having a panic attack. There is nothing worse than waking up in the dark and being tied down and unable to move. I am not claustrophobic. I’ve also never been in any type of a situation in which I felt so out of control and panicked. My poor mom would be woken up  with me panting and basically flipping out until she could get me out of the machines. The velcro was so tight on all of the machines that a person could be stuck to a wall with it.

One night around 4 a.m. mountain time my former running/cycling partner saw that I was on Facebook and asked why I was awake. I had my phone under the covers surfing the web and was trying to wait as long as possible before waking my mom up.

Getting any easier, or every day still a new challenge?
 
I am trapped in these DAMN anti rotation boots, wide awake amd should probably wake someone up again to get me out of them. My heel is throbbing. I feel like that magician trying to unleash my good foot from boot by pulling Velcro with my toe.
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Each night I would frantically try to release myself from the machines with my right toe. It felt like one of Houdini’s failed escape attempts. One night my mom had to assure me that there was not a piece of metal (it was a strap) that was digging into my leg.

She would get me out of the machines and lift my leg and put it on the bed. Then I would put the handy neck strap for the calf compression pump over my head, crutch to the bathroom and then come back and get in the bed. Then she would help me get back into the machines.

It always took a while to get back to sleep after these episodes. I tried every relaxation exercise that I knew.I thought about  how many other people had been in the same situation . I now know why my grandmother ripped the IV’s out of her arm when she was in the hospital. I also understand why Brian’s mom who has MS is awake most of the night and watches TV. I was also finally able to somewhat relate to how the disabled men and women I had worked with at the VA felt at times. No matter what I tried within my limited abilities I was unable to release or move my body.

It calmed me down to think  about all of the professional athletes that Dr. P had performed this surgery on. It was comforting to know that other people who relied on their bodies for their livelihood had been trapped in these same machines for the same amount of time. I thought about Wendy Whelan former principal with New York City Ballet being in the rotation boots and unable to move her feet.   I thought about all of the jersey’s we’d seen on the walls of Dr. P’s office and it helped. I figured if all of those professional athletes could sleep in these damn machines then so could I.

It is also important to note how many loss of the  ability to move dreams  I had during those first few weeks. Normally I don’t remember any of my dreams. The dreams that I had were very telling about what I was dealing with subconsciously. In one of the first dreams I had fallen off of the bed  and couldn’t get off of the floor. Brian and my family were in the other room. I was crying and begging them to come and pick me up. Brian yelled from the other room and told me I was an Ironman and could get myself off the floor. In another dream I was a work and a child ran out in front of the car. I threw my crutches down and tried to run to save her. In that dream I couldn’t run and also screwed up my hip trying to do so.

The dreams are interesting  as they show that even though outwardly I was doing really well there were still some underlying things that needed to be processed. Once I worked through and acknowledged those fears then the dreams stopped. I haven’t  had any dreams since I left CO. It also helped that once I got home I could sleep with the lights or TV on. If I woke up in the middle of the night I  could watch TV. The first night I was home I watched 2 movies and a documentary . It was also nice to be back in familiar surroundings and in control.

Days at Physical therapy in Colorado were intense and interesting. Even though there were many famous athletes there we were all brought down to the same level of basic movement patterns. My entire life right now seems to be focused on the ability to fire my glute max without engaging my hip flexors. Nothing else can happen (walking) until I am able to make that work. Physical therapy was twice a day and aquatics therapy twice a week while we were there. The very same effort level that used to be put into max intervals on the track or bike are now focused on engaging my glute. I think it was probably easier to do intervals than what I’m doing right now. My coach also reminded me that it was important for me to see professional athletes struggling through the same things and to know that it was going to be okay.

I’ve learned just how much I took for granted my ability to move when I wanted to and do so quickly. How lucky I am to have family that could be there taking care of me. The last time anyone dressed me and tied my shoes I was 4 years old. When we got home my parents and Brian helped to set up the house so I can function downstairs.  We’ve gotten past the initial phase of recovery. I’m still in phase one but making progress.  I’m still tied up in some machines but have progressed out of the rotation boots and having to have my feet bound every time I sit down. The CPM machine will still be used 8 hours a day for another month. A few restrictions were lifted at 21 days and I am transitioning slowly. I can now sit at 90 degrees for short periods of time. I drove around the block and a few miles in town. Also very glad it was my left hip and not my right hip otherwise driving would be totally out of the picture for a while. Just adding in all of these small things is very tiring. I now know how my dog Ted feels as I sleep or lay around about 20 hours a day.

My goal for the week is to daily increase the amount of time I can sit upright. I’ve progressed from swimming 50 yards  last week with a band and buoy to 700 yards b/b yesterday. Amazing that I swam a 5k a month ago and now swimming 700 yards with rest feels like I’ve swam across the  English channel. I’m still at 20% weight bearing with crutches. I’ve figured out that carrying bags with my teeth is the easiest way to move things about the house. I can put on my clothes but still can’t put on socks or shoes. I am thankful for what I can do right now.

My loss of identity dreams  dealt with of a loss of freedom of the ability to move which I’ve always taken for granted.   I’m committed  taking the time to slowly rehab and build a strong body. Being tied up for the last 3 weeks has shown me what a gift just being able to move at will or walk is. I’ve been given a gift to slow down and really appreciate a lot of things and people that I’ve taken for granted.