Surgical Delays

This morning while exiting the apartment building, one of my crutches slipped and fell down the staircase into the street.  Clearly, this was not going to be a Super Awesome Day.  

I began ugly face crying about 10 minutes into my MRI follow up appointment.  I have no other way to emotionally process bad news.  There are three surgical options ranging from fastest & most stupid to slowest & least stupid: get both ligaments repaired next week, just get the ACL/meniscus repaired next week, wait two weeks to see if the LCL thickens up and schedule surgery for one or both ligament tears. The second MRI reading also revealed bone bruising and internal bleeding in the joint which confirms that I will never ever ever again ski fast and stupid.

Regardless of whichever surgical option I select, I will have to cancel the spring break Puerto Rico trip that I have been planning for months.  Colin and I gave up our seats on a Christmas eve fight and scored flight vouchers.  Ain’t no way my butt is going to be off of crutches and in a bikini by March 23rd.

Everyone I’ve spoken with said the same thing: wait.  So wait I will, even though it pains me to imagine myself in limbo, continuing to teach with crazy fatigue and struggling to do everyday things.  Who knew that pumping gas would be a gigantic ordeal?

As I drove to physical therapy, I though I had gotten out all of the ugly face crying tears.  Leave it up to a bank of snow to fix that.  My crutches have super cool crampon attachments, but they aren’t like snowshoes or anything.  A particularly deep patch snow send me flying into a frosty face plant.  Can’t a girl catch a break?  Seriously?

My knee has made huge progress since the accident.  My quadsets that are 10 times stronger than last week (as measured by an electrode thingy), and I was able to work my leg to 136 degrees flexion and 0 degrees of extension! My right knee does about 155, -5, so I’m almost there.  

No new workouts.  I’ve been dog tired from teaching but hopefully this weekend I will put together some type of circuit.

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Bum Knee Workout #1

When the going gets tough, the tough get creative and ask their friends to drive them to Target.

Supplies:

  • 65cm stability ball
  • L/M/H flat resistance bands (way cheaper than other types)
  • set of 5lb and 10lb dumbells
  • smelly old yoga mat

Workout: I added a twist to some of my PT strengthening activities and then got crazy with the stability ball.

  • 2 min of jiggling patella around (PT)
  • 10 quad sets, x3 (PT)
  • 10  single leg lift x2 (PT) in pilates position
  • 10 leg raises/abduction (PT)
  • a whole bunch of range of motion knee bends on the stability ball
  • 20 bridges on ball, x2
  • 40 pumps of ‘the hundred’ in low boat pose, x2
  • 10 crunches with back on the ball, x1
  • 15 seated bicep curls with 10lbs, x2
  • 10 overhead dumbell press 5lbs, x2
  • 15 dumbell press lying on ball, x1
  • 20 crunches lying on ball
  • 20 seated row with resistance band wrapped around table leg/good leg, x2
  • 30 seated dumbbell/Russian twists, x2 — I could have probably done these on the mat instead of the ball because my shoulders felt the press a lot but my core wasn’t super engaged.
  • 10 reverse plank with leg raise, x2 (these are nice and challenging at the end)

I wasn’t really into the idea of adding any triceps to this workout because I worked up an incredible sweat crutching to various departments in Target.  My one-leg planking abilities are pretty lame, and I have to watch my push ups and certain arm exercises because of bursitis in my right shoulder.  All in all, a pretty successful round of exercise!

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Venn diagram

My knee is an unpleasant amalgamation of the knees of quarterback RG3 and Lindsay Vonn.  My MRI has revealed the following:

– complete (grade III) ACL tear

– complete (grade III) LCL tear

– sprain (grade I) MCL stretch

– Small lateral meniscus tear

 

Basically, I blew the crap out of my knee, and that is why it hurt really really really bad.  Half of the things that support my knee mobility are gone.  For those of you who are more visual, I created this helpful Venn diagram in MS Paint.  Vonn also tore apart her MCL.   Image

I have a follow up with my orthopedist on Wednesday and hopefully will be in on Thursday for open knee surgery.  There is a definitely potential that this will require two separate ligament reconstruction surgeries if the swelling persists, so after wrapping our one ice pack around my knee, my boyfriend has been packing me with all of our frozen vegetables.  Peas under my knees!  

Teaching the past two days required some creative thinking.  I still sound the same, “Gravity is like a fart.  The closer you are to it, the stronger it is!” but my ability to catch every little detail of learning or off-task behavior is limited.  The kids really like to roll me down the hallway while I sing Ridin’ Dirty and give thumbs up to kids in other classrooms.  I’m going to do whatever it takes to keep myself sane and positive at work.  I feel very fortunate that everyone at school has been fantastic and helpful, but I am really sad that I’m going to be out of the classroom for a long time after this surgery.  

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Tales of Traumatic Knee Injury, part 1

My first Colorado ski season distracted me from being a better writer, because for the first time in my life, doing exercise is my most rewarding non-professional activity.  Here I am at the beginning of the season in December, wondering, “What could possibly go wrong?”  

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My ski career began around age 4 on the icey slopes of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.  I was fearless, stupid, and limber enough that I quickly recovered from all injuries.  This year was the first time I had been on skis since I was 18, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could bounce right back into blues and some blacks.  After 8 or 9 ski visits to Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Keystone I was feeling pretty pro, and skiing way too fast.  As you can see from the picture above, my season rentals were a little bit novice for my tastes so I upgraded to some narrower, sharper Rosignols.  

But then, as things do happen, Saturday happened.

We were on the last run before a late lunch, I tried to avoid crashing into another skier  caught an edge, and had a fantastically terrifying egg-beater down the run.  I had fallen plenty of times before, but never at this high speed and never with my knee twisted behind me.  I let out a blood-curdling screams, punched the hill, and dug my nails into my friends’ arm.  The pain that followed was so excruciating that I have a little panic attack every time my brain relives the moment.

30 seconds passed and the pain subsided.  Ski patrol checked to see that I could still say my own name and whereabouts and fit me snugly into the stretcher/sled system.  At the base of lift #1, I tried to get up and walk.  No luck.  My left knee wasn’t supporting any weight.  Rather than have me somehow ninja roll from the ski lift, I was loaded up into the stretcher once again, attached to the lift, and taken down to the Keystone ER clinic.

Knee injuries are a dime a dozen in a place like that, but I was still completely crushed and visibly shaken when the ER doc brought out the knee model.  An ACL tear?  Seriously?  A meniscus tear 70% likely?  Oh great.  Commence hysterical sobbing in front of strangers.

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So here I am, post-ortho follow up, post-pre/hab PT,and pre-MRI hoping that the meniscus (menisci?) in my knee aren’t shredded to bits.  I am on crutches unto further notice and am working to perfect my science instruction from the safety and security of a wheely office chair.

I know that this type of injury is very common and very repairable, but I can’t help but feel immensely pissed.  The crutches hurt my shoulder.  I can’t shower without assistance.  Opening doors is an exercise in extreme patience.  Cooking dinner or any activity takes three times longer than usual.

I am going to push myself to stay positive, continue to make jokes, accept help, and realize that I can do things with only partial effort and the world won’t fall apart.  For right now, in this moment, I’m going to give myself space to be upset and tired from the four days of struggling and uncertainty.  Breathe in, breathe out. 

 

 

 

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My humble homage to the OED word of the year

I have been 28 years old for exactly 21 days.

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At 18, I assumed by this age that I would a) own a home b) be married and c) have a kid.  Instead I a) rent a 1 bedroom apartment for super cheap, utilities included b) am domestically partnered and c) teach 90 11 and 12-year-olds.  I have no complaints except for the 9 grey hairs that I’ve been plucking out monthly since the age of 24.  

Recent pursuits of the great outdoors and fitness extremes have been delayed by unfriendly weather (ever camped in the middle of nowhere Wyoming in November?  It’s freakishly cold!) and a very grumpy set of shoulder tendons.  

Disappointed with my progress over the past few months, my physical therapist recommended that I get dry needling performed on my shoulder.  Essentially, an acupuncture needle is inserted into the muscle fiber which sends a signal through the spinal column and back out to the muscle to force it to contract.  He insisted that this would be less painful than the bi-monthly sports massages which cause me to shriek and curse in front of all the old people doing leg lifts.

Here is a picture from the internet which shows you what it’s like:

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I would like to offer up my own interpretation of this particular treatment:

Step 1: Insert needle

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Step 2: Move needle in upwards and downwards motion inside of muscle tissue.

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Step 3: Muscle contracts

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Repeat x25

My shoulder area was deliciously squishy for a full 48 hours until I discovered a series of online Pilates videos and destroyed my chances of having a reasonably mobile shoulder.  Things are looking up, however.  I recently got an MRI and in another week I will learn if anything is torn, frayed, or just inflamed.  

Until then, it’s Thanksgiving break!  Three days without school!  Four days in Seattle!Image

 

 

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Adventures in Urban Recreation

While we usually spend fall break stinkin’ up our tent in the desert, early snow and Colin’s moonlighting job as a barista kept us local for the duration of our 4-day fall break.  Fortunately, Denver is the sort of place that makes this decision okay.  We did all kinds of cool urban stuff!

The climbing gym I go to allows for a twice-monthly membership trade out at other gyms around the metro area.  Since there was all kinds of snow on the ground, we drove up to Boulder to pull on some plastic.  It seems like many gyms are reluctant to put legitimate V grades on problems (why?), but in my estimate, I repeatedly fell off of overhanging V3s.  It was fun.  The next day, my body ached from head to toe, and I took two naps.

On Saturday, downtown Denver was full of gorillas wearing racing bibs.  Each gorilla appeared to be transporting either a child or a beer.  One group carried a boombox which played “Call Me Maybe” on repeat. Image

I wished only briefly that I was participating because my entire upper body was far to sore for my brain to spend any extra calories on wishing.  There was a serious food deficit going on, so Colin and I quested for a place that sold fish and chips.

This food craving brought us straight into Feminist Hell Pub & Grill.  How could anything with “Pub” in the name be all that bad?  Unfortunately, I was so blinded by the idea of french fries that it took be three minutes to figure out what the hell was going on.  Allow me to elaborate:

1. There were no women patrons in the entire place, except for me.  Red flag!

2. The waitress’ outfits had a very poor interpretation of what a kilt means.  Or a shirt.  

3. Women and men were equally eager to participate in one giant misogyny parade.  I don’t care how “cool” or “progressive” it is to be a part of raunchy culture.  At the end of the day, it does nothing to advance women. 

4. I went to college once and out of laziness (and radical outrage, of course!) many of my papers were written from the feminist perspective.  I’m gonna go ahead and list some of my favorite words from these papers to disspell the bad juju from this dining experience: intersectionality!  heteronormative!  sexist! othering!  privilege!  male gaze! objectification!  

5. Whew.  I feel better.

Later that evening, we played the best board game in the world, Settlers of Catan!Image

To date, I have won only one single game of Catan, giving me a 3% or so winning average.  Most of the time we tend to avoid things we fail at, but for whatever reason I begin each game with zest and glee.  It’s like that quote “Love like you’ve never been hurt,” but way more profound because we’re dealing with serious resource trading, settlement building, and army development.  

I lost, of course, but I did so gracefully with a mouth full of pizza.  Happy end of fall break to me.   

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Soup tastes better in Colorado

I have moments where I’m not fully convinced that I live in Colorado.  About once a week, I am struck with the terrible fear that someone is going to make me move back to Phoenix, forcing me to swelter in the unsustainably urbanized desert.  Colorado is just so dang awesome.  All things I enjoy doing are multiplied ten fold because I get to do them in Colorado!

On Saturday, climbed in Clear Creek Canyon and managed to put up 4 routes in as many hours.  For three people on a crowded crag, it wasn’t too shabby.  I lead my first climb of the day (5.8 slab), followed by a TR of a 5.9+ (I’m going to lead this next time – it was a great climb!), a slabby 10b, and a grouchy flail on pumpy overhung 10.b.  I am still working towards my outdoor lead goal, but I’ve been redpointing 11s in the gym.  Colin and I are planning a mini-dirtbag trip to Shelf Road in southern Colorado, and I’m hoping that the training will pay off.

My tendons, however, have not been pleased.  With the addition of a twice-weekly hot power yoga classes, my IT band has joined the ranks of angry shoulder tendinitis.  Why am I chronically injured if I am recreationally mediocre at all of my athletic endeavors?

Instead of furthering my sports injuries this afternoon, I made some food.

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

I’m by no means a food blogger (as evidenced by this heinously out of focus cell phone picture), but I do enjoy a nice quickbread from scratch.   Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick cold butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • couple shakes of clove (I’m not much for measuring)
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped apple (I used Gala)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • confectioners sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease 9×5 baking pan
  2. Mix dry ingredients (including spices)
  3. Cut in butter until pea sized or smaller
  4. Beat together juice and egg and pour with dry ingredients.  Mix enough to coat everything, but not enough that the batter smooths out.
  5. Fold in apples and walnuts.
  6. Bake approximately 60 minutes (give or take depending on your elevation)
  7. Dust with powered sugar

My Sunday Soup series has thus far included Nuclear Vegetarian Chili and perfectly seasoned Lentil Soup.  This week’s creation is pictured below:

I call this dish, “Aggressive Minestrone”

There are way too many weenie vegetarian soup recipes out there.  Meatless soup is often dangerously close to resembling baby-food.  Pureed carrot and leek water?  No thanks.  To combat weak soup, I look at the picture of the soup and either double or triple the total stuff I put into the soup.  Why?  Because I need my lunch to be over 250 calories or my students will encounter hypoglycemic rage.

I used this recipe, doubled the beans, doubled the macaroni, and added an extra 8oz of broth.  Many of the noodles have exploded, but the soup still tastes delicious and is now exceptionally filling.  Serve with a piece of crusty bread smeared with soft cheese.

Does anyone else have delicious vegetarian soup recommendations?

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