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One Year

23 Jan

I know this is cheesy, but today I light a virtual candle in memory of my healthy knee.  One year ago today was my fateful fall where I tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus.  I think back on that time, remembering how trying it was having my mobility taken away from me, and what a long road the recovery has been, and continues to be.

Overall, I am thankful.  I am thankful I had great health insurance.  I am thankful that I have one year of recovery behind me, and hopeful that I won’t have to endure something like that again.

We have finally received snow here.  While my husband is up enjoying the fresh powder, I am patiently resisting the urge to ski, knowing my knee just isn’t ready for powder yet.  In the meantime, I’m happy to be mobile, able to keep up with my kids, able to participate in outings and family dance night, and able to work up a good sweat at the gym.

Having a significant injury changes you.  Hopefully in this past year, my children have witnessed bravery in the face of challenges, and I am a better person for the challenges that I have overcome.

Getting Back Up On That Horse

3 Jan

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We went up to Mt. Rose three times over the holiday break to get the kids skiing.  The first two times, I simply helped shuttle kids and equipment to JB, who was working patiently with both of them.

Mt. Rose where where I injured myself, and from where I stood, I could see the scene of the accident, where I fell within sight of the lodge and the lower mountain, and had to ride a snowmobile down to the ski patrol.

Yesterday, I finally got up the courage to try skiing again.  The doctor told me I could ski 9 months after surgery, and to start slow.

Eleven months, three weeks after my initial injury, and nine months, two days after my surgery, I made my return to skis.  I did three beginner runs, and got to ski with the hubby and both of my kids.

I still have a lot of work to do to get back to “normal”, if that will be possible, but the first major hurdle in conquering my fears has been cleared.

Gimpy Momma Goes To Gimp Class

20 Dec

Six weeks ago, I started a class at the Reno Orthopedic Clinic designed to help people recovering from injury (me!) prepare for ski season.

Before heading to the first class, I thought I was doing really well with my recovery.  I thought I was ready to ski — after all, the doctor said I could ski 9 months after surgery, and I was walking up to 6 miles a day, and even starting to run.

The first night of class, we did an assessment, which included measuring how far we could jump with both legs, and then single leg jumps.  The results were eye-opening.  My left leg could hardly jump at all, and jumping was very initimidating for me.  I left class that night, and melted into tears in the car, feeling frustrated that I still had a long ways to go, and a lot of work ahead of me.

I don’t think I realized how much work this would be after I completed the initial physical therapy.  But thanks to this class, I got direction on how to start pushing my knee and strenghtening it through a lot of different balance exercises.  The physical therapist teaching the class told me two things:

1.  I am NOT ready to ski.  I have a lot of work to do before I should even try, or else I risk injuring myself again.  In fact, she told me I am NOT ready to run.  I’m favoring my left knee so much that I could do more harm than good by running.

2.  I need to work my left leg every day. She told me to go to the gym daily and do only left leg exercises.  I must look like a dork, but that is exactly what I’m doing.  I guess I look no more dorky than I did getting into the gym on crutches and using the arm bike.

Last night was the last night of our class, and I have made a ton of progress.  So much that the PT leading the class hugged me after measuring my gains.  The goal of the class was to “close the gap” of the performance of my injured leg compared to my good leg.  The gap is definitly smaller, but there is still a significant gap to close.

I think reading all the knee injury forums of people with ACL repairs gave me the idea that it was more of a time constraint to recovery than actual strength and agility exercises daily.  I think I’m now realizing that my injury, with MCL, meniscus and ACL damage was more severe than the typical ACL tear, and hence, it is going to take longer to get back to normal.

Part of me wonders if I ever will get back to normal.  I’m determined.  I work it every day.  But the idea of skiing like I used to ski scares me to death right now.  It is sad, but I am at least thankful that I have so much of the recovery behind me.  I’m thankful that I can actually break a good sweat and work aggressively at the gym (as it wasn’t so long ago when I was relegated to the arm bike with senior citizens picking up on me).

I’m looking forward to 2012.  2011 was hard for me.  So hard.  I had some significant blows this year.  Granted, there was a lot of good (just look at my two adorable children to see how much GOOD there is in my life), but truly, 2011 can suck it and go down in the history books.

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Two Wheelin’

25 Oct

Two months ago, my husband took off my daughter’s training wheels and they made a few attempts at her trying to learn to ride on two wheels. It didn’t go well, and neither of them was interested in trying again for quite a while. I also assumed that with my bad knee, I wasn’t the best person to help her, as I couldn’t run along beside her very well.

Two weeks ago, I was hanging out with a friend who has a daughter the same age, and she let me in on a magical training technique.

“Put her on a steep driveway, have her put her feet out to the side, and tell her to wiggle her bottom to balance the bike.” Then, you just have her ride towards you and you catch her.

Well, this was something even a Gimpy Momma could do! I could catch her! We started on a Saturday, and by Sunday, she was riding on her own.

I also used some positive visualization techniques I learned at a seminar a few years ago. The speaker had said that your brain will do what you concentrate on, so concentrate on what you want to do, NOT what you don’t want to do.

I used this with my daughter, looking her in the eyes, and saying, “you can do this. You’re a biker.”

I’d then have her repeat to me what she was going to concentrate on, “pedal, pedal, pedal, then push back to brake and put my feet down.”

It worked! It worked so well! It was exhilerating being the one to teacher her. It was as exciting as her first steps! Being a parent is truly a wonderful experience. I came back to work that Monday thinking that teaching her to ride her bike felt just as much of an accomplishment as my graduate degree or getting a promotion at work.

Two Wheelin'

Riding without training wheels!

Walking While You Work

8 Sep

I am walking as I type this.

No, really, I am. At 2 miles per hour.

I recently became the owner of a TreadDesk, which is a treadmill specifically designed to be used in an office. My employer raised my desk, and I now stand or walk the entire day, taking only short sitting breaks.

To say this has been life changing is an understatement. I truly felt that sitting all day in front of a computer was slowly killing me. My derriere literally hurt at the end of the day. As I recovered from my knee surgery, sitting also made my knee get extremely stiff, causing me to limp around for 5-10 minutes every time I got up.

In July, I was at our company headquarters in Redmond, WA, where I saw a coworker with a treadmill desk. I knew immediately that I must have one.

Our bodies were made for movement. I can already feel an amazing difference. I don’t get stiff. I don’t get energy drops, and it seems to have made my afternoon sugar cravings less severe.

But mostly, I found that work seems more exciting now, and that I can concentrate more and actually get more done. I am a natural fidgeter and multi-tasker. This treadmill desk allows for an outlet for such energy, allowing me to more fully concentrate on the task at hand.

I walked 25 miles last week in my office. For a working mother of two, this is an amazing shift for me. If I have a lunch meeting or my schedule doesn’t allow me to hit the gym during the day, I don’t feel guilty. Although I’m not really elevating my heartrate much, I’m moving — up to 6 miles a day.

It has also done wonders for my knee. I am no longer stiff, and my knee feels so much stronger, as the muscles surrounding it are engaged for the entire day.

I believe that I am at the beginning of a culture shift within corporate America. You should see the reaction of my co-workers. Everyone comes by to talk to me about my treadmill, and I have numerous people planning to join the trend.

“Vacationing” With Kids

2 Aug

This last weekend, our family met up with my brother and his family for a quick getaway to Mammoth. We love Mammoth. It is beautiful, with cool weather, and there are lots of fun things to do for everyone in the klan.

But oh, my kids are not so good at road trips right now. Even though it’s a quick 3 hour drive, there was much screaming and crying and bickering coming from the back seat.

I recently heard on the news that one of the most annoying sounds in the world is a toddler whining and crying. I live with that sound every day, people. After hours in the car with it, I swear I am ready to jump out of the car while it is going 70mph on the highway.

We stayed in a lovely condo, which was three levels and happened to be built on a mountain-side. That meant that two of the levels of the condos had amazing decks with tiny split rail fences and then a death defying 50 foot drop to the rocks below. In other words, if my adventurous climber of a toddler got out onto those decks unattended, it was truly a death sentence.

Who picked this death trap of a condo anyways? Oh, right, that would be me.

As I was trying to relax this weekend, I always had the thought in the back of my head of “where is Little Man?!”, and I ended up going down the stairs to locate him, as he was usually following around his ultra cool boy cousins (who were such sweeties in humoring their much younger cousin and trying to keep him safe for me).

Add to that the fact that my kids got up at night as much as a newborn, and then woke up at the crack of dawn…

My sister-in-law ensures me that vacationing with the kids will get easier down the road. Right now, it makes me daydream about taking a vacation WITHOUT the kids, but that truly isn’t in my near future.

Regardless, we celebrated two birthdays this weekend, I caught up with my brother’s family, whom I hadn’t seen since before my knee injury in January, and we enjoyed refreshingly cool weather with afternoon showers.

Speaking of showers… I took the kids to the top of Mammoth on Sunday via the Gondola, which was a fun time, and Little Man had a blast being “in the air”, per his very own words. I hiked around with them at the top for a while, then ate a liesurely packed lunch with them, while watching thunder clouds roll in and not thinking much of it. I’ve been in PLENTY of storms at the top of Mammoth mountain.

But those were in the winter. When I went to board the Gondola for our ride home (after a perfectly planned morning outing that would get us back to the condo in time to pack up before checkout at 2), we were the first people turned away, as the liftie said that the gondola was shut down due to lightning.

Ah, yes, lightning.

You know when the kids are so tired that they keep getting more and more hyper? That was my two on Sunday afternoon, trapped in a lodge with it raining and sleeting outside. Thankfully I will never see those people again because these kids were running around like wild banshees, and there wasn’t much I could do to stop it, given the trapped nature of the situation.

I got wind that Mammoth was sending up trucks and busses to drive people down the mountain, and determined I needed to be on the first truck. We were told to line up by the door of the lodge (the OPEN door, mind you, with wind and sleet coming in, and did I mention I neglected to pack anything but summer clothes?!). While we were waiting, a woman was in front of us with this adorable little puppy. Irresistable to kids type of puppy. Yet she said she didn’t want my kids touching her puppy. And she didn’t bother picking the puppy up. So, for 45 minutes, I had to keep repeating, “get away from the puppy. Don’t touch the puppy.” Each time, the woman would glare at me. Grrrrrr….

Finally, a pickup truck appeared out of the fog, and we were told that 10 people could go in the first two trucks. We were number 8, 9 and 10 in line. I bounded out to the truck, and the lady with the puppy got to the first truck, snarling, “there isn’t room for THEM.”

Oh, I had some choice words for her in my head.

Luckily, the other truck had plenty of room, where we road in front without child seats, and Little Man rode in my lap as we 4 wheel drive rode down a ski resort. That was riveting!

Anyway, this weekend I was proud to graduate to activities such as hiking with a 30 pound kid on my back (once while leading a horse, mind you), and riding an actual bike outside (on a paved path, but STILL, much better than the spin bike in the garage). The house was three levels, so I got lots of stairs in to help continue my therapy while on the road.

To my brother’s family, it was grand seeing all of you again, and thank you for your patience with my high maintenance children!

And now, some pictures…

Proof that I hiked with 30 pounds of kid on my back.

The kiddos at the top of Mammoth. July 31, and note all of the snow.

Here is my daughter on a horse. Yes, me with my bad knee, I wore Little Man in a backpack, and led a horse on a hiking trail. I was anxious the whole time, but so glad to be able to do fun actitivies with my kids again!

To Run or Not To Run… That Is The Question

19 Jul

Oh, boy, I’ve been slacking. You can always tell when work and personal life gets busy, as this is the first thing to go. Sorry about that. It has been a lovely summer so far, filled with lots of pool time (both me swimming laps and taking the kiddos to play), concerts on the beach of Lake Tahoe, and lots of small trips in July.

I took about a month off of physical therapy, as I really enjoyed simply walking, or working out on my own schedule, and doing laps in the pool. My knee is feeling great. It definitely continues to get better each day.

I finally went back to therapy today to check in, and my PT was very pleased with the motion of my knee and my ability to flex my quads. I told him how the doctor had given me clearance to start running again in a few weeks, and his response was, “why would you do that?”

I explained how I’ve always liked running for the convenience and the awesome calorie burn. He told me that he highly recommended that I didn’t return to running. He said I would wear my knees out, and I already have weak tissues in my knee. “If you don’t get paid to run, you really don’t have a reason to run.”

This really took me aback. I have always measured my level of fitness based on my running abilities, and returning to running was a key milestone in my mind. But now, I’m just not sure if it is worth it.

I had a friend who had meniscus surgery a week after I had my knee repair, and he tried running last week. He went 2.5 miles right out of the gate, and his knee hurt more and more in the following days. The doctor (who is also my surgeon) said he has likely re-torn his meniscus. That story with the warning of my PT really has my head spinning today, reconsidering my return to running. As I type, I am picturing how much I enjoyed trail running, and it makes me wonder if I’ll ever do that again.