So it’s Saturday morning after having had surgery on Tuesday. Overall I feel pretty good. The worst part I think is not being able to sleep consistently. I stopped taking pain killers yesterday and I don’t feel any worse for it so I think that’s a good decision. I am finally able to go up stairs by myself with just crutches. It’s nice that my roommates will still walk me up and down to make sure I don’t injure myself but I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to know that I can actually do at least part of it by myself.
They say that my knee looks really good for after surgery and that I can take the bandage off myself. Personally I think it looks way better with the bandage on than off.
Though they say the scars are healing well and the bandage still looks good on the wound itself so I guess that’s a good thing. I think it looks all gross and black and blue but it could be worse, I suppose.
The hardest part about surgery is not having your independence. To rely on people for a glass of water or food or pretty much anything is a major bummer. It’s been a real adjustment for me because I will get up fully intending on getting a glass of water just to sit back down again because I realize even though I am perfectly capable of walking to the kitchen and filling up a glass of water once I’m there, I can’t actually carry it back because I’m using crutches.
There is also this thing that I have to wear a billion times a day (no joke) that compresses and pumps ice water around my leg. It’s actually pretty cool (no pun intended). It’s called a “Game Ready” and it’s really useful to have around, I’m sufficiently impressed with how high tech and awesome it is. It’s the red thing in the corner of the picture below.
I’m really lucky that my mom came up to take care of me. Even though she isn’t the strongest person around it really really helps to have someone keep track of how much I have to ice and to make sure I eat food. She also helps keep track of how much pain medication I need and to make sure I do my exercises. I’d probably do them anyway but it’s nice to have someone around so that I don’t forget. And I have the best roommates ever who helped me up and down the stairs when I couldn’t manage on my own. They’re pretty much the best guys ever. I thank my lucky stars every day for letting me find them. To be honest it’s kindof nice to have my mom around and my roommates and all of us being able to eat meals and hang out together.
For the first time in my life I can truly say that I am a little bit terrified. And I’m not really sure if there’s anything that’s going to make me feel better. Normally I’m not scared of anything. Pretty much at all. But I am a little scared of having to have surgery and 6 months of rehab. In fact, I’m not really afraid of surgery at all. That part I’m ok with, what I’m scared of is that I won’t be responsible enough to do the rehab part correctly. I’m scared of being alone. I’m scared of trying to push myself too hard too fast because I do that a lot. I’m scared that somehow I will make this worse before I can make it better.
Thankfully as afraid as I am of being alone, I have a posse of truly amazing friends that I know are here for me. I always feel silly whenever I talk to one of them because they remind me that I’m not as alone as I feel. It’s just that I don’t need them right this minute so they’re not right here. But they will be when I do actually need them to help out. It is comforting to know that someone will be there to catch me when I fall.
2011, I have now started a list. I’m pretty sure I hate you. And it’s only the first week of March, which by the way is a few days shy of my birthday. Possibly worst year of all time: 1. MIA laptop. 2. stolen bike. 3. dead car. 4. torn ACL that requires surgery. (I’m not counting the crazy month of work crap because it’s too vague and hard to define). And let’s be honest we haven’t even made it a quarter of the way through the year. Clearly this is awesome. You know, generally I believe that life works out the way it’s supposed to. And sometimes bad things happen to good people so better things can come along. Right now, I’m *really* starting to question that.
I keep flipping from feeling really alone and really scared about having to even have surgery to being really angry at the world for all of this happening at once. Every time I keep thinking that this year is going to get better something happens that just makes it worse. I want to believe that that’s not true and that it will get better but for the first time in a very long time I’m having trouble hanging on to hope. I like to view the world through rose colored glasses. It is so much harsher through the cold clear view of reality.
So my little experiment, I decided to call it quits when I started crying because I couldn’t turn the fan off. That was totally the last straw for me. Sometimes things just aren’t right. And I guess sometimes you have to learn the hard way to figure that out.
Oh wow and I totally started this post a month ago when I first got off the pill, which may have been the best decision I have ever made in my life. It’s as if the sun came up, the world is a magic place and everything is wonderful. Ok, that could be an exaggeration but just feeling normal instead of permanently sad is almost like it is just amazing to not be depressed every day.
At any rate life is great. I should work out more. I kinda lost a lot of motivation to do anything. And yeah, that’s about it.
So I’ve decided experiments on your own body are a horrible idea. So if you recall I started the pill about 3 months ago and I thought I was getting better somewhere around the beginning of month 2. I take that all back. I have been horribly depressed and crying pretty much all the time. For no reason whatsoever. Clearly I should be better at observing this but I’m pretty convinced that this is just not working out for me. I’ve given it 4 months and if going through a little stress called moving is enough to have me have an all out nervous breakdown it’s not ok. And I just started crying because I can’t turn off the fan. No, I’m not joking. I really did start crying because I couldn’t turn off the fan and I’m cold. Not that you know, I couldn’t just get a blanket or put on a sweater. But no, crying because I couldn’t turn off the fan. Clearly the world is ending. I really understand what D was talking about now because I feel miserable. And I have felt like this for way too long in a really unhealthy way. There has to be a better solution. I just wish that not every solution takes 3 months to figure out. I mean seriously?
I know I sound like a deranged lunatic with all my running updates and sometimes am less than coherent about it. But it’s because for me it’s more than just running. I’m not doing this just because I want to run a marathon. In fact, I totally made fun of both of my group-mates in my econ class just a year ago because they were training for the marathon and were clearly on their way to injury but still running anyway. I just didn’t get it at the time, I do not have that desire to run. And while I like running. It keeps me in great physical shape and I’m happier and healthier having it in my life, it is not my passion. By a long shot.
Let’s be honest, I’m happiest curled up in bed with a good book doing absolutely nothing. I love sports, I enjoy running and I enjoy being physical but they are certainly not the first things that I think of when I think of things that make me happy. I am one of those people where it requires some amount of effort to do those things. So this whole fitness regimen has been a challenge for me. Mentally and physically. Actually I think more mentally than anything else.
So the real reason I’m running… because cancer has touched my life by affecting several people that I love dearly. And when I say family it’s not just about being related by blood there are so many people that have touched my life that aren’t related by blood. It’s my friends, exes, people I’ve known forever and those I haven’t known for very long. It’s the people who touch your life regardless of whether they stay for a long time or are a brief glimmer of light; it’s those people who change you, who will forever be a part of you, that I consider to be part of my “family” too. So I run for Team in Training as a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society because in some small way I feel like I’m doing my part to help. And at the end of the day there is so little I can actually do that this is my way to try and advocate for a cause I believe in desperately. So I babble about my shoes and my injuries and how much all of it irritates me. And how I got a tattoo in the middle of my training because that was a brilliantly well thought out plan. (I know, sometimes I’m an idiot). Because I have to keep running. I simply do.
So my roommate and I are moving, which I am actually pretty excited about. We’ve found a gorgeous new apartment and I’m looking forward to decorating and getting all our stuff into it. What I’m not so into, is the actual move itself. We started moving this past weekend and the only thing running through my head is “Why am I doing this to myself again?”. I mean I have been at my current apartment for a long time (for me). And this new place is really just awesome. And I have been really ready for some sort of change to take place. I know not everyone is like this but I’m not much of a person to set down roots and since I like Chicago enough to not want to run away from the city and look for another job on another continent or at least another state, moving apartments seems to suffice. Also, I find moving to be a cleansing process. Out with the old, in with the new and a time to make changes in your life. Some will stick, some will not but it’s a good time to just reset everything. While I do think there are a lot of positives to this move, I really just wish it were overwith and that lifting heavy things were not so painful. Or that there were some magic fairies that would do it for me. Sadly, this is not a fairytale and I’m pretty sure we just have to suck it up and deal.
So I keep semi-hurting myself. I don’t want to say injuring because technically I am not injured, which is really the only thing I am clinging on to right now. But I’m hurting. Pretty badly. And I’ve at least narrowed it down some. I seem to hurt only after extremely long runs. Or after I’ve done sprints (or soccer, which is essentially the same thing). Now I actually managed to figure this out after I did a 5k this weekend where I had been mentoring these kids to teach them how to run. So my running buddy for the race is this absolutely adorable 5yr old with crazy amounts of energy. But my little buddy is not so good at listening to advice about pacing so he took off at breakneck speed as soon as the race started. And continued to do pretty freakin’ fast sprints for the first mile, even a bit of the next half mile. We finally slowed down to a more normal run/walk for the last half of the race. But let me tell you by the end of that set of sprints my knee was *killing* me. On the bright side at least I know the causes and how to avoid it or at least try to avoid it.
Anyway so I’ve been in physical therapy for a few weeks and I have this giant bruise on my leg. My PTs have been doing “deep tissue massage” on my IT band because apparently that’s what’s been causing all my knee problems. You’d think this is great… not so much it’s more like Chinese water torture. And now it just hurts to touch or lie on my thigh, which is *awesome*. (not).
Though on the not so sucky side my PTs also have me doing some pretty awesome yet somewhat difficult exercises and routines. The best part is they totally make comments while I’m trying to go through the exercises/stretches they give me. Today one of the guys was like, you know I think y’all gave her every single thing that everyone hates to do. And I’m thinking to myself, “Gee thanks guys, I appreciate being the guinea pig of torture treatment”. On the bright side I’m getting some really awesome core workouts that I don’t think I would ever inflict on myself. And I’ve learned some pretty good stretches. And I actually feel like I’m getting stronger and I feel like I can actually see the effects of all of it on my body, which is great. Like my upper abs look amazing, now if my lower abs didn’t look like jello we’d be all set. So all of these things are definitely good, it just comes with a lot of pain and hard work. I can’t decide if it’s great or if I hate it. Either way I’ve got another 2 weeks left and I am going to try to make the best of it. (I’m almost tempted to ask for more. Yes, I am a bit of a masochist, always have been a lil’ bit).
You know, running doesn’t seem like something that is initially incredibly complex but now that I’m training for a marathon I think there is a lot more to running than just putting one foot in front of the other. Such a huge part of training is a mental game, just being able to tell yourself that you can do it. First of all, I don’t consider myself a runner because I’m slow and I just don’t think of myself as a runner. I first started running any meaningful distance (read: more than a mile… ok actually it was like 3ish) in April when a coworker asked me to start running outside with her and to do a 5k. I have these trusty old running shoes that I have come to love a lot.
Since I started training for my marathon these shoes have served me really well but they’ve got a lot of miles on them now. And recently I’ve heard a lot of talk about these new shoes. Ones that are the closest thing to running barefoot. So I’ve decided to take the plunge and give them a try. I haven’t run in them yet, obviously since you can still see the tags.
As much as I deny being a runner and saying how much I dislike it, it’s seriously addictive. After I did my 5k I followed it with a 10k a few weeks later and then a half marathon about 3 weeks after the 10k. This was a pretty poorly planned set of races for someone who isn’t a runner. However, it did make me see that I really like running, it’s challenging in some great ways but it’s also difficult to run the much longer distances by yourself. I find running about 6 miles by myself is a great challenge and I like doing it alone. But the longer distances pretty much anything upwards of 10 miles is really really difficult for me to get through without help. So I am extraordinarily glad that I discovered Team in Training because not only do I have a great group of people that I run with, I am reminded that I’m not just running for my health or to challenge myself but also to help all those people who are battling cancer. I’m doing what I can to make a difference in the world. Perhaps it’s in a very small way but it is what I can do. It also reminds me to appreciate the journey I’m on. Life is one great journey and there is always something new around the corner and you never know what you find.
Actually in all honesty, I’m perfectly content to not be a ballerina and to simply admire the grace and beauty of those who can perform like that. A couple of weeks ago I went to see the Joffrey’s spring performance, Eclectica, and as always it was absolutely stunning. Though I have to say the older I get the more I accept that I just infinitely prefer classical ballet. I love the lines and the grace and beauty. My favourite out of the three pieces was “Reflections” which was choreographed by Gerald Arpino. The name of the choreographer struck me because I recall in the 2009 Spring Program there was also a piece by him that I also liked quite a lot called “Round of Angels”. I think he has an incredible knack for putting beautiful lines together.
Although last year’s favourite for me was definitely Valses Poeticos, choreographed by Helgi Tomasson. I can’t help but feeling like a child looking at the simple beauty of music and two people dancing so beautifully together. It’s novel for me every time.
Sometimes life can be so totally serendipitous. Today has been like that and I try to cherish these little moments.
The most serendipitous moment today was when my friend, Jason, and I were interested in a chamber concert that the CSO was putting on at the Art Institute. Well let’s be honest, we didn’t know it was at the Art Institute until we showed up at Symphony Center and they were looking at us a little crazy and sent us across the street to the Art Institute. The show was supposedly sold out but we decided to ask at will call anyway. Luckily (or serendipitously) for us there was this woman there with 2 extra tickets! And 1 was even a student ticket which I can totally use since I’m still in grad school. It just worked out so beautifully. It’s like the world intended for us to go to this concert. I even had the exact amount of cash for the student ticket and totally not enough for a real ticket. Sometimes it’s great how life works out.
So Jason and I got to see the Burnham Trio perform Shastakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50. It was incredible. The Shastakovich piece was absolutely heart-breakingly beautiful. The theme for the afternoon was Mourning and Memory. And the concert was followed by a short tour through the museum of several pieces that tied in with the theme. It was actually quite a lovely afternoon. I seriously love that the CSO and Art Institute sponsor series like this that promote beautiful music and modern art. It’s just another reason why I adore living in Chicago. Finding little gems like this that the city has to offer.