I’m off the brace. Finally! Though I almost cried yesterday when my PT said that even though she also hates my brace but I have to wear it while it’s snowing outside. (Yes, it was totally snowing in Chicago yesterday. Evil, I swear). BUT, now it’s gone!
Seriously, look at this sucker, it’s the most annoying thing on the planet.
However since it has been gone, I have some observations. Clearly it’s only been one day, I’m sure I’ll have more in the weeks to follow. So far the scar is weird and I have sympathy sensations on the left side… like if I scratch the right side of my scar I feel the nerves twitch on the left side. It’s kinda creepy but kinda awesome. I don’t really understand it but it works.
Beyond that I’ve noticed that I’m extraordinarily tired because I’m using my left a lot more today than I have been when I’m restricted in my brace. And my left glute is killing me. Clearly my quad is not engaging enough and I’m compensating for it in odd ways. I’m totally working on that. However it’s not an instantaneous process. Le sigh. But every day it gets a little better. And every day I see how much closer I am to being whole again. I can’t wait until I can start biking and running again!
So I got my stitches out. I am pretty sure no one except for me wants to see this but apparently my blog has now become my “after surgery journal” where I’m documenting everything. Getting the stitches out was *way* less exciting than I thought it would be and everyone whose had it done told me it would feel weird and there’s no better way to describe it. I didn’t believe them… but they’re right. It just feels weird. It doesn’t hurt, it just feels weird – for lack of a better word.
Anyway, before the stitches came out… see the awesome little blue bits. I know so attractive.
And then after.
And now 5 days later when it doesn’t look quite as bad.
What bugs me most about this whole process is that I typically get waxed pretty frequently and I dislike shaving intensely BUT I’m a little nervous about getting my legs waxed at the moment, like I just don’t know if I can do it. And to be perfectly honest, I’m actually a little freaked out about shaving my legs as well because I don’t want to mess with the stupid wound until it’s completely healed. Also I had to buy flats today because I only own one pair and I don’t think I’ll be able to wear heels for a long time. It’s really tragic.
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.
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.
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).
No, that is not a mis-spelling. That is pretty much how I feel right now. As I mentioned before I’ve been training for a marathon and it’s pretty near and dear to my heart as one of my cousins was just diagnosed with cancer, again. It’s a different kind than when she first was diagnosed and won her fight about 20 years ago but it’s just really jarring to have a diagnosis that it may be back in a new location and in a different form. Especially when it isn’t really something that’s been an issue for nearly 20 years. That’s a long time for it to be gone. I mean I guess it’s different I was just a child when she was fighting against it, so it just feels so much more real this time around. Though this time they caught it in the early stages, which is good. And they are treating her aggressively. Also, I will be allowed to see her this time because I will not be some germy little kid. It always sucks as a kid that you can’t see anyone who is sick because children are like a depot of diseases.
Anyway that is not why I started this. So running right now is pretty important to me. I try really hard to keep up with the long runs even if I’m not completely on schedule. So anyway this past weekend I finally decided I think my running shoes suck. Honestly, my knees have been hurting and I have crazy blisters on the insides of my feet. Thankfully one of the coaches from TNT recommended a place where I can go and said I should make sure to look for shoes that work better for people who pronate because that’s why I’m getting blisters (and possibly a black toe). So anyway, I was all set to go to the running store later that day. But as I was leaving practice my knee really started to act up. By the time I got home I couldn’t really bend it without significant pain. And forget about trying to walk up the stairs to my 3 story walk-up. That was the best time ever.
Now here’s the part where I really show my brilliance. I decide to stay in and ice my knee and give myself a break for the rest of the day, which was great and probably something I have needed for a long time. But the very next morning I got up early and headed out to my soccer game even though the knee wasn’t totally feeling better. It was definitely smarting at the beginning of the game – you would think this is a warning sign. No siree, not for me. I continued to play on it until the last 15mins of the second half when I literally couldn’t walk without limping. Because that, my friends, is S-M-R-T.
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.
with body-image. I’m pretty sure I’m not all that unique in this struggle actually. In fact, I’ve found that most of my female friends have many of the same issues I do. I mean we all complain about different things and have unrealistic expectations of what we should look like. And each of us carries this burden in different ways. The most fascinating part about it is also that most of us have a view of ourselves that are skewed in remarkable ways. For example one of my friends recently got married and apparently put on a few pounds after her wedding. Now she’s my old college roomie, I’ve known her for over 9 years now (wow we’re getting old) and the weight she’s gained is barely noticeable. Seriously, the only reason I noticed is because she said something and then specifically pointed out all her problem areas. I mean yes, we’re not 18 anymore. None of us look the same. That’s totally unrealistic to expect that we will ever look the way we did when we were in our teens again.
I was recently thinking about this because my mom came to visit. And as usual she had a comment about what I looked like. Now last year I went through some major ups and downs which caused me to lose a drastic amount of weight. This is me in January:
This is me on Memorial Day:
So perhaps I have gained a little weight. And yeah the two photos are two totally different contexts so they look drastically different. But the main idea is that in all honesty, I haven’t gained *that* much noticeable weight. Even without the added input from my mom, I have noticed a certain unhappiness in myself with my weight and the way I look. To counter this I’ve used a few methods from my best fried, Ev, where I was taking status photos every week (now every month) to see where my body is at and give myself a more realistic view of what I actually look like. The problem is that I know I don’t necessarily see the right me even in photos. A lot of it is dependent on my mental state and how I think I should look. It’s amazing how frequently it interferes with my own well being. I know that I may be a little extreme but I don’t think I’m the only woman that beats up on herself over a pound here and there. The thing is I used to do this when I was 107lbs. I was teeny tiny and I thought I was horrifyingly overweight. I think it’s something that you have to really take with a grain of salt and start to appreciate your body for what it is and not for the super stick thin images that we’re presented with in magazines and on TV. I have a friend who has started to do that and I’m not sure how she does it yet but boy do I hope to get there some day.