17 Weeks, Four Days and Counting…

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I looked at a calendar to see where I’m at in my recovery from surgery. Not that I’m counting the days and hours, but I know I’m stronger and in less pain than a few weeks ago. I go to my last follow up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon next week.

I’m still going to physical therapy, but my therapist has switched me from twice a week to once weekly. I need to do my exercises at home which can be tedious, but I need to hang in there and do them. Like right after I post this I need to do my workout.

The best part of my post-op days is swimming. I rejoined Masters and I started the first two weeks only making it two mornings per week. This week, I’m proud to say, I went four days in a row! I think swimming is a life saver. Literally, because it’s the only activity I can do right now that gets me really tired and exhausted. After being laid up for more than six months, the past few weeks of swimming have been a highlight. I love the feel of the cool water against my skin, the gorgeous mountain view and listening to the sound of swimmers splashing and moving through the water. I also like reconnecting with all my fellow swim friends.

I feel like I’m starting all over. When I started Masters a few years ago, the goal was initially to be able to complete the 1000-yard warm up. I’m able to do that again, but not much more. I wore fins all the time when I first started–they were like my security blanket or training wheels. After knee surgery, it’s not recommended that I use fins, so I’m managing without. Also, I can’t turn, so I stop at each wall and turn myself around. It’s kind of funny to go so far backward, but I am making progress and feeling good and tired every day. I’m thankful to be strong enough to swim again. I realized a few months ago it was a struggle for me to make it across the living room on crutches or even get in and out of the shower. I’m grateful for my health and everything I have in my life—family, friends, and those two fur babies that are driving me crazy. It’s a good time to reflect on the little things in life.

What are you thankful for and appreciate in your daily life?

 

 

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Back in the swim of things

 

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Last evening at the pool.

 

The past week has been going swimmingly well as far as my knee and recovery go. I’ve returned to walking laps in the pool and it feels great. Last Friday, I tried swimming laps—only a 200 freestyle, but it was a start.

I have my own little routine—and I do mean little. I walk 500 yards, do all my physical therapy exercises and then I swim. At first, swimming feels so tiring, but once I get into a rhythm, it feels wonderful. Today I managed 400 yards. I’m taking it slow and easy. After all, I have had next to zero movement for six weeks since my surgery—and very little since the accident January 2nd. But who’s counting, right?

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My handicap steps into the walking lane.

 

I’m not able to flip turn. My physical therapist, who was a collegiate Big 10 swimmer, told me not to. It’s kind of funny because I’m very fond of big open turns where I lift my head and take a breath. I think I’ll survive without the flip turns. It’s amazing how much getting in the water and looking at our gorgeous mountain, blue sky and palm trees have boosted my mood.

Now that I”m off my crutches, I’m also going for my morning walks. Also, a limited amount, just around the block rather than the three or four miles I used to do. Still, I’m on my way, I can feel it.

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Picture from this morning’s walk.

I’m convinced that water, whether it’s the ocean or a pool, provides a healing power. What are your thoughts about swimming and being in the water?

 

Patience is a virtue when you’re a patient

 

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The Palm Springs pool.

One of the takeaways I’ve gained from injury, surgery and recovery is patience. I’ve had to learn to be patient with myself. I remember the old saying, “Patience is a virtue.” Well, It’s been more than four months since I fell skiing and my patience is being tested. I’m on week five post-surgery and finally, I’m seeing improvements.

I do feel like I’m at a turning point where things are getting better. My Physical Therapist keeps adding to my list of exercises and she had me strap weights to my ankles yesterday. On the days I don’t go to PT, I make my way to the city pool and walk in the handicapped lane and do my PT exercises in the water. This week, I can walk around the house—without my post-op leg brace on.

With all these rapid improvements in my health, I am impatient for more movement and strength. A few weeks ago I was in my brace 24-7 and I couldn’t put weight on my leg, and had to use a walker. Compared to those bleak weeks, I’m doing great. However, I’m ready to get beyond this and I have to remember to be patient a little longer. I get tired easily. My leg gets stiff when I sit at the computer. I have to be patient with how long it takes me to get ready for my day and how long it takes me to walk from one room in the house to the other. Yes, patience is a virtue and I’m trying hard to be virtuous.

My next big move will be to push off the wall and swim, rather than walk in the handicapped lane. I’m also looking forward to getting out of the post-op brace and being able to return to my morning walks around the park. In the meantime, I’ll try to be more patient with the small improvements I’m experiencing each and every day.

 

 

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Soon, I hope to be back to doing this!

In what areas of your life do you need patience?

 

Two Things About Recovering from Surgery — Some People Are Real Jerks

 

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Where I had my surgery and am seeing my doctor.

Today, I left the house for the first time since my surgery over a week ago. I drove myself to my post op appointment and felt so good restoring a bit of my freedom. But then, when I looked for my temporary handicap parking placard, I couldn’t find it. I didn’t sweat it but parked at the nearest spot in the orthopedic building lot which was three rows away from the front door. I figured it must be in the other car—or maybe my husband knew where it was. It was a big hike for me, one step at a time with a walker, step by step and took more than ten minutes getting inside the building. I looked at all the rows of handicapped parking and realized they were all full anyway. There’s a run on handicapped parking at the Desert Orthopedic Center. I haven’t gotten a handicapped spot yet during my last few month’s visits.

The appointment went well. The doctor is kind, gave me color photos of the inside of my knee and said I’m doing great. That was all good news. I can start back to PT next week and can put a little weight on my leg.

 

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Inside my knee.

But then, things got ugly after my appointment when I walked back to my car. Step by tiny step with the walker, stopping to catch my breath, I worked my way through the lot. There’s a crosswalk that divides through the islands with enough room for wheelchairs or people like me, struggling with walkers to get the shortest route from my car to the front door.

Except for the jerk in the brand new silver Corvette, who took it upon himself to park in what was NOT a spot! He left his car in the divide that was the handicapped CROSSWALK. Once I got there looking at my car–two rows away–I tried to inch by his fancy, shiny car. But, no! His car prevented me from using my walker. He took up more than a foot of the room I needed to get by. I tried using my walker with the right two legs up over the curb in the planter and the left two legs on the blacktop.

I had to backtrack, go an extra 50 yards around the parking area, to get back to where I would have been if I had taken the crosswalk. I was furious. After me, I watched a sweet little old lady swear, and a mom with an infant and stroller and a hubby on a knee scooter with a shattered foot curse out loud. Thanks, mister hotshot with the Corvette!

 

 

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This is what the Corvette looked like.

 

The mom with the stroller and infant said, “What an asshole!”

I said, “I know! I had to walk clear around,” and pointed out my circuitous route.

Her husband said, “What? A guy driving a Corvette is an asshole? Who knew?”

We all cracked up at that.

But then, back home I got a little more upset, after my husband and I discovered the temporary handicapped placard is nowhere in either of our cars. The last time I saw it was the day before surgery when we went out for brunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We had valet parked. That was the last time we used the placard and the only time I was in a car–prior surgery. Don’t get me started!

 

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If you see one of these around, it’s mine!

One thing that being injured has taught me is to be more considerate of people with injuries, disabilities and the elderly —those who need those handicapped placards, crosswalks and parking spots.

About This Adventuring: The Toboggan Ride Was Fun

 

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A perfect day at Alta, Utah.

All my excitement of the New Year came to a crash on the slopes when I made one turn and lost my balance. I went skidding down the mountain spinning on my back and side—but only after feeling a rather awful snap in my left knee.

I stood after a friendly stranger helped me up and I thought I was okay. I skied a hundred yards more and “yikes!” The pain in my knee was sharp, intense and I collapsed. After a third try with the same result, I told my ski companion that I needed help down the mountain. I crossed my poles and we waited until a ski instructor stopped and called a number for the ski patrol to come get me.

Long story, short…actually, it’s a short story because it was only the first turn of my third run on a perfectly beautiful, sunny day in Alta. I was lifted into a toboggan with my left leg in a splint and wrapped like a burrito as ski patrol Chris, skied me to a snowmobile patrol, who took me the rest of the way to the clinic. I held onto a little flap of tarp over my head because the ski patrol Chris said it would keep the snow kicked up by the snowmobile from hitting my face on the way off the mountain.

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My view from the Ski Patrol toboggan.

 

The nurse, doctor and receptionist were really kind. They empathize with all their patients whose vacation has been ruined. In my case, I’m not worried about the torn ACL ruining my skiing days. I’m worried about the rest of this week taking care of my daughter’s house and puppy. (I’m in Salt Lake City, Utah to housesit and puppysit for my daughter, who is with her swim team in Florida. I thought I’d take advantage of her proximity to gorgeous ski resorts and ski for the first time in a decade.)

I have a lot going on and I don’t have time for this. In addition to taking care of the pup, there’s a swim meet I was going to compete in early February. Also, I’m traveling back to Salt Lake for my daughter’s senior day and final dual meet. Plus her final PAC 12 swim meet in Seattle. My cousin is coming to visit. My high school friend plans to stay with me. Yikes again. How do I have surgery and participate in all the momentous occasions ahead? What will I do to keep my sanity without my daily walks and swims?

I think a lot will depend on my attitude and outlook. After a good cry that hasn’t happened yet, I’ll pull myself together and face life every hour the way it’s put before me. I remember after my big accident in college, when I was crossing a street and hit by a pick-up truck going 35 miles per hour, it hit me to appreciate the little blessings in life. Don’t take anything for granted. And live life the best you can.IMG_9968