Archive of ‘Leg’ category

“1, 2, mm, 4…”

About a month ago I graduated from physical therapy after my accident last year and subsequent surgeries. My physical therapist suggested I hold off on my beloved yoga and, instead, choose some weight training at a gym to begin rebuilding my body. I signed up at a HUGE local gym and was immediately offered a free personal training session. For a few weeks I tried doing it myself, but…

Today was my free personal training session.

His name is Barry and I’m not even going to give him a fake name because no other name would do him justice.
Barry.
Barry from New York.
He’s retired, in amazing shape, and completely unprepared for a 9am personal training session.
“Hey. Hi, how are ya? I’m Barry. Come on over.” He was tall, salty-haired, and rather chiseled for a dude who I’d imagine is in his 60s. “Alright, so first I just gotta get some…uh…I gotta get your…hang on.” He flipped through papers at his desk, took a sip of his newly purchased Starbucks iced coffee, and eventually turned around. “You got any clean intake forms?”
The young woman at the desk behind him nodded as if this wasn’t the first time she was handing him clean intake forms. “Here,” she said without expression.
“Thanks, thanks. Alright. Great, now we’re in business. Now you’re name is Erin…and your last name is…spell your last name again for me?” This is code for “I don’t know your last name.”
“Salem.”
“Ok, got it. So, let’s get some basic information…” He proceeded to ask me a few questions, weigh me, and use this little hand-held device to get my body fat percentage.

I. Was. Shocked.

I realize those body fat devices aren’t 100% accurate, but I was in the “Acceptable or Fair” range. I’ve slowly gained so much weight in the past year that I am no longer “Athletic.” I am not even on the “Good” scale. My bodyweight is “Fair”, and “Fair” means “You’re almost fat.” I choked back tears when…
“Ok, so basically we want to drop you a few body fat percentage points and the way we’re going to do that is strength training, or weight lifting…I’ve got this book here that um…where’s my book…”
“It’s over there, Barry,” the expressionless girl said.
“Oh. Yep. Yep. There it is. I got it. Ok so here you are on this scale and what we’re gonna do is…”
He went on to explain a whole bunch of health information that apparently most of the country doesn’t know. Stuff like don’t eat sugar and don’t over-cardio yourself and blah blah blah. I listened because his accent was so intriguing to me. Finally…
“So. You ready for a workout?”
“Yeah! Let’s do it!”
Barry grabbed his Starbucks and walked me to the rowing machine. He was very tall and I could tell he’s always been someone who has been in shape. He talked about his knee problems and the businesses he sold a few years ago as he walked in front of me and so I didn’t really hear any of it.
“…so then when I got down to Florida…hey, you know how to use the rowing machine, right?”
His luck, I do know how.
“Good, great, jump on. So anyway, I got down here and I was thinking about going back to school again because I’m retired and I was bored and trying to find something I’d really enjoy and…”
He talked for about 10 minutes, sipping his Starbucks. I rowed.
“Alright, that’s good. Come on over here and let’s do some squats.”
No, I thought.
“So we’re going to do some squats against this ball on the wall here…” he explained it to death and then he demonstrated.
While holding his Starbucks.
I started doing the squats and apparently I was soo good at them that in the middle of my 15th or 16th squat, Barry set his Starbucks down to pick up weights and hand them to me.
I couldn’t believe it. I was doing squats, real squats for the first time in a year. “1, 2, mm, 4…” The “mm” was his sip of Starbucks. But I was feeling awesome. Doing SQUATS! I was on FIRE!
“Let’s do some burpees, yeah? You know how to do burpees?”
Rot in hell. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
“Great! Let’s do 20.”
I did my 20 burpees (which, if you don’t know, looks like this), but the jumping part…it was unbelievable. I couldn’t JUMP. I guess I haven’t really jumped much since the accident. I couldn’t just…jump in the air. I had to do this weird bend down thing, throw my hands up over my head, and hope I detached from gravity thing. “Is this a problem with my leg?!”
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah, Erin, you’ll have to rebuild muscles. I mean you’ll have to FIND those muscles even, so yeah. Anyway, let’s do walking lunges.”
Walking lunges. I killed squats, but I couldn’t jump, and now…walking lunges.
Y’all. I’m not even kidding. I fell down.
I FELL. DOWN.
My left leg wobbled, then I couldn’t feel it, then I fell down. Luckily, Barry caught me.
“Alright yeah good girl!”
Um. WHAT?!
“You look good here. That’s great. Let’s get up and try again here. I’ll…may I?” He reached his hand out to help me up. I got up, unwillingly, back to my feet. “We’re not stopping here. Let’s go.” Suddenly, it felt like it was Barry and me against my leg. We created a team. No matter what my leg did, he was going to get me all the way across the gym doing walking lunges. It was half humiliating and half like being a FREAKIN’ warrior! Barry’s arms under my armpits, one of his arms strung through my left arm for good measure, he did every squat with me.
And I did it. Wobbly. Leaning on Barry. The whole way.

Bella snuggled my aching legs tonight, which I greatly appreciated...

Bella snuggled my aching legs tonight, which I greatly appreciated…

By the end of my training session, I could barely walk. My twig-like left leg wobbled like CRAZY. My leg was WAY weaker than I ever would have thought, and the whole time Barry tried to sell me a personal training package, I was thinking about the fact that I couldn’t even do walking lunges anymore. But that this dude, this 60-something year old New Yorker who worked at a fitness gyn after retiring, held me up to prove (with help) I could do it.
“So, I think this package here…”
“Yeah, thanks Barry. I’m not buying a package today. Thank you for holding me up.”
“Alright girl,” he immediately responded. I knew he didn’t want to sell me anyway. “Proud of you today.”
Yeah. Me, too. Proud and shocked and ready to do this. The next 6 months, I’m dedicated to finding my strength again, both inside and out. Y’all ready?

 

An Albino Mockingbird, A Kiwi, and a PB&J

Y’all. I have written 8 blogs in my head this week and ONE that I’ve actually published. I hate using the word “busy”, but I’ve been busy.

This summer I’ve had my son most of the time, Bear’s son full-time, and Bear’s mom has been with us for five weeks (she has helped me GREATLY with the kids so I could work!). We’ve been out of town every weekend for the past five weeks. We have gone on daytime adventures, Abe’s been in camp some of the time and home some of the time, and I bought a new rug. (The rug part wasn’t stressful or overwhelming. I just love the new rug.)

I’ve also been in physical therapy twice a week. It took me eight sessions, two visits to my primary care physician, and a LOT of hours on the phone to get my insurance to cover it. But just this week, insurance approved the physical therapy. Because occasionally, with enough atta-boys and “You can do it!”s, insurance companies actually insure their clients get healthcare. It’s like the sighting of an albino mockingbird, but it happens.
I told you earlier this summer that I was going to write a blog about how wonderful physical therapy was and blah blah blah… Well, it really was. My hip slowly but surely tilted back into the proper position and, as it did, I learned just how out of whack my muscles have become!! I compensated for the pain in my leg when I broke it by using other body parts, and that caused all my muscles to get confused. One muscle would grab the jelly, another would grab two pieces of bread, and by the end everything would be shoved into the peanut butter jar and served with a fork. We still ate lunch, but it was NOT the way we used to do it.
On the first day of physical therapy my Kiwi Therapist (he was from New Zealand) asked me to lie on my back, tense my transverse abdominal muscles (the ones right behind your hip bones), and lift one knee at a time. I flexed them.
“Go ahead. Flex,” Kiwi said.
“I am.”
“No, right here. Where my fingers are. Flex there,” he repeated.
“I am.”
“Oh. I see. Ok. Change of plans…”
Just that one little “exercise” demonstrated how far behind the curve I was. So, we started with just trying to tense my muscles. I didn’t even get to knee-lifts until week 3.
It’s not that I’m weak. It’s that I’m out-of-order strong. But Kiwi worked with me every week to find the sleepy muscles and wake them up after he gently tried to unjam my hip with his bear hands.

Kiwi is very strong.

Three weeks ago, Kiwi suggested I get a gym membership and continue the simple exercises with heavier and heavier weights in the coming months. I called around and tried a few different methods for getting a gym membership I could afford but I just kept coming up short (on cash). They all required sign-up fees of anywhere from $50 to $100. They had contracts. They cost $30-$100 monthly. Some covered the whole family. Some, just me.
Last week, I finally said this prayer:
God? I would like a gym membership at a gym near my house without a contract. I don’t want to pay a sign-up fee. And I don’t want to have to find the gym. I want you to tell me which one it is. I want it to find ME. 
Guess what?
Last Thursday a representative from a local gym happened to be at a restaurant where I was eating and offered me a week-long free pass out of the blue. I told him I wanted a gym membership with no contract and no sign-up fee. The next morning I got a call from the manager of that gym asking me to come in and get my key-card. The monthly payment is less than the others and includes my whole family.

Bam.

The entire point of this blog is that I’m still surrendering. A lot. It’s the word of the year, in fact. I’m surrendering to being busy. To having a full house. To physical therapy. To insurance companies. To gym memberships. I’m finding that surrender actually requires me to make a very specific request and then REALLY giving up my will and what I wish would happen. It seems counterintuitive, but truth is I don’t have control over anything. Literally letting things happen around me can seem kind of pacifist at times, but I assure you it takes strength and action to remain in life’s flow. Think about being caught in a raging river. You can try to swim against it; huge energy-suck and certain death. Or, you can go with it; still a challenge to survive but far more doable if you can keep your head above water.

IMG_2597I went to the gym this morning. I did the exercise bike and some light weights while I watched the spin class having so much fun…
Surrender, y’all.

Aaaaand I’m Drinking Again

You ever heard the old phrase that if you pray to God for patience, He’ll give you a line at the bank?
Well, be careful. Because depending on how much patience you actually need…he might just break your leg.
14 months ago I broke my leg in an accident. I had surgery to fix it.
6 months ago I had a second surgery to remove hardware from my knee so my bone could finish healing.
2 months ago I got the news that my bone had fused and I was good to go.

I just HAD to open my big, fat, mouth.

Patience_LogoI’ve had this little, nagging pinch in my lower back for about 7 months. At the time of my final appointment two months ago, I mentioned it to my doctor. He suggested acupuncture or perhaps chiropractics. A doctor there in his practice could see me the following week for an evaluation, so I made an appointment just to get it checked out.
Dr. INCREDIBLY TALL walked into the room wearing a slick grey suit and askedmehowIwasdoing all in one, smooth word. I explained what I’d been experiencing and added that I didn’t think it was too much of an issue. He told me he would justdoafewsimpletests and then we’dmakeadecision.
He asked me to liedownonthetable and he did a bunch of funny things to my legs, hips, and waist, asking me ifanythinghurt. Nothing did and I got ready to leave with an Rx of ice and rest. And then…
“So, this left hip here moves. This right one doesn’t. And that’s because this right one is rotated downward. I wouldn’t say it’s frozen, but it’s in the wrong position. And it’s not moving.”
HEY LET’S HAVE ANOTHER PROBLEM RELATED TO MY BROKEN LEG YOU WANNA?
“Alright, so what do we do?”
“Well, right now we can start some physical therapy to help move that hip back where it goes. Then we’ll need some more physical therapy to keep it there so your lower back is no longer being pulled by your hip. Because, you see, that’s what’s causing your pain. It’ll be about 8 weeks.” He was so damn tall.
“Oh, yes, ok, 8 weeks. And can I…”
It’s so stupid when you ask a doctor a question you don’t want the answer to.
“…continue on with yoga?”
“No, unfortunately not. We’ll need to keep you as stable and symmetrical as possible through this process.”
“So…no yoga.”
“No, unfortunately no.”
“So…no yoga teacher training?”
“Oh. No, no unfortunately no.”
“Ok so…so no yoga.”
“No. Unfortunately.”

PATIENCE. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE.

So…I had to cancel my yoga teacher training. I had to start PT at 7am today. (Do you know me? DO YOU KNOW I’M NOT A MORNING PERSON?) I’m sore. I’m mad. I’m tired. And I’m not crossing my legs, slouching, sitting for too long, lying on my back, lying on my stomach, or shifting my weight to one side. Because PT.
I’m drinking, though.
I’m drinking.

(Eventually I’ll give you lots of delicious details about physical therapy and how incredible it is, but for now I hate everything.)

Oh $hit. I’ve Missed It.

The first three days of my kundalini yoga retreat were PRETTY incredible. And…exhausting. So Thursday morning I decided to skip sunrise yoga and sleep ALLLLLL the way until 7:30!!!! I got up to get dressed for breakfast and realized, OH! I could go eat in my jammies! 
And I did.

Each day of the retreat followed a different theme. The themes weren’t there to accomplish something or set goals; just to get us thinking. Thursday’s theme was “Going with the Flow of Life.” We talked about going with the flow requires being in the present moment of life: no past or present mind-wandering allowed. Sat Siri, our teacher, told us of a story of a study done over tens of years recording the last words of people who knew they were about to die. There were many variations of the “last words”, but they all sounded something like this:

Oh shit. I’ve missed it. 

How often have you spent your early morning shower in your 10:00am morning meeting? Or making dinner while thinking about how much money is in your bank account? That is to say…how often are you doing one thing but your brain is ENTIRELY occupied by something else? That right there…That’s “Oh shit. I’ve missed it.”

Someone else mentioned that compassion is actually a practice of the present moment. We cannot be compassionate in the future or the past, only right in this moment. So compassion for others, self-compassion, it’s the nicest way to stay right here in this very moment.

Immediately after that practice, we jumped into a van to drive to the Coba Ruins, an ancient Mayan city with pyramids and other structures still in tact after thousands of years. And I was immediately hit with my first “Go with Life’s Flow” challenge. As we stood outside the van waiting to load in, someone asked, “So this ride is about 45 minutes, right?”
“No,” the driver responded. “About two hours.”
Now, I live my life on a strict schedule. I also get INCREDIBLY car sick. So when I learned this trip was more than twice what I thought it was, I immediately began to LEAVE THE PRESENT MOMENT.
Compassion. How can I have self-compassion right now?
“So, guys?” I began to ask a question and I automatically felt uncomfortable, GUILTY even for asking for something for myself. “I often get car sick. Could I sit in the front seat?” Immediately I felt shitty. Like I’m not good enough at being present, at breathing, at meditating to overcome something as silly and simple as car-sickness.
“Oh sure!” everyone responded. There. I did it. I loved myself enough to ask for a seat that would likely lead to less vomiting during this two-hour trip. Step one.
Once I sat down in the front seat, I exhaled. Let’s just try and go with the flow here, huh? Forty-five minutes? Two hours? Whatevs. I’m with people I love. Be here.
The ride was long, and I did maintain focus on the horizon so as to not vomit. But it contained lovely conversation, a few belly laughs, and some tense moments as we passed by policia holding VERY large automatic weapons because…you know…Mexico.
We arrived at the ruins and immediately began applying coat after coat of sunscreen because the ancient Mayans lived ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN. Our guide, who was himself Mayan, was incredibly knowledgable. You could feel the energy of the people who once bustled through this city. You could sit on the steps where they sat to watch games being played or animal sacrifices being made. It was, as my dear friend said, “History class in real life.”
Near the end of the ruins was a pyramid the visitors could climb. I believe it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 steep steps to the top. When we arrived at the bottom of the pyramid, I felt incredibly present in that moment…almost blissful and unaware of how little past/future thinking I was doing. And I began climbing.
It wasn’t until I was about halfway up that I thought to myself…my leg.
I broke my leg.
How am I doing this? Can I do this?
I landed so plainly and squarely in the present moment that I completely forgot to think about whether or not I could do this. And it was too late.
I was already doing it.
IMG_1758It was almost EASY climbing 100 stairs and landing at the top. And I wanted to tell everyone up there, “Hey! I broke my leg a year ago and now I’m climbing an ancient pyramid in MEXICO! I didn’t know I could do that!” None of my typical stories or fears about what happened or what MIGHT happen were around and I was fine. My leg was fine. I climbed a FREAKING pyramid.
We drove into Playa Del Carmen that evening to have dinner. We ate outside under a HUGE

Apple-dropping beast.

Apple-dropping beast.

crab apple tree that kept dropping apples into our food. It was simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. (Those things HURT when they land on you!) I didn’t feel over-the-moon like I did after the after jumping off a cenote or being tickled by a Mayan healer. I just felt…there. Right there.
Everything was fine. Nothing was wrong. I was just…going with the flow of life.

Since my trip, I’ve started noticing how often I’m not right here. I’m thinking about where I have to be next instead of just going there. I’m thinking about my entire to-do list instead of just the first “to-do.” I’m thinking about the last time I went to XYZ place and how I didn’t like it. I’m thinking about next week, next month, next YEAR!! And while there is nothing wrong with planning, planning doesn’t equal living in the “possible future”. Remembering the past doesn’t equal expecting things to be as they were. Being right here is HARD, but noticing how often you’re not right here is a huge first step.

I finished off that evening dancing with Sat Siri’s little daughter and wandering around the streets of Playa Del Carmen holding her hand. Ordinarily an evening like that would be paired with my brain moving forward to how far a ride home it is and how tired I might be…but I didn’t. I was just there. Because…well…shit. I didn’t want to miss it.

 

A Few Pictures

I’m too tired to write out a long, adorable, witty blog about my doctor visit today. I’ll just tell you that today was either the end of one long debacle or the beginning of a new one.

IMG_1613

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you see what that is?

IMG_1612

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a fused bone.

Donezo.

And what’s more…I got to look at that picture one day after I got to look at this one.

IMG_1611

 

 

 

It took a year, but the medical bills are paid. off.

Now on to the rest of the debt. 😉

G’night everybody.

 

21 Day Fix – The Results

IMG_1406It’s been almost a year since I broke my leg.
It was this time last year that I was finishing my first round of the 21 Day Fix. It’s a 3-week fitness and clean-eating program that kick-starts your health into high gear. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I can tell you that, in my experience, that third week is when the magic starts to happen.

This round was no different.

Suddenly in the third week my weights felt too light. I could easily finish the cardio portions without stopping. And this time, in the third week I started to feel the muscles in my left leg.

When I started working out again, I would go to try a lunge or a squat and I literally couldn’t find the muscles I was supposed to be using. I am so used to favoring my left leg by over-using my right, or by walking in a funny way like on my toe or the outside of my foot, that when it came time to use my leg properly, I couldn’t figure out how to engage my butt muscle, my quads, even my calves. I sat in squats and lunges for 20, maybe 30 seconds just trying to figure out where I should be feeling the movement without the help of any other body parts.
It was incredibly strange.
I still have trouble with that, but it’s definitely better.

I didn’t do this round of the 21 Day Fix to lose weight, or even tone up really (though that was a lovely bi-product). I did it because I wanted to find out if I would ever be the same again. It’s a very strange place, coming down the mountain after a horrendous climb. It’s just as treacherous, just as difficult…it’s just that it looks like it should be easier so no one pays attention to you during your descent back to firm ground. I was sad, just plain sad some days these past three weeks seeing how much my left leg had forgotten. But I’m super happy today watching my leg re-learn a whole lot. It feels awesome to know that it can and will happen. I might always have that pain in my left hip or that pinched nerve in my lower back from the rod or that wobbly-knee feeling. So, like the past year, I can say that better doesn’t equal the same as before.

Better = different.

If you want to try the 21 Day Fix, join up with me and the awesome group of women who push themselves right along with me. They’re moms and teachers and nurses and lawyers and unemployed…just like you. 🙂

IMG_1401

 

Mah Body (Is Weird Now)

Let’s be real.

My body is kinda weird now.

Weird knot on one side, weird divot on the other side.

Weird knot on one side, weird divot on the other side.

I have weird stretch marks and some kinda saggy parts of my already flat-ish butt, but only on the LEFT side. The side I haven’t really walked on for a year. The right side looks great.
My left thigh is thin. Too thin. It’s about 70% the size of my right one, which is INCREDIBLY well-defined.
My right calf isn’t as well formed as my left one, though, because I’ve been avoiding using my left leg EXCEPT for when I step down on my toe (which is always). And if you step down on your toe, what muscle does it flex? THE CALF.
I have a few lumpy scars on my left leg from surgery, a few divots in my right leg from the accident.
And that about sums up my legs.

Do we even start a conversation about my stomach? We probably don’t.

My arms, though. MY ARMS. My arms look fantastic. So I’ve got that going for me.

I’ve been favoring my left leg for so long that muscles in my body have literally atrophied. Not to a point that I can’t use them, but definitely to the point of being noticeably smaller and less toned. And because all parts of my body are connected, I haven’t been putting the emphasis on my core I usually do, or squeezing my buns when I go up stairs, or even holding my hips straight while I walk. So while yoga has been my secret lover since November, there are poses I’ve been doing in weird and kind of awkward ways in order to continue favoring my left leg.

I am both ready and terrified to re-start The 21 Day Fix. I’d just finished my 21 days last year, the morning of my accident. It was the muscles in my leg that held my broken femur inside my body, keeping me from MAJOR blood loss (not to mention having to see my own bone). I know how incredibly important it is to have strong, flexible muscles. I know FIRST HAND how they can save your life, and make life-altering accidents less life-altering. I know that building my muscle actually strengths my bones (and I could use some strong bones growing right about now). I know all the practical parts of starting The 21 Day Fix at day 1.

And I’m totally terrified.

I’m not starting over. I’ve starting in reverse. I can barely squat all the way down on my left leg, not because it hurts…because I’m so weak. I am scared that after 21 days I won’t be close to where I was last year, because I probably won’t. Frankly, it sucks. And I’ve got a million excuses not to do it.

EXCEPT.

Except that I’ve told a lot of people I would. I promised to show up with them and for them every day. I promised Autumn when I met her last year that I would start again as soon as I could. I promised myself I would get strong again. So, in essence, this is now an issue of character. I said I would do it. Now I will.

So if you’re one of those people I promised to suffer through that first hell-week or sore muscles and starving bellies with, I’m going to. Because everyday that I show up for you, you show up for me.

March 30.

We squat.

 

My Kingdom for a Spy Cam (A Leg Update)

Today was my 6-week follow up on my most recent leg surgery. If you don’t know that story, here’s the summary:
Had to switch doctors due to insurance from Dr. Fabulous to Dr. Busy.
Dr. Busy said I needed to have my entire femur reconstructed.
Dr. Fabulous’s second opinion was that I only needed the screw in my knee removed to encourage my femur bone to fuse back together.
Dr. Busy disagreed and was kind of a turd about the whole thing, making me get a bunch of tests before he would take the screw out of my knee.
Dr. Busy took the screw out of my knee.

So today was the real test…did my femur bone make growth progress? Was it possible that Dr. Busy was right and I needed the whole, big, awful reconstruction surgery?

I arrived way early and got right in for an x-ray. It was the usual, “Are you wearing metal? Any chance of pregnancy? Do you like my scrubs? Wait in the hall.”

I tried to sneak a look at my x-ray on his little screen in the x-ray room before I went to the hall, but I couldn’t see it.

“Salem?”

I was called into another room where I sat with an assistant who asked me questions about how many drugs I’m taking and if I want physical therapy. (I’m telling you, this entire office is just FULL of people who do their homework…) I asked if she could bring my x-ray up on the screen and she said it wasn’t working for her. I’d have to wait for Dr. Busy’s assistant, Assistant Guy, who was on his way in that very moment. We like Assistant Guy. He treats me like a person.

Assistant Guy walked in 12 seconds later and greeted me like the nice guy he is. I was coming out of my skin, so anxious to see if there was growth or not and at this point I felt like climbing over him and pulling up the x-rays myself. I’m pretty tech savvy. I could do it.
“Let’s go into the other office. I’ll pull up the x-rays there. It’s not working the way I want it to on this screen,” Assistant Guy told me.
Ugh.
He walked me down the hallway to a big office shared by lots of other assistant guys. All the computers were taken. “Well, let’s try another office…”
UGHUGH.
We walked all the way to the end of the hallway, which felt like it was a 1/4 mile long, into another assistant guy office. He finally clicked around enough times that he got my x-rays up on the screen. In my anxiety-ridden state, I couldn’t figure out if there was growth or not. It looked the same. It didn’t grow.
“I can’t tell…did it grow?”
“Oh, um…” he paused as if he KNEW I was dying inside. “Yeah. I mean, look.”
He showed me the x-ray from one month ago and the x-ray today. Growth? Yeah. I’d say so.

1 month ago

1 month ago

Today

Today

 

 

 

 

My bone is filling in and growing all around the rod in a golf ball shape. I literally jumped up and down. “IT’S GROWING!!!” I held my hands clasped together at my heart, looking on at my new little baby femur bone.

“How’s it going?” I heard a voice behind me. I turned around and there he was: Dr. Busy in a pretentious suit and tie with an apathetic look on his face. (Ok, now I’m just being mean…But seriously, the suit was shiny…)
“Oh! Hi!” I hadn’t seen him in 6 weeks. “It’s growing!”
“It is?” he asked Assistant Guy.
“Yeah, ” Assistant Guy pulled my comparison shots back up. “See this is a month ago, and then this is now.”
“Well,” Dr. Busy said, “I do see a little bit of growth.”
“Take a look at my first x-ray. The one from before the surgery,” I prompted him. I wanted him to remember what it used to look like.
He stared at the screen. “Huh.” He was a little dumbstruck.
“Great, huh?” I asked.
“Well…well, son of a gun.”

I’m not kidding. He literally stared at the screen with surprise and, in a moment of more emotion than I knew was possible for him, he uttered, “Well, son of a gun.” OH MY KINGDOM FOR A SPY CAM. I wish you all could have seen that moment. It was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL.

As I walked back to the little room with Assistant Guy, Dr. Busy muttered, “Well, that was the easiest surgery ever, I guess…”
And I wanted to shout, “YEAH AND HOW ABOUT ‘TAKE THE METAL ROD OUT AND COMPLETELY REPLACE IT IS THE ONLY OPTION’, HUH, DOC?”

Look, I’m not an “I told you so” kind of person on the regular, but this is a special circumstance. I listened to my gut, I got a second opinion, I did my research, and it saved me a $30,000 surgery and another 6 months of recovery. It’s one of the first times in my adult life that I listened to my own gut and simultaneously did my research. And it worked. AND I TOLD YA SO.

Once we settled back in to the little room, I asked Assistant Guy if I was in the clear. “Pretty much,” he said. “It’s fusing at a great rate and I figure in 2 months I’ll see it’s completely connected.”
“Can I exercise regularly again?”
“I wouldn’t run unless it’s on a treadmill,” he said.
“I wouldn’t run unless someone was chasing me, so it’s all good.”
“Perfect. I’ll see you in 2 months,” and he walked out.

IMG_0918I practically skipped out of the office and before I even got to my CAR I called Dr. Fabulous’s office and told his assistant the good news. She was thrilled and couldn’t wait to tell Doc Fab that his advice served me well. I’m healing. I’m whole.

And I treated myself to a hot coffee and a terrible donut when I got home.

 

 

Take This Rod and Shove It

Today was the day the staples came OUT!

I arrived at Dr. Busy’s office and signed in. “How’d your surgery go?” the guy at the front desk asked me in his unusually deep, radio voice. I catch Radio Voice Guy at nearly every visit and we chat about movies or music or pop culture in general. I’m never sure if he remembers me from previous visits or if he just does this with everyone who comes in, but I love it.
“Seems like it went fine!” I replied to his question.
“Can I get a witness?” he quietly rejoiced. Radio Voice Guy always makes me chuckle.

Bear met me in the waiting area moments before they called my name. Luckily I was meeting with Dr. Busy’s assistant today because, well, Dr. Busy was busy. Assistant Guy asked me the basics (“How are you feeling?” “Any major pain?” “Any new pain?”) and then checked to see if my jeans would roll up high enough for him to gain access to the staples above my knee. I’ll be honest here…I was so excited to get them out that I didn’t even ask for the paper shorts. I just pulled my jeans down. Assistant Guy was nice enough to act natural.

I turned my head while he used what I believe was a pair of needle-nosed pliers to pluck the staples out. There were about 8 of them and it definitely hurt way more this time than when I had staples removed after my broken leg surgery. I have no idea why this was the case…maybe because Dr. Busy put them in at funny angles to be sure they hurt when they came out because he read my blog or something. I did bleed just a little bit before Assistant Guy used the steri-strips to cover the staple holes up. “We do need to grab one x-ray today, just for a baseline measure of where you are two weeks after surgery.”

Butterflies. Immediate, large, spiny butterflies entered my stomach. I was so scared that I’d made no progress at all, I almost didn’t even want to know. There has been so much disappointment in the last year, so many let downs, so many surprise horribly shitty things that I’m just completely averse to learning anything other facts about my life as I know. I’d rather live in the clouds while the world falls apart beneath me.

He asked me to sit in the chair outside my exam room so I would hear my name called when the x-ray technician came out into the hall. I sat next to a woman, probably in her 40s, with a walker. She’d had some kind of knee surgery and another woman, I’m assuming a friend or sister, stood across the hall from her indignantly pointing at a picture of a knee replacement. “See? If you have: joint pain, trouble walking, pain going up stairs, difficult standing for long periods of time…” she continued pointing and talking while the woman with the walker next to me interrupted her.
“No, no, no Veronica. That ain’t me. That ain’t me. No. No. Sit down. That ain’t me…”
“But you have all that. I’m not saying you need it…”
“No. No. I’m saying Dr. Bordle didn’t connect it all back up the right way.”
“It’s your bone, though, that might be rubbing on the other bone.”
“No. Nope. It’s because of those tissues. He didn’t connect the tissues back together. He did but he did it wrong.”
While I sat there imagining how doctors connect tissues, and what tissues look like (like tissue?), a young dude called my name. “Salem?”
“Yep!”
I walked into the windowless x-ray room while he set up. “No chance you’re pregnant, right?”
“Nope.”
“And born in 1981?”
“Yes.”
“That’s a very good year,” he smiled at me in a way that made me even more uncomfortable that this room was windowless.
“Oh, yes! Yes, I think so.”
“I was born in that year, too.”
“Oh! Oh, great.”
Can you just do the fucking x-rays, Fabio?
Several minutes later I was dismissed from the windowless room and I met Bear back in my exam room. Assistant Guy joined us a few moments later.
“Ok, let me pull those up here on the screen for you.”
He pulled up x-rays that appeared to show absolutely no growth whatsoever. My heart raced as I searched for the screw in my knee. He kept switching pictures around and I couldn’t keep up. Until.
Yes. There.

Screw.

Those are old x-rays.

Breathe.

He pulled up another set and was trying to create a side-by-side comparison for me. I just wanted to see the fracture. I just wanted to see it. PULL UP THE X-RAY!!!

Finally. There it was. No screw. Femur fracture. Bone growth. And guess what?

IMG_0533

Zoom in and notice the horizontal HOLE just above my knee. Bye bye, screw.

 

The bone fused on the left side. Fused. Bone fusion. The bone in my lower femur has begun to fuse with the bone in my upper femur. Fusion. Growth. BONES! GO BONES!!! I almost started to cry and I tried high-fiving everyone and everything but I don’t think I ever did, except for Bear. We stood staring at it while the Assistant Guy mentioned calcium and whatever else he mentioned while I was staring at my FUSING BONE! “Aaaand then we’ll see you in a month,” he said as he walked out.

Bear and I skipped down the stairs to the car with a lot more high-fiving and some extra jumping, just because we could. It’s not complete fusion. I’m not out of the woods. But it’s a START. And while I’d prefer a notice that I’ve won the lottery or never broke my leg to begin with…I’ll take it. (But I do want to remind everyone that Dr. Busy WOULD HAVE REMOVED THE ENTIRE ROD if I hadn’t mentioned the idea of taking the screw out. But let’s not hold grudges, eh?)

Horrible Itching and a Lesson in Patience

We made it home and on the way we had a VERY involved and intelligent conversation. About what I have no idea…I just remember thinking Wow. We are REALLY talking here. 

Bear walked me inside as my legs sort of decided which ever direction they felt like going in. My mom was eagerly awaiting us, ready to cook or clean or make the bed (with or without me in it). Without much pomp or circumstance, though, Bear and I walked straight to the bedroom and both landed face down. We were exhausted, but more than that we were relieved.

After a short nap, I woke up. Itching. HORRIBLE itching. I couldn’t even itch the different itchy parts of my body fast enough. “What is happening?!” I said.
Bear woke up just enough to say, “Narcotics.”
“Oooooh yeah.” The last time I was in the hospital they gave me narcotics and I scratched for nearly 5 days. But I couldn’t survive the pain without the narcotics when my femur and ribs were broken. This time I knew I didn’t need them so I opted for ibuprofen and an itch-free life instead.
I stood up to use the restroom and touched the inside of my knee on my way. I stopped. I touched it again. I rubbed it. I pressed on it.

The screw was gone.

And touching that part of my body for the first time in almost a year didn’t mean instant, hot, stinging pain. The screw was no longer there to poke into my tendons, my muscles, my skin. “Look!” Bear rolled over and my mom came running in as I showed them both how I pushed on the inside of my knee and lifted it at an angle I couldn’t just 6 hours before. It was the greatest feeling in the world.

Noodles. I want noodles. And beef jerky and a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese.

Clearly the drugs hadn’t really worn off yet.

Since then, though, the drugs have worn off. The pain peaked a few days after surgery and has diminished a little bit every day since. My mobility went from feeling like I was back at square one to walking nearly perfectly and taking some slow, intentional yoga classes a week later.

I suuuuure hope this doesn't gross you out...

I suuuuure hope this doesn’t gross you out…

My incision is closed with staples that will come out next week, at which point I can focus on the fusing of my femur bones. We won’t know until April whether or not this surgery was “successful”, but as of today I feel it was successful already. Stacking one knee on top of the other while I sleep, double pigeon pose in yoga, simple rubbing the inside of my knee with my hand are all enough to make me INFINITELY happy I had the surgery.

If anything, it’s all a lesson in patience and trust. Everything is happening at a pace I can’t control, with people I can’t always choose. There is no way for me to decide how quickly my healing happens, or who my insurance company decides is the doctor/surgeon I’ll be seeing. So my only choice is my reaction. I choose to remain full of faith, honest in my angry moments, and constantly moving forward. Next stop…FUSED FEMUR!!!

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