Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The year I didn't expect...

Well, it has been so long since I have checked in!

This year didn't go as expected. I can't say that I was a bad year, because it wasn't. Sometimes life just throws you a curve ball and you have to learn to roll with it.

For over a year, I was dealing with significant knee pain in my left knee. I had been to orthos left and right and had 2 different doctors tell me it was fine that I just had a little arthritis in my left knee and to "take 3 Aleve a day and that should help it."  Well, that wasn't going to happen. I'm scared to death of taking any type of medication on a regular basis because of how hard Depakote is on my liver, and I have to take that daily for my epilepsy. So, if any dr thought I was going to add 3 Aleve to that, he was mistaken.

I went to Dr. Chad, a friend and wonderful chiropractor, at Lifestyle Wellness in Plano. I've gone to him for years and and taken the kids too.  Needless to say I valued his opinion.  He had mentioned I was losing range of motion in my knee, and he worked on it with a couple sessions of Graston and then told me he thought I needed another opinion from other orthopedic doctors.  He didn't think he could help me.

It had gotten to the point that running was so painful every single time I ran that it wasn't even fun anymore, and of course this was 6 days before we left for our Ragnar Relay in Luckenbach with 11 other ladies to run about 200 miles across Texas. Perfect timing...
Dirty Dozen

I wound up dropping to the lowest mileage possible for that race, which was about 15 miles and my knee was swollen the size of a cantaloupe and unable to bend as we sat in Luckenbach and had a cold beer at the finish line that weekend.  That was when I knew.  It was April 1st.

I came home from that race, and after asking around from friends, found an ortho that came highly recommended.  He informed me I had zero cartilage under the left side of my kneecap because of the way that my kneecap tracked.  He recommended a lateral release and a clean out of my knee if necessary once he got in there.  There was also the thought that I could have a meniscus tear on top of everything else.  He recommended surgery.

I was a nervous wreck.  I was 43 and having knee surgery. So many thoughts ran through my head. What if I never run again even though he said I would?  What if it hurts?  What if I go crazy waiting for it to heal?  What if, what if, what if....

In the 3 weeks between the dr appt and the surgery, I met a girl at our MRTT event that had a lateral release a few years ago and was running fine.  I took that as a sign that I would be okay.  So I took a deep breath and just went with it.

May 3rd (a month after finishing Ragnar) I had knee surgery.  After surgery, he told me I had the knee of a 60 year old - boy he knows how to make a girl feel special!  He fixed the small meniscus tear, cut the ligament on the left side of the knee to release the knee cap, cleaned out under the knee, and also did a microfracture into the bone marrow to hopefully regenerate some new cartilage.  I was home by noon with whole new knee! To celebrate surgery being over, I ordered a new Tstar Running Skirt on the way home, no joke...totally a good reason to order a skirt!
Before and after surgery

The fun was just beginning.  The next day (and I can admit this to people now because at the time everyone thought I was crazy for walking so soon) I was up before the rest of the family and I walked down the street by myself.  It was only a 1/3 of a mile and it was slow. I didn't tell my husband for a while, but I wanted to get moving.
Suck on that gizzard knee.

Day one.

Totally normal to walk in this down the neighborhood street.

Walk on Day 2!  
Two days after surgery I made it twice that far and walked the dogs with the boys. It was slow, but it was progress. I also went in that day and made them take off all the bandages so I could at least bathe! I didn't have a physical therapist appointment until the next Monday and there was no way I was waiting that long to get clean!

I wound up walking 26 miles for the month of May. Baby steps!

Two weeks after surgery I registered for a triathlon that was at the end of August.  I wanted to do one at the end of July, but my partner in crime, Catherine, talked me down and told me to shoot for August. So I registered for the Old College Tri. It would be my first race since knee surgery - even though to this point, I had only walked a distance of .76 miles at a time. What in the world was I thinking?

I slowly got back on my bike while Stuart ran and was biking small distances starting May 31. I decided to kick off June with swimming!  After 4 weeks of stitches,  I could now get in the water since they were gone.  I couldn't use my legs though. So I swam everything with a pull buoy between my legs and only used my arms. I didn't care - pull is my favorite anyway and I was one step closer to training...for something....anything...

 A little swollen but whatever...
The month of June I continued to do what I could.  I wound up walking 60 miles that month and my biking and swimming continued to increase. June 11 I rode 16 miles on my tri bike and realized that if I could find someone to run a triathlon, I could do a relay!  So I did what comes next.  I registered for a triathlon relay and convinced my kids it would be fun.  Chase would swim, I would ride, Stuart would run.  Well come race day in July, Stuart was injured so Kelly subbed in for the team 3 Amigos and ran for us!  We got 1st place in the relay division! What a way to come back!
Team 3 Amigos with Coach Stuart
My tens unit friend at PT
I was still making progress slowly but surely.  Every check in with the dr. went well, and he was super impressed with how well it was coming along. I was going to physical therapy three times a week which was a beating, but I needed it.  I had to take care of this knee if I wanted to get back to where I was able to do what I wanted.  I loved my physical therapists too, so that helped.  It took me a while to find a place I liked. The first physical therapist I went to the week after surgery told me I would never run or do CG again...nothing on concrete basically. So when I mentioned to her that I could run trails then, she told me no because that surface was even more unstable and would cause me issues.  I left in tears...but that's a whole other story...

I had asked the dr at my 8 week check up when I could start running. I knew I wasn't ready, my knee wasn't anywhere near ready I could feel that, but I wanted an idea. I mean I had a race coming up...bwahahaha.  He had told me 12 weeks which would have technically been July 26th, but I didn't have an appointment until July 31st.  So I decided since technically it had been 12 weeks, I would run on the 26th. I started out with walking a mile, running a mile, walking a mile...then I did 2 the day of the appointment I was up to 3 running miles and feeling encouraged.

Pretty good for 12 weeks post op
As July came to a close and August  began, I began to focus more on my running.  I knew that I could swim and bike the distances for this triathlon, the run was what I hadn't trained for - and yes, it was a short sprint triathlon, but I wanted to do well. I didn't want to just do it.  I secretly wanted to win the Athena division, but I didn't want to say that out loud.  But yes, I did have goals.

Race day was August 20th and I was so excited. You would have thought it was my first triathlon. I'm sure Catherine probably wanted to kill me as we drove to Denton.  My friends Lorie and Deidre were doing that race as their first triathlon, so that was super exciting too!

1st place Athena!

Athenas and Cara! 

Since then, I have been slowly back on track and getting in to the groove of things.  I did quit going to Camp Gladiator which was a super tough decision, but I was having to make so many modifications with all the lunges and squats, it just wasn't fun anymore and my knee still hurt afterwards.  I have continued to do everything else and just recently joined a gym with some super fun classes with my friends Elaine and Cheryl.

I ran my first half marathon a few weeks ago, and while it wasn't the pace I used to be able to hold, it was my pace and my time.  I have learned through this whole process, that the whole point of exercise and running is not to "Just Do It", but to really enjoy it, embrace it, and be thankful that you can.  I've learned patience and been humbled.  I've had so many friends that have run with me, walked with me, brought me meals after surgery, texted me, brought gifts...I'm just so thankful for each and everyone of you. 

It's taken me time to process all this and figure it out, but I wouldn't change anything over the past year.  My knee feels good. I'm not discouraged any more and have a whole new outlook on working out.  

Always look for the positive!


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