A little bit at a time

A friend (Hi Rob!) has reminded me throughout this knee surgery/recovery process to take the long view. I can’t say that patience is one of my strengths, in fact, I can tell you for certain that it is NOT, but there’s also nothing that I can do to speed up this process. I will say that finally starting the process – getting surgery – does seem to help a bit. While I dreaded it, I was also ready for some action. My knee healed up enough from the impact of the accident so that I could walk a few miles at a time, but I was still quite off-balance, and my knee was probably as good as it was going to be without surgery.

Tuesday the 26th was the day, and while I felt pretty calm until that point, I’ll admit that there is nothing like a pending surgery to heighten your anxiety just a little. Also, my surgery was scheduled for 3:00 pm, which meant a VERY long morning with nothing to eat or drink except for some gatorade around 11:00 am. There was nothing I could have done about the time of the procedure. As usual, I arrived early, but they said that the doctor was ahead of schedule – quite a surprise – so the nurses and anesthesiologist got right to work on me. Before I knew it, people were wheeling me along, and then the next thing I knew was that I woke up. It is SO weird – you expect to drift off to sleep and to remember the moment that you are “out”, but, in my limited experience, it’s like a light switches off and then back on.

Anyway, the surgery was a success, but the process is not over! They weren’t able to do everything in one go, which I honestly didn’t expect, so I’ll cue up for my second surgery in August. The doctor worked on the meniscus and ‘cleaned up’ the knee and prepped it for the next surgery. Much of that work had to do with prepping tunnels – the ones from my first ACL repair needed work so that they would be functional for this one, so he grafted bone (from a cadaver) which needs to fully heal before they slice into me again! Crazy, right?!

I may be repeating myself, but had I known how complicated a 2nd ACL surgery would be, I definitely would have been more cautious…

I will say that recovery from this first stage hasn’t been terrible, and I’ve regained a decent range of motion and am cruising through PT. Ha ha, if you can consider what I’m doing “cruising”! I have about 2 more weeks with crutches – they are definitely the WORST part of this process! I’m at 50% weight-bearing on my left leg, but I won’t get to 100% until the 4 week mark. But I’m half-way there, so I’m trying to stay positive and be grateful that it’s not longer and that I am progressing along! Also, I’m reminding myself of the big picture – that this rehab will be slow and steady. I need to stay off my leg so that the bone can heal and be ready for Stage 2 of the surgery.

All of this positivity isn’t easy, and I’ve had plenty of fits of tears and frustration. This weekend was absolutely GORGEOUS so I had major envy of everyone who was out riding, running or even just walking their dog without crutches (I sort of walked our dog with crutches yesterday while Michael ran – I must have looked like a pathetic sight to most people, but I at least I was outside). I should have a decent amount of strength in the legs to enjoy easy walks/hikes for much of the summer, so, yes, I’m also going to take that as something to look forward to.

In the meantime, fun photos of the process – Before and after:

Yes, compression socks are so sexy!

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A revision

I just looked up the word “revision” thanks to our folks at the handy-dandy site dictionary.com.  Yes, I know what it means, but I wanted to see what the dictionary said about it. Some related words are awesome – “improvement”, “correction”, “polish”, and I think of an exclamation point following all of them for that positive emphasis.  But then there are those terms that veer to more of the negative, you know, an acknowledgement that there was some sort of fuck-up to begin with.  “Reconsideration”, “alteration”, “rectification” just don’t have the same happy ring as those first ones.  I do, however, like the origin of the word – Re-vision.  Seeing again.  It has a bit of a nostalgic ring to it, or the idea of hindsight being 20/20. Another negative, however, is the idea of “revisionist” which, in terms of history, carries negative baggage, depending on the context. As for my own revision, it seems early to already try to correct my view of 2019, but here we are!

Taking the idea that revision can entail looking back (seeing again!), my own experience would take me to a nice, sunny morning in early February. How could I have known that a wrong move, just ever so slight, would have landed me where I am now? And if only I could correct that movement.  Looking back, I wouldn’t drastically change anything – it would be ever so slight. For instance, I wouldn’t look uphill when I was heading downhill.  Or I would take 5 seconds or less and come to a full stop and THEN look uphill to see where Michael was.  I didn’t, however, do that.  Instead, I didn’t come to a full stop and at the same time I was looking uphill.  In other words, I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going.  And, just like that, literally in an instance, a second, I went from upright on skis and just fine to cursing with my face in snow.

The short story, as I realized at that very moment, was that I had fucked up my knee.  Or, really, I had re-fucked-up my knee.  There are so many reasons that this is frustrating – but especially when I think about how I wasn’t doing anything that I *shouldn’t* have been doing.  I wasn’t skiing out of control, it was a run that I’d skied time and again.  BUT, at the same time, I also wasn’t paying attention, and I’m paying the price for that.

I knew at that moment, in all probability, that I had royally screwed up my knee, but I held out all sorts of hopes and giving myself one pep talk after another about the possibilities of it being a sprain, or *just* a meniscus tear.   The sports doc quickly dashed all of those hopes when he gave me the MRI report – bone bruise, meniscus tear and ACL “fray”.  He didn’t give me the absolute worst-case-scenario about the ACL in that he didn’t confirm whether it was fully torn or whether I’d need surgery; rather, he referred me to a knee specialist in Denver who didn’t even skip a beat when he looked at the MRI and confirmed that the ACL was torn.  “No doubt about it” when I asked for clarification.

So, I’ll go back under the knife in March, and then we’ll see.  Since I’ve already had the knee repaired, the surgery this time around – ACL revision surgery rather than reconstruction – will be a bit more complicated, or so I’ve read, and the recovery time will take longer.  I’m frustrated with myself, and I’ve really tried to adjust my expectations and plans for the year, shifting much of what I hoped and expected to do in terms of outdoor activities to next year.  I’ll also admit that there is a sense of loss, especially as I think about whether I’ll alpine ski again or not and I’m also worried about whether I’ll be able to fully return to running.

But, those are still unknowns, and I acknowledge that I need to take the long view when it comes to the surgery (fingers crossed it’s just one) and rehab.  I know that I’ve been here before, but it feels different this time around – maybe because I’ve been so active in recent years and that ‘being active’ has felt like an integral part of my life.  And also it might feel different because I’m 10 years older than last time. Plus, it pains me to think about waiting a year to tackle 14ers and do some of those other fun/hard goals that I’ve had. While there is a lot of sadness and grief- no doubt, some of that stems from the lack of a daily endorphin fix – I’m also aware that this does not fall into any sort of category that could be even close to “terrible”.  It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.  I’m upset, but, for the most part, I’m trying to deal with those emotions too.

And, as much as being injured and all of that stuff that comes with injury and rehab sucks, I know that I *should* look at this as an opportunity to focus on different parts of my life. This is, of course, easier said than done, but there is also truth in that. Being outside and active is often how I connect to myself (if that makes sense) and also to others, so it will challenge me to not share those moments with other people. That said, this is not at all permanent, and, as a good friend told me when I went through the first ACL surgery – “PT! You’ll be so strong!”.

I can’t wait!

A reset for the new year

January came and went, and, with it, some of the bright, shiny new-ness that comes along with turning the leaf on a new year.  However, I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself or anticipate a ho-hum year.  It’s early days yet, and January set the tone in many ways for a shift in priorities and, well, just a shift in general.

Starting at a new school in January was TOUGH, I won’t lie, but it’s also good for me to stay busy.  The jury is still out in terms of this new ‘gig’.  At times, I think that it’s definitely just a stop-gap measure, while other times, I contemplate staying on for a bit longer and seeing where it takes me and what I can learn from it.  The answer to that last question, honestly, is “a lot”!  But are these the skills that I want to develop long-term and is this the population with which I want to work long-term?  Those questions remain.

With the new start – to the year and school – I looked at January as a time to hunker down, work on honing different habits and routines, especially those of a domestic nature.  With colder (but not polar vortex-cold) temps, I almost always made one dish a week that we could stretch out and let the flavors sit and improve as the days went by.   Some of these are old favorites, such as Nigel Slater’s Bolognese sauce from Food52, or a rift off of this butternut squash chili.  Just an aside – in the fall of 2017, we bought a quarter of a cow, and we are STILL eating our way through the beef!  It was way more than we needed, but it’s convenient to have in the freezer.  I also tried out a few new recipes, and some of the standouts were this instant pot curry and a Thai-inspired soup (although the recipe says that it is Thai-style, I’d hesitate to use that moniker).  While those two recipes were good, and I wouldn’t hesitate to make them again, the stand-out from my try-new-recipes push was definitely this Vietnamese-style beef stew (Bo Kho).  It won’t stay on a ‘weekly rotation’, but I can see it as a monthly regular.  I made it on a Sunday, and we pulled it out on my birthday, which was a Tuesday in January, and it felt like quite a special meal!

Speaking of my birthday, I wasn’t really looking forward to it because it’s sort of a humdrum year as I inch closer and closer to one of those MAJOR milestones.  But maybe moderating my expectations helped because it was such a nice celebration.  Michael and I went out the Saturday before and tried a pizza place in Boulder (that also has 2 places in Denver) – Pizzeria Locale.  I know, pizza, how boring, but the food was fantastic as were the drinks!  We tried different amaro-based drinks, and this has opened up new options for us.  I know, while other people engaged in dry January, we were trying out other options.  I think that I accidentally sent us down this rabbit-hole in December, when I gave Michael an Italian amaro for his birthday.  We had it on the shelf for the past month, looking at it and wondering what to do with it (I know, great gift?).  Inspired by the drinks at Pizzeria Locale and the conversation with the bartender, who let us try a few tastes of different amari.  We’ve since embraced the amaro trend full-on, although we haven’t invested in every type out there (which would possibly bankrupt us).  The book, Amaro, is a great guide/resource, and we’ve played around with a few recipes.

In terms of active/outdoorsy goals for the year, I decided to put the world of triathlon on hold for a bit.  I don’t plan to sell my tri bike (yet?), but I was ready for a shift in priorities and also experiences.  Last year, I felt that I didn’t ski enough OR train enough in the winter, so sidelining triathlon seemed like a choice that I could live with.  I’ve been thinking about a few trail races in the area, and that was going to be the focus of 2019.  Skiing in the winter and spring, running in the spring and summer, and hiking as much as possible!

On that note, I got back to running in January, after taking almost all of December off, and skied 6 times.  Not a bad beginning – especially with days like this:IMG_0016-1

 

Looking back at 2018

Yes, I somehow failed to write anything between November and now, despite the fact that I can list off a good number of ‘happenings’!  While I’d like to sit back and reflect on those events and also on the year as a whole, I think that summarizing might actually be more helpful to me and less drawn-out in terms of blog content. Continue reading “Looking back at 2018”

Hiking highlights

As we are full-on skiing (!!!) and haven’t hit the hiking trails for some time, it seems like a timely moment to summarize the hiking season in Zermatt.  First of all, we lucked out weather-wise with a serious lack of rain.  This, obviously, benefitted us, but is concerning long-term for a place that depends on rainfall.  I definitely revisited plenty of familiar trails, but I also explored new ones – both in and around Zermatt and also on some of the overnight trips.  There are still PLENTY of trails or summits that I missed, and while a part of me would love to hike to the Hörnli Hut and touch the base of the Matterhorn, I don’t have a deep, pressing need to make it there (unlike one of my colleagues, whose efforts have now been thwarted at least three times!) or a few other places. Continue reading “Hiking highlights”

Retour des Alpages – A brief weekend in Annecy

We’ve officially crossed that half-way point, and I’m finally getting around to jotting a few ideas here and there about the experience thus far.  I’ll return to the Swiss adventures, of which there are many, but, for now, a quick recap of our quick weekend away.  It’s funny because Zermatt is so beautiful, and you’d think that one would never tire of the mountains and views and trails.  While I wouldn’t say that I had grown “tired” of these views, at that 5-6 week point, I was beginning to feel a bit antsy – that I wanted different views.  The timing of the trip, therefore, couldn’t have been better, and I suspect that I was not alone in feeling that I wanted to do or see more.  For the students, the trip connects to their English and Art History classes, and it’s an interesting weekend for them.   Continue reading “Retour des Alpages – A brief weekend in Annecy”

A return to the mountains

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Just a few icebreaker games in the shadow of the Matterhorn while totally jet-lagged and suffering from the altitude.  Great way to start!

This has been a long time coming, talking about how unhappy I was for the past two years.  Last fall, I decided that teaching middle school was just NOT the right fit, so I made the decision in November (if not before) that I’d end the year but not return.  It was a weird situation to know so early that in June, 2018, I’d officially be ‘unemployed’.  I also didn’t make the decision lightly as the school has a great reputation and I worked with great people.  I couldn’t, however, deny just how unhappy I felt teaching that age group.  I have total respect for those dedicated middle school teachers who connect with students, support them, and enjoy that environment.  For me, it just never felt like a good fit, and as much as I wanted it to work, I also wasn’t willing to sacrifice my happiness and sense of self/identity/whatever just so that I would have a stable job.  I also recognize that I was (and am) incredibly fortunate to be able to make that decision. Continue reading “A return to the mountains”