Knee Brace Chronicles

I Miss My Teacher.
I Miss My Teacher.

They say that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.  I sometimes wish that it would just kill me … strike me down … kill me dead … I know, I’m sorry. Reverse. Rewind …  I know that my life IS good.  I lead a really good life.  I am blessed beyond belief with a great husband, four kiddos that are healthy and wonderful, I have a great career, and I am healthy sans my left knee. I have no right to complain when I know that so many would want to walk in my shoes, and live the life that I live. What’s talking right now is my complete exhaustion, frustration, and emotions. What’s talking LOUDEST is my ego. I just seriously miss my workouts because it is something that I constantly crave.  Trust me, I count my blessings everyday and thank God for EVERY little thing.

It is something that I constantly crave and I seriously am in withdrawals!
It is something that I constantly crave and I seriously am in withdrawals!

It’s been over a month, almost a month and a half since I injured myself and I still ask, “WHY?” Why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? What lesson is it that I am supposed to learn in all of this?  Why? I don’t understand. Maybe I’m not supposed to understand. Maybe I’m supposed to feel more empathy towards those who are seriously injured. Maybe I’ve been too callous in my thoughts of others, or maybe I got greedy in my desperation to keep up with the younger girls, and in my desperation to improve because my mind is constantly comparing myself to others and needs to STOP. Maybe I’m supposed to really rest.  Maybe … I hate to admit this, but maybe I’m really just afraid.  I don’t know. All I know is that I am NOT myself. I don’t even recognize myself. I barely even want to crawl out of bed to do anything because I’ve been so depressed.  I don’t openly admit that to anyone, but yea, there it is … I’m severely depressed.  All I really want to do is lay there and do absolutely nothing. I’m really good at hiding my feelings. For one, I don’t openly share much about me. I don’t really believe that people are genuinely that interested in me either. I just do my thing, mind my own business, stay in my own bubble. But yet … WHY?

No other way around it ... When in doubt dig deep and barrel through it!
No other way around it … When in doubt dig deep and barrel through it!

I watch others who have the capability to workout and have the potential to do great things, but yet they just sit there – happier to enjoy the comforts of food and the softness of their bodies. I take care of those whose bodies have given up from years and years of it’s owner’s abuse, misuse, and disuse.  I take care of those who have basically let their bodies rust out – too many years of eating the wrong foods, watching a little too much television, providing it with little or no sun, hydrating it with the wrong kind of fluids, and definitely not providing it enough activity.  It saddens me that people don’t care enough about themselves to take care of themselves, however, when they’re really sick *then* it’s an emergency and want to be saved. Seriously? NOW it’s an emergency? It should have never gotten to the point where your heart is now failing, your lungs can’t provide you with enough oxygen, where your trunk can’t hold you up and your frame is falling apart. I have never in my entire life wanted to be one of *those* individuals. I’ve always been active, athletic, and strong. True, I could eat better, but for the most part my diet’s not the worst.  Fitness has always been my passion from a very young age.

So I ask myself again, “Why? Why me?” What did I do to deserve this? I’m sure that I can ask until I’m blue in the face and still never be able to completely figure it out, or ever get a straight answer. I did everything right except for ONE wrong foot plant … ONE. I’m so angry. I’m so, so angry. It’s my own fault. I can’t blame anyone else except for me. I’m sure there’s a lesson here, but WHAT? What is this lesson? Patience? Tolerance? Empathy? I know that there’s a reason, but I’m so caught up in my own little pity party that I can’t see straight at this moment because my ego keeps talking and won’t STFU!  And the more I think about things, I think that, yes, I know that surgery WILL fix my knee, but what about my mind? There is NO surgery to fix one’s thoughts …

SNAP OUT OF IT, ROW.! My ego needs to just Shut The F#@K Up already! (insert *hard bitchslap*)

Here’s a different perspective … I AM thankful.  I am thankful for my Physical Therapist, Todd, who got the ball rolling for me – he was wise enough to know that I needed serious help and that I needed it STAT! It’s because of Todd that I was able to get into see my Primary Doctor, get an order for a STAT knee xray, and get a STAT orthopedics referral.  Without Todd, I would have waited … I would’ve waited and just asked one of my ER Docs to take a look at my knee one night at work.

I am thankful for my health insurance.  I am a very blessed individual to have free coverage for myself and my family.  Not only that, my family and I are also covered by my husband’s health insurance.  Double coverage … BONUS!  I am thankful that my co-pays are $5.00. I have witnessed a lot of individuals whose co-pays are $50, $70, $100, and even $200 or more.  I feel bad for people who come to the ER for very “minor” complaints and end up having to pay these outrageous co-pays. Um … that’s what a clinic is for, what going to your Primary Doctor is for. I’m really sorry that your co-pay is $200 and you got a 15 minute visit with my ER Doc for your complaint of ear pain. I can not complain about my health insurance coverage.

I am thankful that I am still able to walk and even work. I know that some individuals have injures that are far more severe than mine. I also know that there are some whose injures are not as severe as mine but have taken them out completely.  I sometimes wonder about that – if they fake more pain than they actually have so that they can have more time off work? Here’s my thinking about that … eventually all that faking will catch up to you and the pain will become real, and the injury will become as severe and as painful as you make it out to be.  It’s why I can’t ever lie about being sick or about being injured.  For one, I would not know how to fake being in “that” much pain. I’m one of those people who believe that if you lie when you call in sick, that you WILL end up sick. It’s just not worth it. I can work, I can walk, there’s no need to lie and pretend.

I am thankful that I have no pain. I am slightly weirded out when my knee catches and buckles – that is NOT a very nice feeling.

Blue.
Blue.

I am thankful for my hinged knee brace, Blue. Yes, I named my knee brace, what of it?  Without Blue, my knee would constantly buckle and I really would not be able to walk.  I wear that thing at least 22 hours a day.

I am thankful for the “forced rest” because I really needed to just stop and rest my shoulder. People forget that I have a shoulder injury also. It’s why I haven’t been able to do upper body exercises as people have suggested. Yep.

I am thankful for my friends who have had knee injuries an knee surgeries who have taken the time to talk to me about their experiences.  They have listened to me, let me cry on their shoulders, let me ask numerous questions, and never let me feel as if I were alone in this whole ordeal.

I am thankful for my Orthopedic Doc/Surgeon, Dr. Wilkins.  He made me feel at ease, and assured me that he would take care of me and that I would be okay.

So … see … in the darkness of all this craziness, I have discovered some good things. But I  just let my feelings, fears, and my ego get in the way.

Henry Rollins said, “There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength.” I have to remind myself that I am so much stronger than what I believe myself to be.  I am afraid, but I am going to do WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET THE F#@K UP! This will NOT kill me.  This will NOT keep me down. I am going to unf#@k my mind and  I am going to slay this dragon because I know and believe that I can! I am stronger than this challenge, and this challenge is making me even STRONGER! Believe that!

My surgery is coming up … One week. One week! Let’s do this. Let’s get it done so I can move forward and get back out there! I’m ready! I am sooooo ready!

“If you are paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.”  ~Steve Pressfield

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Gutting It Out At The Oakland Half Marathon

Over the last two weeks, I have really done a whole lot of nothing.  Seriously, in all honestly, I have been sick … really sick.  What started out as allergies, turned into a full blown head cold, that eventually turned into bronchitis complete with bronchospasms, with a touch of a 24 hour flu thrown in for good measure in between that head cold and bout of bronchitis.  I haven’t fully recovered, and I really have no business doing any kind of strenuous exercise until I’m close to 100%, right?  But being Row., I really don’t heed my own advice quite that well, and I like to test things out and push if I can get away with it.

This is how it all started … I had the makings of a head cold, complete with severe congestion and sore throat when I ran Sacramento’s Shamrock’n Half Marathon.  I had to call in sick to work for two days after this half because I felt pretty bad.  After running, I got worse and what was just a head cold progressed to this awful coughing because I was so dang congested.  I was starting to feel better by day 5, and I even went back to work on Friday, worked a full 12 hours shift, and proceeded to rock a 5K immediately afterwards.  Um … yeah, not the best idea, but I did it and did well.  But … there’s always a but … I ended up getting worse.  My coughing was so bad that I couldn’t sleep so I broke down and asked one of my Doc’s to write me a prescription for some Super Duper Cough Medicine which I took.  I slept so well, but that night I felt as if I had a hangover from the med. Then I felt as if I were dying – so debilitated that I could barely get out of bed, and I vomited.  Only once, but I vomited and I never vomit.  I believe that the last time I even came close to vomiting was 11 years ago when pregnant with my daughter. Ugh. Gross. The achiness went away, but the head cold was now in my chest – a nice appearance of bronchitis which had me coughing all the time because my bronchioles were always in such a fit of spasms.  I felt as if I were trying to cough up my right lung! Mind you this is now 3 weeks into this.  And I besides the two runs, I haven’t worked out at all.  It’s been like a forced rest for my poor shoulder.

Well … You’d think I’d learned my lesson from all of this right? Except I signed up to run the Oakland Running Festival this weekend.  Yeah … crazy.  Any other sane individual would’ve bagged the race and DNS’d it.  But no … Not Row.

Saturday night, I fell asleep without incident.  I was pretty whipped, and knew that I had to get some good rest in. About an hour into my sleep, my daughter, who likes to sleep with music, turned on her radio to go to sleep except it was at FULL blast, and not only that it was house mixes – bass thumping, heart pumping music. There went my sleep – I could not fall asleep afterwards for nothin’.  I did finally fall asleep at about 3 o’clock only for the alarm to ring right at 5!!! It wasn’t even a fitful nap due to all my coughing, and add on the fact that I’m for some reason nauseated and I know that I’m in for a delightful run!

I cough and hack and gag all the way to Oakland.  I try to eat my breakfast sandwich, only to feel as if I’m force feeding myself and start choking. I’m whining to my husband.  I can’t decide what to wear for outerwear. I feel out of sorts. I know that he feels bad for me, but there’s not much that he can do. He even offered to let me stay in the car and sleep while he took my bib so I’d get a time, etc., but I wasn’t going to let that happen.  I’d decided to just shut up, suck it up, and run.

What it looked like the day of packet pickup. Oh and that truck in front of us said, "Marathon" at the top. Another sign!
It turned out to be a beautiful day for a run!
Ready to go!
Chris - Race Ready!

The weather turned out to be surprisingly beautiful where it had been forecasted to be a torrential downpour. (Well, I don’t know if it was supposed to be a downpour, but it sounded good.) We had a lot of time before the start so we did the customary prerace cheezing, porta potty pit stops, and what not. The half marathon had a late start time of 0915 so we had lots of time to kill.

My view of the START ...
And Chris' view of the START! LOL!

The race started promptly at 0915.  Chris was behind me, however, I lost him before we even hit mile one.  I felt kind of bad because I always feel as if I should run with him, but he never wants me to wait for him.  He wants me to run my race.  I was doing well, surprisingly, but I figured that with my lack of sleep, my coughing and nausea, I’d just run to run.  However, I felt good.  But I felt it at by mile 2.  Not the sickness, but the ankle ache on my left side.  I figured I’d just let it go, that it was tolerable. I continued to run the streets of Oakland – thanking the volunteers, high fiving the police and firemen, and taking in the sights.  Like I said, the weather was perfect, and aside from my little ankle ache, I was okay.  That is until about mile 9 when the tiny ache became a real ache and I could feel myself running crooked to compensate.  This lead to my balance being thrown off, so now not only did my ankle ache, but my left knee was starting to whimper a little.  But I talked to myself, my body and I told it that we could do it for 40 more minutes, that we could tolerate this pain for a little longer, that we were strong, and that we were okay, that we would be okay.  Essentially, I told my body that it had NO choice.  I said, nicely, that we would just have suck it up and just gut it out the rest of the way.  Just like that.  You know, like when you talk to your kids … you don’t give them choices, you tell them what they’re going to do and they don’t argue back, and if they do, you whack ’em!

At mile 10, I thought of my friend, Audrey, when I saw someone who held up a sign that read, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” I smiled, and told my body that what we were experiencing was just that … Temporary. I reminded my body that we would be okay, despite the now crying left knee.  Just a little ache. We were gonna be okay.  Every time we went up hill, I smiled and said that this was my sled pull for the day, my mini WOD, and thought of my friends at CrossFit 209.

DONE!!!

We got to Lake Merritt … People kept saying that it was “just a jaunt around the lake and you’re done.” Yeah right.  Lake Merritt is HUGE!!!  These people surely had a skewed sense of measuring! I know that they only meant to motivate, but it was really deceitful! Mile 11, more crying from the knee, just a little louder, and not only that, but my shoulder was also starting in and my right arm went numb. Mile 12 … still whimpering, but Rockafeller Skank comes through on the iPod and I tell myself and my poor knee that it’s just about over. We got this.  We take off just a tad faster. We push hard. We have no clue where we are time wise because I decided stop looking at my Garmin at mile 3. I just know that I have to dig a little deeper and rise up … so I do. I push hard and just go.  It takes a few before I can spot the finish line and it’s just slightly up an incline.  And before I know it, I cross that finish line and I couldn’t be happier.  I immediately thank my body for pushing through, for sucking it up, and gutting it out when the going to rough.  I’m really proud of myself.  Despite all the odds that were stacked against me – the lack of sleep, the crazy sickness, the shoulder, ankle and knee issues – I finished! I’m really proud of myself for getting the work done!!!

Best of all, I’m proudest of my body for not listening to my head.

Highlights of my race: Best sign I read was, “Where’s everyone going?”  Running thru the Wall of Fire! Seeing the Raiders in all their make up! And cheezin’ for every camera I saw – and I saw a LOT!