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Why I Do What I Do

This has been a big week for me. In fact, I’ve been waiting for this week since May 12th. Two weeks ago my doctor told me I could start biking and swimming on May 26th and that day couldn’t get here soon enough. I can honestly say that I have never been happier to sit indoors on a stationary bike. Then today my PT gave me even more great news. I am clear to start practicing yoga AND using the elliptical. Then as I did my single leg dead lifts, he told me he couldn’t even tell which leg was the bad leg. In my mind, I put a gold star beside my name. What did I do to deserve such great news? I guess my efforts to be the best physical therapy patient are starting to pay off.

I like to reflect and yesterday after my bike session (that may have included an interval or 10), I started pondering why it is I like exercise so much. Yes, I like being healthy and I think an active lifestyle is important but I feel like there is something more to it than that. I mean, as soon as I had permission to start doing pushups, I couldn’t get down on the ground fast enough. A lot of people aren’t like that. As I was walking around town this afternoon, a story I heard on the Rich Roll Podcast made it all click, and I finally understood why it is I like pushing my body so much. Rich Roll was talking about how athletes don’t think, they just do. They live in the moment and their bodies know exactly what to do and when to do it. *Lightbulb moment*  That is exactly why I like to run, bike, do the elliptical, run stairs, do tabata intervals of pushups, etc.…. because it forces me to be in the now. There is no moment when I am more fully present than when I am running (or biking, etc.) During 20 mile long runs, rarely does my mind drift and I like it that way. When I’m doing tabata intervals on the bike, it’s impossible to be thinking about anything else. My body demands that my brain is fully present. It is my version of mindfulness.

In my earlier workouts years, I tried to read a magazine while on the bike or elliptical. The result? A really gross, sweaty copy of SHAPE magazine. And I never made it past the first paragraph of any story. To this day, I still don’t understand how people read and workout at the same time. I can’t even watch tv. But that’s just me. I like to be fully present of everything I’m doing, from speed to resistance to intensity. Sometimes I go too far and I understand that. But any athlete will tell you, there is a fine line that exists between training hard enough and training too hard. How else do you find your limits?

As I return to the world of working out, many people are telling me to take it easy, and I am very grateful for the people who care so much about my wellbeing. Yes, I know I can be a borderline workout maniac but under no circumstances will I put my hip in jeopardy. This entire ordeal has been a tough, learning experience, and I never want to go through it again. However, I will still push myself. I will still work for a decent sweat and an elevated heart rate. I have to. It’s what forces me to be in the moment. It’s my version of meditation.

On another note, today marks four weeks since my surgery. I still can’t believe all that has changed. That day in the hospital seems so long ago.

April 30th, right after I got out of surgery

April 30th, right after I got out of surgery

 

May 28th, four weeks later

May 28th, four weeks later

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

 

(The feature image is from last week… after much practice I was finally able to sit back on my feet. I was way too excited!)

The World is What we Create

I’ve been struggling with what to write about today. It’s been a few days since I posted and I’ve had a hard coming up with something of value to say. That was until earlier today. And it has absolutely nothing to do with running and only a small percentage to do with my injury.

This morning I woke up and decided to check the news. It’s not something I normally do, primarily because I don’t want to let negativity into my mind. If I don’t have negative thoughts of the world then I can’t spread negative thoughts to the world. At least that is my opinion. When I first checked the local news, I read about a series of shootings in Myrtle Beach. Then I checked CNN and learned for the first time about the mass shootings in California. My heart became heavier and heavier as I read through the tragic events of Friday night. As I drove to the grocery store, I cried just thinking about all of the pain and sadness that exists in our world. Why are some people so angry? So sad? So mean?

Then I came home and checked the mail.

When I opened the mail, I had a very interesting envelope and I wasn’t quite sure who it was from. Inside of the envelope there was another envelope and a card. The envelope was covered in inspirational quotes and as I read every single word, I was completely overwhelmed. Not only did every single word on that envelope speak to my heart, but the fact that a friend who I haven’t seen or talked to in a few years, had taken the time to do something so kind, reminded me that the world is good. Then I started thinking about all of the other people who had reached out to me during this hard time, people who I don’t see or talk to that often. Just last week I received an extremely kind and heart warming card from my former dance teacher. It was totally unexpected but it made me so happy. Then I realized that because these people had done something so kind for me, I wanted to share that feeling of happiness with others. I want to do more good because of them. I want to take the compassion and kindness that has been shown to me and pay it forward. Then I had another thought relating back to earlier in the day… the world is what we create. 

 

How awesome is this??

How awesome is this??

I believe in energies. I believe some people emit positive energies and some people emit negative energies. I also believe that our world is a balance, yin and yang. However, if our only thoughts are negative, if we stop believing in the good of people and humanity, if we talk badly about our neighbor, if we can’t have compassion for the stranger on the street, if we can’t slow down long enough to realize we are all human beings who want to belong and to be loved, then we are creating a world with little hope. That is our doing. But if we can have compassion for all, do a random act of kindness for the stranger down the street, spread a little love, and start filling our head with good thoughts, then we are creating a world full of hope. That also, is our doing.

I choose to believe in goodness. I choose to believe that humanity is good and the world is full of hope. This morning, as I was struggling to comprehend what happened Friday night, a letter from a person who I haven’t seen in years, reminded me that kindness exists all around us. That is a reminder we all need.

Let’s create a better world. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. What the mind believes is what will come to pass. Believe in something better for humanity.

Thank you to everyone who has shown me so much love and support during this past month. I am forever grateful for your kindness and I will do my best to pass it along.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

My Beliefs Matter, Not Yours

A few days ago my mother-in-law told me I had mucha voluntad. If you don’t speak Spanish, that means I have a lot of will power, persistence, and tenacity. I took it as a compliment and used those words to continue pushing myself forward. I believe that I will return to running, just as I was able to a few months ago, with all of my mind, body, and soul.

However… several times throughout this past week, people have questioned whether or not I would be able to return to running. They told me they always knew running was bad and maybe now I’ll do something else. I don’t get mad often. That makes my blood boil. Slightly.

Today I was having a rough day. I don’t like walking with a limp and it’s hard. It hurts. I miss my normal movement patterns. And I absolutely hate feeling that screw poking through my skin. It’s so damn awkward. Then I made the mistake of looking up hip fracture/titanium rod and screws/running/recovery on Google. I didn’t read a lot of great recovery stories. In fact, I read quite the opposite. Add to that, I read over and over again that I might need to check myself into a nursing home for a month or two. I guess displaced hip fractures aren’t common for 31 year old females.

I realized this afternoon that I should never search those words again. It only added doubt to my mind and sadness to my runner’s soul. A few too many hip fracture articles later, I realized that I don’t care what everyone else says. I don’t care if people think I will never run again. What other people think is not my business. I don’t even care if most people never return to normal running after a surgery like this. That is not my story. If I surround myself with doubt, I will begin to doubt myself. I will not do that.

Nothing that I read, nothing that anyone says to me, and nothing that other people may use to discourage me, will change my mind. I wholeheartedly believe it’s the mind that matters and the attitude I choose, that will make the difference. It doesn’t matter to me what anyone else says. I can do whatever I want.

Have you ever heard of Amy Purdy? Or have you ever see this movie, based on a true story? That’s going to be me. I choose voluntad.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

One Month Post Boston

Time flies. It really does. And at the same time, so much can happen in such a short amount of time. I guess that means life passes by pretty quickly too. Must. Get. Busy.

One month ago today, I woke up with excitement, hope, and determination. I woke up with plans to do the thing that I had spent the last four months of my life training for. It was a beautiful day and I knew I would end that day with a medal around my neck and pride across my face. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A lot has happened since then and a lot has changed. This is what one month injured, in the hospital, and on the mend have taught me:

1) Shitty things happen. I get to choose how I’m going to deal with them.

2) Will power is an incredible resource. Every day I get to decide how I’m going to help myself.

3) Perspective changes. If you had told me six weeks ago I wouldn’t be running for six months, I would have thought the world were coming to an end. Now I realize it’s not that bad.

4) A healthy body matters. My recovery is going incredibly well. The doc and PT say my active lifestyle and health have made a big difference.

5) Everything changes. From health and fitness to hospital beds and walkers, nothing stays the same. This too shall pass.

6) Pain is temporary. The pain I felt that Monday afternoon and the pain I felt after my surgery were immense. Now it’s all just a distant memory.

7) Things change (and many times, it’s not your decision). I had big plans after Boston and for the 2015 race. I’ve since had to readjust and I’m okay with that.

8) The race is long. That one day in Boston I thought I would finally have my chance to prove myself as a runner. It didn’t happen, but I know it wasn’t my last chance. Another opportunity awaits me.

9) My can’ts have become my can’s. Before my surgery there were many things I thought I couldn’t do. Or I wouldn’t do. Now that I don’t have an option, I know that I can.

10) Life goes on. The world did not stop for my suffering and neither did my life. The days continue and what was once so vivid and painful, grows fainter and fainter with each new day.

I am grateful for everything that has happened to me. It has put me on a different path for now, and that’s okay. I’m learning to venture out of my running comfort zone, to do things other than exercise like a crazy lady, and to appreciate the fact that every day I have a choice. Every day, I get to choose to be happy, choose to be determined, and choose to embrace my suffering. Having part of my identity taken away is hard but it’s as hard as I let it be. But perhaps the thing I am most grateful for is the fact that I finally feel like my hips are fixed. For so long I’ve been off balance and out of whack, which caused so many of my injuries. Now I can finally feel what it’s like to stand evenly on two feet. It’s actually quite amazing. Perhaps the pain caused by this injury today is what will help me to find my place in the future.

It’s all up to me.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

(PS: One week from today I get to start exercising again. This has been my longest break from exercise since I was in high school. I wonder what next Monday will have in store for me.)

My Ingenious (Running) Idea

This morning I had the most ingenious idea ever, at least in my opinion. I can’t believe it doesn’t already exist and if at least two other people thing it’s a great idea, I’m going to work to make it happen.  Maybe you’ll agree with me and maybe you won’t BUT I think the world needs an injured runners support group. 🙂

As I sat down to enjoy my overly caffeinated cup of coffee this morning and catch up on some reading, I noticed something. A lot of my fellow running blogger friends are suffering injuries as well. They are writing about trying to keep busy and not think about running. Or the mental anguish they are experiencing. They are writing about their suffering and they all seem to be alone in their suffering. But doesn’t misery love company? Wouldn’t it be helpful to gather all us injured runners together and share our experiences with one another? Couldn’t we learn from each other and help each other through the pain? I think so.

Here’s the thing… Injuries are a very real part of running. Unless you are one of the select few who can run all day, every day and never suffer a shin splint, you will probably come face to face with an injury sooner or later. The problem is runners have a very unique personality. When running, that part of their identity is taken away, they can go down a very depressing, downward spiral (at least I do). It’s hard to be an injured runner and if you don’t know how to deal with it, it can be exponentially harder. But there is an upside. Injuries rarely put an end to a person’s running career. Eventually things stop swelling, muscle knots loosen, and bones heal. Sometimes it may take a few weeks and sometimes it may take a year. Recovery only requires time, perspective, and a lot of patience. I believe a little advice, support and encouragement from other injured runners would make this process a whole lot easier.

I believe an injured runners support group would be beneficial for soooo many reasons. First, nobody likes suffering alone. Just knowing another runner is there who can understand what you’re going through, makes the injury seem a lot less painful. Second, I believe the best people to give advice on how to recover from an injury, are fellow runners. Other than my orthopedist who sent me to immediate surgery a few weeks ago, I’ve never had any luck with doctors and injury recovery. They didn’t understand how “rest” wasn’t what I needed to hear and they didn’t understand how my lower leg pain had nothing to do with lower leg faulty mechanics. It was only a symptom of my poorly aligned hips. Third, when runners can’t run, they get very anxious. Will all fitness be lost? What is the best way to cross train? How is this going to interfere with my training program? Runners who have had similar experiences, could share their advice. What worked for them and what didn’t, how to cross train for a marathon, how exactly to do pool running (this is something I’ve always wondered about), and what yoga routines helped with hip flexibility. In my mind, I think it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

What do you think? Maybe I’m just thinking this way because I could use a support group right now. However, throughout my many injuries, I know I would have benefited from a little love and positivity from fellow injured runners. Social connections and positivity make the soul a little happier. Sometimes I think that’s just what the injured runner needs. 🙂

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

(Recovery Update: I put my last crutch away this morning and I’m walking on my own. I barely have a limp now and I once again, tied my own shoes this morning. Two weeks ago today I could barely stand up. Today is a very different story. I love the human body… it’s amazing!)

I Want to be an Overachiever

Growing up, I was never an overachiever in school. Being number one in my class didn’t really interest me, and my sister was smart enough for the both of us. I did however, always get good grades. I think I only had a few B’s in high school and my only C was in AP Biology, which was like an A. A win-win situation if you ask me. I just never saw the need to stay up all night studying. It seemed too stressful. Even in college, when it was my bedtime, I went to sleep. I never once pulled an all nighter and I still graduated magna cum laude. I did what I needed to do in order to do well in my classes. I was just never interested in being the best in my classes. Being an overachiever wasn’t my thing. I’d rather balance school with hanging out with friends, going to the gym, and salsa dancing. 🙂

That was school. This whole recovery process is a completely different thing. I want to do absolutely everything possible to be the best physical therapy patient I can be, to make the most progress, and to be the person who recovers the fastest from this surgery (ever). When it comes to my hip, I want to be an overachiever.

Yesterday I wrote about the thing I missed the most… bending my leg. I couldn’t tie my shoes, I had a 10 degree rotation in my hip, and I couldn’t cross my legs. It was very frustrating but I knew I could try harder. So what did I do yesterday? I stretched. I walked a lot without my crutch. I worked on my hip rotation. Every time I walked into my bedroom, I made a point to do this marching exercise my PT gave me. None of this hurt but some of it was hard. I know that my progress depends on my actions as a patient, and I’m doing what I can to do all the right things. I want to be the best at physical therapy.

This morning I planned to go upstairs for another upper body and core workout. I was once again left with the dilemma of tying my shoes. Yes, I could have asked Mario for help. After all, I couldn’t tie my shoes yesterday so why should I be able to do it today? But I didn’t. I stared at that shoe for about 60 seconds contemplating how I was going to get it on and tie it. And then I did it. I successfully put on and tied both shoes. I immediately went to show Mario. He was so proud. 🙂

This morning was my fourth PT appointment since I started a week ago. I always start with a warm up on this step machine followed by the leg press. Then Shawn, my therapist, gives me several different exercises to work on activating my muscles. (Because they had to cut through the muscle to get to the bone, there is a lot of activation currently not happening.) There was an exercise Shawn gave me on Monday that I could not do. No matter how hard a tried, it wasn’t going to happen. But me, being the physical therapy overachiever that I am, I came home and practiced… a lot. Today we tried that exercise again, and to my amazement, I was able to easily do it. I felt like I earned an A+ with a gold star by my name. I guess being an overachiever is kind of fun.

As I said earlier, I have about a 10 degree rotation in my hip. By that I mean If I’m on my back and pull my leg in, when I try to rotate my hip (knee) out and put my ankle on top of my other knee, I can only go about 10 degrees. In other words, my ankle is nowhere near my knee. Well that was Monday morning. I’ve had two days of practice since then. Today we tried that rotation again and guess what… I added about 20 degrees in just a few days. All of that going above and beyond is really paying off. Can I get an A++ in physical therapy? And perhaps another gold star? Shawn was so impressed with my progress and I was too.

Different things interest different people. Some people like studying a lot and some people like physical, hard effort. I definitely fall into the camp of physical, hard effort and I’m completely okay with that. This physical therapy thing doesn’t always feel good and it certainly isn’t always easy. Sometimes I hurt and sometimes I get frustrated. But I want to be the best, so I try again. And then I try some more. Yes, it’s hard work but I love it. Even more, I love seeing the progress I’m making and hearing the words of praise when Shawn notices my improvement. It gives me even more motivation to try harder. If physical therapy were a class, I am confident I would earn an A+.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

The Thing I Miss the Most (and it’s not Running)

Overall, I’ve been in a pretty positive disposition over this whole titanium rod with two screws in the hip thing. It is what it is. However, last night I started thinking about the thing I really miss the most since my surgery and the thing I want to do more than anything, but can’t. Nope, it’s not running. It actually doesn’t even have anything to do with working out. Shocking, I know. It’s actually quite simple. The thing I want to do so badly but can’t is…. bend my leg.

I want to sit on the floor, cross my legs, do pigeon pose, tie my own shoes, cross my left leg over my right leg, or anything else that involves bending my leg. But I can’t. My hip rotates about 10 degrees out and 10 degrees in. Far from what I’m use to. I’ve always thought of myself as having pretty flexible hips. I could easily do pigeon pose, sit however I wanted, and bend and rotate in whatever direction I pleased. You know that quad stretch that runners always do where they grab their ankles?  Yea, I can’t even do that. My days of doing dancer pose are just a memory and the thought of doing it once again is in the very, very far future. It makes me so sad.

The days of sitting like this again are in the far, far future

The days of sitting like this again are in the far, far future

This morning, as I was getting ready for my first strength training workout since Boston, I sat and looked at my left shoe contemplating how I was going to put it on. After five minutes of trying many awkward (and somewhat painful) positions to get the shoe on, I gave up. I finally asked Mario for help. I never realized how much hip flexibility mattered. Every night when I sleep, I have to sleep flat on my back with my feet elevated on a pillow. Before, I liked to curl up to fall asleep. Sadly, that’s not happening anytime soon. With a range of motion of about 10 degrees, I basically have to keep my legs straight at all times. I wake up at least once a night trying to get comfortable and it’s quite frustrating. Then I spend about 30 minutes every morning doing my physical therapy exercises, and the effort to get from point A to point B is always taxing. Just a month ago, I was doing handstands, backbends, stretching, getting up and down on the floor without requiring any type of assistance, and now I can’t do any of those things. Yes, I realize the past is the past and that doesn’t really matter now. But when I think about what I was able to do 30 short days ago and what I can’t do now, it bums me out.

Yesterday I wrote about the awesomeness of the human body. I know my body will adapt and it will change. It just needs time. I know I will have to work pretty damn hard to get to the point of where I once was. Even then, I don’t know if I’ll have the flexibility I once possessed. My problem is patience. I have never been a patient soul and I want to see big results now. In my head I keep thinking If I can just go to yoga, this process will move along a lot more quickly.  But I know I must wait. It hasn’t even been two weeks and my body is still healing. I just miss bending my leg and tying my own shoes. Is that wrong? I don’t think I’ll ever take my flexibility for granted ever again, because right night, I sure do miss it.

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

(PS: On a more positive note, I got to drive for the first time in over three weeks today. It was so liberating!)

The Human Body

Every time I think about my surgery, I get a little freaked out. When I think about the doctor cutting through muscle and then drilling a titanium rod and two crews into my bones, my stomach gets a little queazy. I’m so glad I was knocked out during those two hours and I never want to know exactly how the surgery was performed. But the one thing that surprises me is the only evidence of my surgery is three small incisions and bruising, which is slowly disappearing. Pretty soon, the only evidence will be three small scars. I find that fascinating.

Today I went for my post-op appointment. My surgery was 12 days ago and I can’t believe how my body has improved in just those 12 days. My stitches are out, I can walk on my own (although with an awkward limp), and my once overly swollen hip (which made me feel 1/2 Kim Kardashian) is now back to a normal size. It’s incredible.

After my appointment today, I started thinking about how incredible the human body is. Before the nurse took my stitches out, I asked her about the skin healing. How was my skin already back together after just 12 days? She told me that yes, it was all healed and it actually heals itself from the inside. She took the stitches out and my skin kept itself together. No bleeding. No pain. Nothing. How awesome is that? (I’ve never had stitches before so this was a new experience for me.) Then I had an X-ray to make sure everything was healing as it should. The X-ray came back and all is well. I have a rod and two screws inside my bones and my bones are working just fine with them. How is it that my body knows to accept this foreign object and make it part of itself? It just blows my mind.

X-ray from today. Doc says all is well!

X-ray from today. Doc says all is well!

Last week this time, I was stuck on the couch. I was using a walker and only walking up and down the hall three times before I needed a break. I hurt, I couldn’t sleep. And my leg sounded squishy when you touched it because of all the fluid. Today I walked to lunch with my best friend, I took the stairs, and most of my walking takes place without the crutch. Last Friday at physical therapy, I was given an exercise that I could not do at all. I was to stand on my left leg (my bionic leg) and raise my right leg without shifting weight. I couldn’t get my toes off the ground. Today I completed three sets of 10 where I actually did raise my leg. Although I couldn’t hold that position long, I still did it. Just a few days earlier, it was impossible. Today it happened. Yes, I practiced during the weekend but I realized how, with enough hard work and patience, the body will adapt. It learns. It heals itself. And when you treat it right, it will help you.

They made me wear these lovely shorts for my x-ray. I couldn't stop laughing.

They made me wear these lovely shorts for my x-ray. I couldn’t stop laughing.

I feel so fortunate to have a healthy body. Yes, my hip did fracture but it was my own doing. I did a lot of road running and ignored the aches and pains along the way. It was my fault. Now I’m witnessing my body heal itself in a way I’ve never known. I have a new found appreciation for what the body can do and I am grateful for the surgery that put me back together. It makes me realize that  I really can do the things I want to. I may not be good swimmer now, but I can learn to be a good swimmer. I may not be as strong as I want to be now, but with enough hard work, I can get there. When I do get back to running, with the right plan and right approach, I can be the runner I want to be. It just takes time, patience, hard work, and a whole lot of love for yourself and your body.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

One Week (and a few days) Post Surgery

One week ago today, I came home pushing my new walker. I was in pain. I hurt. And all of the pain meds made me feel a little nauseous. The couch would be my new resting place for a period of time and taking a shower would become my least favorite task. I wasn’t sad about being immobile. I was sad about hurting. Fast forward one week later and I’m down to using one crutch. I can take a few steps on my own (although with a very awkward limp), and I’m down to using zero pain meds. I’ve been to physical therapy twice already this week and will continue to go two times a week for the  next month. Today, I decided, was my last day of being stuck to the couch. Tomorrow, I get back to life.

Throughout my many walks up and down the hallway, I’ve had a lot to think about. Add to that a few good life podcasts, and I’ve come to have an actual appreciation for this injury/surgery. I’m not mad about this and I’m not sad about it either. If anything, I’m glad because now I can move on and do the things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

For so long, I’ve ran. I’ve run the streets of Raleigh more times than I could ever count. I’ve spent my Saturday mornings pounding out the miles and my Sunday afternoons pounding out a few more. I loved every minute of it and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Running has been my favorite activity for over 12 years. However, at the same time, there are so many other things that I’ve wanted to do. I’ve just never been willing to make time for these other things because running dictated so much of my life. Now that I can’t run, what better opportunity?

When I was a junior in college, one of my favorite professors had this very strange tattoo on his arm. For so long, I never knew what it was. Then one day I realized it was the Ironman symbol. I told myself within the next two years, I would train for and complete an Ironman. Obviously, that never happened. Heck, I’ve never even done a triathlon. All I knew was how to run, so that’s what I stuck to. Even though, in the back on my mind, I always wanted to test my endurance limits, I just ran. Swimming required extra effort (driving to the pool, learning technique, etc.) and I didn’t own a bike. Now these are the only two sports I can do.  Perhaps this injury is putting me on that path. Thanks to my friend Nikki, I already have a swim cap. That’s one step closer that I was last week.

Along with triathlons, I’ve always wanted to practice more yoga. There was a period of time when I did Bikram Hot Yoga every week and it was my favorite time of the day. There was something about pushing my body to the limit in 115 degree room that I absolutely loved. I loved the physical part of it and I loved the mental part of it. Every week was different with different challenges and that’s why I was so drawn to it. But again, running eventually became front and center of my life and yoga took a backseat. Now I can make a change.

Calisthenics is another area that I have always wanted to focus more on. Al Kavadlo is my calisthenics hero and I really want to use his workouts to build some serious foundational strength. Other than leg strength and some decent core strength, I’m lacking in a few areas. Fortunately, the doctor said as soon as I’m back to walking, I can start a strength program. Obviously it’ll focus more on the upper body for now but it’s a start.

And finally, Mario and I always said we wanted to start a family after Boston. Mentally, I struggled with the idea of having to cut back on my running and running slower times. Well now that’s a non-issue so no need for my mental struggles! See, everything does happen for a reason.

Monday I go to get my stitches taken out and for another physical therapy appointment. I’m curious to know how the healing process is going. If I had to give my input, I’d say it’s going well. But then again, I’m no doctor. 😉 Sadly, I have to miss out on a friend’s wedding next weekend. It’s a three hour drive  and the doc has advised me against it. Other than that, I’d say all is well on the healing front.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

 

My First Surgery (and it was a big one)

On Wednesday I posted that I would be headed into surgery in a few hours. It’s been four days since then and a lot has happened since April 30th.

When the doctor told me I was going to have to have surgery immediately, I got a little nervous. After all, I still have my wisdom teeth and anesthesia was something completely foreign to me. But perhaps it was a good thing the surgery was that day. It didn’t get me much time to think about it. Or to get more nervous.

Around 1:00 pm I started the check in process at the hospital. The man who checked me in asked me what was with this date and Rex hospital. Almost three years to the day, I had been in the ER at Rex hospital because I had fallen seven feet from a chair and hit my head and broken my collar bone. (And for those of you who don’t know, this happened on my wedding night. Note: a wine dinner is fun, but one must be careful.) By 2:00 I was back in pre-op being asked 1000 questions. The nurses, however, made me feel like I was freakin’ amazing. When I told them how I fractured my  hip and that I still walked 7 miles of the race, they started calling in other nurses so I could tell them my story. They told me I inspired them. It helped with the nervousness.

Then they had me change into my lovely hospital gown and gave me an IV. I’ve never had an IV before and always dreaded getting one. After having had one, I can still say, I dread it. Yes, the pain eventually goes away, but the pressure for those first few minutes is so uncomfortable. I hung out in pre-op for almost two hours. Mario was there with along along with my good friend Nikki. She has been through several major surgeries so for 45 minutes I quizzed her on everything that may or may not happen. That helped calm my nerves.

Around 3:50 I was wheeled to another part of the hospital where I would meet with the doctor, ask any questions I had, and then head into surgery. Mario and Nikki accompanied me along the way and I started to get a little more nervous. Surgery was scheduled to start at 4:15pm. The anesthesiologist came by and reviewed what she would be doing. We decided on spinal anesthesia because I didn’t want a breathing tube down my throat and she said it would be easier to wake up from than general anesthesia. Around 4:10 they wheeled me back to the operating room. I had already been sedated and was feeling a little loopy. Then the anesthesiologist told me to sit up and I don’t remember anything after that. Two hours later I woke up freezing, with blankets all around me, and hanging out with Jennifer (the nurse) in recovery. It made me smile when I heard nurses started asking me about how I ran the Boston Marathon with a fractured hip. They again told me I was awesome.

I was in recovery for about an hour (I think). Jennifer didn’t want to give me any pain meds yet because I would get some when I made it to my room. The stinging was too bad and I asked for morphine anyway. Eventually they wheeled me up to my room and my sister and Mario were there waiting for me. It made me really happy when Toni showed me the early birthday present she brought me. In case you don’t know, I love Eminem. This would be my go home from the hospital shirt…

Yes, I love Eminem this much

Yes, I love Eminem this much

 

Wednesday night was rough. From the moment they moved me over to the bed in my room, I didn’t move until the next day. I couldn’t scoot over, move my leg, or anything. For some reason, I didn’t even feel like I could move my arms. That entire night, I watched the clock. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t hardly sleep. Instead, I waited for every three hours to pass so I could get some more pain meds. There was one point when I couldn’t even wait the three hours and asked for morphine in between doses of oxycodone. Mario was kind enough to “sleep” in the recliner beside me but I think he got as much sleep as I did. By 6:00am we were up, and I still hurt.

Right after surgery

Right after surgery

Around 10:30 by best friend Lesley came to visit along with my sister. Mario went home to shower and I stayed immobilized in the hospital. Then the occupational therapist came to visit me. Yes, I wanted to get out of bed. I wanted to move. But I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience. Debbie was very nice and very patient with me. Our goal was to stand up and then to sit in the recliner. Seemed simple enough but it was anything but simple. Getting my feet on the ground was hard, but standing up was harder. The moment I stood up, I started sweating profusely, the color drained from my face, I felt nauseous, and couldn’t breathe. I literally couldn’t breathe and it was scary. It was a feeling I had never experienced before and I didn’t like it at all. Debbie helped me to sit back down and gave me “the bucket” incase I got sick. Luckily, I didn’t. After five minutes, I finally caught my breath and tried again. This time was a little better and I made it to the recliner. Instead of going back to the bed, Debbie had me stay there for a few hours until Brian, the physical therapist, came by.

See that gap... it shouldn't be there.

Hip before: that gap shouldn’t be there and the femur should  be at a 45 degree angle instead of an almost 90 degree angle. Too much pressure on my femur and my hip would have been completely broken. 

While hanging out in the recliner, I was still trying to recover from the move from bed to chair. Unfortunately, the pain meds, anesthesia, and surgery finally caught up to me, and I did get sick. Thankfully my sister was there to help me through it. When Brian came to visit me, I could tell he wasn’t going to be as sweet and patient as Debbie. (It was actually a good thing.) Before getting me to stand back up, Brain gave me a few isometric exercises I could do while sitting down. Then it was time to get up. Brian reminded me I could put full weight on my leg. Nothing was going to happen and my leg wouldn’t explode. I told him it hurt. He said it was okay and just to stand up. With the help of the walker, I made it up on my own. Brian and I walked 10 feet to the door and then 1o feet back to the bed. He made me sit down on my own and taught me how I could use my right leg to get my left leg into bed. That was the extent of my walking that day and I was exhausted.

New hip! I have a rod and two screws holding the bones together.

New hip! I have a rod and two screws holding the bones together.Notice that the femur is more down and at a 45 degree angle. 

Thursday night by neighbor Geoff came to visit. And to help Mario sleep a little better in the recliner, he brought a few delicious beers. Yes, I admit it. I had a few sips and it made the misery of being in the hospital one more night not so bad. I slept much better Thursday night. The pain was a little less and I could move a little more. I did still take my pain meds but not every three hours like the night before. Friday was my birthday and I felt just a little better than I did the day before.

This past week has been crazy. Wednesday morning I went to the doctor and by Wednesday night I had a titanium rod with two screws in my hip. I’ve been poked and prodded more than I care to remember and I had my first experience with a catheter. Every day for the next week I have to give myself a shot in the stomach to prevent blood clots. I use a walker to get around and have one of those seats over the toilet that you usually see in assisted living facilities. Mario has to change the dressings over my incisions every morning and I can’t even look at my hip because it’s so swollen. It slightly freaks me out. On the plus side, every day is a little easier. I walk better. I can stand on my own two feet. And I’ve had so many visits from friends and family.. it’s been great! My birthday wasn’t exactly how I imagined but I think Mario and I will postpone our celebrations until June. (His birthday is Tuesday.)

Headed home in my new favorite Eminem shirt. :)

Headed home in my new favorite Eminem shirt. 🙂

I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I’m not mad or upset this happened to me. It’s just something that happened and I’ll be just fine. The recovery period will be long but at least I know when this is all over, my hip will be stronger than ever before. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on swimming, biking, yoga, and weights to keep up my fitness. (Doc says I should be able to return to activity in 6 weeks.) I’ve always wanted to do an Ironman so maybe this will put me on that path.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie