Monday, October 15, 2012

Recipe time!! The best granola bars EVER.

If I could spend all day in the kitchen, I would. It's my favorite place in the house besides wherever my workout space happens to be (which could be anywhere, given the portability of kettlebells, TRX, and my body). It's been my mission to weed out pre-packaged foods and create everything from scratch, because food manufacturers are very sneaky and love to throw in all sorts of things to extend shelf life (which doesn't do anything except shorten yours) and keep their costs down. The biggest challenge in that is finding things to make for my kids' lunches. They love their sandwich, granola bar, and fruit though I do mix it up sometimes with hard boiled eggs, roasted seaweed, nuts, muffins, and vegetables.

I found a recipe for granola bars online from Whole Foods and improved it, resulting in the most irresistible granola bars ever. There's no going back to the packaged stuff, even if mine are a little more crumbly. That's what spoons are for right?! Here we go:

Ultimate Granola Bars

2 cups organic old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup quick cook steel cut oats
1 cup crisp rice cereal

1/3 cup melted kerrygold butter
2/3 cup organic brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread oats in 9x13 glass dish. Bake oats and cereal for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Allow oat and cereal mixture to cool to room temperature. Combine remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add cooled oats, mix well. Spread mixture into the 9x13 dish that has been greased with virgin coconut oil, pressing hard to compact the mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely and cut into bars. Enjoy!

I've played around with baking dishes and different ways to grease the pans, and I've found that coconut oil on glass works much better than butter on stoneware or canola spray on glass. I've also found that the brown sugar and butter works better than honey and canola oil at holding the bars together. I'll keep experimenting with the recipe and add various dried fruits and nuts to see what other combinations are irresistible.

Also check out some links I found explaining the difference between farmed and wild salmon. Very important information.

Go wild!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Heavily medicated.

It's been awhile since I've written about this stage of recovery, and it's for a few reasons. The top reason being lack of motivation. Second would be lack of focus. Third would be... I don't know. That would take too much effort to figure out (if that's any indication of where I am right now...)

The effexor was interesting. I was on it 9 days before cymbalta was approved through my insurance. With effexor, I was super energized without being able to sleep much, smiling all the time for no reason whatsoever, had no appetite and food tasted bad anyway. My doctor said it was fine to go straight from effexor to cymbalta, so I did and then started two a day 5 days later. The cymbalta knocked me out so I was sleeping 12 hours a day, and was very drowsy when I was awake and lacked motivation to do just about anything. My appetite started coming back though I still had to force myself to eat. In the first few weeks I was on it, I was kind of... disoriented. I would miss turns while driving, had a hard time articulating anything I wanted to say, and just kind of felt and looked like a zombie. Heck I'm still having trouble remembering things, like totally flaking on the kids' dentist appointment last week after planning my day around it. What was the most confusing was the depression. While the effexor and cymbalta were floating around in my body at the same time, I was very depressed.

I want to clarify something about depression. It's not a state of being sad or stressed about what's going on in your life. It's a real chemical imbalance that you don't have any control over, and it affects your thoughts and mood. No amount of positive thinking can push it away. It's frustrating when well-meaning friends tell you to be grateful for what you have (which I definitely am), count your blessings, blah blah. I do all that already. The depression I've been struggling with is a result of chronic pain signals in my brain and the drugs I've been taking to correct the pain signals. Just remember that the next time you know or suspect a loved one has depression. It's not always in their control, so don't patronize with the positive thinking speeches. Getting off my soapbox now.

The pain is getting better overall. I started walking my kids to school some mornings (if I've slept well, which is another issue I'm struggling with), which is just under a mile away. Getting out of bed isn't as painful, but is definitely the hardest part of the day. The first 10-15 minutes on my feet where the scar tissue is breaking up and the joint is moving around still sucks, but it's night and day difference from the months before. I have to maintain 1200-1600mg motrin/ day. If I skip a day to see where I am, I realize the motrin is still doing a lot to control pain and inflammation. I'm also religiously taking a joint support supplement, grape seed extract, milk thistle, and a few others (vitamin D, calcium magnesium zinc). Having it all together makes a big difference. Skipping the joint support in particular makes my day a lot harder.

Sleep. That's what I've been having the most trouble regulating. Sometimes I crash in bed by 10 pm and other nights I'm wide awake till 4 am. Sometimes I want to sleep all day and sometimes I can only get a few hours and then can't get back to sleep. It changes every week or so. Frustrating.

Food. We all need it. It is our fuel after all. My appetite is completely gone and I'm having a hard time eating. Once I start eating, I can usually do pretty well, but I never know what I want and nothing sounds good anyway. I've been baking a lot more just to eat something. Muffins, cookies, cake, pancakes, all that "good" stuff. I'm back to the weight I was at 18 (though I'm two inches taller now, late bloomer I am), bordering on underweight for my height. I'm a solid 10 lbs lighter than I've been in the past three years, and 20 lbs lighter than the year I was on paxil (4-5 years ago). I really just forget to eat. I'm not getting the hunger signals, so it's not until I get a headache that lasts all afternoon and into the evening that I realize I haven't had enough to eat. I calculated my average caloric intake for breakfast (my intake until dinner, really, with the hours I've been keeping lately) and it's around 300 calories. No wonder I have headaches and feel like crap for most of the day. Then I only eat another couple hundred calories for dinner, staying probably around 600-800 calories a day. This is not intentional at all. It's not until I started calculating it today that I realized how miserably I'm failing at eating. It affects my mood, workouts, sleep, and pretty much everything in my life. Not good.

So that's pretty much where I am. I'm still struggling with depression, which I find ironic since I'm on a medication that's mainly used as an anti-depressant. I'm not eating, my workouts are lacking, and my sleep is irregular at best. This is why I haven't committed myself to a job yet. I'm not recovered enough to help others.

Since my last post, I've done a few fun workouts.

17 August 2012

I did this one while on effexor, though the weight felt very heavy and I still felt like I wasn't quite in my body. I was slightly dizzy and nauseous. I also found that driving my right (damaged) foot into the ground makes my left shoulder more stable, so I focused on that and using more tension in my right glute. It makes a huge difference.

Joint mobility

Three rounds (very slow reps, focused on maintaining form):
3+3 press and front squat - 8 kg
3+3 get-up sit-up - 8 kg
3+3 top-loaded windmill - 8 kg
3 band assisted pull-ups, overhand

swings- Five sets of 9. I didn't write down what weight I was using, but I imagine it was the 12 kg.

21 August 2012

Joint mobility

1-2-3 press with assisted overhand pull-up, one round, 10 kg

Three rounds on the TRX:
suspended lunges - 5
body saw with crunch - 5
reverse plank with pull-through - 5
suspended abducted lunges - 5 (assisted on right)
narrow chest press - 5
low row - 5
hip drop - 5

The focus was again on slow reps in perfect form.

swings - Three sets of 20 reps with the 14 kg. Apparently I felt great because that's what I wrote down!

25 August 2012

Joint mobility

1-2-3-4 press and assisted pull-up, 10 kg, two rounds

Two rounds:
reverse lunges - 5, 8kg
front squats - 5, 8kg
1-leg deadlift 5, 16kg

swings - Five sets of 10, 16 kg

10 September 2012

Joint mobility, correctives (kneeling, crawling)

Two rounds:
TGU - 1+1, 8 kg
Windmill - 3+3, 8 kg
Goblet squat - 3, 8 kg FULL range of motion!!

swings - Three sets of 15, 12 kg

12 September 2012

Joint mobility, correctives

1-2-3 press and pull-up, 8 kg, two rounds

plank practice, bridge practice, bottom goblet squat/ rocking squat practice (8 kg)

swings - Three rounds of 20, 16 kg

13 September 2012

My birthday, so we spent the day at the Disney parks. I was on my feet over 12 hours and didn't need to stop once to massage my feet or legs. I also wore my chucks (converse) and did much better than athletic shoes with my orthotics. That cushy stuff really wears my feet and legs out. The more I recover, the less I wear them and the more I wear my chucks and flats. I even wore high heels out that weekend celebrating my birthday with some friends and did great.

18 September 2012

First day of walking the kids to and from school. I had a couple of awesome days before I was completely exhausted from everything I was doing.

Joint mobility, correctives

1-2-3 press with one unassisted neutral-grip pull-up, 8 kg, two rounds

TRX and kettlebell fusion, Two rounds:
1-leg deadlift, 4+4, 12 kg
TRX oblique crunch, low plank, 4+4
front squat, 4+4, 8 kg
TRX pike, high plank, 4 (extremely slow reps)
TRX suspended lunge, 4+4 unassisted
Overhead squat, 4+4, 8 kg

19 September 2012

Joint mobility, correctives

Swings, Five rounds of: 12kg - 15, 16kg - 10, 24kg - 5
(breaking up my strength and cardio was a great change of pace, and I had the hardest cardio workout I've had in a very long time!)

24 September

Joint mobility

Three rounds:
TGU with overhead squat and windmill at the top, 1+1, 8 kg
1 unassisted underhand pull-up alternating with 1 unassisted neutral grip pull-up

I then got distracted and stopped what I was doing. It happens.

My biggest workout obstacle right now is having the headaches that last most of the day. If I do a workout late at night when I'm feeling better, I'll be up all night and sleep the next day. I'm trying really hard to get back on a normal sleep schedule. Hopefully by the next time I write about my workouts, I will be eating more and working out regularly in the morning or midday. My goal is to do more than 8 workouts in the next six weeks, which shouldn't be too hard to accomplish especially with Halloween coming up as a huge motivator!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Desperate times call for desperate measures

I had some really bad days in the first couple weeks of August. The sit in your bed and cry all day kind.  That's very unlike me, as I am generally a very positive and upbeat person (though I do my fair share of whining and complaining on here, no thanks to the pain). I am grateful and appreciative for what I have in my life, despite going through one of those top-stressful-life-events like I'm having to do now. I know that chronic pain and depression are strongly linked and I simply wasn't getting enough pain relief, which was creating a downward spiral in depression. I upped my motrin dose from 1000 mg a day to 1200 mg a day and added a daily vicodin back to the mix. That kept me out of bed and happy enough for a few hours a day, which makes a huge difference.

I absolutely hate being on so much medication, which led me to my general doctor to ask for suggestions on better ways of dealing with pain relief. I was thinking she could refer me out to a pain management center or physical therapy for some hands-on work (though I do soft tissue work for a few hours a day, so I'm not sure what else could be done), but instead she recommended a medication known to treat chronic pain and depression, Cymbalta (an SNRI, a type of drug I'm extremely hesitant to take because of side effects and the eventual withdrawal, based on my past experience with an SSRI I came off of four years ago). Unfortunately my insurance doesn't cover it as a first line of treatment, so she called in Effexor instead. Also an SNRI, it has very similar mechanisms to Cymbalta and is used off-label for chronic pain. She said she wanted to "break the cycle" of pain and depression. I thought back to when my podiatrist said that I shouldn't be in this much pain before the fifth surgery. He knows I'm not a complainer and that I hate pills, so if I say I'm in pain he believes me. After seeing what was left of my subtalar joint in the first surgery, he has a lot of respect for my pain tolerance. But where is this much chronic pain coming from?

That's when the lightbulb went off. I started researching pain receptor damage in surgery and found that sustained inflammation or surgery can damage pain receptors called nociceptors and a condition called allodynia can result, where a stimulus like light touch can cause extreme pain. I had significant inflammation in my ankle from the first day it was operated on until well after the fourth surgery when the screw came out, a span of over 12 weeks. I think five surgeries in a short amount of time constitutes a significant risk to receptor damage as well. Is this the real problem? Time will tell but I'm off to a really good start. I'm maintaining 1200 mg of motrin a day because I still get extremely stiff.

Day one of Effexor (14 August): I noticed within about an hour of my first dose that my pain was significantly diminished. When I stood up from sitting it still hurt, but not in the usual I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out-and-scream sort of way. I had trouble sleeping and only got about four hours that night. I was feeling hyper-alert, very thirsty, and had a bit of nausea before bed.

Day two: Woke up with some sensitivity to light and sound (my pupils were pretty dilated). My son had to get his blood drawn for routine testing and asked for donuts after so we went to a local bakery and picked out a dozen. I gave myself a high-five for not being able to eat more than half a donut. Finally the sugar addiction was kicked! The donut wasn't satisfying at all. I took the kids on a walk around a local lake for the first time after living here for nearly a year. The walk was approximately two miles, and I was fine. Started feeling a little stiff towards the end but nothing horrible. It was around dinnertime that I realized not only was my appetite for sugar gone, but my appetite for everything was gone. This is new territory for me, as food brings me so much enjoyment: from shopping for it, preparing it, and especially eating it. Forcing myself to eat is dreadful. I got about five hours of sleep, again feeling hyper-alert upon waking.

Day three: Bouts of nausea come and go. I have to remember to eat, which is crazy. When I get out of bed there is still pain, but minor compared to what I'd been dealing with. I can hear and feel "crunchy" sensations of scar tissue breaking up with the first few steps. I managed a 30-minute nap and woke for my third dose. I want to try a workout and am waiting for it to get a little cooler outside. My head feels very trippy overall, but wow how my mood has improved!

Now the fun stuff.

7 August

Spent the day at the Disney parks, over 12 hours on my feet. Every couple of hours I'd have to stop and massage the tissue in my feet and lower legs, but I made it!

8 August 

Joint mobility

10 swings
5+5 snatches

20 swings
10+10 snatches

30 swings
15+15 snatches

20 swings
10+10 snatches

10 swings
5+5 snatches

I used a 12 kg bell for the swings and 8 kg for the snatches. My hands started feeling a little hot towards the end so I had to put band-aids on both ring fingers where they were starting to blister. It was a challenge to get through but felt great.

11 August

Joint mobility

bottoms-up clean and press with band-assisted pull-up 1-2-3, two rounds (8 kg)

Turkish get-up, 6 alternating (3 each side), continuous (8 kg)

5+5 snatches, 10 swings - 5 rounds (12 kg) Total of 50 snatches and 50 swings

I wanted to try the bottoms-up press to see the differences between the right and left side and was very surprised at how much weaker my left hand is grip-wise is than the right. The grip would fail right at the top of the groove and the kettlebell would sometimes come down on my forearm. I still attribute this to my right foot.

13 August

Joint mobility

5:00 pull-up practice (unassisted), I-go-you-go format with my 11-year-old son, alternating between neutral and underhand grip

TGU I-go-you-go, 1+1, three rounds (8 kg)

Two rounds:
Goblet squat - 3 (8 kg)
OH squat - 3+3 (8 kg)
1-leg deadlift - 3+3 (12 kg)
Reverse lunge - 3+3 (8 kg, slight assistance from my bed when the right leg was back from limited range of motion)

1-arm swings, 12 kg, 10+10 continuous for 40, two rounds (80 total)
2-arm swings, 12 kg, 40

This was the most fun I'd had in awhile because my son was interested in doing the workout with me. He would use the step stool for pull-ups and did TGUs like a champ with the 7-lb kettlebell. He even kept up with most of the circuit and wanted me to teach him how to do the exercises. There was a significant amount of scar tissue breaking up during the workout, and I was really excited by that. The next morning, however, I was just as stiff as any other day getting out of bed. Very disappointing.

These were taken using my phone and a mirror, so this is my right foot. The surgery scars can be seen under my ankle. This is the range of motion I had at the end of my workout, which was significantly more than at the beginning.

 This is the range of motion I have with my left foot that has not yet been operated on. Quite a difference.

I hit a new record with how deep my goblet squat can go. I had gotten below parallel a few weeks earlier, but this was several inches lower. Slow and steady progress, emphasis on slow.
(please excuse the messy pile of music books on my nightstand. I'm in the midst of giving my kids music lessons on several different instruments)

I'm interested to see how my body will respond to working out on this medicine. I should be accustomed to the drug in a few weeks, so hopefully my appetite will return and my eyes will go back to normal. I feel like I've had too much coffee! Fingers crossed this does the trick and my recovery can continue on a better and faster track.

And yes, my hair is now red. When I walked in to see my stylist last week for a touch-up, she took one look at me and said "No. We will make your hair flaming red like fire, yes?" in her sweet Ukrainian accent. She knows I'm up for anything so I let her do her thing. I was a little hesitant at first but it's really growing on me :)

(also please excuse the cracked-out look. It's that hyper-alert thing with the dilated eyes)

Monday, August 6, 2012

After the post-surgical euphoria wears off...

I felt great after surgery. Better than I had any right to feel, actually. I only took pain meds for the first 48 hours post-op. I started a very slight amount of crutch-assisted walking 4 days post-op. I'd taken my son to Downtown Disney for a new Lego set as a reward for helping me so much on bed rest, which probably wasn't the best excursion for the first day out of bed. We also went to Ra Sushi and Whole Foods beforehand and Bruxie after. The day out reminded me of how much I don't like being on crutches.
Bruxie's Liege waffle sundae with Belgian chocolate and caramel- SO good

I walked into my doctor's appointment without crutches 5 days after surgery. He was very happy to see that, and gave me the green light to do as much as I comfortably could. He removed the stitches to save me a trip from coming back the next week, so I took it a little easy and kept a butterfly bandage on the incision site to keep it together. I noticed there was some nerve damage, because every time I touched the site to put ointment or a bandage on, I would feel shock waves down to my toes. It's difficult for me to touch it (or let water in the shower hit it) because of the discomfort. It's getting a little better, and I know these things take time to heal. 

One week post-op, I went to Disney to celebrate my son's 11th birthday. We park-hopped for about six hours and I didn't use any narcotics, just an 800 mg motrin. By the end of the night, I knew I couldn't stand in the very long line to get back to the parking lot, so we hopped on the handicapped shuttle. I was hurting but still refused to medicate with anything strong. 

I did my first workout the next day, on July 19th.

Joint mobility

press/ pull-up ladder 1-2-3 with the 10 kg, 2 rounds

naked get-up, 1+1, successful! 
8 kg get-up, 1+1, 3 rounds

Swings- 16 kg, 5 rounds of 10

It was a nice, easy workout to transition back in, and I was still feeling great.

Next workout was July 21st.

Joint mobility

press/ pull-up ladder 1-2-3 with the 10 kg, 3 rounds

TGU- 1+1, then 2+2, both with overhead squats at the top

TRX circuit, two rounds:
Body saw (5)
Crunch (5)
Pendulum (5)
Pike (5)

All were low plank except I did the last round of pikes in high plank

1-arm alternating swings with the 12 kg, three rounds of 25

I felt great after that one. I was happy to be able to use the TRX at home, as my patio cover was just replaced. The wood had rotted to the point where I was afraid to try to hang anything from it, but it's perfect now. I have plans to hang a pull-up bar from it as well.

This is about the time I started having some real trouble with my recovery. The scar tissue is building back up in the joint after just having been freed from it, so walking is still difficult and painful. When I've been sitting for awhile, I get extremely stiff and the joint screams at me for putting weight on it. It takes a few minutes to be able to walk comfortably, though sometimes it's still with a limp. I have good days and bad days. On the bad days, it's hard to get out of bed at all. On the good days, I feel ok.

I didn't do another workout until July 26th.

Joint mobility

press/pull-up ladder 1-2-3-4 with the 10 kg, 3 rounds

Kettlebell circuit, two rounds:
goblet squat, 10 kg, 5+5
double windmills, 10 kg (top) and 12 kg (bottom), 5+5
1-leg deadlift, 12 kg, 5+5 (very difficult when standing on my right foot)
get-up sit-up, double 8 kgs, 5

Swings alternating with the 16kg and 24kg, 6 sets of 10 (30 total with each weight)

I think the issue with my left shoulder being weak in presses has more to do with my right foot being jacked up than doing anything wrong with the left shoulder. I'm going to stop focusing so much on presses until my right foot gets a little more mobile. 

I started having more bad days than good. I limit my vicodin intake to once a week, when I simply can't deal with the pain. I had a week where I overcompensated with sugar and pasta, and gained two pounds in the process. Sometimes I think it would be better to take the pain meds than medicating with sugar. I've had to go back on a steady diet of motrin to cope. I try to take 400 mg in the morning, 400 mg midday, and 200 mg in the evening. Some days I go without, and those are really, really bad days. I just can't win.

I did a TRX/ kettlebell circuit workout on July 28th.

Joint mobility

Three rounds:
Squat/ press, double 8 kg, 6
TRX side plank with hip drop, 6+6
Overhead squat, 10 kg, 6+6
TRX chest press, 6
Assisted pull-up, 6
TRX pike, 6

I am trying to include as much ankle mobility in my workouts as possible. I put my tennis shoes on for the TRX side plank and pike, knowing that it would put some different angles of pressure on the joint, without putting too much pressure on any particular part of my foot. It felt great.

Last week was a really bad week. I'm constantly craving vicodin just to get a break from the incessant pain, but am stubbornly refusing to give in (for now). Backing off the sugar isn't easy but I'm making it a priority. I know it makes me feel worse, past the initial instant gratification of whatever happens in my brain when I bite into some mint slice or tim tams

My most recent workout was another kettlebell/ TRX combination on August 4th.

Joint mobility

TGU 2+2, 8 kg (feeling super weak)

side press, 8 kg, 5+5
TRX cossack lunge, 5+5
bottoms-up clean, 10 kg, 5+5 (no chalk)
TRX suspended lunge, 5+5  (my son was holding my hands so I wouldn't fall, just to be safe)
double windmill, 8 kg on top and 10 kg on bottom, 5+5
TRX low row, 10

I had intended to do a swing/ snatch combination at the end but ran out of time and motivation. 

I know all the sugar I had really affected my strength. I'm also not sleeping well. It's very frustrating to be where I am right now. I started getting ultrasound treatments on my foot and ankle 15 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week. I've noticed a big improvement, and my ankle makes some interesting noises immediately following treatment. I'm also spending a few hours a day working on the soft tissue in my foot and lower leg. The tightness is progressively moving up my leg, which I think is a good thing. My ankle can barely get to 90 degrees, so going down stairs or slanted ground is still very challenging (especially when a shopping cart is pulling me down towards moving vehicles). It's easy to let the negative emotions overpower the positive ones, so that's my biggest battle at the moment. 

It's been 10 months since I sprained my ankle prior to the first surgery. Five surgeries later, waiting for my body to recover so I can get the left subtalar joint fused and get on with my life, and I'm having a lot of trouble staying positive. I found some interesting articles on chronic pain and its effect on mental health, and I'm not too surprised by what they say. Chronic pain really is a mindfuck.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Playing catch-up on the blog posts and surgery #5

I can see from the stats that while I have been neglecting to post new blog entries lately, people are still reading my old ones. I'm glad I'm posting interesting enough things to keep up the world-wide traffic! It's such a battle to keep going sometimes. My absence from here is for several reasons. I had gotten pretty sick and also went on another quick trip to NYC. My allergies had an overreaction to something when I was run down from personal stress and insomnia, which was awful to fly across the country with fluid in my ear. I was still fighting the pain battle and kept trying to go off my pain medication, without much success. Chronic pain is a real mindfuck.

My next workout wasn't until June 19th. I could still feel and hear fluid in my ear so I did a really light workout.

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with assisted pull-ups, 1-2-3, three rounds

Two rounds:
10 kg windmill, 3+3
10 kg goblet squat, 6

10 kg snatches, 10+10, three rounds

The highlight of the practice was accomplishing getting below parallel for the goblet squat, something I hadn't been able to do in 7 months since my first surgery. It felt amazing!! Once the hip flexors open, great things happen :)

It was also my first workout in new vivobarefoot shoes, which I absolutely love. They are more responsive for training than Converse, and now my top choice for workouts where shoes are necessary. Of course barefoot on my concrete patio is still my favorite way to train.

Workout June 22nd

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with band-assisted pull-ups, 1-2-3-4, three rounds

10 kg TGU 1+1, four rounds

Band-assisted pistol squats, 3+3, three rounds

24 kg swings, 10, 5 rounds (50 total)
16 kg swings, 10, 1 round (10 total)
Double 8 kg swings, 10, 1 round (10 total)

Grand total of 70 swings

I was pretty done after that workout!

June 26th

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with assisted pull-ups, 1-2-3, four rounds

Circuit, three rounds
10 kg bottoms-up clean, 3+3
10 kg front squats, 3+3
10 kg get-up sit-up, 3+3
10 kg 1-leg deadlift, 3+3

16 kg swings 5+5+10 (1-arm, 1-arm, 2-arm), three rounds
16 kg swings 10+10 (I wasn't paying attention and forgot to switch after 5), one round between rounds two and three of above sequence
16 kg swings 20 2-arm

Grand total of 100 swings

My hamstrings were talking to me for FOUR DAYS after this workout. Brutal!! But it was really fun and I'll do it again with pleasure :)

I didn't do another workout until July 2nd. I did minimal workouts from then on, as I was in a very dark place at the time. I didn't enjoy the workouts and had to force myself to do what I did. Before surgery, I had to discontinue use of a few things that keep me feeling good, including kombucha and ibuprofen. I hope I don't feel like that ever again. I watched four seasons of Gossip Girl in 11 days and was almost comatose. The kind of pain I was in made it hard for me to do anything, so I withdrew from everything and everyone, including my kids. Like I said, a dark place. It happens.

July 2nd

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with assisted pull-ups, 1-2-3, three rounds

12 kg 100 2-arm swings, consecutive (no rest)

July 7th

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with assisted pull-ups, 1-2-3, four rounds

14 kg swings, 25, five rounds (125 swings total)

July 9th

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with assisted pull-ups, 1-2-3-4, three rounds

Double 8 kg swings: 20, 10, 20, 10, 20 in 3:45 (80 swings total)

The breakthrough of that workout was that I was playing around with different pull-up grips and decided to see if I could do anything unassisted. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that I could do a neutral grip pull-up from almost a dead hang, and that I could do an underhand pull-up from a dead hang. Who knew??! Still working on that overhand unassisted pull-up though.

I did want to mention that with the minimal training I'm doing, through all this horrible pain and my issues, my body has never felt or looked healthier or stronger. I saw some friends in NYC that I hadn't seen in a few years, and they all had the same reaction. I don't spend hours in a gym or even that much time with kettlebells at all. Just some consistency and basic moves, coupled with a good diet. It really is that easy. No need to reinvent the wheel when there are RKCs around!

So this brings me to now. I had a fifth surgery yesterday, and am back on bed rest. It doesn't really feel like I've spent much time outside of my bed in the last 8 months though!! My doctor went back into the joint, removed three inch-long bone chips (pieces of the artificial bone matrix used to help "glue" the subtalar joint together back in November), and removed the excessive amount of scar tissue from the deep wound site that was binding the joint. Now that the local anesthetic has definitely worn off, I am very pleased to find that the pain in my joint is gone. I have some post-op pain from the procedure itself and have been treating it with vicodin every 12 hours and using my cold therapy machine twice a day. The cold therapy machine is the only thing I've actually had to pay for in all of my surgeries, and it has been worth every penny. I have a special foot and ankle attachment that fits very well with the help of some velcro pieces, so cool water is continuously cycled through the entire foot and ankle area. I can even adjust the temperature if it feels too cold or not quite cold enough. Genius. Anyway, I'm FINALLY feeling good. It's amazing what the removal (or even significant diminishment) of chronic pain can do for how I feel, even if I can't walk and am back on crutches. Here's to hoping the stitches stay closed and I regain full range of motion :)

Thanks for reading and keeping up with this journey!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

RKC 2 envy

I'm so excited for my friends that are going to the RKC 2 in Italy next week. However, in the midst of their excitement and hard work, I find myself frustrated that I'm nowhere near ready for the course. My goal is to be ready by the time I need to re-certify next year. I'm seven months into the recovery on my right foot and still have to do the left, so it may not be a realistic goal, but it is something to work towards. If nothing else I'll be overly prepared to re-certify at level 1. With that in mind, I went a little heavier tonight.

Joint mobility

12 kg presses and assisted pull-ups: 1-2-3, 3 rounds
(first time using the 12 kg for presses since last year)

Two rounds:

24 kg deadlift- 8
10 kg get-up sit-up- 4+4
assisted bodyweight pistol squat (with the band hanging from the pull-up bar)- 4+4
12 kg side press 4+4 (it was a little heavy on the left side so I used the 10 kg on the second round, darn shoulder acting up after using the 12 kg for the military presses) 4+4

Swings! 24 kg, 10 rounds of 10 = 100 :)

I want to address floor textures. I've been doing the majority of my workouts in my bedroom on the carpet. It was after doing a couple of workouts on concrete outdoors that I realized how much better it felt to be on solid ground. I'm much better able to grip the ground and push against it that way. Luckily I have a great bedroom setup including a very open and laminated bathroom floor that's big enough to work out in while still watching Netflix on my laptop (up to season 3 of Desperate Housewives!... again). I did my presses, deadlifts, assisted pistol squats (the only door frame my pull-up bar fits in is my bathroom due to the smoke detectors in my house), and swings standing on the hard floor. A great bonus is using the square pattern on the floor to make sure my feet are aligned properly so I'm not favoring one side. I strongly recommend using the hardest floor surface possible for your workouts (and for goodness sake ditch the athletic shoes unless they have a hard, flat sole!). Even on the school playground I had to move from the cushy padded part to the blacktop. The cushy stuff was perfect when I was still in very early recovery from the surgeries and extra sensitive to weight bearing, but now I need the stability.

I'm feeling stronger and more confident in my training. I've also gained back a couple of pounds (I'd lost 10 immediately after the first surgery) which is helping my strength and how I feel about myself. Now if I could just get off these darn pain pills I'd be in really good shape. They really affect my thinking, and not in a good way!

So be happy, train hard on the best floor surface possible, and enjoy life. That's all that really matters, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Keep on keeping on

My doctor was on vacation last week so his office has just started the process for the next surgery, the fifth on my right foot. He said there are a few bone fragments that should be easy to remove (followed by "famous last words!" haha). It'll probably happen in two weeks since I'm going out of town next week. So for now I'm just doing the best I can.

I feel really good about my last two workouts. Unfortunately I'm not always up to doing them! I usually have a bit more pain the next day so I'm still not pushing myself very hard.

31 May

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with band assisted pull-ups after each press, 1-2-3, 4 rounds

circuit (2 rounds):
double 12 kg windmills, 3+3
double 12 kg clean, 6
goblet squat, 12 kg, 6
renegade row, 3+3 (alternating)
lateral traveling swings, 12 kg, 6+6

5:00 double 12 kg swings!! sets of 10, 50 total :)

4 June

Joint mobility

10 kg presses with band assisted pull-ups after each press, 1-2-3-4, 3 rounds

FULL TGUs, 10 kg, 6 (alternating with each rep, 3 per side)
* this was the very first time I successfully did full get-ups on the left side without assistance
bottoms-up clean, 10 kg, 5+5, 3 rounds
1-leg deadlift, 16 kg, 3+3, 3 rounds

6:00 1-arm swings, 16 kg, 5+5, 9 rounds (90 total)

Highlights were the double 12 kg swings and the full get-ups. I'm still struggling with my pain meds and am trying to limit it to 5-6 pills per week. I'm keeping up with 800-1200 mg of motrin daily to keep the inflammation down. I've had to stop a different herbal supplement I was taking because of the upcoming surgery, so that's been an adjustment as well but overall I think I'm doing ok. It's hard to believe I've been out of work and dealing with this for seven months now. Still waiting to see the finish line.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nice to have breakthroughs when facing adversity

Today's workout came on a day that I didn't want to get out of bed. No, not because I stayed out late last night, but because the level of pain was incredible. I managed to get out of bed two hours later around 1:00 pm, had a nice breakfast of an organic scrambled egg with a cut-up grass-fed beef hot dog in it (comfort food), a tomato, grape chia kombucha, and tramadol. A couple of hours and lots of water later, I was ready for a good workout.

I stayed close to home today, using my back patio as my workout space. First time I've used it for that now that my workouts aren't too nocturnal anymore, and it was perfect. My laptop was out there with me, playing Once (in order!) and I'd run inside to my door frame pull-up bar with assistance band when necessary.

Joint mobility

10 kg press, 1+1 (+1 pull-up), 2+2 (+2 pull-ups), 3+3 (+3 pull-ups), 4+4 (+4 pull-ups), Four rounds. Very happy doing that, as it was my first time doing the same number of pull-ups between each set of reps instead of doing one pull-up at the end of each set. Very good progress! It wasn't especially easy, but it was definitely do-able.

For snatches, I rolled a 4. I found a song from my favorites playlist that was right around 4:00 so I used it. The plan was to do 10+10, record it with a tick mark, pick the bell back up and do another 10+10. They felt so good I did 10+10+10+10 before setting the bell down to record two tick marks, and then immediately picked it back up and did another 10+10+10+10. That's 80 snatches in 4:00!! Yes, it was with a 10 kg and not a 12 kg, but that's still the best I've done post-op to date. Maybe I'll do a 5:00 snatch test with the 12 kg the night before my next surgery :)

Yay for making good progress while in this much pain from bone chips! Makes me feel like anything is possible :)

Minor update: My doctor is on vacation this week so I won't hear from him until next week about when the next surgery will be.

Also, I took two days off from the ibuprofen, and I'm in so much pain I'm just sitting in bed almost in tears. I'm dreading getting up to get ready for bed. Back to shoveling the ibuprofen tomorrow.

Bone chips.

Yes, bone chips. Plural. That's what's been bothering me so badly. I was right when I suspected something was being released as I got more range of motion in my ankle. Pieces of bone are floating around now, wreaking havoc. Of course they have to come out. Why stop at only 4 surgeries on my ankle?

In all seriousness, I do need them out ASAP because my pain is still not able to be controlled well even when on pain medication (yes, I'm back on it again. I'm useless on days I don't take it). I should find out in the next couple of days when all the fun and excitement will start up again. I'm glad to know why I've been in such terrible pain and why it has not improved at all, but rather has seemed to get worse with time. I'm now less likely to push through pain, thinking I just need to get through it. No, I just need to get these *#@%!^& pieces of bone out of my ankle.

That being said, I did have a nice workout on May 25th. I went to the school playground in the evening and let the kids run and play while I did my thing. One of the shows I saw on my trip to NYC was Once. I couldn't get the music out of my head, so I went to Barnes and Noble the day before this workout to get the cast recording because they had some bonus tracks that I couldn't get from iTunes. I can't even remember the last time I bought a physical CD. I felt like I was back in high school right at home in the music section of B&N like in the old days :) Once I put it on my computer, I couldn't stop listening to it (and still haven't). I put it on my ipod shuffle to listen to during my workout. It was a wonderfully introspective way to get into what I was doing, and I listened to the whole album. The only thing that bothered me was that my ipod hadn't imported the tracks in their correct order, so that drove me a bit crazy because the flow of the music was completely off. It made the swing portion a little different from my usual very uptempo music (Holiday from the original Broadway cast recording of American Idiot is a favorite standby), but I feel like I was much better locked on and focused this way, being inspired by the music rather than driven by it.

Joint mobility

Press- 10kg 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3
TGU- 10kg 1+1, 1+1, 1+1 continuous work, switching sides with every rep but not allowing time between sets for recovery. Partial TGU on left side to kneeling, full on the right.
Overhead squat- 10kg 3+3, 3+3, 3+3
Cossack lunge- 10kg 3+3, 3+3, 3+3

5:00 2-arm swings, 16kg: 70 (7 sets of 10)

I had brought my TRX along but I really didn't feel like I needed to do anything more after the kettlebell portion of the workout. I'm really happy with how my training is going. For someone in so much pain and with so many issues, I'm not doing too badly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Time to face one of my biggest fears

In the spirit of moving forward, I need to address something I haven't been willing to visit yet. My subtalar joint fusion that went very, very wrong. I haven't looked at pictures of it, though every step of the process was fully documented. Whenever I show a pic of when the cast came off to someone that isn't squeamish, they can't believe it was my foot. I need to look, absorb it, come to terms with it, and keep going. (Link to partial photo gallery at the bottom of this post. Not for the squeamish.)

On November 16th, I had the fusion (arthrodesis). The lateral side of my ankle was opened up so the joint could be cleaned out and positioned correctly. That was when my doctor noticed that my joint would not open due to an extra piece of bone that effectively destroyed the joint. It is referred to as a talocalcaneal osseous coalition. It is a hereditary, congenital birth defect, and the reason I was in so much pain and had been getting cortisone shots to buy some time since summer of 2009. My doctor removed the bone, ground it up, and used it with the artificial bone matrix to fill in between the calcaneus and talus. Sometimes a cadaver bone is used but I was lucky to have my own bone to use. A stainless steel screw was drilled into my heel, and my very own spun out platelet rich plasma (PRP) was injected into the site to expedite healing. After the surgery, my doctor told me he couldn't believe I had been walking after seeing the condition of the joint. I had gotten really good at pretending I wasn't in pain (most of the time, those who knew me well could see when I was hurting badly). As a trainer, I couldn't have any weaknesses, so I ignored the pain the best that I could. In the weeks prior to the surgery, my 8-year-old daughter would remove my shoes and massage my feet at night. The kids hated seeing me in pain.

I had the usual difficulties following surgery. I woke up crying in pain in the recovery room, had to be helped to the bathroom during the first 24 hours post-op, got very sick on the percocet, couldn't eat much in the first week besides crackers, sugary cereals, and pop tarts, and was just stuck in bed with a cooling pump around my ankle, trying to drag out my pain medicine doses to the point where I'd almost start screaming in pain (of course my caretaker, a nurse, didn't feel sorry for me because I wasn't being compliant with taking it every 4-6 hours as directed). I had a fever 3 days post-op. There was a pain pump delivering medication into my ankle for the first 5 days post-op. My ankle muscles would twitch when I was asleep, waking me up in a very painful manner. I threw up in the car ride to my first post-op doctor's visit (November 21) and had to be given a shot of something in my thigh to help keep the nausea at bay for the appointment and the ride back home. I was in a splint and remained in one for the first 12 days before I got my first cast (November 28th). A week after that I got a second cast (December 5th) and the stitches came out. My foot was positioned as close to 90 degrees as it would go. As hard as I tried, it simply wouldn't make it the entire way. That cast stayed on for three weeks and one day.  My caretaker left from December 14-19 for a pleasure trip with his significant other (4 weeks post-op) so I had to fend for myself and our kids. I noticed incredible swelling when I was upright so I stayed in bed most of the day. I got my handicapped parking placard on December 14th so I was driving left-footed and took the kids out to eat once a day so they'd have at least one good meal. I baked cookies (placing my knee on a rolling chair in my kitchen and then would prop my swollen, purple foot on the counter while waiting for them to bake) for my clients, friends, and co-workers at Equinox for Christmas and delivered them, happy to see everyone (though unhappy my foot was turning horrible shades of purple). I knew I wasn't ready to go back to work yet since I couldn't be upright for an hour at a time. I'd also lost about 10 lbs in the first couple of weeks. On crutches, I couldn't carry food to my room from the kitchen, and I couldn't be upright long enough to fix anything anyway. I didn't always have access to food, and was alone while the kids were in school. I was taking them to and from school in a wheelchair before I was able to drive (nearly a mile in each direction). My wheelchair had a special attachment so my foot was positioned straight out in front of me. On outings to the grocery store or mall, I also used my wheelchair. I used it for around two months.

At that fateful appointment where the second cast came off and the third cast was to go on (and bringing my ankle to 90 degrees) on December 27th, my doctor noticed that something had gone horribly wrong. The incision site had opened completely. He told me to go to the nearest hospital ASAP, so I chose to go to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. They refused to treat me there because they hadn't performed the original surgery. My doctor is only in surgery on Wednesdays, so they put me in a special splint and sent me home with high doses of antibiotics (bactrim). I drove the hour back home, feeling more than a little frightened. Every doctor that looked at me had the same reaction, and it wasn't a good one. I was operated on the next day by my doctor. One of my best friends and clients took me to the surgery center, and a co-worker picked me up and brought me back home. The surgical procedure was a debridement for a wound dehiscence. Some cells were cultured, found to be infected, and a second antibiotic (cipro) was added to my regimen. I was on a wound vacuum that was faulty for the first 18 hours due to improper placement. Apparently only wound care nurses do it enough to get it just right. The alarm kept going off every 2-4 minutes and it felt like there was suction on an exposed nerve. I was taken to wound care the next day by a dear friend, neighbor, and client and it was fixed (huge relief).

My diet consisted of a bottle of kombucha daily (probiotics because I felt like the massive doses of antibiotics were trying to kill my soul), grass-fed meats, organic eggs, raw milk cheddar and goat cheese, organic fruits, organic vegetables, raw nuts, hot green tea, and plenty of filtered water. I refused anything else. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything possible for the best wound healing outcome.

Several days later, my parents arrived from South Carolina. I'd emailed some pictures that were taken of my foot at Camp Pendleton, and it was serious enough that they decided it was best for my mother to come take care of me and the kids until I could take care of myself. She stayed until a few days after my last surgery. My caretaker was working 12 hour shifts and couldn't take any more time off from work to take me to surgery or appointments. He had burned all of his leave with his significant other before coming to California from Florida while I was struggling with the kids. I had wound care visits three times a week for dressing changes. Once a week the vacuum canister was replaced. My days were spent in bed plugged into the vacuum, watching Netflix, and playing solitaire on my phone. The more distracted I was, the less I had to think about what was happening to me. When I started to think about it, I would cry. Avoidance was best.

At wound care, I wasn't improving. The depth of the wound remained the same- open (tunneled) to the bone, around 3.2 cm (1.3 inches) deep. I went for a second opinion at UCI, and the doctor said that something must have gotten infected at the initial surgery, and whatever it was hadn't been removed at the first dehiscence, so a second one was scheduled. Two weeks after the first dehiscence on January 11th (8 weeks since the original fusion surgery) I was back on the operating table again. One week and one day later (January 19th), I had a reaction to the antibiotics in the form of a full-body raised rash. It started on my legs and went to my neck. I discontinued the bactrim and cipro and started on benadryl at that point with the approval of my doctor, fearing anaphylactic shock. Another culture had been taken at the second dehiscence, and came back negative. The antibiotics were a precautionary measure against further infection since my wound was still open and showed no signs of closing. I was still on the wound vacuum as well.

On Wednesday February 1st, I was removed from the wound vacuum because it was contraindicated for bone infection. There was still no reason found for any infection to begin with, and no answers for why I wasn't healing or why I had these complications in the first place. All of my doctors said that bone infection was the only reason the wound would still be open. Bactrim and cipro would not have protected against bone infection, only IV antibiotics with a picc line (from a line in my arm straight into my heart) for six weeks would combat that type of infection. A CT scan with contrast was ordered, though not extremely useful in determining the extent of bone infection due to the chronic inflammation of tissues at that point, but it would be a starting point for when my doctor operated again. It appeared, with very little accuracy, that my bone was free from infection. I also developed a fever around that time and was terrified that my body was close to going septic. I had been getting blood tests every couple of weeks to make sure everything was still within normal limits. At no point was I guaranteed that I was going to be able to keep my foot through all of this.

After the wound vacuum was removed, I was able to use the boot and was encouraged to bear as much weight as possible to help the bones fuse. When the vacuum was on, the boot would put too much pressure on the vacuum and it was painful, so I stayed in a splint during that time. When I practiced partial weight-bearing, it was without the boot in my home. I was able to take a few clumsy steps at a time with the boot on after the vacuum was removed, but it was hard and painful.

On February 8th, I went under the knife for a 4th time (4 weeks since the previous surgery and 12 weeks since the first surgery). The stainless steel screw was removed and my wound was cleaned for a third time and surgically closed. Against all odds, my bone did not appear to be infected. After being exposed for 6 weeks, that was nothing short of a miracle. My stitches came out two weeks after that. Since the wound remained closed, it is suspected that I might have had an allergic reaction to the nickel in the stainless steel screw. Three weeks and two days later, I was discharged from wound care, with instructions to keep applying the prescription ointment to the wound site and not submerge it in water (a pool) for two more weeks. I was on crutches until the end of March, and even after that I used them a few times. I wasn't on pain medication for very long after the first three surgeries (a few days at most) but with the removal of the screw and the presence of the chronic wound, I was (and still am) in a significant amount of pain. That's when I started taking vicodin, then tramadol, and back to vicodin again on a regular basis. I'm going in for a CT scan tomorrow to make sure everything is ok because I shouldn't be in this kind of pain at this point. I've been in tremendous pain, haven't been able to sleep well, and haven't been able to eat much. It's been going on for over six months now, and I'm getting tired of it. The goal right now is to recover as fast as possible from this so I can get the same procedure done on the left foot, with a hopefully better outcome. My doctor will use titanium instead of stainless steel (not used often for drilling through the heel, as it is a softer metal and tends to bend), and not use the artificial bone matrix. Fingers crossed everything turns out to be ok.

Some of the pictures are here: Link to partial photo gallery- WARNING: NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH

I wasn't documenting the wound during most of the wound care visits, but my mother has those pictures on her camera. Every time my dressing was changed, she took a picture. These were the pictures that ended up on my phone.

Now that I've gone into detail about it and actually looked at the pictures, I feel relieved. Horrified, of course, but relieved that I'm not afraid anymore. I'm tired of being afraid of so much in my life.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Moving on...

I did a quick pre-flight workout on May 16th. Simply three sets of alternating 16 kg 2-arm swings (15) with double 8 kg presses (3). I felt great before the cross-country flight without spending much time or getting sweaty. I didn't have any tightness in my back from the flight like I usually have either.

I spent a few days around the NYC area. First of all, beware those with mobility problems. There are steps EVERYWHERE. Escalators were frequently broken. There are LARGE step-downs from trains and buses. Usually I enjoy stairs but I don't have enough range of motion in my right ankle to go down regularly. I have to take it one step at a time, which is annoying especially with a backpack and suitcase. Going up isn't a problem. If I tried to go down regularly, I would be pitched forward and land on my face. Ah recovery.

Also in NYC, the sidewalks, streets, and pretty much every walking surface anywhere isn't completely level. That made it very challenging to walk around in dress shoes. I did attempt heels, and that lasted for about 90 seconds before I stopped to change back into flats. Couldn't do it. I was even on double the regular dose of pain medication, which I had stopped earlier that week but used during my trip. I haven't taken any since I've been home. I'm keeping up with taking two 800 mg ibuprofen daily. I think it's helped the inflammation quite a bit. I'm due to go in for another CT in the next week. We'll see what that has to say about my recovery.

One of the highlights of my trip was hanging out with some RKCs, Ari and Liz. We talked some shop and some not-shop over extraordinarily good coffee (decaf for me) and yummy baked goodies. I can't wait to see them again. Very, very good times.

My first workout back was this morning. I headed up to Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach because I really needed to get out of the house. I realized on the drive up that I forgot my training shoes, and decided to do my kettlebell portion outside. Who uses the handicapped parking at a gym? Why that would be me, carrying my TRX and workout stuff in my backpack and farmers walking with a 10 kg and a 16 kg kettlebell, of course. It was another perfect 72 degree day, so I set myself up on a nicely sized slab of concrete outside and stripped my shoes and socks off before beginning joint mobility. By the end of the swings, the concrete was getting a little too hot to stand on.

10 kg presses, 1+2+3, 4 rounds
8:00 16 kg 2-arm swings (wanted to do 1-arm but didn't have any chalk with me, and was entirely too sweaty to attempt it), 8 sets of 10 (kept it nice and light).

Next came the TRX portion. I did some nice strength pyramids, keeping reps to 6 on each side, or 6 total.

Balance lunge
Balance lunge, power pull
Balance lunge, power pull, crunch
Balance lunge, power pull, crunch, flye
Balance lunge, power pull, crunch, flye, squat

Squat, flye
Squat, flye, crunch
Squat, flye, crunch, power pull
Squat, flye, crunch, power pull, balance lunge

By the third round of balance lunges, I was not using assistance on the right leg. That's a definite first. Oblique balance lunges were MUCH easier than regular ones. By the second round of crunches, I was doing high plank, focusing on everything I learned at Hardstyle Ventura about keeping the body locked and in the right position. It felt completely different and wonderful. I was doing oblique crunches (high plank) on the third to last round and last round. For my final squat, I did three 1-leg squats per side. It felt incredible and I did power breathe my way up from the bottom. First time trying that with the right side. On the last round of balance lunges, I got a rec aide to assist me for my first attempt at suspended lunges. 6 per side, with my hands on top and lightly touching his to just make sure I wouldn't fall over. I didn't :)

On to the spin bike. 18:00, 6.10 miles. Just a nice and easy ride.

During the drive up to the base, I thought a lot about fear, and how much it has been holding me back in different parts of my life. I decided not to let fear get the better of me in my workout, and was very pleased that I was able to do things on the TRX like 1-legged squats, high plank crunches (oblique even!), and suspended lunges. I've been afraid to try things that I might not be able to successfully do, and I'm tired of that fear controlling my life. I've been living in a lot of fear and denial over the last 4 years, and it's time to stop because I can now see how much it's hurting me and those around me. I feel like I made great progress today not only in my workout, but in realizing how much I have to come to terms with to move forward with my life. What an absolute relief. Here's to moving on!

That was then
This is now

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to ME!

When we last left off, I was experiencing a severe bout of pain and inflammation. I decided to go off of my pain medication yesterday (again) and stick with just the ibuprofen. Just don't ask my kids about me right now or they'll tell you how mean I am. Pain med withdrawals never get any easier or pleasant. I figured the vicodin might be allowing me to do too much, so I need to be able to listen to my body a little better. With the ibuprofen, I can't tolerate all three 800mg pills a day but I can manage two with a handful of peppermint Tums with the evening dose. I'm walking better but am still in a tremendous amount of pain so my doctor is getting an MRI approved and scheduled for me. We want to make sure nothing is wrong. All bets are off when it comes to me so we're being safe.

I did a quick spin workout on May 8th. I went 7.14 mi in 20 minutes, which is a definite improvement from the first spin workout I did on May 1st (6.7 mi in 20 minutes). Besides that, I didn't do any workouts between May 3 and Mother's Day, May 13th.

I wanted to celebrate Mother's Day with a good, hard strength workout. I wasn't feeling that good since eating pizza and celebratory cake at my daughter's birthday party two days before. It was more that I didn't stop eating the cake all weekend that kept me feeling icky. It's almost gone, and then I'll be safe again. I'm obviously weak when it comes to chocolate cake with chocolate mousse. Even though I hadn't done a strength workout in 10 days, I wanted to push it a little. However, I allowed plenty of recovery time so it stretched from the final two hours of Desperate Housewives (is it really over?? so sad, I've watched and re-watched this show for years...) to well after midnight.

Joint Mobility

10 kg presses 1-2-3 with one assisted pull-up at the end of each rung, three rounds

1-leg DL (assisted on the right side with my hand on my bed for balance), 16 kg, 5+5
Partial TGU, 10 kg, 5+5 (12 kg felt too heavy for some reason so I played it safe)
Goblet squat, 10 kg, 10
Windmill, 10 kg on bottom and 8 kg on top, 5+5
Double swings, 2- 10 kg kettlebells, 10 (felt incredibly awesome, and was my first time with double kettlebell swings since before surgery)
Overhead squat, 10 kg, 5+5

16 kg swings
15, 10, 15, 10, 15, 10, 15, 10 = 100 swings

The biggest news about the workout besides feeling wonderful while doing it is that I was barefoot! My first barefoot workout in months. I tried a little in the beginning but really needed the support of shoes. I'm going to try to do more barefoot walking and exercising. I know it can only help me. My biggest obstacle with that is how sensitive the area around my calcaneus (heel bone) is. Every time I put weight on my foot, it feels like the bone is driving into the ground with no padding between it and the hard floor. Socks and shoes help provide some comfort, and especially the little heel cup things my doctor gave me to use last week. I wore them in my flats when I went to church and I was able to leave the boot at home this week. Good stuff.

Recovery is still one day at a time. I had a really bad week last week. I hope to make this a good one. In fact, with the things I have planned, I know it will be.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Here we go again

This morning, I was excited when I got a little bit more range of motion in my ankle. It cracked and I suddenly had about 80% dorsiflexion compared to my left foot. Very good progress.

I carried on my day as usual, doing laundry, vacuuming, gardening, and cooking. Pretty much on my feet the entire day. When I finally sat down while made from scratch organic apple pie was baking in the oven, I took my shoes off and was surprised how much my feet hurt. I could hardly get up again. After watching a movie in bed while eating a slice of my apple pie a la mode, I walked to the kitchen without my shoes on. I could hardly make it. Putting any weight on my heel was really painful.

The medial side of my ankle has been itchy for the last couple of days. I have to be careful not to scratch through the skin, as I have very little awareness of minor pain anymore. I took my socks off to take a look at my foot and noticed that the swelling has gotten worse and the temperature is considerably warmer than the other foot. This doesn't make me happy. I'll keep an eye on it tomorrow. If it's not getting better I'll go back to my doctor on Monday. I took some benadryl to see if the itching will subside.

I'm worried that I'm having a reaction to something that has been locked up in the joint and is being released now that I'm getting more range of motion. Of course the nurse in the house thinks I'm overreacting, but with all I've been through nothing would surprise me anymore. There was never any known reason why I had the reactions to the initial surgery. Perhaps the extra bone he removed and then used as filler had gotten infected. Perhaps I had a rare reaction to the artificial bone matrix. If it was just a reaction to the screw then I shouldn't be having any further problems related to it since it was removed almost 13 weeks ago.

So either it's just random inflammation on a day I didn't even go to the gym or do a workout or it's something more. I've had really bad arthritis pain in my left foot as well today. I give up.

Update- 7 May
Today's x-rays looked good but I shouldn't be having this much pain. I'm now on Duexis (800mg ibuprofen and 26.6mg famotidine) three times a day. Also got a refill on vicodin because the tramadol doesn't do as much for me. If the pain hasn't subsided in a few days, an MRI will be scheduled.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

When it's good, it's good. When it's not...

This has been a week of incredible highs and devastating lows. Such is to be expected in recovery, I suppose.

29 April (midnight)
Joint mobility
2-arm swings, alternating between the 12 and 16 kg
12 kg, 5 sets of 10
16 kg, 5 sets of 10

100 swings total.

30 April (during Smash and the late news)
Joint mobility
8 kg press, 5 sets of 1-2-3 with 1 assisted pull-up (band) between each rung of the ladders
TGU 10 kg 1+1 (felt a little too unsteady on the left side at the push-off with the right foot so I went down a size for the next rounds)
TGU 8 kg 2 sets of 1+1
Rolled an 8, so 8:00 easy 10 kg snatches, 5 rounds of 10+10, 0:30 to spare but was too worn out to attempt any more. I worked hard for the last few reps.

1 May, NWS Seal Beach, 9 am
Joint mobility
Treadmill 3.0, 5%, 20 mins
Spin bike, 6.7 mi, 20 mins

TRX supersets, 10 reps ABAB
Balance lunge (still slight assistance with the right, oblique on the second round)


Hip drop
Standing roll-out

Crunch (low plank)
Pike (low plank)

Evening massage in the salt water hot tub under the jets

2 May
Stayed in bed most of the day

3 May, NWS Seal Beach, 9 am
Joint Mobility
8 kg press, 2 sets of 1-2-3-4 (I was running short on time and had to make it to a doctor's appt, so I cut the presses off early. I had intended to do 5 sets)
I rolled a 9, so 9:00 of swings with the 16 kg. 8 sets of 15 reps!! I felt nauseous for the last couple of minutes and for awhile after. 120 swings... new post-op record!

Treadmill 2.8, 10%, 8 mins

4 May
Stayed in bed most of the day and still quite sore!

I had been feeling better so I jumped back on the exercise wagon pretty hard. It takes a lot out of me, and I tend to forget that I've been through a lot and need to take it easy. When I'm having a bad day or week, it's easy for me to lay off the workouts. But when I feel good, I forget. I'm also getting ready for a trip to NYC so I'm pushing a little harder than I would otherwise. 

I went from going to sleep at 4 am to 10:30 pm, so changing my sleep schedule has been difficult this week. Of course I'm backsliding tonight, but I'm dealing with some personal issues and can't sleep anyway. At my doctor's appointment, a routine check found something I have to keep an eye on. Hopefully it's nothing, but knowing it might be something is a bit unnerving, especially after I've just been through so much with my health. Not knowing my family medical history really sucks at times like this. I went in for a blood draw today, so hopefully everything will be ok with those tests. My primary doctor knows my body has been through a lot and wants to make sure nothing is off. 

Some days I feel good and want to try to go back to working. Other days I don't think I'm ready for committing to a job. I'm just doing the best I can, knowing I'm getting another piece of metal drilled into my other heel as soon as my right foot is recovered enough to support and balance all of my weight. There is still a considerable amount of swelling and of course I'm in a lot of pain. I've recently started taking two pain pills a day because I'm having trouble dealing with the constant pain. I'm in this horrible limbo, not able to work and knowing if I could, I'd just be out for an unknown length of time again soon, with very likely unknown complications. I have no idea when I'll be well enough to work, and I have no idea when my feet will be fully functional again. I haven't decided if I want to get the other foot done asap or wait until the winter. If I go back to work, I'd wait until the winter. If I get it done soon, I might deeply regret it, not being recovered fully. Either way I'm being pressured to get the surgery done and return to work asap so personal issues can be resolved faster.

I just want to know how this all ends!! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

One step forward, two steps back

I'm happy to report that I can push off from the ball of my foot in each step I take walking. It has really smoothed out my walking gait. However, since my foot hasn't moved like that since mid-October (sprain prior to the first surgery), it has increased my pain level significantly, and I was already in a lot of pain to begin with. When I'm not practicing walking, I'm back in bed because of the pain. I hate being back here.

I hurt my left shoulder using my crutches a few days ago. I hadn't raised the height on them to match my shoes because I was in a hurry. I didn't concentrate on my form either, and yesterday I couldn't lift my arm overhead. It's better today but not good enough to do a workout. As if I could do one in this amount of pain anyway.

Oh well, there's always tomorrow. I'm so ready for this to be over with.

Official count: 11.5 weeks since last surgery, 23.5 weeks since first surgery, and 27 weeks since the untimely sprain that put me in a boot before the surgery. I've been down for over six months and my patience is starting to wear thin. And I'm already gearing up to do this whole thing all over again with the other foot. God help me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Confession time

This week, I had every intention of getting completely back on track with the Enter the Kettlebell - Rite of Passage program. I've been feeling much better overall but still have bad days. Monday was a very good day. It was rainy again, and lately rainy days have served me well. On Friday the 13th, I had some improved range of motion with scar tissue breaking up. I didn't know how much of it was coincidence and how much of it was from the joints being extra creaky from the rain.

After joint mobility, I did five 1-2-3 pressing ladders with the 8 kg. I've never felt more solid on them. I even put a smiley face beside the fifth ladder mark in my notebook. I tend to do that when especially pleased with my performance. I've noticed lately that I can isolate my lat to flex it, and it is visible on my back. In 10 years of using kettlebells, I've NEVER seen that on my body before. It is really cool, and I'm having a pretty irregular consistency with my workouts, and haven't been back to them for that long. I have such an incredible connection to my body that I've never had before, and it's all thanks to the RKC and Hardstyle Ventura training I had prior to my surgery. I can't say enough good things about Pavel's training system.

I did some get-up practice, with 5 rounds of 1+1 with the 8 kg. I was able to tuck my toes under on my right foot more than ever before, but still had to steady myself with the top of my dresser on the way up. It's getting there though. Those get-ups felt great.

For easy snatches, I was finally able to use the dice app on my iphone for the first time since training for the RKC. I rolled a 4, so in 4:00 I did 5 rounds of 5+5 with the 10 kg (50 snatches total). It was easy effort, but I can tell it'll take a bit of training to get back to passing the 5:00 snatch test. At the time of the RKC in August, I usually had about 0:30 to spare using the 12 kg.

After my workout on Monday night, I was walking in my socks to get some water before bed (I usually have to wear shoes with orthotics around the house for support. Without, it is still really hard to walk). I realized that I was able to push off with the ball of my right foot. That's a huge deal, since I've been walking with a stiff bottom of my foot since walking again. I didn't have the flexibility to be able to do that. I don't know how much of it I can attribute to the weather, but I did go out in Hollywood wearing high heels the night before. It was my first time wearing them and I was able to walk pretty well. It's quite possible that it helped, given the position of the ball of the foot and weight distribution in a high heel. It's now a focus to keep pushing off when practicing walking.

Time for the confession. I didn't do my kettlebell workout tonight like I had every intention of doing. The weather had improved enough to get out and plant some vegetables in my garden, so I spent a few hours out there. It's very hard work because I'm digging up every bit of roots from about six inches under the top layer of soil. I have no idea what's been planted there over the years but there's obviously been a LOT. I realized why most people don't plant their own stuff anymore, and if they do, they tend to build plantar boxes and start fresh with the soil above ground. I hope to never have to go through these stages again! My daughter had to sing at a local performing arts center tonight, so I took her immediately from doing yard work. I didn't want to pay for parking so I parked the car at a local shopping center and crutched my way several blocks over. I hadn't used my crutches in awhile but was in pain and knew I wouldn't be able to make it without since we were in a hurry and it had been awhile since I'd taken my pain meds. I had a very aerobic run-crutch to get her there on time (I lost track while gardening). And of course I had to crutch back after standing for at least an hour. By the time I got back to the car, my arms felt like jelly and my left quad and hamstring were tired. I don't feel like I would be able to do a fully focused workout, and I'm really worn out from all the activity. So I will wait for tomorrow when I'm fresh. I want to stick to a schedule but I still really need to listen to my body and not push it. The last thing I need right now is a setback.

Time for bed, and attempt to get back to a halfway normal sleeping schedule. It's not too normal for me to be up till 3 am and sleep till noon after taking the kids to school in the morning, but that's what I've been doing lately. Pain has a nasty way of keeping me up at night and letting me sleep through the day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Heavy swings ahoy!!

4 days since my last workout. I feel like I've been slacking a bit with keeping up with regular workouts, but I'm still fighting the pain and being worn out from other things. My stamina is pretty much shot so I can't do it all in one day. My walking has improved, I've been hitting the hot tub for therapy every few days, and I've been doing a lot of yard work to get ready for my vegetable garden. My pain medicine does make me weak, which I hate. I'm still not sleeping well either. I tend to focus on the negative with what I should be doing better and more of, but I do need to give myself credit for being able to do as much as I am. It's always a learning experience :)

Tonight's workout consisted of joint mobility and 10 2-arm swings with the 10 kg and 5+5 snatches with the 8 kg for a warm-up.

I did 3 pressing ladders of 1, 2, 3, 4 with the 8 kg and did 10 2-arm swings with the 16 kg between each ladder (30 swings total). I'm leading with the left side, and feeling very solid.

On a whim, I picked up the 24 kg to see if I could do some heavy 2-arm swings, and I did 10. It felt so good I did it twice more  (30 total). I'm so excited that at 10 weeks post-op I can swing a 24 kg bell with excellent form. Time to keep focusing on the positive so I don't beat myself up for the negative.

I hope I'm not feeling the heavy swings too much tomorrow! I have a social event to go to in Hollywood tomorrow night and I don't want to walk awkwardly from soreness now that I'm walking better with the improved mobility in my ankle :)

I also want to mention how kind the employees are at my local Trader Joe's. More than once, an employee has commented on how long it's been that I've been in the boot, on crutches, or something similar. It always takes me by complete surprise because I don't remember these people at all! Today, my cashier told me that I seemed to be in much better spirits, and asked how glad I was to be off the crutches. I know I'm in a good place and don't have any plans to move away. This is a great community to be in, and I'm happy to be a part of it (even if I'm playing the part of the village invalid, ha!)