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!)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Swings keep me warm at night

I was feeling kind of cold tonight, so I started my workout in a long-sleeved shirt. I thought I'd add 10 swings with the 16 kg between each rung of presses, and I ended up changing into a camisole workout top by the third rung. It was a great change to the normal pressing ladder, and I got a lot of swings in while staying very, very warm. I even had to open my sliding door to let some cool air in.

Joint mobility
10 warm-up swings with the 10 kg
8 kg press ladder with 10 16 kg 2-arm swings between each rung
(1 press, 10 swings, 2 presses, 10 swings, 3 presses, 10 swings, 4 presses, 10 swings, 5 presses, 10 swings)

I did the press/ swing ladder twice for a total of 100 swings! (110 counting the warm-up) I'm feeling solid with the 8 kg and will move up to the 10 kg soon. I just need to comfortably get to 5 ladders of 5 first. I'm not taking any chances with progressing too fast.

I had a breakthrough on Friday the 13th with foot and ankle mobility, so I was excited to try some get-ups. I did two on each side, alternating, with the 8 kg. My left side has never been so solid, but I'm only at about 80% stability. I will get to 100% before increasing the weight. My toes are tucking under my foot but not as much as necessary. Getting closer!

Then came 5+5 windmills with the 8 kg. It felt great.

I went to the garage and brought a 24 kg in for some deadlifts. I did 4 sets of 5, and it felt fabulous to use so much weight and feel so good about it. This was the first time I've used something heavier than the 16 kg. Progress :)

I finished up with some more joint mobility. I feel great about tonight's workout.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday the 13th and a rainy date with the hot tub

This past week, I've been cheating on my normal workouts with yard work and visiting the salt water hot tub for rehab. I've neglected the yard since November when all this surgery stuff started and have decided to attempt gardening. That has involved many trips to Lowe's to figure it out. I actually got a water blister on my palm the first time I used my daughter's child size hoe (keeping me away from swinging a kettlebell till it heals) before I went back and bought a full-sized one. No gardeners or electric tools for me. I even have a lawnmower that's a push reel model. It's terrible and doesn't cut weeds, so I get to do those by hand. I do a lot of it by hand because I don't want to buy electric tools again. I've bought and gotten rid of them so many times over the years of moving around in and out of houses with yards and without, with storage and without, it's not funny. I don't mind putting the work in myself. It can only make me stronger :)

The hot tub is a wonderful invention. I can't encourage it enough for people with this type of recovery. It allows me to really work my ankle in ways I can't on land. I love to let the jets hit various parts of my ankle, foot, and leg to massage it. I like to practice walking in it too. It was very rainy today but we went out to the pool anyway. The water was really cold and it rained on us twice, but it was still worth it. Earlier today I had a bit of a breakthrough with range of motion. My ankle cracked in a way it hasn't since before the surgery, and I suddenly had more range of motion. Not much, but enough to make walking a little more comfortable and less awkward. The scar tissue is finally starting to break up (9.5 weeks since my last surgery, 21.5 weeks since the original) and I didn't want to miss my date with the pool. I even felt the bones sliding around a little bit under the pressure of the jets tonight, making the cold and miserable trip worth it. I'm very encouraged by this, and can't wait to try get-ups to see how much better I can do with them.

I'm looking forward to getting back to my regular workouts. We've had a pretty lazy spring break this week, and it's felt great to focus on the kids and settling into this house. Happy Friday the 13th! I hope yours was as lucky as mine was for me :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pain, no sleep, and a midnight workout

I'm completely off my sleep schedule thanks to an awesome late night out in Hollywood on Saturday. I hadn't been sleeping well before and haven't slept much since. The kids being on spring break isn't helping either. I made the switch to tramadol for my pain, and it really zaps my strength. I'm back to being more productive though, which is a great thing. I saw my doctor again today and he thinks the stiffness and lack of motion in my ankle is due to the scar tissue formation around my wound scar. I worked on it while watching Smash before my workout tonight, and it felt a little better. I asked if I was going to start physical therapy soon, and he said it was up to me. I asked if I would learn anything and he said no, so I agreed to keep doing my own rehab.

Joint mobility felt great as usual. I was a little weak starting the overhead presses, which isn't totally unexpected since I haven't pressed in a week. After my first ladder of 1-2-3 with the 8 kg, I picked up a 10 kg and pressed it to see how it felt in comparison to the 8 kg. It almost seemed easier, maybe because the handle is thicker and easier to squeeze. I happened to have two 10 kg kettlebells sitting there, so I did two double 10 kg presses just for the heck of it. It felt nice. I finished my last two rounds of 1-2-3 and then worked on get-ups with the 8 kg. My right side is solid and feels amazing but my left side is still shaky on the push up to standing and descent from not being able to tuck my toes under my foot. It's getting a little better though. I was able to stabilize by reaching out to my dresser. I used the video camera in my laptop to double check my form, and it all looks great.

For a quick burst of cardio (at 1 am) I finished with three rounds of 10 2-arm swings and 5+5 1-arm swings with the 16 kg. The cardio felt great but my grip was very weak for the 1-arm swings. Next time I'll make the walk out to the garage to get a 12 or 14 kg for the 1-arm work. I'm hurting too much tonight to walk through the house with kettlebells. I'll bring them in when I'm wearing my walking boot and am fresh on pain meds later.

My Workshop

Where is your favorite place (or places) to work out? Inside, outside, or anywhere there's some equipment?

Friday, April 6, 2012

This one is about pain

Pain. I hate it. I can usually ignore it, but this chronic thing has me beat.

I'm 20 weeks post-op, and it's been 8 weeks since my last surgery. Since then, I've regularly taken vicodin. Sometimes I took it a little bit more freely than I probably should have. I stopped last week to see if it was completely necessary for pain or if I was taking it just because I felt really, really good with it. I had a very rough week with pain and ended up just plain miserable. I reached out to my doctor, who agrees that I need to get off the vicodin and recommended ultram (tramadol) instead. I've taken tramadol before when I sprained my ankle 3 1/2 weeks before my first surgery. It got me through my day. Now I'm once again dependent on medication to get me through. I really don't like that. My doctor said the pain was from removing the hardware early before the bones fused completely and also from having the chronic wound (3 months of an open wound, two months of which were open to the bone, 3 cm (1.2 inches) deep).

I really can't wait for this to be over. But of course when it is, it will be time to operate on the other foot, and hope for better results. All we can do is hope.

PS I can hardly walk not just because of my ankle, but also because my quads are so sore. That TRX workout really did me in!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Putting the "super" in supersets

I was in the mood for some TRX tonight, so I did some basic supersets. 10 reps (or 10 each side), ABAB format.

Balance lunge (still assisted on right)


Hip Drop
Standing roll-out

Reverse plank with pull-through/ low pike
Body saw/ low pendulum

For the last round of supersets, I switched it up a little. One set of each of the 4 exercises. Putting my foot through the strap isn't very comfortable yet, so I stick with low plank for the ab work. I don't trust my foot to be stable enough to risk high plank yet.

I love how the most basic of workouts can be so effective. My body was shaking as I walked off the playground. Since attending the RKC and Hardstyle Ventura, my TRX training has turned into more of a mind-body practice. I love it.

I hope to do a TRX/ kettlebell workout soon!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Practice, practice, practice

I've had a rough few days. Today is day 4 of no pain medication. I never taper off the meds I take because I hate taking things, so I go cold turkey. Apparently I don't learn my lesson because it never gets easier. I was feeling better today, but I've had to trade being productive for going through withdrawal and being in pain. I've spent the last few days in bed again, and I haven't enjoyed it.

Today's practice began outside, in perfect 73 degree weather with a slight breeze, with the usual joint mobility and three rounds of 1-2-3 presses with the 8 kg. My left shoulder had been a little bit crunchy at my last workout so I was being extra cautious today. Then I had a little bit of fun (all with 8 kg):

Overhead squat, 5+5
Goblet squat, 5
Partial get-up, 5+5
Windmill, 5+5
Cossack lunge, 5+5
1-leg DL, 5+5 (with assistance on the right side, touching a tetherball pole for balance)

I was elated to be able to do the 1-leg deadlifts, even with assistance. It wasn't too long ago I wasn't even able to put weight down on my right foot, and now I can exercise on it. Very exciting. The windmills and OH squats felt amazing with the flexibility. I'm making good progress with the goblet squats. I think my femur might have gotten to parallel this time. I spend a lot of time working on mobility in my foot and ankle, and have even gotten the joints moving enough to crack on occasion. I had no idea it would be such a long process to get movement in the joint back. It's still pretty darn locked.

When I got home, I did three rounds of 5-10-15 2-arm swings with the 16 kg. I'm working very hard on getting my glutes back up to speed! The swings felt more comfortable and evenly balanced this time.