30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 7 Feet

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I travelled from Texas to DC on Friday, the day of the ‘feet’ prompt.  I finally took this picture once we got to the hotel and sat down for a glass of wine and a caesar salad with grilled salmon. It felt awesome to sit down after a long day of packing, finalizing things at home, and then travelling to the East Coast.  I was grateful we made it safely and happy to be off the plane.  As you can see, I am wearing sneakers. I wear sneakers all the time because I had two ankle surgeries, and I also have to wear orthotics in my shoes. My surgeon told me not to wear heels anymore.  Whenever I dress up, I have to find a comfortable pair of flat sandals that work for both fashion and function.  I actually don’t miss wearing heels at all. It is not comfortable to wear heels, and they are bad for your feet!

We went to DC for a friend’s wedding. One of my husband’s good friends from law school finally tied the knot.  It was wonderful to be there even though it was a quick trip.  I grew up in the DC area, so it felt great to be home again.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: Rest/Ice/Compression/Elevation and Positive Thinking

I’m so annoyed because I hurt my knee again at the gym. It’s the right knee that’s already had five surgeries for torn meniscus. I was just talking about how my knee was torn five times already with a friend yesterday. The first time, I was rock climbing. Second time, I was doing step aerobics. Third time, getting off the floor wearing an ankle boot. Fourth time, walking with an ankle boot. Fifth time, putting on my shoes. There isn’t much meniscus left to tear.

It feels like it’s about to blow again. It’s been hurting some lately, so at the gym I decided to stretch, do some PT exercises then get into the pool to swim some laps. It pinched a few times when I was on the floor with the physio ball. When I got up to walk downstairs to the pool, it pinched really sharply. I could barely limp to the locker room and sat down to call my husband to tell him. We left right away and came home. He just had to leave to go out of town for a few days for work, and I’m at home with my knee wrapped and on ice. Planning to stay off it for the rest of the day and hoping it will all just go away.

Rest:
I’m resting for the rest of today. It hurts to walk, but I can put some weight on it. I think the best thing to do is give it a break and let it settle down.

Ice:
Using ice packs to help relieve pain and swelling in the joint.

Compression:
Wrapped my knee in a compression band to help hold it together and put pressure on it.

Elevation:
On the reclining couch with my feet up and right leg on a pillow. Elevation allows the blood to flow out of the extremities, reducing inflammation and swelling.

Positive Attitude:
I could wallow in self-pity right now, but that won’t help me much. I have bad memories of twice tearing meniscus in the same knee so badly, my knee was locked in a bent position for days until I could get in for surgery. I’m afraid that’s about to happen again because I feel the same pinching sensation that comes from meniscus tears. Instead of gliding smoothly when the knee joint moves, it catches on the rough edges and causes pain. My husband tells me to stay positive. It’s not locked in a bent position yet. I don’t know for sure it’s torn yet. So far there is no talk of a sixth surgery yet. While the fear is there, and I anticipate a downward spiral if those fears are confirmed, for now I choose to stay positive. Forgiving myself for not being able to get a good workout today and allowing myself to take the rest of the day to rest.

How are you taking care of yourself today?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Pain is a Pain

I suffer from chronic pain and have seen all kinds of practitioners over the years without much relief. I am addressing the problem from every possible angle including alternative medicine. I go to PT and workout at the gym on a regular basis, but over the years my gym activities have changed to accommodate my need for low impact, low resistance exercises. I’m trying to find that fine line between resting and strengthening without injury.

Physically, my body has been through a lot. Sixteen surgeries, including five on my abdomen and seven on my right leg have resulted in weakness and dysfunction in many areas. I’ve had three children and am turning forty-five this year. I know I have a lot to be grateful for including the fact that my body has produced three kids, and I can walk, swim and do yoga. I do miss the old days when I was strong enough to hike, mountain bike, rock climb, ski, run, and jump. Those days seem like forever ago. But I appreciate the memories of many adventures.

Working out can cause pain flare ups. Rest causes weakness and stiffness. Every day, I work on stretching and some kind of light activity. All I can do is take things one at a time.

I’ve always been a fan of massages and get them at least monthly to decrease muscle spasms. I discovered a place in town that provides Chinese foot reflexology and full body massages. The therapist told me my channels are blocked and that I think/worry too much. The idea is that if the brain is over active, it overloads the nervous system, and the body breaks down on many levels.

I’m becoming increasingly interested in alternative medicine like acupuncture. I first tried it in 1989 for pelvic pain. It didn’t help because I had a dermoid tumor the size of a grapefruit. I had surgery to have it removed.

My new acupuncturist told me my chi (energy) was blocked too. She opened up some chakras (energy centers) and has been using both needles and cupping to help increase circulation and remove toxins. I’ve never tried cupping before, but I thought it was interesting how my left shoulder area left lots of dark marks, and the right didn’t. The dark marks indicate where there are more toxins, and my left shoulder area has been flared up for weeks now after hurting it somehow doing side planks at PT.

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I first started seeing the acupuncturist more than a year ago on a referral from my ankle surgeon. I had two ankle surgeries, and there is a lot of scar tissue. I saw her for a while and then returned this month to follow up on back pain. She’s awesome! Check her out at… http://www.points4health.com

In Chinese medicine, they study the tongue. Check out this picture and see what tongue matches yours.

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Last year, I had the Yin deficiency tongue. I’ve focused on adding more yin to my life since then. I go to yin yoga class at the gym every week and love the inward focus and calming effects. This year, I have the Qi deficiency tongue (teeth marks and everything). It goes with being tired all the time and not having a good chi flow.

And by the way, can I say that tongues are weird?! Have you ever stopped to examine your tongue? They are weird. And they are always in motion. Just try to make yours hold still.

Anyway, at PT this week, my therapist asked if I have ever had my hormones checked. I didn’t know hormones could affect pain. I had hormone testing once in 2000 when I had spinal fractures and was diagnosed with osteopenia (low bone density). All my hormone levels were fine then. But I’m a lot older now, so it’s something to consider I guess.

I saw a chiropractor today and failed his applied kinesiology tests for adrenal function. I did a little Internet research and fit the description pretty well. Apparently the adrenal glands are what our bodies use to respond to stress. And he said I need cortisol testing. Cortisol is a hormone that’s produced in excess when we are stressed. And it causes widespread inflammation. So, I made an appointment for hormone testing including cortisol. He also told me to take these supplements.

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Vitamin B-12
Adrenacalm
Fish oil
Bamboo powder (to calm down my reactions to food sensitivities).

Check out these beads he put on my ears too.

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My right eat has two sets of beads; one for my back and one for my knee. And my left ear has one set of beads for my shoulder. They are accu-beads placed on acupuncture spots with clear tape on top. I’m supposed to leave them there until they fall off (1-2 weeks). They are a bit tender, but they said if they are tender they are working and to leave them there!

I’ve also been focusing more on meditation and calming my energy. After getting feedback that I think and worry too much, I learned I need to spend less time thinking about the past and worrying about the future. I strive to find calm energy and live in the moment. It helps.

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Thanks for reading. Peace out.

30 Days of Truth: Day 22-What is something you wish you hadn’t done in your life?

I moved to Texas in 2006.  A year later, my daughter’s soccer coach, a very likeable friend, talked me into playing with her on a women’s over 40 league.  Despite my husband’s warnings, I played one season in the fall of 2007.  Now, I wish I never did that.

I started playing soccer in fourth grade and continued through my freshman year in college when I played center halfback for Hollins College.  In 1989, I started rock climbing and spent my twenties adventuring outdoors.  I never hurt myself playing soccer back in the day, but I do remember having sore feet and that the trainers used to tape my feet and ankles before games.  I thought I’d be able to play again and just be careful not to get hurt.

During one of the games, I rolled my right ankle running full speed, heard and felt a crack, and fell to the ground in pain.  I put on someone else’s ankle brace and tried to finish the game but couldn’t.  I limped around for a few weeks and then saw a doctor who put me in a brace and then a boot.  An MRI showed a partial tear, but it healed on its own after a few months.

BUT, that injury led to a cascade of other injuries that have changed my life completely.
*tore cartilege in my right knee December 2007 while in the walking boot for the torn ankle (had surgery to fix that)
*rolled my right ankle again in April 2009 doing high kicks with my then high school aged daughter who was trying out for varsity drill team
*two surgeries on the right ankle to fix the torn ATFL (all the way off the bone) and tendons in the back on both sides) in August and December 2009 (and in the December surgery, they also fixed my torn cartilege again in my right knee because it tore again from walking around in the walking boot).
*tore cartilege again in my right knee putting on shoes (had another surgery to fix that in September 2011).

The first and last time I tore my knee, it was the kind of tear where my leg was locked in the bent position until they could get me in for surgery.  I never had lower back pain until I hurt my ankle the first time playing that one season of adult soccer.  As soon as I hurt my ankle, it was a chain of events, one after the next, and now I have had two ankle surgeries and five knee surgeries on my right leg.  I still walk with a little limp and have a handicapped parking sticker because I can’t walk very far without pain.  I don’t do any more outdoor sports or ball sports. I don’t run anymore, and I don’t jump anymore.  I miss being more active, but I am still thankful I can get around and am in relatively good health.

But I sure wish I didn’t play that one season of soccer because I was able to do a whole lot more activities before I hurt myself.

left side

 

right side

Pain

You know what sucks? Pain. 

You know what sucks more? Learning that to be in less pain, I must cut back on exercising (hence become fat and unfit). 

I don’t really like my choices here.  For my entire life, I’ve cared about my fitness and my appearance.  Now that I’m reaching mid-forties, I’m being told to cut back on exercising.  Cut back?  I need more! Are you kidding me? Have you seen my legs? 

I’ve been losing muscle tone and gaining fat for years now since I hurt my ankle playing over forty women’s soccer.  (I should have known….hanging head in shame)  It was the beginning of a cascade of events that have led me to today.

First I rolled it running full speed playing soccer.  Little did I know that I have a leg length discrepancy. My right leg is longer, so I keep hurting it over and over again (to date I’ve had five knee surgeries and two ankle surgeries on my right leg).  A ligament partially tore, so I wore a boot and limped around until it healed.   Then in the spring of 2009, I decided to show Sierra (who was then trying out for varsity dance as a junior) that I could still do high kicks.  I did one, two, then three, then oh no I heard a snap and there I was lying on the floor crying, screaming and writhing in pain.  It turned out I tore the ATFL all the way off the bone and a  few tendons in the back (peroneus, brevis, and longus).

Fast forward three years to today.  I had the surgeries, I did the PT, and I’m still in pain.  Every day. And since my ankle isn’t right, my knee isn’t right, and since my knee isn’t right, my lower back isn’t right….and so it goes.  I had already been suffering from chronic pain in my neck and mid back from previous over-wear and tear.  Now that my lower back decided to join in, I’m just one ball of pain from neck to toe literally.

PT helps. Yoga helps.  Diet and hydration help.  Rest helps.  Working out doesn’t help.  It flares me up every time.  My physical therapists tell me to stick with the baby steps before I try the more advanced exercises.  I’ve got to build up strength a little at a time.  I tend to overdo it and set myself back. 

Until my current flare-up settles down, I’m only allowed to swim and do five PT exercises which involve lying on the floor (neutral spine) and a physio ball and foam roller.  It’s not like me, and I’m having trouble transitioning from my active lifestyle.  I really don’t want to give up on fitness and stop exercising.  But I really can’t function on a daily basis when I’m in pain.  Pain is a pain!

http://blog.traumeel.us/default.aspx?Tag=muscle%20and%20joint%20pain%20relief

Merry Christmas 2009

Today is Christmas, and believe it or not, we are having a white Christmas here in Texas. It snowed all day yesterday and accumulated an inch or two – enough to make it a white Christmas. It is truly a special year. The best present our family received this year was contact with Joe’s son, Brent, whom we have never met but hope to someday soon. He is 17 and lives in Reno, NV with his mom and step dad and little brother. We always knew he was out there but didn’t know how to find him. Thanks to facebook, Joe and I were able to connect with his mom and we’ve been exchanging pictures and messages ever since. The best things in life are free, and family connections mean more to me than any materialistic gift. We hope to be a part of his life from this day forward and have lots of catching up to do for lost time.

I am recovering from another ankle and knee surgery the other day (Weds 12/23). The surgery in August on my ankle was to repair my ATF ligament, and apparently I also had a tear in a tendon and tendonitis on the other side, but for whatever reason the surgeon did not fix them. So I never healed up completely. I finally went to see a specialist and he fixed up the tendons. I also had new tears in my knee meniscus and the knee specilaist fixed those. I have learned the very important lesson that I should have seen a specialist in the first place. Had I done so, perhaps I woudn’t have needed this most recent surgery. But it is a moot point now. I can only hope that this time is the last time and that one day I will recover to full strength in my legs. I do accept the fact that I will no longer be able to run or play soccer, but I do hope to be able to mountain bike, swim, lift weights, and do yoga/pilates to stay in shape. I’ve been in a brace, cast, or boot since April, so I can’t wait for the day to come when I can wear normal shoes again!

It’s been so long since I’ve written in this blog and a lot of news that I have skipped over. Thomas’s skull fracture healed up fine. He turned 5 in Nov and started preschool again. He goes three days a week now, MWF, and is in the same class with a little girl down the street. So far that is working out great. Sierra just got an iphone for Christmas and is on cloud 9 about that! She is working at a math/reading tutoring center and of course working hard being a junior at high school. She took her SAT earlier this month. Zoe just got her first cell phone today and already lost it within the first few hours! Joe found it outside in the snow…doh! Thankfully it still works. My mom is here visiting from VA. This is the first time we’ve had her here for Christmas eve/Christmas. Usually she comes on Christmas day and stays a few days after, but we decided to try it a little differently this year to bring more joy into her life. Joe is doing a great job taking care of everybody and everything while I am recovering. The timing of my surgery is awful, as there is so much work to be done around the holidays and usually it’s the mom who is responsible for the cooking etc. I am very grateful to have such a helpful and loving husband.

Thursday

It started with a big fat thunderstorm. Loved it. Then it got worse when I hurt my good knee and am now facing surgery on both legs. Getting an mri tomorrow to find out about the knee…keep your fingers crossed it is not torn, and it will get better on its own so I can focus on fixing the ankle. That will be bad enough – talked to the doctor today and found out I shouldn’t drive for 6 weeks. That’s not going to be easy.

Sierra is still in VT, talked to her again today. Zoe went to gymnastics. Thomas played w/ a friend. I am loving the break from the heat. The cloudy, rainy weather makes it better to be staying inside and resting my limbs.